Letter to Mike Mearls -and- Do I Really Want an Answer?

Well, I sent a letter to Mike Mearls. I pretty much just copied my blog post to him. Hope he's not offended or anything. My intent was to give him some advice on how he might bring back some of the OS crowd. We'll see. I don't expect a response for a week or so, if at all. I'm sure he's busy what with all the layoffs and everything. In case you're interested the letter went something like this:


Hi Mr. Mearls,

Thanks for taking the time to read my note; I know you're very busy. I'm a long time gamer that started with 1e back in 1981. Though I've played 3.5 and 4e they are not really my style of play. I'm an old school gamer mostly playing C&C, but have played OSRIC when unable to get a 1e game together.

I'll be honest I've been a bit dismayed by the current directions of D&D, but I'm not really here to write about all that. I, like many others, are wondering about the rumors that Wizards is contemplating a 5e release. This is, as always, exciting. Especially since I hope against hope that maybe this edition will be closer to the way I like to play.

So I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to express my hopes for a 5th edition. I copy to you here my most recent blog post regarding these hopes and recommendations. I know I'm but one voice in the wilderness, but I do know that there are others who think similarly to me. So without further ado, my post:

--here I inserted the last entry of my blog--

Thanks again for taking the time to listen to my suggestions. I apologize if in any way I have offended. That was not my intention. My blog posts are a bit acerbic at times. But what I truly desire is to help the game be the best it can be.
Chris Jones aka Sizzaxe

We'll see, eh? I suppose I'm engaging in an effort of futility. I mean the real question is even if WoTC did change, why would it matter to me? Even if they could manage to put together a game that was as solid as Castles & Crusades or Hackmaster or even as good as DCC RPG looks in its beta stages. Why would I drop a sure thing for a company that has a track record of changes on average every 4 years. Literally every four years or less WoTC comes out with a new edition. Just look at the numbers for yourself:
1974 0e

1977-79 1e released
1990 2e released
2000 3e released
2003 3.5 released
2007 4e released
2012? 5e?

0e/1e/Basic are all kind of mashed together, but that gives a technical spread of

5 yrs between 0e and 1e
11 yrs between 1e and 2e
10 yrs between 2e and 3e
3 yrs between 3e and 3.5e
4 yrs between 3.5e and 4e
5 yrs between 4e and 5e

So under TSR we have an average of 8 and a half years between editions. Under WoTC: 4 years. So what if they can come up with a game that the OS crowd likes? Yeah, so what. 'Cause you can't count on it beiing supported beyond 3 years. Everybody is saying they are switching to 5e 'cause 4e flopped. Really? I have a hard time swallowing that if they change every four years anyway.

Nope. I think I'll stick with a sure thing. Castles & Crusades and Hackmaster are here for the long haul. I grew up in Austin, Texas; home base for Steve Jackson games. Even knew Bill Armentrout who used to write for them. They were always a small company. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller but never a corporate giant. Now, I own some GURPS books, but its not my game. I like class based systems. But the point here is that those who do like GURPS have counted on it for 30+ years. Steve has stayed small and focused on what they do best--write games. And he's not ashamed to bring people on for contract work to do game writing. And GURPS is still going strong.

Any other companies like that? You bet. Though they're a bit younger than Steve Jackson Games, you have Troll Lord Games, KenzerCo, and the venerable Flying Buffalo Games and a handful of others. The point is they stuck to what they were good at. I feel like the guys at Troll Lords are in it for the long haul. Same with Kenzerco. KenzerCo was in then unique position of having a game they had to let go to cut ties with WoTC, namely HM 4e, but they had already had resounding success with Aces & 8's. So they took that success and built HM from it. I have high hopes for AHM and have faith that both their games will continue getting the best support for years to come.

I mean, why change a winning combination. The more I look around the web the more surprised I am with how popular C&C is becoming. For lots of people C&C is their go to game for fantasy RPGing. And all the smoke WoTC made about trying to appeal to younger audiences, piffle. C&C just made an elegant game and kids naturally flock to it. I know more gamers whose game of choice for newbies and kids is C&C. It's what I'm gonna play with my kids when they are old enough (they're getting close too). But C&C is also the preferred game of tons of adult gamers as well. You can have your cake and eat it too.

So what if WoTC copies the success of C&C and the other variants and clones out there? Well, they do have marketing power and lots more money to invest. But I defy you to come out with a book or supplement as high quality as C&C's core books. Or KenzerCos Frandor's Keep or new Hacklopedia of Beasts. It doesn't get any better than that. So for me, even if Wizards gets smart and joins the game again, I think I'll have to say thank you very much; I wish you luck, but I've already got my brand: Dr. Pepper and C&C/HM.

Video courtesy of Troll Lord Games You Tube Channel
Featuring: The Illimitable Stephen Chenault -- Troll Lord and Dr. Pepper Drinker


DRANCE said…
Chris, thanks again for another great post! You have been putting out some great content of late on your blog, and I commend you for your efforts! Keep up the good work and keep spreading the word of C&C! And screw Mountain Dew, for Dr. Pepper is the true RPG elixir!
Chris said…
Yep! Gotta keep the Dr. close at all times. Life without the Dr. is like an adventuring party without a cleric. Doomed from the start
; - )

Thanks Drance!
ADD Grognard said…
You have been on a roll lately :)

Your revelations are happening faster than mine did but I kept looking for different information sources to back up what I was reading.

We will know soon enough. The scuttle butt is that they will be announcing their intentions at GenCon.

Given the trend for the year I would say that they will probably shift the game to more of a boardgame focus, throwing in extra scenarios as they go which are cheap to produce and an easy VAR item to distribute at little to no cost.

Look at what they have done over recent history:

Canceled Heroscape

Canceled 4e books up through the end of 3Q

Canceled their Minis line.

'Re-absorbed' Essentials by releasing what was to be an Essentials book in the standard 4e format.

Got rid of most of the R&D dept.

Have given all their love and attention to expensive board games (that probably cost them about $2 to make).

And the one I'm still looking into-Can anybody point me to a release schedule for 2012 of 4e product because I can't seem to find one.

And Chris, don't let this wild and wacky world of the 'new' old school trip you up. Just enjoy the chaos and taste the goodness that is the old school way :)
Chris said…
Hey, AD&D Grognard!

Good to hear from you again. Yeah, it was your site that got me to looking and searching. Thank you for that btw.

I'm not really wound up about new school. I was intrigued b/c Mearls is talking so much about rules light gaming in his L&L blog on the wizards site. I would think it a great thing if Wizards decided to go rules light. Astonishing actually. But as JD Higgins said his 4e diehards shout him down every time he tries to bring it up.

I find it all very interesting and telling. But yes, in the end there are too many good games out there ready to play to lose sleep over what WoTC decides to do.


Popular Posts