I've mentioned before that long before I got back into D&D, I spent a lot of time swimming the waters of the indie-gaming scene, especially with regard to thoughtful design theory. In fact, it's the kind of thing one really can't "turn off" once you've started doing it...you just end up getting a much more narrow (dare I say, "elitist") perspective on this RPG hobby.
For example, I look at D&D through the same design lens with which I view any new game I pick up, purchase, or play. The reason I'm so hip on the B/X Dungeons & Dragons is that I find this particular edition to be an incredibly excellent game. No, it does not do some of the things indie games do, but it does everything D&D does (at least, everything I want it to do) very well. Like 9 stars out of 10 for me.
This is why, after playing it nearly non-stop for nearly a year (more?) and trying various house rules and tinkerings, my current game is almost completely "straight B/X." The only deviations from the original Red & Blue books?
- Clerics don't have to memorize spells in the morning (cast on demand)
- Thief skills (and dwarf, halfling abilities) automatically work, no roll
That's it. My "weapon variations?" Dropped. Firearms? Phased out. Magic-user studies/spell learning? Exactly as written. New classes? Well, we still have one guy playing a "scout," but for the most part he works just like any other character...I mean, it's such a basic concept you can't really distinguish him from a leather clad fighter (one that can read tracks).
Anyway, it's a great game, something I don't need to harp on (again) to my readers, I'm sure. But what about that whole indie community with which I used to spend so much time prior to (allegedly) joining the OSR?
The last few days I've been buzzing around those sites again, mainly The Forge (which has gotten considerably more streamlined in the last year...yow!). I just wanted to see what I was missing, you know? If anything.
What I found in the "Actual Play" forum (the place I used to go to learn about and read about and get excited about new indie games) is: 4th Edition D&D.
What the F*CK?
Certainly, it's not ALL 4E, but enough of it...5 posts on the first page, 10 on the 2nd, with pages and pages of discussion thread. To me, this is so...gross. I mean, it's like going to your neighborhood farmer's market and seeing a Walmart has set up a stand. If you read the "about" page of The Forge you'll find the following:
This site is dedicated to the promotion, creation, and review of independent role-playing games. What is an independent role-playing game? Our main criterion is that the game is owned by its author, or creator-owned.
Hmm...it's strange enough to see ANY discussion of D&D on the site (not that it's not a touch-stone subject for most of us who "grew up in the hobby;" but so much of the indie-theory is about alternate approaches to game design). But isn't Hasbro's latest-greatest kind of the antithesis of independent, creator-owned games? Aren't these the folks that killed (or cut the legs off) the OGL, making their product even more faceless and corporate and soulless than it already was?
I guess I've become an elitist's elitist. Man, I am such a jerk!
I can't even bring myself to engage in these on-line discussions. Ideas and questions about how to tinker with 4E and "make it better" just makes me want to ask, "why the hell even bother?" But even that is a losing discussion...I mean, why would I want to waste time - any amount of time - discussing how to "tinker" 4E on a site that purports to be devoted to the promotion and creation of indie RPGs?
I mean, what could such a discussion possibly be in aid of?
Sorry for yet another mini-rant. I guess I've just been in a bad mood today.