Friday, July 18, 2014

My Take on the Edition Wars

This has been kinda rattling around in my head...because there's so much open space....

The "new" edition of D&D is out, has been out, and has been discussed quite a bit out in the ether.  I've watched this stuff unfold back in the 4e day as it has now and I've noticed something that perturbs me.  There appear to be a significant number of gamers out there who think "new edition = better game" and "old edition = worse game, so stop playing it".  Yes, these are generalizations and are fraught with possible exceptions.  But these statements aren't exactly what's bothering me.  I'm not sure I can put it in words, so let me relate a condensed "discussion" I had on a now defunct form when 4e came out:

4e Adorer: "Look at the new edition!  It's so cool! Look at all your character can do!"
Me: "Ummm, but that looks complicated.  How is complicated better than simple?"
4e Adorer: "Well, it's not complicated once you get used to it.  But look how much cooler your character is!"
Me: "Well, yeah, once you get used to anything, it's easier.  But what's wrong with the earlier edition?"
4e Adorer: "That was broken, this is fixed.  Look how cool your character can be!"
Me: "But it looks more like a video game.  I don't care for video games.  Can I just ignore those rules and still play like I'm accustomed to?"
4e Adorer: "What's wrong with you?  It's blasphemy to ignore rules!  Use the rules to see how cool your character can be!"
Me: "Hmmm, no, thanks.  I'll stick with my edition.  I like it."
4e Adorer: "Well, you should try playing it before you dismiss it.  It's so cool."

I guess my problem is in that last comment: "you should try playing it before you dismiss it".  Really?  Why?  That comment implies that I somehow lack the intelligence to make an informed opinion just from reading the rules.  And before you try to argue that it doesn't, switch the topic to something beer or an obscure foreign food or a movie or TV show.  Example: You might like Honey Peanut Butter beer, if you'd just try it.  You might like paneer makani if you'd just try it.  You might like the new Nicholas Sparks' movie if you'd just try it.  You might like "The Teletubbies" if you'd just try it. 

Do you see what I'm getting at?  If some one says "I don't like robot movies", we will quiz them on why.  That's human nature.  But if it boils down to "I just don't find them interesting", we tend to accept that and move on.  Granted, if we're big fans of robot movies we'd try to suggest titles to change the person's mind but we don't push it.  It's the same with food or drink or TV or music or just about anything else, except for gamers when discussing different editions.  Again, another generalization, but it mostly holds true.

So, just because 5e is new doesn't equate with 5e is better in my book.  Now, after all that squabbling about not trying new things, I have already accepted an invitation to try 5e as a player.  I don't hold a whole lot of hope that the experience will win me over because just reading the Basic free pdf put me off on several points.  I don't understand why ability scores aren't rolled first.  I don't see the need for tying something to each ability nor for the need to have bonuses for each thing.  I disliked the very first example because the DM should have asked for the character's Int score and modifier and then rolled it secretly.  The example allows for too much metagaming, and it violates the first rule the book lists: The DM describes the situation.

Sorry for the long ramble.  Honestly, I can't really tell the difference between OD&D, B/X, and AD&D too well.  Those are very similar and relatively interchangeable in my book.  But the insurgence of new rules and the strong implications of "You Must Play the Rules As Written" in the later editions just turned me off.  Yes, I tried them.  Had some fun for a while with 3.5 and PF, but only at the lower levels.  Was completely turned off by the rules of 4e.  And now, with 5e, despite the promises of it being "like the older editions" but with "new rules to appeal to a new audience", I just am not interested.  And I have to ask, if it plays like the older editions, then why not just play the older edition?  If I'm not a "new audience", then why do I need the new rules?
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