I’ve seen various people post about the announcement of 5E – Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition release dates. Some are jaded and feel that it has all been done before. Others are offering a depressed, but optimistic, hope that it will be good. Various forums have people shouting for their favorite edition or bemoaning the idea that Wizards of the Coast are trying to get more money out of them. I was going to keep quiet about the whole deal and do my best to ignore it. I can’t.
Having played D&D starting with the Holmesian Blue Book version of Basic Dungeons and Dragons and played through each and every version of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons to date, including the playtest version DnD Next, I have an opinion on this subject. I’m tired of the fighting. That’s my opinion.
Edition Wars did not begin with 3E. They began with Basic and Advanced. There was enough demand for Basic Dungeons and Dragons that TSR built an entire product line around the Known World (what would become known as Mystara). This happened right alongside Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. People would meet up in game stores, at conventions, and, later, on online bulletin board systems to deride and attack the other side for selling out or being poor gamers. This is not new.
The wars did not end with one’s preferred version of D&D. People would fight over Role Playing vs. Roll Playing. (Sound familiar?) Munchkins were vilified by True Role Players. Monty Haul Games were ridiculed as low brow, beer and pretzel games by those who believed themselves more sophisticated. Gary Gygax even took umbrage against those who didn’t play Real Dungeons and Dragons (I talk about that article in this post). It is all the same story: “Do it my way or hit the highway.”
It gets even uglier, when one considers other games by other companies. “How could you play Runequest; it’s a D&D rip off?” “Call of Cthulhu is just superior to any other RPG because it uses percentile dice and has a literary foundation.” “How can you play Rolemaster? It’s all tables.” Go ahead pick a game and I’d feel comfortable betting that I can find a website that has proponents that feel that all other games are stupid. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.
Grognards have always existed. They were even present at the release of 2E. A long time ago, I was given a small, typewritten, piece of paper that humorously and ironically described the transition from 1E to 2E. It talked about the shift from Greyhawk to the Forgotten Realms. It joked about the sudden change of paladins to cavaliers. There were other sly observations about how the “new” D&D universe worked, but it ended with the very unkind idea that only stupid people would want Gary Gygax back in charge of D&D and that good, smart people would kill anyone who tried. When it dawned on me that that type of thinking was fanaticism and the same ignorance espoused by those who didn’t want to change from their beloved edition to whatever new was coming out, I got rid of it. I do not want to be one of those that promotes hate, even in what is meant to be a joke. There will always be those who fear or hate change. It is sad, but true.
To those who bemoan the fact that WotC is trying to make more money, I’ve only this to say, “Of course, they are; Wizards of the Coast is a business and if they don’t make money, they have to quit being a business!” This is no different than Pazio selling Pathfinder or Monte Cook selling Numenera. It is their job to make stuff for gamers to buy. If you don’t want to support the people whose jobs it is to design, write, and publish games, game modules, and gaming supplements, then don’t buy the stuff they put out and quit trying to make those people that do buy their products feel bad for buying what they want to buy.
I doubt it happen, but I do wish the gaming community at large would grow up. A new edition does not diminish your personal games in any way. People playing with different styles of game play are not better or lesser than you and you do not need to “convert them to the true path of gaming.” Maybe the newest edition on the block isn’t all that new in its concepts or game play. Maybe it is a ploy to get people to buy more stuff. Maybe it is better than anything that has gone before it. In the end, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t want it, don’t get it. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. Unless gaming is a virus and one needs to be inoculated to prevent the spread of disease, let it go and enjoy what you have.
Until we meet again, Game On!