Thursday, August 16, 2012

The D&D Love/Hate Goes On...

I love D&D. And I hate it.

Ok, hate is really too strong a word. I guess what I'm feeling is a lot of mixed emotions, plus a big dash of my old foe Gamer ADD stalking me from the dark depths of my subconscious.

I'm really a D&D man, above all. Of course, like many, it was my first RPG. I've played other RPGs and have really like other systems, but something calls me back to D&D. I know that there's a lot of nostalgia in this whole mix, but I don't want it to become the bad sort of nostalgia that makes me lose sight of my current gaming potential. D&D will always have pride of place in my gamer's heart.

I really am tempted to play games like Savage Worlds, Dragon Age RPG, and Barbarians of Lemuria. These games have no mechanical relationship to D&D, and that is very appealing. Why? Because I've played the hell out of D&D-like games, so I've spent a lot of time with variations of D&D mechanics. And familiarity breeds contempt, my friends. This familiarity, I think, gives me an uncontrollable urge to tinker and tinker and tinker with those old D&D mechanics.

I'm getting tired of the tinkering. I just don't know if I can play D&D rules as written ever least, the rules as they exist in the out-of-print editions. Granted, I've done a decent job of keeping my D&D house rules limited, but I seem to be constantly fine tuning even those few house rules. I don't like tormenting players with new house rule sheets every couple weeks.

BUT...the thought of not playing D&D is simultaneously intriguing and saddening. As if it would be a "betrayal" on my part. At least when it comes to me running a game. I've played Savage Worlds recently and that's a fun system. But to spend, say, a year running a non-D&D game? It seems out of reach for me.

I think a lot of this is, of course, related to the fact that I have limited time as an adult. I want to experience as much gaming as possible with my limited time, and this causes a problem when I start feeling like I want to play every game I am interested in. So, with limited time, there's a feeling that I need to be sure I'm playing/running a game worthy of my precious time.

On a side note, I would really love to PLAY in a D&D-like game again. I haven't done so since last summer, when GM Rich was running us through City State of the Invincible Overlord using C&C rules. I've  been playing in my friend Bill's Savage Worlds game, and it's really cool. But I would really like to play a D&D character again.

All this brings me to D&D 5th Edition/Next. I can't help it, but I have a lot of desire for the next D&D edition to do really well. I have all the playtest stuff and I really want to run it, and I am feeling like I want to give my feedback. Call it some latent desire to be a game designer, whatever. But I want D&D to live on. I'm trying to be positive and believe that Wizards of the Coast can make good on promises of tapping back into the roots of the game. Heck, at Gen Con today they apparently said they're going to make the old editions available (in what format remains to be seen).

I've read the 5E playtest rules a bit, and I like a lot of what I see. I've had issues with Vancian magic again of late, and the tweaks to Vancian magic in D&D Next are interesting to me. Yes, I understand the concept of "a player playing a magic-user needs to be more than just dependant on spells per day." But there's room for change in the old rules we know and love. And I know I'm not alone when it comes to old school gamers. Old school gaming is not just about a set of mechanics. It's about a creative, open-ended style of play, an attitude of problem solving, fun and immersion in shared imagination and adventure.

I don't think the OSR needs to be so opposed to the current iteration of in-print D&D. I think that we have a chance to have our voices heard and try to help cement the old school mentality in a modern product. Other modern games like Dragon Age RPG claim such a pedigree. If that upstart RPG can claim that, then D&D can as well.

Ok, I've rambled enough for now. More thoughts to come, of course...

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