Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wizards Online Playtest Agreement

There has been an unexpected development. I don't know why this didn't cross my mind earlier, as I knew there would be some sort of NDA for the public playtest. But reading the OPA, I'm uncertain exactly what sort of posts I can make here. The way I read it feedback developed from the playtest is supposed to be exclusively directed to Wizards. I completely understand of course, but it makes posting my thoughts here a sort of gray area. So my last post which stated the questions I would be answering here, may have been premature. I really don't know how detailed I can get and I don't want to violate the OPA and end up being disallowed to participate in future 5e playtests.

So that being said I'll just say I downloaded the first playtest packet and I really like what I see so far. I highly encourage others to also sign up for the playtest, especially old schoolers. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find therein. I will of course ne posting some of my thoughts on the Wizards forums, so you can check them out there, under the username Sizzaxe. And I'll be posting regularly to my blog, just not much specifics on the actual playtest materials or my feddback.

Just coincedentally I just got my GURPS Fantasy & GURPS Magic books in the mail yesterday. And they too look very cool. So far I really like the Fantasy book, and am looking forward to receiving Banestorm today. You can definitely expect my thoughts on those over the course of the next few days, so stay tuned.

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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

GURPS Already Does It

So I'm trying to get a handle on what D&D Next does. How it's going to work, what the mechanics might be like, and I'm beginning to see a trend. Some time ago I wrote about the fact that options are the players friend. Players love lots of options for their PCs. Many come to the gaming table with a definite concept in mind. A thief that teleports, a sort of necromantic fighter type, an elemental gadgeteer or what have you. Then they get frustrated because we are always saying you can't this or you can't that. And while some players understand there are often genre limitations, what they don;t understand is being told no when it makes no sense other than the GM says so.

Next seems to be working themes in such a way as to provide player options and flexibility while keeping overall power levels manageable. So you can take a fighter, and give him a warlock theme for your necromantic fighter--as a stupid example. And so far, from what I can tell, it's a little clunky. But hey, they are just starting out. When it hit me.

GURPS already does this. And much more elegantly I might add.

When second edition AD&D came around the trick was to consolidate and expand. Well, okay I don't know if they planned an expansion or not, but the game became mammoth. Not quite as mammoth as 3.5 ended up being, but still quite large. And look at the options that were added. Skills expanded like never before. The foundation of feats were laid therein, point buy systems became common and combat maneuvers and mechanics abounded.

I've often wondered why 2e took these directions after the fact. At the time I knew little about most of them as I was still playing 1e. But looking back I surmise that it was an attempt to incorporate options, often drawn from other systems. Systems like GURPS, which were popular in their own way back in the day as well. When I first thought this, I kind of pitied the designers. I mean there they were trying to scramble to squeeze everything into their game so as to appeal to as many people as possible. Into a game that really wasn't designed for all those options. It made kind of a mess actually, and 2e overall met with failure as a game.

Ouch! There will be those that don't like that last statement--oops. Allow me then to clarify. Some people loved 2e. And there were some innovations that actually were good ideas. I personally liked the d10 for initiative, the cleric domains and the magic schools. But the edition came at the dying end of TSR and couldn't do what was needed to really pull it out. I suppose part of the blame lays in bad management and poor business practices too.

My point here is that 2e kept trying to become a game it wasn't designed to be. I think 3e tried to remedy alot of this, and managed to a great extent. 4e became a different game altogether, more limited but more efficient. And now, here we are at Next. Trying to be everything to everyone. Sound familiar?

Monday, May 21, 2012

The D&D Next Cleric & On Call Healing


So I'm  reading, and thinking hey, this is a pretty good idea overall. But then I get to this,
 
"We want to make the cleric as optional for a group as a fighter, wizard, or rogue. ... First, it's worth noting why we want to reduce the party's reliance on healing magic."
 
*DoH!* Forehead slap ...
 
 
 
I mean why change a basic assumption of the game? Namely that Clerics heal. That foundational assumption says so much about the nature and quality of what D&D IS. I mean if we rely on Clerics to heal that automatically brings the Gods and divine magic as central to the game. It establishes that D&D is a game where divine magic is central to the system. 
 
So I write my brother and he calmed me down a bit, by responding,
 
"I read this article this morning, too. And like you, I loved the first 3/4 of it and then out of nowhere Mearls talks about clerics as an option to the game! What?! 
 
Then I re-read the article. On second glance, it doesn't seem that Mearls wants to take divine healing out of the game, just make the specific class of cleric less vital to a parties' success. It makes sense to me from a 4e stand point; a party doesn't have to have a bonified cleric, but they do need someone to fill the leader role.
 
So, thinking about it from a simple game logistics perspective, I can see the concept being a redeeming quality of 5e. In the past three weeks I've DMd and PCd in campaigns where the cleric was absent from the session and it sucked. My ex-barbarian turned knight almost died twice. And DMing a group in an encounter which I built four days earlier PLANNING on the party having a healer and then changing things in-game is a headache to say the least.
 
That said, I don't understand how hit dice are going to solve this for 5e. While I can see Mearls point I'm not even sure what he means by hit die....as it doesn't jive with my current concept of the term. But, it doesn't seem like he wants to take divine healing out of the game, just the requirement to have a cleric. It makes sense that he doesn't want ONE class to handicap the game, a problem which he says he cures with "hit dice?" I don't even know what he's talking about. Do you? Maybe you can explain."
 
To which I responded:
Yeah, to me I think he's talking about hit die meaning how many times you have rolled for HP with your PC. In other words let's say you are 4th level fighter. You would have 4 hit die. An 8 Hit Die monster would roll 8d8 for hp.
 
I'm not exactly sure, b/c he isn't really clear--but it seems like you will heal from wounds--maybe up to half your HP according to your hit die. So your fourth level fighter may heal overnight or with a prolonged rest  by 4 hp (since you have 4 hit die) or maybe you get to roll 4d10 to see how much you heal with a rest. It also sounds like he may be thinking about making healing more difficult for the bottom half of your hp--as that represents more serious damage. And maybe even longer if you've dropped below zero. To me it's a way of getting around surges with quick healing based on hit die. I don't think most people liked surges.
 
And I suppose it's okay to try and "balance things out" once again by changing a basic assumption in the game. Yeah D&D was a bit unbalanced and wonky, but that was D&D. It had a certain feel. Look at it this way. Does it make sense that you will be safer physically with a doctor who also happens to be a priest when you go caving in the troll cave? I mean he's gonna make sure you have frequent prayer for divine protection, can heal minor scrapes, handle serious injuries, watch for infection, even give priesthood blessings should he need to. He will also set a spiritual tone for the entire adventure. If he doesn't come, can we make up for that loss? No, not really. I mean we are trained in first aid, CPR and can recognize a cold or flu (maybe) but we are going to be incredibly underprepared without him. Same thing as a cleric.
 
But my brother had a good point in return, "That's a strong argument, but look at it this way: what if physician-priests weren't the only ones trained in surgery and the proper care of injuries? Or, for that matter, consider endowing other classes with priesthood power beyond the devoted cleric. Classes like the avenger, paladin, and warlord are current 4e classes that have access to such powers. That said, I'm a proponent of the reduction in the number of classes, but even I'll admit introducing variations on the cleric build as stand alone classes (anything that fulfills the leader role in 4e) is an cleaner way to generate a character that would've been strictly classified as a cleric in earlier editions and makes it easier for us as DMs because we don't have to houserule PC backgrounds as often. For example, in 1e you could play a laser cleric or a battle cleric. If you had a player that wanted to basically play a 4e avenger, he'd have to come up with a stellar background and then get it cleared through the DM, requiring several iterations, no doubt. But now you can select a stand alone class that fulfils the leader role and play a "cleric" that's more customized, yet offers the party some of the same "safety" of a traditional cleric, as you are proficient to some extent in temporal and divine healing." 
 
My brother is great. And his comments made me realize that perhaps I was being a bit narrow minded. I mean take the strength of a system like GURPS and then take a look at what Next seems to be trying to achieve. Customization within the class system that seeks to retain a 2e feel. Mearls himself recently admitted surprise at the fact that 2e has contributed so much to Next. I can see how the idea of themes is developing out of the kits idea into a much more versatile GURPS style customization. Are they "bastardizing the class system" as Gary exclaimed some time ago? That remains to be seen. We'll have to see how the various classes play and if they retain their distinctive identity. 

Which brings me to my brother's last email of the day when I expressed some frustrations at the radical changes WoTC felt compelled to make in what I consider the core of D&D,
 
"I don't see it quite the same way. I see it as them trying to create a game that is interpreted the same way by a broader audience; to make it a more playable game for more people. I really think they desire to improve the cohesion of the game across dining room tables all over the world. I just haven't seen anything proving or alluding to anything different.

To continue, obviously, there were significant and differing opinions on how to play D&D in the earlier editions. This is much less common with the current edition IMO. I'll support that statement with the absolute NEED for house rules in previous editions, i.e. things were done differently in each game you played. With each edition, additional rules were introduced (I'll admit, with varying levels of success) and the game was (arguably) streamlined -- that was their intent anyway. This sometimes changed the entire system, like when d20 was introduced and sometimes utterly failed like when 3e was updated shortly after its release with 3.5e.


Finally, we have 4e, in which if you are to houserule anything, you'll most likely be going against a stated rule in 4e. For example, the way 4e handles crits and fumbles in 4e is too conservative for me. So, I houserule a more severe penalty in my game. I do the same thing for swimming rules and shifting enemies more than twice your size with a martial power (a very annoying feature of the current fighter class). This is my right as a DM and the DMG says I can do so if I feel like it, but I don't HAVE to."

This has given me a lot to think about, and has continued to help me keep an open mind towards the release of Next. Could indeed old school gamers feel at home once again in a currently supported version of D&D?

Machine Gun Posting

Okay, I've been gone for almost two weeks now. Well, not gone, here and really confused. I have started numerous posts, but either I would start them and realize they weren't what I really felt. Or I would finish a long one, and realize that I sounded way more confident than I feel. Truthfully, I've been suffering a bit of blog paralysis lately. I received a little flak, that threw me off my game. I became worried that I was offending people--which wasn't my real fear anyway. I was really afraid I might drive someone away from the hobby I love so much. And the last thing we need is people leaving the hobby. I certainly didn't want to be the cause of someone feeling bad for playing their edition because some pompous windbag (read: Me) was spouting off.

Well, today I realized it had been almost two weeks since I had posted anything and I felt a bit foolish. Even more so than when I offended someone. I mean I obviously have people that like reading my drivel occasionally as well, so don;t I owe them a thing or two as well? I think so--maybe more than I owe the politically correct police.

It was them that I decided to just post pretty much everything I had written, finished or not in the last few weeks and a few more things beside. I know that's annoying, but it will at least let you know where I've been intellectually these past few days. Don't of course feel any obligation to read it all--I just wanted to get it out there. If there is any redeeming quality to my little blog here, it is that I've been as honest as I can be. Authors license aside (I do tend to melodramatize a bit). So there it is, machine gun style.

So during all of this one of the best things for me were the questions my brother sent me. They really helped me to realize a few things. Here I quote from my most recent email:

"You probably are interested in where I'm at exactly gamewise. I've realized that D&D was what it was and it is what it is. I am kind of torqued at the D&D industry--as they have screwed things up imo. And this goes for TSR, WoTC, Hasbro and the whole lot. It seems to me like they are interested in redesigning the game every so often. This irritates me, as the game was fine the way it was. But hey, who am I, right?
 
So I'm trying to realize these redesigns are basically a different game with different assumptions. But if you count them (and this doesn't even include all the clones) do you realize there are over 14 different versions of what is basically  the D&D game?! I mean that is ridiculous.
 
I'm keeping an eye on 5e. But I'm more than a little worried that a 6e redesign will be what comes next. And I know this isn't the only business model out there that works, 'cause Steve Jackson Games, Flying Buffalo Games, Chaosium and Palladium have managed to do it differently. They have their problems, but have been in business since the dawn of the hobby producing the same games they started with. I can only wish that was the case with D&D. I'm just tired of being jerked around like a consumer on a string.
 
But I've also realized I play how I play, and exactly what I play doesn't matter too much. I do like having a consistent company supporting the same game however--all these changes are annoying."
 
More than anything I'm pissed off at the gaming companies. But hey, that doesn't really do anybody any good. But don't be surprised if I continue to rant a bit about it from time to time. I mean my plans are still to playtest the new 5e package come Thursday. I'm gonna stay optimistic. And in a way I really am, even if they do piss me off ever other press release. I truly hope they can build a game that lets us old school guys feel at home within. That lets us play the way we like. 
 
Which leads me to the other point I've re-realized lately. It really doesn't matter what you play. What edition, version or game. What really matters is who you are playing with. I am going to try and spend less time edition analyzing and more time building a good group of gamers. Because I've found that although some games let you play in your style a little easier than others, what will really cramp your style more than anything else is who you play with.  

At the end of this school year, I sent quite a bit of hate Pathfinders way. And truthfully that was unfair of me. It's a good system, a really good one. I have had some good times playing it. For that matter I've had a good time playing 4e as well. It was playing with difficult gamers that made this gaming year difficult, not the game we were playing. I may have blamed Pathfinder, but the blame really lay elsewhere. And I'll also shoulder some of that blame myself. As I said above, I think I learned the importance of investing time in creating a good group. That will pay much greater dividends than spending all of my time trying to find the "perfect system".

Questions to ask yourself about your gaming:

My brother emailed a list of questions recently to help me clarify my gaming directions. They actually did make me think quite a bit, so I share them here, for you that might find them helpful too:

1. What are the top 3 reasons you play RPGs? Rank your answers in order from 1 to 3, 1 being the top reason.
2. What is the percent split of the answers listed above? For example, 1) 60%, 2) 30%, 3) 10%
3. What percent of the time do you currently DM? PC?
4. What is the ideal ratio of time you'd like to DM vs PC?
 
5. What is your favorite RPG genre, e.g. fantasy, science fiction, western, etc.?
6. How do you define a "high magic" campaign? What about "low-magic"?
7. How do you define a "high fantasy" campaign? What about "low fantasy"?
8. What level of lethality do prefer in your campaigns as a DM? What about as a PC?
9. What percent of all encounters (melee, i.e. direct combat,and non-melee, i.e. traps, etc.) should be near lethal and what percent should be "powder puff"?
 
10. Describe the best melee encounter of your DMing experience.
11. Describe the best non-melee encounter of your PC experience.
12. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most important, how critical is role-playing (talking/acting/playing "in character") to you as a DM? As a PC?
 
13. As a DM, would you rather an actor or an experienced gamer at the table? As a PC, which would you rather?
14. How well do you handle negative PC behavior as a DM?
15. How well do you handle a PC being a jerk as a DM?
16. How well do you handle a PC's lack of attention/focus to the game as a DM?
 
17. What was your favorite PC and why?
18. What was your favorite PC to DM and why?
19. If you could DM ANY four players, alive or dead, who would they be and why?
20. What three players, alive or dead, would you hand-select to join your PCs party and why?

Maybe I Quit D&D

Steve Jackson Games is one of the longest running role playing game companies in existence. Next to Chaosium (RuneQuest, and Call of Cthulhu), Palladium ((Rifts) and Flying Buffalo Games (Tunnels and Trolls) SJG has shown a dedication to the ideals of gaming beyond about any other company I can think of. I am so tired of being let down by companies trading hands, going out of business and discontinuing lines that support my gaming. Yes, I could continue playing them even if the company or line was sold or discontinued. But a I have made clear in numerous previous posts—I want an actively supported line, by a reliably supportive company of GAMERS.

Is intimately tied to #1. SJG has stayed true to their flagship RPG. Though GURPS has grown immensely over the years, with the biggest changes being their 3rd edition line, and their biggest consolidation 4th, GURPS itself has remained basically unchanged. I don't expect SJG to radically change the game in the future either. Will their be a 5th edition? Undoubtedly—but it will still be GURPS, not some unrecognizable simulacra thereof.

I have learned that I prefer a game that allows for unlimited flexibility and creativity. This has been discovered in my love for systems like the original Dungeons & Dragons game, Swords & Wizardry, Castles & Crusades and the like. GURPS is the ultimate creators toolkit.

But I have also realized that I love a level of detail and crunch in a system through games like Hackmaster, Rifts and even the good times I had in 3.5and 4e. The problem of course is that such games can become restrictive and can feel too confining. However GURPS allows the best of both worlds. I can create anything and have the mechanics it back it up.

And I have to admit, I like a dangerous world in which death is a constant presence. I don't like having games where the fantasy is carried to such an extreme that death is rarely possible. Unless of course that is a basic assumption of the game such as a superhero game. GURPS can accomplish both ends of these extremes, but it's core game is one where death is a realistic presence. In other words you don't generally have much HP in GURPS. Combat must be entered into with caution strategy in mind.

Which leads me to my sixth reason—realism. The main reason I participate in role playing games is for communal escape. A fantastic based escape into the worlds of imagination. Especially those that allow for adventure beyond what we normally encounter in our everyday lives. However, I am also of a very rational mind—even though my imagination often carries my thoughts into Ultima Thule and beyond, my logical mind expects a level of reason and reality to my fantasy. The realistic foundation upon which GURPS is based appeals to my desires for a “realistic” fantasy.

My appeal for Hackmaster is, I realize, partially generated by the gaming comradery of the Knights of the Dinner Table. But it is also preserved by the level of what I call the old school ethos within the game. This ethos is partially captured by the GM vs player mentality so prevalent in the comic and to a lesser degree in the games' rules themselves. But the structure of the game itself does this via a number of very real mechanics. First is the player optimization potential within the game. Via point buy options, ability manipulation, advantages, disadvantages, quirks, perks, skills, powers and the like-- players are free to engage in free wheeling optimization and character creation potential thus creating the best PC possible with which to face the GMs created challenges. But the structure of the system is also very realistic and deadly, incorporating criticals, hit location, and the like thus making challenges significant regardless of the players efforts at optimization. The whole effect is very much like Hackmaster in a completely unexpected way.

But this similarity is, upon further reflection quite logical. Hackmaster is a syncretic parody of two game systems—Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS. Even the fictional head of Hard eight enterprises Gary Jackson—attests to the fact that the two huge names in gaming at that time, Gary Gygax and Steve Jackson are preserved in his moniker. Essentially communicating that Hackmaster was preserving the ethos of a period of gaming when GURPS and D&D held sway over the gaming world.

The personal connection here becomes even stronger. I grew up gaming in Austin, Texas. Without giving my home address let's just say that the HQ of Steve Jackson games was about 4 blocks from my childhood home. Just behind my Elementary School. I understand that SJG has now moved, but as a part of my youth SJG figured very prominently. In central Texas there really were two systems at the time: D&D and GURPS. There were other fly by nighters, but those were the mainstays. I did play Car Wars, OGRE and admired Steve Jackson and his company highly, even if my main game was AD&D. I even had a friend in my church who was a game designer for them for a few years.

So when we talk old school, what are we really talking about? The old school ethos preserved in Hackmaster has it's roots in two gaming systems. Some might say that HM was really trying to preserve AD&D2e, with its proliferation of character options and game expansion. But much of the character and campaign options of 2e were rooted in other game systems. Especially those systems that had pursued a model of skill based PCs instead of the class based PCs upon which D&D was based for so long. It was an effort to bring these methods to players of D&D, likely with the idea of keeping all gamers within its fold.

Above and beyond my past considerations, there is something else I've realized. My early gaming showed efforts to bring in other games, other genres to my gaming group with minimal or limited success. I have always had a penchant for science fiction, but it has been an itch rarely scratched. Lovecraftian horror has been my longest foray into other fields of gaming—bu that is a love often enjoyed in private; but most of my nonD&Drelated gaming has been Call of Cthulhu.

My RPGs: AD&D 1e, Gamma World, RuneQuest, Star Frontiers, Top Secret, Traveler, Space Opera, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, AD&D 2e, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, D&D 3.5, D&D 4e, OSRIC, Hackmaster Basic, Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord AEC

But of those only 1e, 4e, OSRIC & Pathfinder of any significant length. My reason for mentioning this here is to show I have desires to play other games, experience other genres, especially science fiction and have been unable to fulfill that wish. Often the greatest barrier to playing a different genre is that it requires changing systems, learning an entirely new way to play. GURPS circumvents this by offering a single system for any genre you would wish to play.

All this being said there are of course issues with GURPS. I'm not fooling myself that GURPS is some kind of perfect game. In fact as I've discussed this with my brother, who has been very helpful btw, he has jokingly called this my search for the perfect game. In a way I suppose there's truth to that. But not in the sense that I think a perfect game exists. GURPS, has it's issues mechanically and stylistically. As does every game on the market.

However, I've been immersed in D&D style gaming since my entry into the hobby so long ago. It's sort of in my gaming DNA as it were. I think my opinion of gaming has been colored to such a degree that I can no longer see clearly when it comes to RPGs more generally. To be short, I feel it is time to get out of my D&D jeans as it were. Try on some new duds.

I also realize that given the nature of the variability of my gaming analyses, and opinions I am committed to sticking with the same system for at least two years. I would say one year, but my gaming cycle tends to run in yearly intervals. And I do tend to change systems at more or less yearly intervals anyway. So I wanted to break my usual pattern and initiate a new era for me. My indecision tends to cause me to vacillate from system to system trying this and trying that in an effort to regain something that was lost.

Now, I've written numerous entries about the loss of an era in gaming. When TSR was sold an age changed. For the past 3 or 4 years I've been tooling around the OSR, sometimes at the edges, sometimes deep within it's search for the past. I've sampled the new, modern age as well; playing the latest iterations of the D&D legacy. The fact is I've been unable to find the world that was lost—but that may be because I've been locked into a D&D only mindset for so long I cannot see the forest for the trees.

Deciding to switch out of this mindset is really the only way out of the rut I've been in for some time now. Seeing this has helped me open my eyes to the fact that there has been an old school that I've been unable to see or at least to acknowledge as a possibility. As soon as I saw this I began to see GURPS and the gaming industry in a whole new light.

And call it personal angst or grudge, but I couldn't help but feel like the D&D world has misplaced themselves due to the fact that the company has changed, the D&D world has changed and I resent that more than a little. It made me envious of those fans of gaming systems that still had their parent companies intact and still producing their games. So I took a bit of a look around and realized that several lifetime companies (by that I mean in my gaming lifetime) are still up and running, doing their thing much to the happiness of their fans and supporters.

Flying Buffalo games preserves Tunnels & Trolls, which is evidently a great fantasy simulacra of early D&D (not quite but close). And tho' rich in tradition has never attracted me.

Chaosium is probably the next oldest, and has put out a number of highly rated games. Unfortunately only Call of Cthulhu remains largely unchanged. Tho' Chaosium has synthesized their game systems into the BRP release. It is new, and remains to be seen if it has any staying power. But I gave Chaosium much thought as it does have a strong universal system, and creates probably my second most favorite game CoC.

Palladium, like Flying Buffalo, inherits the D&D legacy through their Rifts line, largely built on the 1e framework. Though Kevin Siembieda has taken it far beyond what could still be called 1e. I am attracted to Rifts in strange and inexplicable ways. By all accounts it is a clunky, broken, overpowered system—but it still attracts me. However, it is a somewhat narrower system than GURPS in scope and still very close to the D&D Matrix. I need to unhook from the Matrix and see reality for what it really is.

D&D Frustration


To tell the truth I'm more than a little frustrated with the whole D&D scene. I can't blame D&D really. I mean the game itself is blameless. Even 4e and 3 and 3.5 and we'll throw in Pathfinder. I won;t even blame 5e. But I just don't get the, "we've got to change it" mentality. I am more than a little disgusted with gaming companies. They think that they've got to make things better, when they already have a pretty darn good game. It's not necessary to redesign your whole freaking game when an errata will do--even a reprint of your previous rules with errata included. Maybe a reorganization of material if it could use improvement.

D&D Next and Gaming Confusion

Or maybe gaming profusion. I have been in a state of gaming flux for the past two weeks or so. I mean at first I was really excited about the D&D Next release. They would say something that got me really hyped, and with the next article would completely bum me out. Just to cite two recent examples: the Wizard design goals and the downplay of Cleric healing. I am trying to hold on. I really am. I have tried to stay dedicated to running a 5e playtest, but it is getting harder by the day.