Anyone ever seen those t-shirts that say “4.0 Killed Gary”? They’re tasteless and insensitive, and kind of silly when you think about it. I mean, what is it with pen-and-paper roleplayers? Let me be clear here: I most certainly fall into this category. I have thousands of dollars of roleplaying books on one of the shelves in my apartment. There’s almost always a book within arm’s reach. I have books from countless systems, editions, companies, settings, games. I have two editions of Exalted, one of Engel, a small collection of Sword and Sorcery, some assorted book’s with Monte Cook on the cover (for the sole reason of his name), a massive collection of 3.5 books, the 4.0 core set, the Forgotten Realms and Neverwinter books for 3.5 and 4.0, a smattering of AD&D books (it was before my time, sadly, and I do not understand THAC0), a first edition Dungeons and Dragons boxed set, a monster manual that was copywritten in 1973, Vampire: The Requiem, Vampire: The Masquerade, the old World of Darkness books, the new World of Darkness books, Iron Kingdoms, Inquisitor, Ravenloft, Gurps, and several notebooks with systems of my own devising.
In short, I have no problems with many multiple pen-and-paper systems.
And truth be told, in other realms of nerdygamerness, I embrace wholly the new school and plow forward, full steam ahead. I love 6th edition 40k. I wasn’t a big fan of 5th, but I didn’t hold protest rallies and refuse to touch anything but fourth. I embrace Mists of Pandaria and fight my inner demons of Anger, Violence, Hatred, Despair, Doubt, and Fear. I have bashed my head against Horridon several times in a furious flurry of catching up to the guilds ahead of Eccentric Serenity. I have been pushing Endgame content since the Lich King opened up. I have played many a type-2 deck, and although I never let my Extended deck fall too far to the wayside, I also constantly update it with new cards.
I embrace the new-school in aspects of my real-life job, working with the newest concepts, studies, and techniques. I fancy myself a novelist in my spare time, and I work towards modern storytelling techniques and shun the much-loved and much-read classic ideals of info-dumping and overdescribing. I eat modern food like squid ink pasta and dishes with creme fraiche and shallots. I’m a tiny bit of a technophile who will be posting this from my iPhone 5. I don’t always have to have the newest tech/gadget/gizmo/edition/whatever, but let’s be real here, that’s only because I can’t afford to upgrade all the time.
So what is it with pen-and-paper roleplayers? Why is it that we resist the new editions? Why can’t they, at the very least, coexist?
I’m not going to lie. I did not enjoy fourth edition D&D. But truthfully it wasn’t beacuse of the system. Actually, the power card idea, the encounter powers, daily powers, the idea that fighters and whatnot could have once-a-day things is pretty cool. Combat is quick and bloody, leaving you more time to “role” play instead or “roll” play. Skills are highly streamlined, making them less random and more important to roleplay it out. Rules are deleted. Things are tightened. In general, it’s as good as system, as well-designed as any other. The reason I didn’t like 4.0 was the setting – I mean, tieflings and dragonborn in the core rulebook? One of my biggest pet peeves is the assertion of so many campaign settings that humans make up 70%+ of the world, and your adventuring party is going to consist of a half-elf, two elves, a dwarf, and a dragonborn. I mean, where did that come from? Shouldn’t the standard party be three humans, a dwarf, and maybe you’ll walk with a dragonborn NPC for a while? Wouldn’t that be more realistic? Woah, tangent…reel it in…
Right. So I tried the 5th Edition (D&D Next) playtest, and it’s kinky and buggy. It retains a lot of the streamlining of fourth that so many people hated, and a couple of good rules – Advantage and Disadvantage, for example – and it’s very very empty and partial right now. Hard to play an actual game, but possible if you work at it.
And just like fourth, it seems everyone hates it.
Why can’t the systems live together? Why can’t there be 4.0 games and 3.5 games and Next games and AD&D games that run side-by-side? Or don’t play the new stuff if you don’t want to. But why do we hate it? Why do we embrace newness in EVERYTHING ELSE and we shun the newer RP systems? It’s not like you get attached to your character and then find it broken – I mean, my hunter no longer uses Mana, let’s be real here, other systems break characters all the time. So what the hell, nerds? Where did this come from?
And in the wise words of a taco commercial, porque no las dos?