Friday, December 11, 2015

How to Win

The title of this post remains the same, but I have erased the content to write the following instead:

As I read through the writings of Gary Gygax in the original Players Handbook, I am struck by a couple of things. The first is that Gygax provided a lot more information to running a good Dungeons & Dragons game than many of us (myself included) give him credit for. It's been so long since I've sat down and read the books...even the last few times I've played AD&D, or researched it for a blog post or personal writing project, I've only used the books for reference (what are the strength limits of an elf, what level do druids gain abilities, what's the casting time of "x" spell, etc.). Now that we've reached the point in our hobby when we are using other editions (like B/X or 5E) or retro-clones (like OSRIC or S&W or Labyrinth Lord) and the collected knowledge of gaming to be found on blogs and forums, many of us have neglected to actually mine the original source material for the wisdom that's there. The AD&D books really were Gygax's magnum opus, and much of what he presents is masterfully done. There's little that new "old school" texts really add to the discourse, when you get down to it...they're just refining things EGG was already saying.

The other thing that strikes me is that I'm really blogging down a silly road here. My half-formed idea of the last couple days was to do a series of comparisons between AD&D and 5th Edition, comparing and contrasting the two and (contrary to some folks presumptions) NOT necessarily just as an exercise in bashing 5E. Regardless of what 5E does or does not deliver in a gaming experience, me dredging up the past...or critiquing the present...isn't a very practical use of my time. What might I accomplish? Make people feel bad for enjoying 5E? Make people pine for the days when 1E was a thriving, supported line? Drum up supporters for my position? Antagonize people who've done nothing to deserve it?

No. I took a look at 5E (as much as I could stomach) and I noted my two cents on the blog and I'm tapping out. Done. There is no winning "edition wars;" to coin a phrase from that '83 classic film, WarGames, the only winning move is to to not play the game. I feel pretty silly that I got so lathered up as to even consider rattling off more potshots at WotC.

As fun as global thermonuclear war...just less death.

Now, if you'll please excuse me, I shall now get to writing something about Vancian magic. Again.


  1. i think that's a bit sad. i didn't get an edition-war vibe from any of your posts on the subject. you can prefer an edition and even profoundly dislike others without edition warring. i doubt there are many people who like all editions equally but only a few people are actual edition warriors.

    i think comparing ad&d with d&d5 could prove to be a very interesting and productive endeavour. there's a lot to be critical of in d&d5 and considering the fact that the designers were trying to recreate an "old school style of play" makes it the perfect choice for comparison with the original.

    go for it! i know i'd be interested and i'm sure i'm not the only one. :)

    1. @ Shlomo:

      All right, all right...for YOU, I'll consider it. I'm just a bit tired of hurting peoples' "feelers" with these kinds of posts.

      Definitely won't be able to get to it till Monday, though.

  2. I think you should focus on the good things about B/X and not try to make any comments at all about a game you've never played (the NEXT beta is not 5E) based solely from reading your pirated PDFs. There are plenty of reasons B/X is great outside of comparison with any other game out there. Comparison of 5E (which is new) with AD&D (which is terrible) would be a great set of blog posts for someone *else* to write. Then again, I can continue to call attention to you when your posts contain phrases like: "I don't want to build a game. I don't want to fix a game. I want to play a game. I want to be able to recommend a game to people to play" if you never actually act on that desire and run or play in some of these games you write about.

    The next 5E post should start with the sentence: "When I ran Phandelver on Roll20 this last weekend I found that X" -- and whatever X is, whether you call it "dumb," or 'meh' think it's pretty great it will have been discovered via the process of play. Do you not see the importance of this?

    1. @ little:

      Are you attempting to dictate how I should write my own blog?

      Rather than post my initial reaction, I'll simply note that you seem to have missed my post addressing your concern (written prior to this post):

      As for the phrase to which you call attention, you appear to have missed the point. I'll attempt to be clearer in future posts.