I am recently back from DDXP, more gracefully called the Dungeons & Dragons Experience. Or at least it seems recent to me. It’s a wild show full o’ gaming. The majority of games are D&D, though other games do hug on the periphery. Cards Against Humanity was a big hit. Think Apples to Apples but sick, wrong, and only for the most abused and scarred of children. Needless to say, I’m in love.
BTW, it is stupidly expensive right now. Cards Against Humanity not D&D or Fort Wayne. I blame the free market. Either that or Dick Cheney and Glen Beck are buying up the stock in an attempt to end the glorious truths and slanders committed against them with each opening of that card box.
There was drinking. There was shit talking. That’s just what good friends do. There are even feats of strength. There are people who can thrive on very little sleep and stay chipper, and it’s amazing to behold. Let’s just I’m not in fit fighting shape.
Anyhow, Wizards previews something each year at DDXP. I should say previewed something each year. I attended last DDXP in Fort Wayne. This summer “the Dungeons & Dragons Experience moves to Gen Con.” Shrug. You don’t get enough D&D at Gen Con? Did an inexplicable dearth of either dungeons or dragons occur? Are their surveys, petition, or random bits of market research calling for more D&D at the Best Four Days in Gaming?
But don’t worry your pumpkin head, Dave Christ (the Baldman of Baldman Games) assures me there will be something sucking on the freezing tit of winter in Fort Wayne next year—a show with a broader focus. Dave runs great shows. Dave runs amazing shows. Dave shows are always fun. Guess I’m going again.
This year, Wizards previewed the annoyingly named D&D Next. I’m a little grumpy. The NDA issues and a need for clarity prevented me from partaking in that little pleasure. Which I really wanted to play. I’m a D&D dork, I want to see what’s going on. So I don’t feel like I can talk about it. While I have a bunch of theories about the system—bits that I picked up at the seminars, chatting with players, and reading what went up at various blogs, they are scattered inference.
So, I’m not going to talk about it. At least not until the open playtest and maybe not even then. I don’t hate what little I’m seeing it.. It’s a good team. A sound team. A great team. But right now it is a bubble of conviction, desire, and little output. And those with slightly more information suffer under a gag order, which puzzles the shit out of me. In short, I can quibble and quip around the edges, but nothing seem radical.
In fact, what seems to be coming is exactly the opposite. It wants to represent the play pattern of the 90s. I have mixed feeling on that goal. That style of play was formative. It was fast, and as sloppy as nachos. But we live in the fucking FUTURE.
To confront that fact, 5e is going to take on a modular expansion program similar to that of Rolemaster or GURPS in days of yore. But these modules seem to be more mechanically driven than story driven. You get the grid combat module. You get the skill module. You get the more feats module. I’m sure the end product will be more flavorful than that, but you get the drift.
Alright, now I’m really not going to talk about it anymore.
I question some of these plans, but I’m not the one making the decisions. I’m still working with only the shadows of information. And I will be honest with you, I have good friends working on that project. If I have things to say, I’ll say it to them. Probably while I’m drunk with a big shit-eating grin on my face. Life’s little pleasures keep me chipper.
What is obvious is that 5e is a reaction to the Edition Wars. Too many people are playing a different editions of a game, and because of the OGL, those editions are not supplying Hasbro with territory or treasure. If only there was one game to rule them all, one game to find them, one game to bring them all, and in the dark basements bind them. It’s an interesting tact, but I believe that it misunderstands the fundamental nature of the Edition Wars.
And though Wikipedia does not tell us so, and we can’t find the post of ENWorld or Facebook, the first shot of the Edition Wars occurred early and in the 70s. Probably by two nameless dudes wearing Blue Öyster Cult shirts got into a verbal tussle over the true nature of D&D in particular or roleplaying games in general. Maybe it was about magic missile, or how thieves were lame, or a good old fashion drunken spat. One accepted the Greyhawk supplement, the other did not. It happened early and it happened often. Associations split and split again. Their petty differences created crucibles of scorn, defiance, and slight regard.
You know the saying. You can’t get gamers to decide what goes on a pizza. The RPG gamer temperament is that of the overly artistic who believes they are overly analytical. In this mindset, argument does not find solution; only will and ego. It exhumes ancient problems for new challenges. We argue just to argue at times, and we typically don’t do it with anything that approaches style or fun.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. One it seems no one knows. People play games to have fun. They find the act pleasurable. It helps them escape the cares of the world and forget the dull droning of everyday existence. They’ll argue out of fun once or twice, but the RPG base is filled with fuckers who want to argue and quibble to have fun. The game is just and engine for argument. They are the gearheads, the stat monkeys, and the truly damned. I say this mostly in jest. I actually like these fuckers. They keep me on my toes and help me hone my craft. But they also create fault lines that continue to split and ghettoize the RPG community.
Suffering from various degrees of Sheldon Cooper disease, they have little need for social niceties. Hell, I understand. I’m an argumentative, know-it-all, satanic atheist with a shiny-shoes attitude. I don’t have a whole lot of give-a-fuck lying around. But that’s the problem. It’s people like me. It’s people like some of you. People who use our love of the game to lord over people who just love to play the game. It’s sick, wrong, unhealthy, and probably isn’t helping our sex life. We need to stop it.
There’re no bullets in the Edition War. There’s no territory on the line. They are people, sitting in front of monitors, producing, pontificating, and perusing. The Edition Wars are spectator sport, lacking in truth and power, and fueled by the red-headed step child of hate. The Edition Wars are self-indulgent and pointless dribble. Afternoon cartoons for the cube-weary. Virtual soldiers don’t march across a field in the cyber-spaces. People have spats about imaginary shit and abstract game mechanics. These spats become emotional and rivalries, both real and imaginary, rise. It is a slap fight in hallway given the illusion of scope by it dull thuds echoing off the internet.
No one edition will ever end the war, because editions are often just fuel for the fire.
It will end only when we want it to end.