Wednesday, January 11, 2012

D&D 5e: Vox Populi

So 5th edition is on the march and the people will have their voice in it.  

Question, is that necessary? In short, no.

1)       WotC has all the market info they need already in the form of: reaction to 4th, success of Pathfinder, and the rise of OSR.  What is Billy from Madison going to tell you? I like goblins more than skeletons? Who cares!
2)       Everyone has a way they play the grand old game and no one will be 100% happy with your design decisions.  By involving people, you are instantly creating conflict and potential backlash against your game before it launches.  New untried games may need this, D&D does not.
3)       While this does provide a “social media” buzz the marketing kids are hot for, it will not provide a workable nor cohesive design blue print.  
4)       This only reaches out to or excites the veteran players who will buy your stuff anyway! The new potential player will not be responding to this, and frankly THAT is who you should be reaching out to most.  Swapping pieces of the same pie around with Paizo is pointless, you need to get a bigger pie my friend.

To me this idea is akin to asking everyone watching the Oscars to vote on what the best movie of all time is, and announce you will make a movie based on an amalgam of people’s replies.

I looked through 4th, played a few sessions and quickly abandoned it never purchasing any of it.  It took too long to do anything.  In the days before video games this may have been okay, but in today’s instant gratification consumer market, you can’t  try to mimic video games by codifying and emulating their workings in a paper based space.  Play to your strengths in relying on the flexibility and creativity of the individual and the game group.

To use a house analogy, the rules should be enough to provide the framework, and then rely on the individual to furnish the rest of it.  I see modules as furniture options to add in your house and source books as paint jobs or entire room add-ons.  Let people make of the game what they will, that is the strength of pen & paper RPG’s.  My only suggestion would be to go lean and mean with the rules, then provide lots of resources and let everyone make his game his own.  Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and even Skyrim can’t compete with that.  

Video games all have limits, Pen and Paper RPG’s still represent gaming with no limits.
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