Edition Wars (or OH, NO! Here We Go Again)

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.

DMing with Charisma posted a response to this post and I really like it.

I found A Brief History of the Edition Wars by Admiral Ironbombs on his site Logic is my Virgin Sacrifice to Reality.  Please check it out.

 

Until we meet again, Game On!

Advertisements

Campaign Synopses

Bill Collins, a friend, suggested that I write back-of-book blurbs for my latest campaign Ideas.  I’m not happy with them all, but it was a good exercise and I hope that it makes my ideas more easy to digest.

Arkhosia

Others may call you dragonborn or dragonspawn, draconian or even half-dragon, but you know that you are Arkhosian. It matters not, whether you were born in the enclave growing among the ruined Fortress-State or you came to be part of the glorious work of Prince Vanik the Restorer, you are an Arkhosian and a citizen of the Fortress-State. Will you explore the still hidden depths of your home? Will you stand the walls and defend your home and family from those that would take what is rightfully yours? Will you seek to uncover the secrets of Arkhosia’s past or travel under Prince Vanik’s banner to parley with other nations of Dragons and Dragonkin? What is your destiny? What glory will you claim, as Arkhosia rises from the cold ashes of a forgotten past?

 

Davion

Davion is an isolated, coastal village grown up around the Old Tower and the New House added to it by the wizard Davion. It is your home. You fondly remember summer nights spent scaling ivy-covered walls to run along the rooflines and play “Hide and Sneak” with friends and family. No, you mean, you loved the cool autumn days spent sitting on benches in well kept courtyards discussing the basics of Wizardry with your parents. No, winter was your favorite time. You spent your time walking the snow-muddied, wagon-rutted roads of your village, hunting elk and bear with your parents, or drinking mead in the Long House at the center of town. Could have enjoyed spring anymore? You remember with great fondness, the first time you were allowed to into the Old Tower of the Temple that forms the heart of your village…Davion?

Your village changes. Some days it is a wizard’s dream village with orderly, intellectual citizens and spell component shops on every corner. Other times it is a frontier village with cold, gray skies and buildings made of rough hewn logs. Still on other days it is other places and only few seem to notice. You and your friends notice the changes, as do the mad people living on the edge of Davion. They claim that everyone is trapped in Davion and no one can leave. What will you do? Will you stay? Will you try to leave? Will you find out who, Davion imprisons? What secrets does your village hold and what will it do to keep them?

 

Pellham

Of all the kingdoms in Iolta or Thrain, none is more storied than Pellham. Other kingdoms may have longer histories, but not one has had more or greater heroes. No kingdom can boast of having more sacred sites than Pellham. There is not a single kingdom, not even Cumberland, has more Fey Crossings than Pellham. Pellham is a kingdom of adventure. Even now, it is caught in the middle of a Fulfilling Prophecy. The line of the ancient kings is to return and would-be heroes from around the Sea of Man are heading to Pellham to make their name and write their deeds upon glorious history. Will you do any less?

Arkhosia

Arkhosia – the Fortress-State.  Arkhosia – Home of the Dragonborn.  Arkhosia – Realm of Dragons.

If one leaves the city of Refuge and the Lands Within the White Wall, then travels northeast for five days, one enter a valley -a scar from the impact of a meteor.  In that valley, stands the defensive fortification known as Arkhosia.  Once abandoned and forgotten, Arkhosia is being restored and is rising again to stride among the powerful.

In the Dungeons & Dragons 4E default setting, Arkhosia was the ancient, dragronborn empire that fell, in mutually assured destruction, with the diabolic, tiefling empire Bael Turath.  Much of the fluff and crunch around dragonborn and their powers in 4E revolves around the memory of Arkhosia.  It inspired me to build an Arkhosia on Rilmorn.

In my game, dragonborn claim descent from the children and followers of two wizards from Mythgold – the Underground City of Wizards.  The first dragonborn were humans, elves, and dwarves who drank dragon blood from the Chalice of Dragons.  These are the standard dragonborn of the books, but there are other dragonborn.  In Sigil, there are small, segregated enclaves of dragonborn.  Each community is made up of dragonborn of a single color, the color of one of the five  chromatic dragon types.  These dragonborn claim to the descendants of the Dragonborn of Arkhosia, the true dragonborn.  Thus, there is some animosity between the two branches dragonborn.

So, the Players in the Giants in the Earth campaign got to encounter snippets of Arkhosia.  Surana (Christina’s dragonborn ranger) was taken to Arkhosia, by a strange black dragonborn drake hunter named Sargon, to help him hunt fell drakes.  She left Sargon, after she learned of his anti-dragon attitudes.  Surana, later, went to Sigil and got involved with Kharrus, a blue dragonborn.  Prince Vanik, a brown dragonborn, was exploring Spellguard, looking for Arkhosian artifacts.  E3 learns of a portal that connects the catacombs below Sceptre Tower to the lower levels of Arkhosia and of the dragon bone portal key needed to operate it.  During a time travel jaunt into the past; Aktara and T’Ba stole the Battle Standard of Arkhosia.  Surana took Kharrus as her mate and to escape the persecution of the chromatic dragonborn of Sigil, fled back to Spellguard.  Prince Vanik revealed himself to be an orium dragon and offered his protection, if Surana and Kharrus agreed to hatch their egg in Arkhosia.  Thus began the push to restore Arkhosia.  Dragonborn from Sigil and dragonborn from Mythgold accept Prince Vanik’s invitation to immigrate to Arkhosia.  Some humanoid dragonspawn and some draconians petition prince Vanik for sanctuary and they join the growing community.  Surana wished for a tower that connected Spellguard and Arkhosia and that was the last of the Arkhosian event in recorded history.

There was a lot more Arkhosia, than I thought there was, in the Giants in the Earth campaign.

So with that as background, here’s my plan for an Arkhosia campaign.  Every PC is “dragonish;” be they dragonborn, dragonspawn, draconian, or something similar.  I may allow a human or a dwarf that has a “dragon soul,” but I’ve got to think on that.  In addition to fighting and exploring (Arkhosia still has lots of hidden and damaged areas), the PCs will be sent on diplomatic missions by Prince Vanik to Dragon Isle and the Half-Dragon Monastery.  There will be a lot dragons and dragon type creatures for the PCs to encounter.  There may be a subplot examining the origins of dragonborn.  All of this would be loads of fun for me to run; it hits my obsession.

Game on!

Davion

I do not use the game conceit of Ravenloft: Realm of Terror.  I do not find the idea of characters trapped in a mystical prison for the truly evil to be a campaign that I want to run or play.  Even if I don’t use the Ravenloft “world,” I still find lots of great material in the Ravenloft setting.  Taking parts of the source material and using them as set pieces can provide a sense of unease and terror within a campaign that is unexpected and filled with fun.

In my Tasque Elzeny campaign, I didn’t just use the source material as an adventure location.  I used it as the home base and setting of the campaign.  Unlike the original module I6: Ravenloft and the Ravenloft box set, the PCs were never trapped in the setting.  No darklord was ever trapped by Dark Powers in Barovia or Mordentshire.  Castle Ravenloft was to be an adventure site and maybe a home base for the PCs, if they reclaimed their “ancestral home.”  Most everything I took from the Ravenloft and Gothic Earth material was “sense data.”  It was information and fluff to evoke a Hammer Film vibe…a Vincent Price air…a Boris Karloff ambience.  Now, how would things be different, if I took the source material and kept as close to the game conceit as possible?

In the D&D 2E hardback Domains of Dread, there is a section on pocket domains, “…domains located within other domains.”  I am considering taking some pocket domains and combining them into a setting for a new campaign.  Three pocket domains stand out as pieces of this setting: Aggarath (from The Forgotten Terror”), the “House of Lament,” and “Davion” (both from Domains of Dread).

Aggarath appears in The Forgotten Terror – the sequel to Castle Spulzeer, a Forgotten Realms adventure module.  Aggarath is both a Domain of Dread and the pommel jewel of the dagger Aggarath.  Persons killed with Aggarath, find themselves trapped inside the domain Aggarath.  Aggarath is the prison realm of Chardath, the last of a depraved family.  Thanks to his poor rearing and an overly developed sense of revenge, Chardath allied himself to a lich and murdered his sister; now he dwells trapped in a dodecahedron-domain, wherein his memories and his fears are made manifest.  People slain by Aggarath have a chance to escape this domain.  They must gather 3 enchanted rubies and a silver key to open the portal out of Aggarath.  Aggarath reminds me of movies from the 1970s where a character is trapped in someone’s psychedelic nightmares and rushes around trying to escape.

The domain named the House of Lament is a strange one.  The House is both the domain and the demilord of the domain.  It began its existence as a bandit lord’s castle.  The bandit lord stole the daughter of another lord and entombed her in a tower wall of his castle to appease the gods and make his castle impervious to attack.  The woman’s horrific death wakened something that drove bandits mad or killed them.  The castle fell into ruins, except for the tower where the woman had been entombed.  Sometime later, a merchant added a new house to the still standing tower.  In time, the Spirit of the Tower or the deranged spirit of the woman killed the man and his family.  Now, anyone who stays too long in House of Lament is trapped, driven mad, and killed.  It is an Amityville Horror house.

Davion, the name of both the domain and its demilord, is my favorite Domain of Dread.  A wizard, desiring ever more power, accidently wished three adventurers into his body.  The combined power of these four being was such that they could actually control reality around them.  Depending upon which psyche was dominant at the time, their shared body and their surroundings changed to fit his or her reality.  Only Davion knew true situation and only Davion could use the powers and information of the others.  It drove him mad and to acts of great brutality to keep his new power.  Eventually, he is drawn into the Mists and given a domain.  The domain shifts appearance, as the each psyche takes control of the body.  Augustus the Mage lives in an orderly village filled to meet the needs of any wizard.  Boromar the Warrior transforms the area into a frontier town on a cold, clear day.  Narana the Priestess worships at a large temple in the center of a small town caressed with warm spring breezes.  Ruins of an earthquake aftermath fill the area, when Davion is master of his own body.  The personalities fade and surface without notice or warning, so the village and surrounding area are ever-changing world of madness.  The locals never seem to notice the changes, but it could easily mess with both Players and PCs senses of reality.

Now, what I may do is place Aggarath on Davion’s person and it is the only thing that will not change when the body shifts psyches.  The House of Lament will be in the center of town and while the tower will remain the same, the house attached to it will become a temple, a school, or a long house as the psyche of the demilord changes.  It would still have dark rumors spread about it, but the deaths caused by the house would be fewer and less obvious.  Finally, the town of Davion will be set on an isolated coast far from civilization.

In this setting, the PCs are among the few that notice the way their world changes.  They have heard rumors of madness and death about the House of Lament.  The area in which Davion is located will be geologically unstable; earthquakes are relatively common.  While the PCs know that there are five (yes, 5) different people who share the same body space, most of the villagers are only aware of one, whichever one is dominate at that time.  All of this knowledge would put the PCs at odds with the most of the village.  The PCs get to see the workings of the setting, but may not be able to do anything about it.

I’d make the Players create multiclass characters.  Magic items and otherwise mundane equipment may have shapeshifting properties.  Davion would be the big or maybe hidden villain for some, if not most, of the campaign.  He would be trying to absorb the PCs to increase his power.

What do you, Dear Readers, think?

Game On!