Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Have Become "That Guy."

If you would have told me five years ago that I the RPGs that most interest me did not include Dungeons and Dragons, I would have thought you had the wrong guy.  For years I can remember talking to gamer friends, and while I fully understood that people liked other RPGs, I was always a little confused by people that actively gamed but had no interest in D&D.

To me, it was the origin, the starting point.  Shouldn't everybody that has some interest in the hobby have a least a little bit of interest in the grandaddy of them all?

Now I find that I am "that guy."

I'm not all that interested in 5th edition.  Looking back, I got really worked up about 4th edition, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn't really matter.  You can like D&D or not.  D&D hasn't been where the energy in RPGs reside for a long time.  It has the sales, I'm not implying that  (although it certainly has abdicated a commanding share of it's leadership of the hobby to Pathfinder).  It's just that all of it's tricks are variations of the same things now.

It's almost to the point that 5th edition seems more about what percentage of other editions will be included in the game rather than what new ground can be struck.

Don't get me wrong, I still like D&D-ish things.  It just seems that other people are taking risks and doing more interesting things with the framework these days.  And I'm not talking about Paizo.  No offence, but while I was a huge fan out of the gate, Paizo is doing a slightly better tuned version of 3.5, including a slightly slowed down progression of splat books.

But they still make some awesome monsters.  I will totally give them that.

So what D&D is hitting the right cord for me right now?  Well, I've mentioned Dungeon Crawl Classics before.  I love that this isn't just a retro-clone.  That isn't meant as an insult, but I really like the fact that it has a similar chasis, but stuff like the Fighter's deeds and the magic system give this game it's own personality, and I like the the weird magic and sinister feel of the whole thing does what it says, it goes back to the pulp fantasy material that inspired D&D in the first place and puts a little more danger and weirdness back into the mix.

I've just started to read the 13th Age Escalation Edition PDF that I got for pre-ordering the game, but I'm liking what I see in this so far.  The idea that characters are either "Far Away," or "Nearby," and if you are "Nearby" you can also be "Engaged" is perfect for how I would rather movement worked in the game.  I also love things like the "Dying Earth Magic" that gives you a mechanic for having "Metrifion's Disks of Flaming Doom" without having to have 20 spells with minor variations for the sake of having unique, named spells.

I also really like the concept behind the Icons and having a relationship to them that can come up in the game and serves to remind you of the greater game world.  I posted this to my Google+ stream earlier, but it occurred to me that that "being tied to an element that moves the game setting to remind you of the game setting" concept is something that you don't even need to have Icon parallels to model.  My idea was that, for example, you could have power groups in the Forgotten Realms serve the same function, with a character that might have a positive, negative, or complicated relationship with the Zhentarim, the Harpers, the Purple Dragons, the Red Wizards, Cult of the Dragon, etc.

I also like the "one unique thing" part of character creation, although the mechanics are kind of murky since it's suppose to have some kind of mechanical effect, but non an overly practical one, but doesn't give you much in the way of guidelines or examples  (that I have seen yet, I've still got lots more to read).

I really hope that WOTC puts out a great 5th edition, and that people love it.  But it's probably not something I'm going to experience up close, because I have become "that guy."

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