Monday, May 21, 2012

Errata This, That, and This and ...

Issues with errata complaints make for an angry Loonook.  His anger shines through to other hobbies.

Errata makes the world go round in so many games... And when I hear the standard DM and player group fuss over implementation I am led to wonder why.  Why would anyone wish to ignore corrections to broken rules, confusing interactions, and power adjustments?  I can understand some of the faults behind players or DMs losing favored powers, abilities, spells, or items due to this weakening of power... But as a whole the hobby should seek a stable game that does not have as many inherent flaws, faults, and flubs due to simple errors in the text.

I believe that it is a part of the culture of RAW.  Rules as Written, the literal interpretation of all rules as published by the originating source, is a brilliant concept in theory.  In practice it seems that Rules as Written can be a great tool to streamline the system... But what about the intent or foggy wordings?  Where should we take our cues?

There is a reason why Magic loves errata.  Errata helps to keep interpretation and poorly written rules from affecting the gameplay of all players.  With thousands of cards available to play, Magic makes for a very interesting parallel to the bloat of later edition D&D and other games that have such a breadth of content.

Magic's R&D team actually has a lot more time to test their products through groups like the Future Future League   Sadly a game of D&D takes quite a bit longer to play to the higher levels than games of Magic, and  with the extreme variation allowed by such a robust system D&D designers would need to playtest with dozens of groups on every expansion, article, and template just to make sure things get to a stable point.

For third party publishers the troubles can become even more difficult.  The tumultuous nature of being a small fish in an enormous pond can cause layoffs, new hires, and changes in philosophies that would cause any other business to go slowly insane.

Though the outfit looks good on the VP

We expect companies to get it right.  When we know there are troubles with a project we become angry at the producer themselves over the fact that we, as hobbyists, make these companies pay an enormous sum to keep us happy, healthy, and in good gaming spirits.  The costs of publishing, copy editing, and playtesting to a publisher is immense, and it is sad to see projects like the new printing of ASoIAF having repeated issues... But errata will set us free.

Thankfully, as we move towards more electronic media, we will see more seamless updates and errata as a possibility.  But the real trouble will be adapting to the situation.  If we are willing to adapt we will find ourselves in an excellent position to learn from our mistakes, and grow as a hobby.

As Always,

Good Gaming.