Monday, July 12, 2010

Regarding the "Edition Wars"

I didn't really want to get into my thoughts on what is often called the "Edition Wars" across the D&D blogosphere just yet, but a recent post (or rather posts, of which these are but two of many) I read has sort of pushed my feelings to the fore. I felt like I needed to repeat here a longer version of what I have posted on other blogs:

I just don't get all the vitriol being bandied about within the fantasy RPG hobby, specifically with regard to Dungeons & Dragons. There are so many people at each other's virtual throats over what is "pure" D&D and other such nonsense. There's fighting over whether or not 4th edition is truly D&D. There are those who feel like the Old School Renaissance has "improved" upon the works on which they are based. There are staunch supporters for every edition of the game, and many of them are not satisfied with just gaming. No, these individuals, for some reason, have taken it upon themselves to champion their favored edition (or retro-clone of said edition) to the point that they attack other editions and/or the people that play them. And I have to say that I am frankly confused as fuck about the whole business. If you have a favorite version of the game, just play it. Period. What's the point in attacking other versions/gamers for what they choose to play?

The point of this blog is that I've been out of the hobby for a while and have decided to get back into it after a long hiatus. I've spent the better part of this year researching and reading all about Original D&D (which I never really played, having gotten my start with AD&D 1st Edition and moving on to 2nd Edition) and delving into the retro-clones. I spent some time trying to start house-ruling different retro-clones (mostly Swords & Wizardry) with the intention of starting a campaign sometime in the hopefully near future. But I discovered that I didn't have the time to really do such an effort justice, with all the adult responsibilities of my life. I just didn't have the time I would need, like I did when I was in my teens (and even most of my 20s for that matter). It was a tough fact to confront, but then I realized that I could just search through all the great games people have been resurrecting/producing and settle on one that most closely fit what I wanted in a game.

I have settled on Castles & Crusades for the game I think I want to run. I know that it's not really a retro-clone (I think). But I feel like, for what I want to do as a dungeon master/game master/referee/castle keeper/whatever, it's the D&D-esque game that will allow me to do the least amount of house ruling as possible. So I can focus on game prep and actual gaming. I feel like C&C is "rules light" enough (or I can make it so) and yet has some aspects of more recent versions of D&D (3.0-3.5) that makes it unique. Believe me, I was happy to finally settle on a game.

At the same time, I put out a call on the web about my desire to meet up with new gamers, since all my old gaming pals have scattered to the four winds. And I was contacted by a guy who I had spoken to briefly not too long ago with regard to play-by-email gaming. He asked if I was interested in joining one of his Pathfinder games, and I've pretty much agreed to do so. And I am pretty excited about the opportunity. Now, would I ever want to run a Pathfinder game? Probably not. As a GM I know that I want to run something like the older editions of D&D. But damn it, I am itching to get back into the gaming scene, and therefore I have leapt at the chance to get back to the tabletop. Even if it means I will be playing a more recent edition. Which is more than fine by me.

You know why? Because in the end, it's all D&D, no matter what name it goes by!

I hate to repeat myself, but I just don't get all the fighting. It's really making me very depressed. Shouldn't we all just be glad at the fact that Dungeons & Dragons is being played at all, that it's survived (and thrived) this long? And isn't it great that people are playing so many different versions of it, be it from the old TSR books, the new WotC books, or the stuff being produced in the retro-clones? Who cares what you play, as long as you are playing and having fun? Isn't that what it's all about?

I'm about to wax philosophical: why does everything humanity puts its hands to turn into this type of petty bickering? Do I have to bring up the "it's just a game" argument as well? Seriously, everybody shut the fuck up and JUST PLAY! Revel in the wondrous variety that has come from that old Gygax-Arneson Ur-game. We should be unutterably happy for those two late gentlemen, because their creation has given so so many people happiness, and D&D has gone forth and multiplied into so many great games, and has inspired so many. No one is doing it "better" than anyone else, no one version of the game is more "pure" than another. All the shouting voices of the naysayers and haters sound like the braying of the stereotypical nerds that people outside the RPG world believe we are. We need to stop arguing over obscure minutia. Here's a revelation for you: No one cares!

So for the love of the game, give it a rest, already! 'Nuff said.

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