19 hours ago
Friday, March 30, 2012
Change for the Sake of Change: More 5e Thoughts
So, this weekend (appropriately on April 1), Google is forcing me and everyone else who blogs using their service to switch to a new interface. In the past, they have invited me to try this new interface and I have found that it does all the things the old interface did, only less efficiently (especially if using a tablet), and have therefore not willingly stuck with the change, preferring the old interface because it works really well for what I want to do. As far as I can tell, the only reason to do this massive change is in order to do a massive change. In the meantime, I have to put up with all the bugs, all the extra button pushes and no guarantees that I will be able to be as effective as I have been since starting this blog.
Call me a grognard, a stick-in-mud or a Luddite, but I live by the adage: If’n it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change for the sake of change is a recipe for disaster. This got me thinking about the advent of 5e (especially in light of the delay for the arrival of the 1e reprints).
When it comes to RPGs, no one can accuse me of being some kind of reactionary. The whole purpose of this blog is to change the relationship RPGs have with religion. I’ve also done plenty of tinkering with my own game (weapon vs. AC charts anyone?). The reason for these efforts is because I see something that is broken and have endeavored to fiddle to see if anything works better (nothing so far on the weapon vs. AC charts, unfortunately).
Largely, however, I am very satisfied with the game I have been playing for the better part of thirty years — because it works. This is one of the reasons why I have not paid much attention to all the various happenings with 5e, other than here’s to hoping I can be a customer of WotC again when they reissue parts of their library that I’d be interested in purchasing.
It is here that I have to ask the question: Is 5e really necessary? Is WotC changing for the sake of change, or is there really a problem that needs to be fixed?
I will grant that WotC does see a problem — the hobby is very balkanized with plenty of people out there who happily put on the edition warrior helmet. There are also a whole segment of the hobby that is happily spending their money on products not produced by WotC. These problems, however, are not mechanical problems, they are people problems.
As I see it, no amount of mechanical fiddling, or mechanical change for the sake of mechanical change is going to solve the fundamental problem of a balkanized hobby. Rather, what will fix the problem is how WotC treats the people who do this hobby.
This is one of the reasons why I see the reprint of the core 1e rules as a huge step in the right direction (and hope the delay is due to trying to meet a larger demand than expected), even though I am not sure I am going to be able to purchase them myself. With this small act, WotC is officially recognizing the history of the game and acknowledging that there is no one official way that the game must be played.
To my mind, if WotC is interested in bringing our hobby together in one big happy family, then the best way to do that is to make every edition of the game official and make every edition available either through reprints or POD. This game has been successful in every iteration because so many of us have had fun with them — 0e all the way through 4e. Don’t fix what isn’t broken — give us all the freedom to officially play the version that best suits us and purchase those supporting materials that help us play that version.