I don’t think I will love the fifth edition of D&D (what is currently known as D&D Next). Sure, I will give it a chance, and go along with the playtest, and do my best to help make it a great game. And, barring some kind of disaster, I will buy the core books, and try to organize a campaign. I’m fairly confident I will be able to enjoy the new game to some degree, but I seriously doubt it will inspire me the same passion that 4E has.
It boils down to this: D&D 4E has the best tactical combat of any game I’ve played, by a mile. It is deep and varied, remarkably (though not perfectly) balanced, and just a ton of fun -beating down monsters and taking their stuff has never been this satisfying. And that's all there is to the game, really: the mechanics for roleplaying and other non-combat interaction are merely decent, exploration is almost non-existent, and the settings (which I tend to like) are system independent. By contrast, Next is constrained by design requirements that weren’t much of a consideration for 4e, such as pleasing a wide fanbase including hardcore old schoolers, and keeping true to the spirit of earlier editions - which are things that can make it a great, successful product, but that I personally don’t care much about.
The bad news, of course, are that 4E is dying. Granted, it’ll always have a place in our hearts, and we can keep playing it, but content releases have dropped drastically, and will stop altogether in a matter of months. One could argue that enough 4e material has been released already to cover for many years of future campaigns (and that would be mostly accurate, unless you intended to play at the desolate epic tier), but there s a kind of release that I will be missing dearly: errata. While not everyone is a fan of the rather aggressive errata cycle used for 4e, in my mind it has been a crucial factor in keeping the game alive and constantly improving. Frequent errata has made 4e a much better game than it was at release, but there are still major issues (psionic power point progression jumps to mind) that will remain unaddressed.
Ever since I started writing this blog, one of my main missions has been to support D&D 4E through house rules, making it a more fun and balanced game by improving and fixing what is already there - not unlike official errata. I believe this approach can go a long way, but very often I have found myself wishing for a way to clean the slate for some specific systems, like feats, magic items, or paragon paths. Frankly, I think these parts of the game have become cluttered with too many options of wildly different power levels, and their implementations present some fundamental problems on top of that, so rewriting them from scratch (an idea I already experimented with in the Magic Item Reset) could bring major improvements. One thought led to the other, and suddenly I found myself playing around with concepts for a full revision of 4E... And this (after much digression) is the project I want to present to you today.
So, to summarize: I am working on a full featured game that intends to preserve the awesomeness of D&D 4E, but also to polish it and get rid of its clunkier elements. It should be playable as a standalone, but also remain compatible with the most important mechanical material from 4E supplements: races, classes, adventures and monsters. An option to use isolated modules from my game in regular 4e campaigns would also be provided.
In tomorrow’s post, I will explain in more detail what exactly I have in mind for this project. Keep in mind that this will be a personal endeavor, and thus limited by my (currently very scarce) time to write - I cant really tell if it will take me months to complete, or years, or if I will be unable to finish it. So please be patient: whatever content I end up producing will be available for free at this very blog.
As for the name of the thing? Square Fireballs Role-Playing Game, of course.