Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reactions to DnD Next Open Playtest

WotC has released their Open Playtest and the internet is reacting, good and bad, as we all suspected.  I can't say I'm surprised at the negative backlash, but some of the arguments perplex me.

There has been concern about fracturing the fanbase...could it fracture much more?  I think once we see more of the playtest, it will become apparent that quite a bit of what they're working on is designed to work within DnD Next, but more importantly, easily fit into other editions/retroclones.  Since the key to DnD Next is Ability Scores and all editions of DnD use them, it's a strong possibility that WotC hopes you'll play their game, but at the very, very least buy their books to use with your version of "DnD".  That's what seems to have changed the most to me developmentally, WotC is less concerned with trying address every conceivable rules situation (which with a game as big as DnD is understandable) and more accepting of the empowerment of the DM and acknowledging that your DnD and mine are not necessarily the same.   And that's OK and you can still buy are books to use for your DnD.

I've seen people complaining that the stat blocks in the DnD Next Caves of Chaos being too simple.  You read that right.  Now stat blocks are too simple!  Apparently there is concern about that a monster's Saves are to complex now and that a DM has to look up their Ability Scores.  My retort is that now I can simply improvise their Abilities and go from there.  Not that I couldn't have done something like that in previous editions, but I think anchoring everything to Abilities is much easier to learn as a player and more importantly to new DM's.

People seem to also be angered that WotC is reaching out to the OSR.  But what are they supposed to do?  Ignore us, which many people got angry about?  WotC has noticed that the OSR is a source of money and customers.  As a company they want to reach out to customers and make money.  Just like Paizo or Goblinoid or TSR before all of them.

The Open Playtest is a marketing ploy.  There is nothing wrong with it and its not that different from the Pathfinder Playtest or Goblinoid making a free, no art version of Labyrinth Lord.  I'm going to say that right now, WotC is marketing better than with 4E.  I'd say that has more to do with Hasbro than personnel  at WotC.  In fact, whatever strikes WotC is making is probably because Hasbro is too busy raking in Magic: the Gathering money than trying to turn DnD into Magic.

My last point is not meant to be negative, but realistic.  As long as Hasbro owns DnD, we will go through all of this within the next 5-8 years for DnD 6E.  Hasbro has shown with 3.5, 4, and Essentials that the easiest way to make money in this industry is just to redo the rules.
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