Friday, October 19, 2012

D&D Next update

The last Legends and Lore article offers a glimpse of what's to come in the next D&D Next playtest packet, as well as the direction that the game is headed in overall.  I'll admit that I haven't followed the playtest very closely recently.  Without a face-to-face group (temporarily, fortunately) and because I've been following other games so closely (The One Ring, 13th Age, Edge of the Empire, and Radiance; I'll get a review of that last one up as soon as I have time to read more of the pdf), D&D just hasn't been a huge priority.  I also disliked a lot of changes made to the recent playtests.  Failure became virtually non-existent for Rogues making skill checks (looks like that's changing), skill became tied to ability scores again instead of applying as a bonus to any applicable ability check (thankfully that sub-system is gone as well), and Warlocks and Sorcerers muddied the waters a bit, especially with the Wizard traditions not even previewed yet (that one might get addressed). 

Ultimately, the playtest is in a constant state of refinement, which is absolutely a good thing.  Rules will go in undesirable directions, and the players (and designers!) will learn from that.  Hopefully the game will end up more polished because of it.  Honestly, the brand faces a lot of competition, and that will likely continue to increase.  For fantasy roleplaying, 13th Age, Radiance, and Dungeon World are all new games that bring a lot to the table.  Those games have specific goals and they meet those goals very well.  For players seeking that specific niche, they might be unparalleled.  It's tough for a versatile, "do everything" type of system like D&D Next to hold up well in those niches. 

But perhaps all is not lost.  Being able to apply a familiar core mechanic with modular options to a wide variety of gaming styles is desirable for groups that like to alternate between different styles.  They won't have to constantly remember different rules every time they start up a new game.  Additionally, mechanics from one of those other systems can possibly even be hacked onto D&D Next without too much effort (13th Age in particular has several mechanics that can easily port into another system, namely the Escalation Die, Backgrounds, One Unique Thing, and the Icon Relationship Dice). 

I guess the best part of all this is that there's never been a better time to be a tabletop gamer.  We have so many options these days that pretty much anyone should have a game that meets their needs, and for those who like to sample a lot of different games it's tough to get bored, even within a single genre.

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