I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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REHowardfanatic
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I will likely get flamed, but hey...

Post by REHowardfanatic »

...I think I can make my save vs. bursting into flames.

I've been looking over my illegally downloaded 3rd and 4th edition D&D stuff and browsing the 5th edition free document and comparing them to my legally purchased AD&D 1st and 2nd edition books.

(Now, I don't want to start an edition war here- and if you are hungering for one, please move on. This is a [expletive] game and it is not supposed to be taken seriously. I'm sick of people treating these games as if they are the most important documents of the AD-era of mankind.)

I think the reason I do not like the WOTC editions, is not because of the overabundance of rules, the unimaginative covers (of 3rd edition), or any particular political pedigree (please, for the love of Crom- don't ask) they possess. I think my main gripe is two-fold:
1. I dislike the editorial philosophy of the games. More is more, they seem to instist. They all feel like so many modern fantasy novels: woefully overwritten. Useless details and asides piled upon unecessary adjustments and rules with a side of indulgent sidebars and product plugs. I miss the straight-for-the-game approach of the older games. Of any older game, mind you. Even Earthdawn, which has tons of fluff text in it (almost to the point of breaking the spell system), seems less driven to involve itself in details it doesn't need.
Now, this is a purely personal perspective. One derived from my literary background and preferences. I, like my writing hero Edgar Allan Poe, believe that when you are writing, your text should have nothing in it not needed for the telling of the tale. I think some people- many, many people actually- like the overwriting that proliferates most things these days (the average novel is over 400+ pages, the average fantasy series spanning 4+ books). I do not think it makes these games or books vile or wrong, only that it makes them wrong for me. It annoys me when a book, any book, wanders off onto a tangent that adds nothing to the main.

2. And perhaps more importantly, I dislike the overwrought power levels of the games. I have always liked Robert E. Howard and Sir Thomas Malory far more than Michael Moorecock and J.R.R. Tolkein (though I like them all). I like my hero tales more down-to-earth. For example, I recently read a R.A. Salvatore comic starring a dark elf and his cowgirl/elf sidekick riding around on a unicorn while tracking down a dwarven berserker/vampire arrayed in spikey armor. The reading of that seemed, to me, as painful as if I had passed the book like a kidney stone instead of checking it out from the local library. I picture all of WOTC's D&D games pretty much like that comic. It seems, from their art to their rules, to be what they are after. But I prefer fantasy more like Troy, The Kingdom of Heaven, Rome, or Conan the Barbarian. Some magic there, some fantastic elements, but a core of reality that grounds it and makes it relatable. I guess I just do not relate to the uberpotent levels of the game. It seems boring.
To illustrate what I'm saying, because I don't think I'm explaining it well, compare the Barbarian class of Pathfinder and of Castles & Crusades. C&C's has class abilities that seem sensible and plausible (within reason). They are more along the lines of skills and prowess than mystical superpowers. That class reflects the playing of, say, Attila the Hun, Eric the Red, or Conan of Cimmeria. Pathfinder's class, on the other hand, has a new power every single level, including (if I recall correctly) the ability to climb better, run faster, and jump higher when pi$$ed off. To me, that doesn't seem cool, it seems ridiculous. Furthermore, I can think of no literary precedent. And since I draw most of my inspiration in life from books, I feel alienated. Not that I think WOTC cares about my business- they are obviously aiming at a much younger demographic than I fit into these days!

So this is why I will skip 5th edition. The free pdf already shows signs of weak editing and power levels that I find unappealing. I know I am in the minority because Pathfinder has similar troubles and it is more popular than the Beatles these days and I believe that 5th edition will be a runaway sales juggernaut (I think that it's already #1 on Amazon's RPG sales list).
That really doesn't bother me, but I have to admit that something about this edition feels like the funeral bells for the game I have played since 3rd grade. This edition, not 4th edition. 4th edition made huge changes and I didn't care for them overall, but it did make some improvements (the spell system was great and the changes to the Planes was inspired). I'm not sure why, but 5th edition just seems to say to me, "D&D is dead; long live D&D!" I guess because the hype played up that the game was to be a return to the game's roots. Those roots, it seems to me, are quite shallow because neither the rules nor the jiggy fantasy designs for equipment go any deeper than 3rd edition. (I mean, honestly- a chainmail bikini pi$$e$ off the entire internet because it's unrealistic and yet spikey armor is okay to everyone...? Crom, I hate the internet!)

Oh well. That is my long way of saying that I am glad to have games like OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, Swords & Wizardry, Blood & Treasure, and, of course, the incomperable Castles & Crusades. Those games keep AD&D alive in my imagination and honor those that created the game so long ago. Maybe they will not achieve the social change that RPGs are, apparently, expected to accompish, but they are damn fun and a great way to waste time.
So, this is my thank you to Troll Lords and their fellow game designers. Perhaps you do not have the full-color, glossy, book-a-week production values of the big guns, but you do possess editorial savvy, a respect for what has come before, and an eye for realism that they lack. For my part, that makes you better and it's why I support you with my business(instead of illegally downloading you :twisted: ).

So, there. You have my gratitude.

(If the gratitude of a wenching, bloodthirsty barbarian who cannot anger his way to super-athleticism means anything!)
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DMSamuel
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

Post by DMSamuel »

REHowardfanatic wrote:1. I dislike the editorial philosophy of the games. More is more, they seem to instist. They all feel like so many modern fantasy novels: woefully overwritten. Useless details and asides piled upon unecessary adjustments and rules with a side of indulgent sidebars and product plugs. I miss the straight-for-the-game approach of the older games. Of any older game, mind you. Even Earthdawn, which has tons of fluff text in it (almost to the point of breaking the spell system), seems less driven to involve itself in details it doesn't need.
Now, this is a purely personal perspective. One derived from my literary background and preferences. I, like my writing hero Edgar Allan Poe, believe that when you are writing, your text should have nothing in it not needed for the telling of the tale. I think some people- many, many people actually- like the overwriting that proliferates most things these days (the average novel is over 400+ pages, the average fantasy series spanning 4+ books). I do not think it makes these games or books vile or wrong, only that it makes them wrong for me. It annoys me when a book, any book, wanders off onto a tangent that adds nothing to the main.
How do you feel about Ernest Hemingway? I read For Whom the Bell Tolls many years ago and while I thought the story was good, it seemed that he went off on so many tangents... by the time he got back to the main story I had forgotten where he left off and had to go refresh my memory. I remember a couple of 40 page tangents. I almost didn't finish the book because of it, but I ultimately slogged through (I have never been able to leave a book unfinished). Anyway - it felt so overwrought in places and over written.
REHowardfanatic wrote:2. And perhaps more importantly, I dislike the overwrought power levels of the games.
I, too, dislike the power levels of modern D&D and Pathfinder - one of the things I love about gaming is the growth of my character from a lowly, unskilled, barely able to survive pip-squeek, to a competent dungeon delver and wilderness explorer. Starting with almost no money, very low survivability, and no reputation to speak of and evolving into a formidable, but still mortal person who is known to the people of the lands (for good or ill).

That is lost when you start out so powerful and gain even more uber powers with every increase in level.

I also hate the huge-weapon and giant spikey armor look that PF and D&D seem to favor these days... blah, it just looks bad to me. Don't get me wrong, there are some good pieces of fantasy art in some of their products, but the majority of them just don't speak to my sense of what is enjoyable in the game.
REHowardfanatic wrote:So this is why I will skip 5th edition. The free pdf already shows signs of weak editing and power levels that I find unappealing. I know I am in the minority because Pathfinder has similar troubles and it is more popular than the Beatles these days and I believe that 5th edition will be a runaway sales juggernaut (I think that it's already #1 on Amazon's RPG sales list).
I want D&D to succeed because it is the RPG that is a household name - it is the one that has popular culture connections and so I feel it will be good for the hobby (and good for gamers) if it does well and remains in the popular consciousness.
REHowardfanatic wrote:So, this is my thank you to Troll Lords and their fellow game designers. Perhaps you do not have the full-color, glossy, book-a-week production values of the big guns, but you do possess editorial savvy, a respect for what has come before, and an eye for realism that they lack. For my part, that makes you better and it's why I support you with my business(instead of illegally downloading you :twisted: ).

So, there. You have my gratitude.
This! This 1000 times! Thank you Trolls, you make my gaming life so much more enjoyable than if you didn't exist (which is a very awkward way of saying a simple thanks, but there you go).
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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REHowardfanatic wrote:For my part, that makes you better and it's why I support you with my business(instead of illegally downloading you :twisted: )
One of the greatest joys of my professional life was finding Classic Monsters on a pirate site. I thought, "I've been pirated. I've finally made it..."

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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

Post by REHowardfanatic »

^^Okay- that was funny!
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

Post by Treebore »

I'm still hopeful about 5E. While I legally bought everything you mention, plus the 5E starter set, I was not a fan of 4E, and played/ran 3E for about 5 years until I realized I was only torturing myself like that because I thought I had to. So I have definitely been far happier with my gaming in general when I turned to C&C in 2005. I didn't love it at first. Took me running a game until about the 8th level, which took many months of weekly 10+ hour games, for it to finally "CLICK" with me.

So while I would like for 5E to be awesome, its already apparent that it isn't. Its biggest claim to popularity fame is the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, and if that is all you have, your not an exceptionally good game. So while I am still optimistically hoping that WOTC will still pull something out of their bag of tricks to blow me away, I am pretty confident that I am not going to be a big fan of 5E either.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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As for Hemingway... I like him better than Faulkner, but less than Steinbeck. I like his writing style- it's blunt and structurally simple. Like a great RPG ruleset, his style just gets the hell out of the way! However, like most American authors, I feel like he is strongest in his shorter works. (Though, to be fair, he began his career as a short story guy, so that may be why). Old Man and the Sea is the strongest I have read by him, and probably one of the best novels I have read by anyone.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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Treebore wrote:I'm still hopeful about 5E. While I legally bought everything you mention, plus the 5E starter set, I was not a fan of 4E, and played/ran 3E for about 5 years until I realized I was only torturing myself like that because I thought I had to. So I have definitely been far happier with my gaming in general when I turned to C&C in 2005. I didn't love it at first. Took me running a game until about the 8th level, which took many months of weekly 10+ hour games, for it to finally "CLICK" with me.

So while I would like for 5E to be awesome, its already apparent that it isn't. Its biggest claim to popularity fame is the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, and if that is all you have, your not an exceptionally good game. So while I am still optimistically hoping that WOTC will still pull something out of their bag of tricks to blow me away, I am pretty confident that I am not going to be a big fan of 5E either.

I guess it is a fair thing to admit that I want to see the art more than anything. WOTC has got good artists and I loved the visuals in 4th edition (and Pathfinder).

Though I'm yet more eager still to see the full color Monsters and Treasures...
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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AGNKim wrote:
REHowardfanatic wrote:For my part, that makes you better and it's why I support you with my business(instead of illegally downloading you :twisted: )
One of the greatest joys of my professional life was finding Classic Monsters on a pirate site. I thought, "I've been pirated. I've finally made it..."
"Arr! Ye been hornswaggled!"

Well done.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

Post by serleran »

Which version of Earthdawn are we talking about? :)

The original FASA one(s), like many of their games, tended to delve a bit into the "why" as opposed to the "how." That was often the better part of the game because it explained rules rather than just giving them. It is a philosophy I sort of like, when its done appropriately.

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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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serleran wrote:Which version of Earthdawn are we talking about? :)

The original FASA one(s), like many of their games, tended to delve a bit into the "why" as opposed to the "how." That was often the better part of the game because it explained rules rather than just giving them. It is a philosophy I sort of like, when its done appropriately.

Oh, man- FASA all the way! One of my favorite games of all times! I wasn't critisizing it, only pointing out that even with all the why they included, they still were less sloppy with their editorial decisions.

And I seriously prefer that design approach-- when it is done right.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

Post by finarvyn »

REHowardfanatic, I'm not going to flame you but I'm not going to agree 100% with you either. You make some really great points.

A few semi-random thoughts:

(1) I agree that the new rulebooks (3E and newer in particular) have way too much verbiage. How can the 5E Basic PDF be over a hundred pages? I compare this to OD&D and it's just a whole different style.

(2) I agree that I like Howard better than Moorcock, but I think I like both for different reasons. Howard is more gritty and real, although sometimes Conan pulls off some amazing things. The difference, I think is more of a "high fantasy" thing versus a "low fantasy" thing where "high" implies lots of magic and amazement. Moorcock tends to drift to "high" fantasy with magic swords and godlike beings. I like to read it, but I have to be in the right mood for it.

(3) RPG rules are like #2 sometimes. C&C characters at first level are weak. 5E characters at first level can do things. Neither is good or bad, just different. You need a rules set that matches the style and tone of the game you want to run, and different rules fit different styles.

(4) I think that 5E is a definite step back toward AD&D or C&C in its tone, aside from the fact that first level is buffed up. The basic rules philosophy seems to have turned away from the 3E/4E "more rules is better" and instead is stressing a streamlined rules set which offers a lot of options without all of the hassles I found with 3E/4E. And it does so with a more "old school" level of stat bonuses and the like.

Great post, by the way! Gets me thinking! 8-)
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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REHowardfanatic wrote:I know I am in the minority because Pathfinder has similar troubles and it is more popular than the Beatles these days and I believe that 5th edition will be a runaway sales juggernaut (I think that it's already #1 on Amazon's RPG sales list).
As I predicted (not hard to do) 5E will be the biggest seller this year. (meaning a 12 month period) Just as 4E was when it came out. I knew 20 people who purchased 4E. Only 1 (ONE!) of them continued to play it for more than a couple months. It would be almost impossible for it not to be #1 this year. But, as with 4E, it means nothing in the medium term. It won't bring WotC back to the #1 position. Not with what they have produced as a game engine in 5E.

Now, if 5E had been the follow on to 3.x, it would probably be a different story. But, it wasn't to be... (I give you the Ford Taurus & Escort as an example of losing the biggest customer base then not being able to recover it after customers get scattered no matter what you offer)

Kinda sucks though. I WAS hoping that it would bring a lot of fresh blood into the hobby.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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Arduin wrote:
REHowardfanatic wrote:I know I am in the minority because Pathfinder has similar troubles and it is more popular than the Beatles these days and I believe that 5th edition will be a runaway sales juggernaut (I think that it's already #1 on Amazon's RPG sales list).
As I predicted (not hard to do) 5E will be the biggest seller this year. (meaning a 12 month period) Just as 4E was when it came out. I knew 20 people who purchased 4E. Only 1 (ONE!) of them continued to play it for more than a couple months. It would be almost impossible for it not to be #1 this year. But, as with 4E, it means nothing in the medium term. It won't bring WotC back to the #1 position. Not with what they have produced as a game engine in 5E.

Now, if 5E had been the follow on to 3.x, it would probably be a different story. But, it wasn't to be... (I give you the Ford Taurus & Escort as an example of losing the biggest customer base then not being able to recover it after customers get scattered no matter what you offer)

Kinda sucks though. I WAS hoping that it would bring a lot of fresh blood into the hobby.
C&C will be there for those brave few who want to soldier on and keep gaming but with a system that loves them back. The jilted RPG lovers need not stay single (and play video games) forever.

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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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Looks like all the new PH offers over the free PDF is more races, classes, spells, and the like. On one hand, I am glad of it, I didn't want to see more complexity in the general mechanics, so on that front, its good. I did hope to see something new for the rules system that would blow me away, and that isn't happening.

I'm just going to have to wait until my group plays it to see just how much I am going to like it. At least I know I am going to like it, the question for me is "How much?" Will I like it enough to put the D&D name brand back on my "I want to run and/or play it!" list, or will it stay on my list of "I'll play it when I don't have a more desirable option." list? Which will mean I will likely never play it, because I have dozens of other RPG's I want to play or run.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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I'll certainly flip through a copy of 5th maybe next week, but I'm happy enough (most likely) with the free basic pdf. C&C is still it for me. I agree with those who say WOTC won't attain the top spot again. Maybe briefly, but not long term. 2nd or 3rd place, perhaps. I say 3rd, because there was a time in late 2012 that Fantasy Flight's Star Wars rpg was doing better than 4E sales-wise. PF has the throne for years to come. I'm just going to keep on doing my part to make sure that C&C continues to be the "old horse that's still in the race." That's meant as a compliment. Let's face it, most of the ogl "old horses" are long gone.

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tylermo wrote: I say 3rd, because there was a time in late 2012 that Fantasy Flight's Star Wars rpg was doing better than 4E sales-wise.
That happened in part of 2013 with the Star Wars rpg...
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My bad, Arduin. I just remember reading some gaming industry periodical (name escapes me-wasn't GTM, however) that stated the top three rpg sales for 4th quarter I believe. The theory, which I think we all would agree with, was that everybody knew 4th was being replaced with 5th, and that Star Wars is enjoying a resurgence because of the new movie.

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tylermo wrote:My bad, Arduin. I just remember reading some gaming industry periodical (name escapes me-wasn't GTM, however) that stated the top three rpg sales for 4th quarter I believe. The theory, which I think we all would agree with, was that everybody knew 4th was being replaced with 5th, and that Star Wars is enjoying a resurgence because of the new movie.
I didn't mean that it didn't also happen in 2012. I had heard that Q2-3 2013 had Star Wars at #2.

In any event. It shows the D&D losing the steam it once had. It is like GM losing ground to the Japanese imports in the 70's...
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To be fair, WotC wasnt really putting out any products in late 2012, all of 2013, and 7 months of 2014. A PDF product here and there wasn't going to hold the top spot for them... Made it hard to compete with Paizo's several products per month and FFG's release of the new SW lines.

Having said that, I agree with you all. I think D&D may grab the top spot for Q4 2014 but w
Likely won't hold onto it for long, or at the vey least it will be very close.
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DMSamuel wrote:To be fair, WotC wasnt really putting out any products in late 2012, all of 2013, and 7 months of 2014.
True. BUT, Paizo held the #1 spot before those dates. But, WotC was #2 not #3 back then.
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Re: I will likely get flamed, but hey...

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finarvyn wrote:REHowardfanatic, I'm not going to flame you but I'm not going to agree 100% with you either. You make some really great points.
Are you sure? This is the internet. Flaming is its official aligmnent langauge.
finarvyn wrote:(1) I agree that the new rulebooks (3E and newer in particular) have way too much verbiage. How can the 5E Basic PDF be over a hundred pages? I compare this to OD&D and it's just a whole different style.
This is my primary gripe with 5th edition. Overwriting just is not something I enjoy. Now, in a $7.99 mass market, I can overlook it a bit if the tale is entertaining, but in a $49.99 hardcover... Different story.
finarvyn wrote:(2) I agree that I like Howard better than Moorcock, but I think I like both for different reasons. Howard is more gritty and real, although sometimes Conan pulls off some amazing things. The difference, I think is more of a "high fantasy" thing versus a "low fantasy" thing where "high" implies lots of magic and amazement. Moorcock tends to drift to "high" fantasy with magic swords and godlike beings. I like to read it, but I have to be in the right mood for it.
I always liked an exploding dice mechanic or a hero point pool for Conan games to represent those moments where he just loses his $h!t and proceeds to make coleslaw outta everything. But I love Moorecock- certainly more than Salvatore and probably more than Lieber. I love that creepy, degenerate fog he tells everything through- though the Sailors on the Seas of Fate novel was tiresome.

What I always loved about Howard's style is that he crams an entire novels worth of visceral action into a tight-lipped short story. It's lean, muscular, and possesses the swiftest pace I have ever encountered. Plus, damn that guy could write a fight scene!
finarvyn wrote:(3) RPG rules are like #2 sometimes. C&C characters at first level are weak. 5E characters at first level can do things. Neither is good or bad, just different. You need a rules set that matches the style and tone of the game you want to run, and different rules fit different styles.
Well I try to avoid games where the rules are like #2... :lol:
But I agree completely- any game in which you are having fun is a successful game. Why rage and fling your feces at those who have a different style?

(
finarvyn wrote:4) I think that 5E is a definite step back toward AD&D or C&C in its tone, aside from the fact that first level is buffed up. The basic rules philosophy seems to have turned away from the 3E/4E "more rules is better" and instead is stressing a streamlined rules set which offers a lot of options without all of the hassles I found with 3E/4E. And it does so with a more "old school" level of stat bonuses and the like.
I hope so. Maybe. I'll be checking out the pdfs before I purchase. I'm not as optimistic as others, I suppose, because I like the approach of the older editions- that is, an approach informed by a literary sensibility and not by video games, movies, or previous editions of D&D.
finarvyn wrote:Great post, by the way! Gets me thinking! 8-)
Thanks. That what I was hoping for. Thanks for the response.
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