Thursday, May 31, 2012

(D&D Next) To Mike Mearls: Of Madlibs, Moogs, and Modules

I hate to have to say this, but thank you Mike Mearls for allaying some fears.  In a series of interviews with Mearls and his staff we have seen a lot of stirring going on in various forums.  And the thing I keep hearing about is the holy blessed concept of the Module.

Mearls And Co...  Please.  You hurt me so badly with 4e.  You tore out my heart for balance, and... I didn't think I would trust you.  Your sharp, knowing stare... Your love of off-brand polos... And your smirk.

I want DND Next to bring me back to you.  I really do.  I love the brand... And losing Cook was a blow, but I have read the threads, looked through the responses, and have a want you to know that from the original playtest materials I have a dim glimmer of hope for this edition.

As long as you fix the armor.

There have been a lot of discussions of how the module system will work... And all I can think of are Moogs and Madlibs.  Across from us sits Google's version of the Moog Synthesizer.  The Moog is one of the great inventions of popular music, and deserves all sorts of praise.  However, I fear from the discussions of the modular environment that we are leading to a game of Moogs rather than modules.  I know that sounds like a weird analogy, but I would like to discuss what makes me feel this way.

The Moog is a brilliant idea in theory, but in practice the device can be very difficult for the newbie who wishes to learn the ropes.  The multiple dials, doohickeys, and switches involved in an analog synth allow for amazing customization... But to truly get the most out of the system and your own 'personal sound' you must dig deep, try every configuration, and develop a true ear for the system.  It feels that this version of DND will create such a monstrosity, where we gain a thousand modulations, shifts, and variables to make each game look completely separate and require a true maestro to make sure that the balances are maintained.

Thanks Telecanter for the Example
Here's what I really want.  I want a nice, simple series of fill in the blanks for my personal game that allows me to know exactly where I sit when I enter a new game.  Take the concept of the 20 Questions on Rules and allow for each game to have a single-page crisp little rundown that allows for quick reference to the rules of the system.

If I can glance at a sheet and see that we're dealing with a high-magic game that functions on Theater of the Mind (again, fix this please), Vancian Magic, with 3.x-style Skills and Psionics I have a great idea of what I need to specifically know for the game.  I can then differentiate at a glance this game from a game that uses Heavy Miniatures, 4e style Powers, has Options for Monster PCs, and utilizes stat-based skill checks.  Those little bullet-points make my life a lot easier, and can allow for a gamer to be completely aware not only of the game they're joining...

But the EXACT STYLE of DND they will be playing.

Again, praise to the current system, I love the handling of the elements, rolls, bonuses mattering... hate armor... But if you read this...

Please.  For me.  Don't just walk away and leave me crying.

Good Gaming.