Monthly Archives: May 2012

Getting back on track…

So, over the past couple of months, I’ve been swamped in real life. As I mentioned before, April was murder. I worked 10 to 11 hours days for a while, and had no days off for three weeks. When I got home from a day’s work, if I had more than a couple of hours before bed so I could start the mess all over again, I just wanted naps and relaxation, or I worked on an article for DDI. I’m playtesting that before I submit it, but the core of the article is now in the can. May has been catching up with a lot of stuff I had on hold during April. Car servicing and lots of weeding (my house sits on an acre and a third, and is mostly open dirt lot), as well as job hunting and family stuff. So now, with the 5th Ed playtest out, I’m finally making time to write.

I looked through the 5e Playtest. (I refuse, personally, to call it an “iteration.” Iterations leave a bad taste in my mouth, both as villains in Mage the Ascension and interative attacks from D&D 3.x.) I am not impressed so far. I think there are some interesting ideas for house rules for my 4e game, but I think 5e shaping up to be a retrograde system with a hint of the redheaded stepchild that is 4e. This is more or less as I expected.

There are some ideas I like. I like the ideas of background being a framework to build your skills upon, and themes having a connection to your feats, but in both cases, they could also be called “builds.” By redefining them as they have, it seems to me they are knee jerk-reacting to the criticisms 4e got for being “an MMO.” I like the idea of the Advantage/Disadvantage system, but I have to wonder if it will create a “death spiral” for the disadvantaged character. I’m also concerned about things like equipment lists that force players to micromanage their possessions. Just this weekend, I just handwaved whether or not the party had a spyglass, rather than forcing them to have it on their character sheet. I’d rather tell a story than force my players to micromanage a slog through a dungeon. But this is the direction of 5e.

I’m also seeing commentary in a lot of places that tell me that 5e will likely fail to be the “healing balm” that it is meant to be where the community is concerned. D&D 5e is supposed to be bringing the gaming community back together. What I see already is 5e tearing the community further apart. OSR grognards are gloating how they seem to have won the edition wars, in an almost “now you see how we feel about 4e” sort of way, and the 4vengers are talking about either sticking with 4e as it is or coming up with some way to continue to support the game after Wizards ends publication. I personally am looking into those ideas and groups, as what I see in 5e is not a game I plan on spending money on. I’ve already spoken to the idea that I’m not interested in a retro-clone of older editions, and that’s what 5e looks like at this point.

In other personal news, I picked up the new Cortex-engine Marvel Heroes Roleplaying Game. I was fascinated by the presentation of the characters! Most of the “datafiles” characters is focused on roleplaying the character. Except the powers section, all of it describes the personality behind the powers. I haven’t gotten to the character creation rules (which at a glance don’t seem to really support creating your own character but rather is an engine for interpreting characters not in the core rulebook), so I don’t knw how they work, but I really like the character presentation and focus on personality. I’m sure any OSR grognards who might be reading this are wondering why I can say this and say I like 4e, but I have my reasons.

A good deal has been said recently about how the 5e rules supports roleplay, and 4e doesn’t. I’ve had that argument more than once. To you who think 4e doesn’t support roleplaying, look at the races in the PHB. They are presented on two pages. One is a half-page piece of artwork and a half page of mechanics. The other page is all roleplay notes. Anyone who can’t see that doesn’t get that RPGs should not be in the business of telling anyone how to roleplay. Maybe rewarding roleplay should exist, but that’s it. That’s kind of the point. You shouldn’t need a book to tell you how to play pretend. However, having mechanics that support roleplay is fine. I believe 4e does that, and I like what support for roleplay I’ve seen in MHRPG.

That’s it for tonight. I’m still trying to get back to the resource management being the core of RPG mechanics, and I’m hoping to get past that and get into some of the ideas I’ve had for other gaming soon.

Thanks for reading.