Kudos to Wizards of the Coast for managing to keep up their publishing schedule over the holiday period. I must admit that I was expecting nothing on the web-site all week, so it was a pleasant surprise – a bit like coming down on Christmas morning and discovering a couple of presents under the tree that you weren’t expecting! 🙂
Of course, as is often the way with unexpected presents, some are just what you wanted, but maybe thought you’d never get, while others are the sort you open with a fixed grimace … you know like that striped pair of socks from your great-aunt!
The unexpected offerings were the 2011 compilations of two regular weekly columns on the D&D site: Dungeon Master Experience by Chris Perkins, and Legends and Lore, by Mike Mearls originally, with Monte Cooke stepping in more recently. Given that WOTC stopped producing monthly compilations of Dungeon and Dragon magazines some time ago, this was definitely a surprise!
In the case of the Dungeon Master Experience column, this was definitely a good thing!! I’ve been ‘collecting’ this column for a few months now i.e. printing each new column to PDF and archiving it away, so to find a full year’s compilation to save me the effort of all the back issues I haven’t got round to … major bonus!! 🙂 In my opinion this column is the best advert for 4E D&D that Wizards could have come up with: its brilliantly written by one of their top guys, with loads of great advice and ideas, and it completely debunks the myth that you can’t role-play with 4E!! What fun it must be to play in one of Mr Perkin’s campaigns – I just hope he doesn’t run out of material for the column anytime soon…
But the Legends and Lore column, I’m afraid that’s another thing entirely. I mean, both Mike and Monte are great designers, and I know at least half of what they’re writing in this column is just to gather feedback and opinion, but when I read it I can’t help the uneasy knowledge that at some point all this is going to result in another significant change!!
And that is the crux. I like 4E, its the current system I’ve invested time and money into, and I think although there has been quite a bit of confusion out there regarding the non-Essentials and Essentials stuff, at heart its a pretty effective set of core mechanics. I don’t really want to see that thrown away, especially when it seems to me that the main reason Wizards are doing this is to try and bring disaffected previous edition players back into the fold, which to be honest I don’t think is going to happen without massive change!
From my perspective, I don’t really care that much about the nitty-gritty details of the rules as long as they’re easy to DM, easy to prep for, fun to play, and make it possible to bring out the flavour of your setting and adventure through the mechanics of the rules i.e. I don’t mean the rules have to cover everything, but if a monster or character has an iconic power for instance, you want that reflected with an in-game mechanic.
For me, 4E has this in spades (which is not to say other editions do not btw – I was quite happy with Basic, 1E and 2E as well – I can’t comment on 3E/3.5E/PF as I have never played them), and I’d rather WOTC spent their energies in demonstrating the best of that by publishling great products, rather than changing the system massively to combat the anti-4E vitriol 🙂
Anyway, enough of that; I did also get one real, ‘in-your-hand’ gaming related present – a copy of Heroes of the Feywild. This is an interesting one for me, as its the first ‘Players Option’ book that I’ve gotten hold of. My next Wizards Watch column will include my thoughts on this…