Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The D&D Next First Playtest Release is Tomorrow

And I'm still not sure how I feel. I'm dubious, I think that much is clear from my posts. But there are lots of people I respect that are trying to keep my mind open. I'm also trying to not let my frustration with the D&D Empire jade my view of WoTC's new game.

There are lots about the new rules that I really like. But there are things that pop up from time to time that I definitely do not like. And I like them so little that it makes me doubt the whole project. I wonder how they can make some of the changes they make and still call the game D&D. And then I try and remind myself that maybe what "I" call D&D isn't what others see it as. So I continue to wait and see.

And I won't have much longer to wait. Tomorrow the playtest packet comes out, and we can actually give this birdie a fly. I think it would disingeuous of me to make all the bold, opinionated pronouncements I've made and not actually give the thing a fair test drive. And let me tell you I for one will be very pleased if I have to eat crow dinners for a week. I want this to succeed. I really do. I want this to be the game that can pull the D&D family back together again. I've been posting fairly regularly (for me anyway) on the Wizards fora making my voice heard. And I WILL run the playtest.

In fact I really want to run two playtests at least, and maybe a third if I can pull an online game together. I have one interested party right now for an online playtest, so we'll see how that goes. And of course I'll be posting my experiences here on the blog. You can check out my more WoTC oriented responses on their fora. The surveys and such of course may not be shareable. They (Wizards) want to know some specific things in regard to their design objectives, so it may not be as useful for old schoolers as some of the stuff on my blog.

Here you can expect me to focus on the following:

1. Is the core game rules lite and provide for creative flexibility?
2. Does combat flow smoothly and quickly?
3. Is roleplay fostered within the context of the rules?
4. Is archetypal class play preserved in this edition?
5. Can you and your players let a good story rise to the surface with these rules?
6. Does it have the gritty "swords & sorcery" feel they were going for and I like?
7. What edition does it feel the most like? Original, Advanced, 3.5 or 4?
8. Is this a game I could get into long term?
9. Is this a game my players would like as well?
10. Are there any major stumbling blocks in the mechanics that turn the game off for me? Such as powers and minis were in 4e.

And there's probably other stuff as well, so expect more than that to come up. I'm also trying to keep in mind that this is only the first playtest. By month two we'll have PC generation rules and some more advanced stuff to dink around with. So I can't make my decision completely about some things until further along. But in a nutshell you are going to get what an old school gamer thinks about the New D&D.

There is one thing that may stop me dead in my tracks tho': if I read the playtest packet and hate it. I doubt this will happen, but it could. And of course at any point along the playtest cycle I could start hating things so much I just drop the project altogether. Right now I'm spending alot of time rereading my GURPS books, and really liking what I'm reading. They provide a shelter from the storm and chaos that is the D&D Industry right now. And moreover GURPS seems to have answered alot of the questions that WoTC is still struggling with. So I'm just saying there's a huge elephant in the room that I may simply hop onto and ride away into the gaming sunset to live happily ever after with. Don't dissapoint me Wizards, you've got lots of my dollars to lose.


Drance said...

Thanks for keeping an open mind, it’s good to see someone else who is trying to stay positive. It really is baffling to me how so many people are already making judgments on a game they haven't even seen/read/played. Even if you do a word-by-word analysis of every piece of writing that Mike Mearls has released up to now, does that really give anyone a full idea of what this new edition is actually like? I'm sorry, but nothing can replace having the rules (even playtest rules) actually in your hands. I'll reserve judgment until then.

I guess I'm in the minority in our corner of the blogosphere. I dunno, I feel so excited to be involved with the hobby again. I've been back for a couple years and I'm so excited because I get to play again, I get to explore a bunch of new products that come out all the time (both OSR and otherwise), I've helped proofread a recently-released RPG, and now I'm going to be involved with two playtests coming up.

All told, this is stuff I dreamed about as a kid, especially when it comes to the proofreading and playtesting. It taps into my younger self's desire to actually "work" for a game company. I won't get paid for what I do, but I will be able to say I helped out with the growth of the hobby. And that sounds great to me. I feel really lucky to have an active gaming life right now, and I'm wondering if a lot of others are taking things for granted.

Chris said...

Exactly Drance. I couldn't have said it better myself. Gaming is the best hobby there is, and I too am grateful to have such an active gaming life. No reason to be negative with so much good stuff going on. Thanks for stopping by, it's always good to hear from you.

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