Sunday, March 18, 2012

An Open Letter to Mike Mearl's Regarding "Save or Die" (and other crap)

Not the True Cover for D&D Next, But it Could Be

I have a real simple solution for you.

If you don't like Save or Die as it has existed for decades, don't use it in the games you run or use it sparingly.

Simple, right?

If you don't like level draining undead in the campaigns you run, don't use them.  Holy crap!  Novel concept.

You don't need to rework a system that works just because you are a game designer and you like to tinker.  Tinkering with rules invariably adds complications that aren't needed, to address problems that aren't really there.

Before you work on shit that ain't broke, how about you show us how you are going to bring the players from 0e to 4e to one table, playing the with the same (new) edition of the game and keeping everyone happy.  We've seen a lot of talk about this lofty goal, but you are way off base if you think the only differences in the different editions is "rules complexity".

Show us how this will be accomplished.  Enough with the hype already.  Stop with the articles showing the latest "tweak" to a subsystem that has been around since 1974.  We want to see how the "one game to rule them all" will bring everyone together under one system.

Let's be honest:  all your articles (and Monte's) show is that WE WILL NOT be uniting behind the new system.  Change for the sake of change is worthless, and I for one will not spend money on a game that has no worth.  Show us something of value or don't show us anything at all.


A Frustrated Gamer


  1. You are so much more hopeful about 5e than I am. I just can't bring myself to even remotely believe that 5e will be anything but another edition of D&D that I won't be using. All that I am hoping for are some decent artwork and maps I can plunder when the system is abandoned and the game is put on deep discount.

  2. I've had the same reaction. This new edition seems like an exercise in Mearls house ruling D&D and making those house rules official. Bad idea, too, because nobody needs official D&D anymore. It's not enough to slap those words and a nice cover on a book.

  3. @JasonZavoda - have you read my series of "Picking Nits" posts? I have very little hope. Everything they've shown us is that they have no clue how to achieve the goal of "one system, all editions".

    That being said, if that really is their goal, I'm going to point out each fuck-up I perceive on their "marketing hype" series of posts in the hopes that they will get things right.

    I have little hope, and even less expectations.

  4. This isn't meant as a jab at him, but I do think the tone of all of this has shifted a bit since Mearls started posting again.

    Early one, whether it was blowing smoke or not, the tone was, "let's make an edition of D&D that everyone across the board can enjoy and takes the best of all of them."

    The implication being that there isn't so much a "right" version of the game, but they are working on one that appeals to a broad base.

    With the advent of Mearls post, we seem to be back to the "we are working on creating the perfect set of formulas and values for the demonstrably best version of the game," tone again.

    Granted, this time around, it's minus the "all of your games up to now have sucked" marketing, but it doesn't give much much hope that this really is just being designed to be a fun fantasy RPG that appeals to the whole gamut of D&D players.

  5. Erik, I agree, you are taking these guys to task appropriately. It is just that I have zero hope and negative expectations about this. It is like that Simpson episode for me (back somewhere in the 1st 6 seasons when it was a great show) where Skinner goes, "These children have no future!" in the middle of the cafeteria. Then goes "Prove me wrong kids! Prove me wrong." I'm glad you have just a little bit of hope. Enough to pay attention to what these guys are saying, because I can't even stand listening to them anymore.

  6. I haven't lost hope so much as I am wondering what really can be added to the rules conversation at this point. With just a few google searches, anyone can find information on variant rules and discussions on houseruling. So if 5e is essentially "here's a core game with extra bonus bits to customize to your heart's content to make it more like the edition you really like," I'm underwhelmed. However, Monte is there, so it will not suck. It will be playable and fun, but whether it becomes one's favored cuppa tea remains to be seen. As it will be official D&D, however, it will be our hobby's standard-bearer, whether we like it or not.

    Also, I'm curious to see what path they take in art direction. They get to play with the big boys in production values, so I'm hoping it's something worth reading and looking at if nothing else.

    If the whole thing is not an absolute cock-up, and they end up supporting the game system (say what you will of 3.0, but they supported the heck out of it early on), it will add new gamers to the mix, which can't be bad.

  7. Take a step back from the marketing lines and think about the strategy. "This is the D&D for everyone in the hobby" was never going to be genuine. It was a new tack on dealing with OSR. Rather than trotting out the time-worn "the game has moved on from then!" the company claims, "Oh, you can get the Old-School experience playing Next, don't split off from the mainstream and play a retro game."

    Now there's the slow and steady revelation of what D&D Next really is about. Roughly, it's an attempt to merge the 3e/Pathfinder and 4e revenue streams - I mean, player bases. There isn't much of an OSR revenue stream to compete for, so it doesn't figure into Wizards' strategy.

  8. What is it about this 'we are a speck of dust on the muddy foot of the universe' crap that everyone keeps harping on?

    Really, where did this myth that non-industry gaming is so insignificant come from?

    Does this look minor?


    Game after game is getting funded, usually well above the goal, games sell out and crash PayPal servers but we don't amount to anything?

    The hobby is like looking at a blackhole. The only way you can tell it's there is the fact that there seems to be nothing effecting everything around it.

    Industry reports of D&D dropping faster than Pathfinder is going up yet sales were up last year 25%+...where are the sales at?


    More people funded that comic reprint than supposedly exist in the entire hobby according to most people.

    And I leave you with where it all began +1:

    If we don't figure into WotC marketing schemes then WHY did they remake the RedBox and WHY did they reprint AD&D? We won't even go into Frankengame...

    Oh no, they're not worried about us at all...just look how well 4e is doing.

  9. Oh look...another one:


    500% funded.

    Congratulations to all at Blog of Holding and best of luck with their current project :)

  10. But isn't saying "We're going to play this game, but not using rules X, Y, and Z, and doing this instead" tinkering with the rules? I'm not sure I follow your recommendation.

  11. I'll still be keeping the faith that something good will come from this. if anything maybe the real progression from 3.5, because 4e was so alien from anything before it, it wasn't even the same game.


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