Monday, June 8, 2009

What's in a name?

I love 4th edition, but it also leaves me a little unsettled.

What I admire about it is how Wizards has put together an impressive product line. The graphic design is the best D&D has seen - you can read that logo from across the room (unlike the previous edition books). The art is outstanding! The shelf of products is impressive. From the hard cover books, the dungeon tiles, module packs, player cards, to the miniatures. It all comes across as well thought out and designed.

I can also recognize how well designed the game is. As a game designer myself, I know how hard it is to design a new game.

And that's why it leaves me unsettled. It's not really D&D anymore, it's a new game.

Yet I continue to purchase the books, read them enthusiastically, and dream about the adventures I could be having. We've only played a few sessions, and those sessions have focused on combat.

More recently we've been playing Swords & Wizardry, though it is quickly becoming something other than S&W as we've been house ruling the heck out of it. Yet as much as I love Swords & Wizardry, there is no denying the power of the Dungeons & Dragons logo on a book. It's very similar to when you go to the store, you can buy generic cheaper, and it's probably just as good, but branding has a powerful appeal.

We could just play an older edition of D&D, but there is something vital about a game that is alive with supplements continuing to come out.

And this is why I feel unsettled. I want to play D&D, but I feel like D&D only exists in the imaginations of the fans and in dusty old out-of-print books.


  1. I dunno, I'm playing D&D at the moment I just happen to be using S&W to do it.

  2. I wasn't trying to say playing S&W isn't playing DnD. Just that generic ketchup isn't Heinz.

    I'd recently played 4th edition, and all it did was make me long for classic DnD.

  3. Funny, I'm feeling the same way about 3.5. I've only recently returned to RPGing after a long hiatus. So long, in fact, that I entirely missed the 3.0-3.5 edition. Rediscovering D&D 3.5 and the wealth of material is mind boggling. (And in some "long-Out-of-Print" instances, very expensive.)

    Now I wish i could find a mature local group to play with!!!

  4. Hey, ignore me I was mainly being cute. Don't worry I'm not a lunatic 'edition' defender. :D

    I kinda like 4th ed in it's own right, but it really didn't scratch that 'D&D' itch in the way that my favourite (Moldvay) version does. S&W I'm playing becasue I never tried 0e and it feels (or should that be tastes) like D&D to me, despite the different branding.

  5. ahen . . .

    I kinda like 4th ed in its own right

  6. I've dug back into my 3.X stuff recently and I can honestly say that it isn't a bad game. Yes it has it's wonky spots and yes the rules can be cumbersome but, all in all I like it. I may check out 4e someday as I am sure the other students will be playing so I may get in on one or two games.

  7. I think a perfect edition of DnD is impossible, because it means so many different things to different people.

    I too admire 4th edition - in it's own right.

    However, I can't help but have nostalgia for the game I played in my youth: a combination of Moldvay, 1st edition, Dragon magazine, and house rules. A game whose spirit is caught surprisingly well with S&W...

  8. There are too many of us, now.

    D&D will never die.

    Although weirdly enough, I can't say I've ever met any "second edition" grognards. They've all been first edition, AD&D, or 3.5 holdouts...