Tuesday, January 10, 2012

D&D Next (aka 5th Edition): An Outsyder's Perspective

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast announced that the next version of D&D will begin development soon, and that the fan base will be called upon to beta test and provide feedback. To say that this is exciting news would be an understatement of great magnitude (oxymoron?).

I'm only 28 years old, but I still started playing Dungeons & Dragons in the 80's with AD&D 1st Edition. I missed OD&D, but I've played 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, 4th, and this boxed set. I've loved all of them, but if I had to put them in order of preference, my list would look like this:

  1. D&D 3.5
  2. D&D 3.0
  3. D&D 2nd Edition
  4. AD&D
  5. D&D 4E

Most of that list Wizards probably doesn't care about... what matters most is that 3.5 is on top and 4E is on the bottom. I don't know what it was about 4th edition that killed the mood for me. It wasn't the emphasis on combat (because I like combat). It wasn't the World of Warcraft similarities (because I haven't really played WoW). It wasn't how poorly implemented skill challenges were (because I rarely used them). I loved the idea of 4E, the theory behind much of what was created, and especially the ease with which DMs can craft adventures on the fly (although it was, arguably, even easier in 1e/2e). But something just wasn't right.

I still can't put my finger on it. All I know is that when 4E was released in 2008, it took from June until the end of November for my group to get bored with 4E and switch to other games. We just moved on, and we've gotten in a lot of Rifts, D20 Modern, Magic: The Gathering, and Warhammer 40K... but we haven't had more than a single-session one-shot with 4E since.

The idea of a 5th edition makes me excited about D&D again. I remember how much I loved Tome of Battle, and how excited I was to read on EN World that it was a testing ground for mechanics that we would see updated versions of in 4E. I just signed up to be informed of the playtesting opportunities. I hope WotC will consider my little gaming group a worthy enough crew to do some testing and provide feedback.

Here's hoping we see a version of D&D that is at least loosely compatible with D&D 3.5 that uses Tome of Battle as inspiration. And here's hoping they bring my crew and me along for the ride!


  1. We'll see... we'll see. I'm 40 and have been playing D&D/RPGs since I was 13. To me 2e was the worst; it removed all the flavor from the game and was to limiting with class selection. 3/3.5 was the best in terms of class choices (maybe almost a little to unlimited, but still, it allowed for flair). 4e did the same thing that 2e did with limited choices, and the combat system devolved into a miniatures tabletop game (almost as if WotC was just trying to finally get people to D&D Miniatures).

    I've not played actual d20/D&D in a long time, as I've discovered other gaming systems that I've come to prefer (Rifts/Palladium, Tribe 8, Song of Ice & Fire, et.al.). But, I am interested to see what happens with D&D. It is the granddaddy of them all and it should not go gently into that goodnight.

  2. 2e the worst!?!? I guess it shines a little brighter for me because I never really played 2e by itself. For much of the time I was running "2e", we had the Player's Handbook, a few Forgotten Realms boxed sets, and a bunch of "Complete Books of X"... but we were still using the 1st edition DMG, Monster Manual, and Fiend Folio for tons of stuff.

  3. 2e gets a lot of hate, but I'm with you on having a lot of fun with it. I played Basic and AD&D, but 2e was the version that I became a DM with (so it will always have that nostalgia factor).
    2e also had some of the greatest settings and boxed sets TSR ever produced (I loved Dark Sun, Al-Quadim, Spelljammer and the Undermountain sets). Sure, they bankrupted the company, but it was a great time to get into the hobby.

    1. Amen to the greatest settings and boxed sets... I'd add Night Below to that list as well.


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