Saturday, August 14, 2010

Post Gencon Reflections

Another Gencon has come and gone. I didn't get to attend this year but several of our group did and I have heard positive reports from them. Wizards posted a few days ago that attendance broke the 30,000 mark, a new record, so they have got to be happy with that.

One of the gaming websites I follow - - is basically just a compilation of headlines and articles from like minded RPG bloggers. All different aspects of gaming are covered, not just DnD or 4E, so by poking around and picking and choosing what perks your interest you can get a nice general overview of the larger RPG world. Of course many of the bloggers posting there attended Gencon and many posted daily reports and then provided a post-Gencon review and/or summary as well. Given that Wizards is the 800 pound gorilla in the RPG marketplace their new products discussion was one of the better attended conferences and it drew plenty of blogger coverage as well.

The 4E Dark Sun world was announced last year and they are to be officially released this next Tuesday (08/17). The big new world release for next year was a Neverwinter Nights module for Forgotten Realms, and there was an as-of-yet unnamed PC game release planned for next year as well, so the rumor is that the first 4E PC-based computer game will be an updated 4E version of the old Neverwinter Nights PC game. A lot of people are excited about Dark Sun, but I haven't seen to much excitement about this.

A lot of the discussion revolved around the new 4E Essentials line of books due to come out over the next ~6 months. Originally I thought this would likely be a "DnD Version 4.1", but Wizards has likened it more to a "DnD Basic Game" with 4E being the "DnD Advanced Game." As such, it didn't draw much interested from the "advanced" crowd, but give them credit - Wizards is working hard to market their product to draw in more players. There is a good size learning curve to even the old 2E/ADD version, so if this really helps grow the base then good for them. The new 4E Rules Compendium is still due in the next month or so.

In following the RPG blog world one can see the DnD portion breaks down into three main categories:

1) DnD 4E: There are a lot of thoughtful players out there who genuinely like the game and provide well-written commentary about their game or to the 4E world in general. This includes providing links to other various DnD news sites and adding to the larger discussion.

2) Pathfinder: There are still version 3.0 and 3.5 players out there, but official support for these versions were essentially terminated when 4E was announced. At that time announced they would pick up the V3.5 mantle and update and produce their own line of source books and adventures called Pathfinder - they jokingly refer to Pathfinder as V3.75. Paizo had been a general on-line RPG seller for several years and had been producing their own V3.5 source material and campaigns so they were well placed to undertake this. They have produced some excellent material and are doing a good job of engaging their community.

The Pathfinder Core Rulebook, initially released at Gencon in 2009, is currently on it's 3rd version (available via PDF), so despite a year of playtesting ahead of time they are not immune to the issue of errata either.

3) Old School Roleplayers (OSR) - Our DnD group played 2E/ADnD for 20+ years and were happy with it. We discussed migrating to V3.0 and then V3.5, but opted to stay where we were at that time. It wasn't a religious crusade though, but unfortunately many bloggers and players have taken it to that level. Versions 1E/2E DnD/ADnD are both emanantly tweakable games so many variants have been produced - and still are - as different game developers try to hammer out their version of the perfect game. It's their right I suppose, but it just further splinters their user base and leads to internecine squabbles and cries of heresy as to who is more "old school." I'll play any version, but honestly, who needs that crap?

As a side note, I find it curious that people who don't particularly care for something absolutely feel compelled to join in a discussion about the idea, belief, or product that they don't care about. If that was as far as it went I could ignore it, but often it is these same people who degenerate the discussion to insult or degrade those who do favor that particular idea, belief, or product. I think to many people mistake the ability to speak with the ability to say something.

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