RPG MUSINGS Play The Game You Want To Play

The In Thing To Do

Okay, so everyone on the internet is doing it, why not me. Time for me to do my D&D Next article.

First, let me say, that this will be my one and only D&D Next article until we get much closer to the release…the release that does not have a date at this time. It could be a year, it could be several years. I’ll continue to cover news about it over on The Tome Show, but I won’t be compiling regular wish lists, commenting on incomplete information, or speculating on what the new edition will or won’t be…at least not once I’m done doing that in this post.

No, I’m going to get this out of my system and then it’s on to discussing D&D…the current edition, which is 4e, which isn’t a bad thing (just wanted to remind you in case you forgot in the fervor and excitement of the next big thing).

So, all of that said, I’m also going to take a bit of a different track than many others. Rather than digging through what I want to see in the new edition, I’m going to be open to the fact that the designers know what they’re doing and let them do it. Instead, I’m going to give my anti-wish list…these are the things I DON’T want in D&D Next. Things that might be tempting but should be avoided.



D&D is a fantasy game about being a hero. Tossing fireballs and slicing open otyughs (that’s right, in the wide pantheon of monsters, I went with otyughs). I don’t want too much realism stuck in there. A system that helps me string together a narrative that suspends disbelief? Yes. I don’t want to get too hung up on the economy, physics, geography, genetics, etc. that would be realistic for the sake of making it more realistic. If it helps me tell a better, more engaging or exciting story fine. 4e moved away from the simulationist design ideal…although admittedly it may have moved a bit further away from that than many preferred. One could make it work, but some had issues suspending disbelief because the mechanics didn’t support it the way it had in the past. I get that and sympathize. I think there’s a happy middle ground…but in the effort to appeal to players of older editions, don’t forget there was a reason for moving away from that.


Complexity of System

This is related to Simulationism but I think deserves it’s own discussion. 3e and 4e were built on a singular system concept, roll a d20, add a modifier, beat a DC. Everything is built on that. Keep it. 2e and 1e had disparate systems to do different things. Found a situation you want the game to be able to handle? Tack on a system to handle it. This leads to more and more rules that don’t have anything to do with each other. Stick with the d20 system.

That said, adding complexity to characters? That’s okay, to a point, or at least providing those options and letting players/DMs choose. But simplicity in system without lots of fiddly non-uniform rules systems to remember…naw, I’m over a lot of that. In core system, simplicity is beauty.

And I’ll say it right now…if I see Thac0 in the core system, I’m done. Period. That is a non-negotiatble for me.



1e was a deadly game. 2e slightly less so. 3e even less. 4e made it downright hard to kill characters. This is generally not a bad trend. I like my characters and I want them to survive long enough to tell their story. I’ve invested in them, I don’t want to see them go. That said, this is another area where, perhaps, 4e went too far. I have found it reduces challenge in my game at times that I sort of wish it was there. It’s either TPK or no-PK.

I don’t mind rolling back a bit in deadliness…but deadlier is generally not funner…let’s not go too far and overcompensate.


Skills Without Rolls

The skills system of pre-3e is frustrating to me, to say the least and was more so when I was actually playing it. The 3e system and 4e system (almost identical) is good and fits into that unified d20 system that I discussed before. I like sticking ranks in my skills…3e had too many, 4e has too few…there’s tweaking that can be done…but this fits well into the category of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Let’s not make change for the sake of change.


Well, there it is, the things I DON’T want in D&D Next…okay, so along the way I may have snuck in a bit of what I do want.

And with that, I’m done. No more wish lists and speculation about the new edition from me. 4e is still the game of choice, for the foreseeable future, with this out of my system, it’s back to the game I love that does exist.


Jeff Greiner was born under the prophetic sign of the Celestial D20. The sages of the time wrote many scriptures detailing the future of this child and the accomplishments he would achieve. Instead he grew up to be a geek. A really big geek. To prove his geekitude and try to match his geekosity with the prophecy he attempts to accomplish great things in geektopia. To accomplish this is started a D&D podcast (www.thetomeshow.com) and a website for the D&D Player (www.temporaryhitpoints.com).

4 Responses to “The In Thing To Do”

  • I could see more simulationist types of things being added in as optional modules. I’d be ok with that, though I do agree that simpler is better.

  • Of course after writing this I came up with more things for my list…Class Imbalance and Core Setting…must resist follow up article.

  • […] Greiner over at RPG Musings joins the bandwagon, as if talking about 5th edition is the “in thing to do”.  See […]

  • I enjoy that you have listed the Thac0 as a “non-negotiable” aspect :)