D&D Next is DEAD to me…

D&D NextI am now hanging my head in shame. A shame that I would never have thought to be possible. For two weeks I have lead a public charge to find players to test the final play test release of D&D and in each of these weeks I have found no one. I even tried to appeal to my American compatriots (where I have the largest readership) and run it in an American friendly time which would have meant me getting up early. But alas, my inbox was a place for tumbleweeds to breed and blow across the empty folders of my D&D Next playtest folder.

Melodramatic? Maybe. Over the top? Perhaps. Serious? Definitely. I am but one person who is trying out this game but I can honestly say that this is the first time ever I have tried to get a game up and running and failed. The sadder thing is it does not seem to be an isolated incident when it comes to play testing this game. I have had comments on my blog asking for me to keep people in the loop of what the game runs like because they can’t find anyone willing to play it. I have had other comments where they played a game or two but it all fell apart due to lack of interest.

Is D&D dead?

It looks as though it is to me. I find this very disappointing as the game that I have read offers a lot of potential. It looks like a game that packages together a really workable system of the game. I mentioned last week that it feels like a retro game, and it does. But I have now worked out why. It is because it does not bring anything new to the table but what it brings is a really solid combination of rules and playability that comes packaged in a familiar way. D&D is the security blanket to a lot of people, or at least used to be. I have seen all of the mechanics that are included in these rules elsewhere. There is no smoking gun. No mechanic that illustrates a system of brilliance I can’t live without but it has an excellent balance of good, proven mechanics that do not get in the way of playing it.

It is disappointing to me in another way too. I got excited about D&D again. I have not been excited by D&D since I got the first 3.0 players handbook in my hand (and that wiped the excitement away very quickly). This system makes me think I would enjoy it just as much as I did the Basic set of D&D. But I just don’t know and that irritates me. Do I go out on a limb and buy the books anyway? Possibly running the risk of purchasing dead weight that will never see a game?

I am now calling it, good people of the Iron Tavern Blog. My D&D Next reviewing days are over. My conclusion on the whole scenario can be surmised by the following statement. “D&D Next is perhaps amongst the sleekest designed systems I never played and may go down in history as the best version of D&D that killed the franchise due to lack of interest” RIP D&D, you created many hours of fun in my life and I will be sad to see you go. Keep rolling!

Mark Knights is  39 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

30 thoughts on “D&D Next is DEAD to me…

  1. I think the problem with the playtest rules is they are just that a playtest. I don’t want to take the time to read and learn a system of rules that is not really the rules and changes every few months, unless I feel I have a direct impact of changing them.

    I’ll buy 5th edition, and give it a fair shake, but don’t see the point in participating in the playtest.

    • I know I had lots of energy for the first playtest. It seemed much easier to find a group to test with back upon the first playtest material list. So it could be playtest fatigue.

      The comment I’ve heard from a lot of friends is that they will pick up the core books when they are finally released, but not sure they will actually play the system. I am sure that depends on how much D&D Next “wows” them.

  2. There is only so much of “the version you love of the game is broken” you can take. To a degree, people who enjoyed certain playtest versions went through it again and again on a micro level.

    I’m in the “will buy the core books” set. I’m getting my fantasy from DCC RPG and Dungeonslayers right now, and I’m reading Torchbearer. Between these I think I have every itch scratched.

    • I agree that wore me out as well. With the first playtest I was more of an active participant and those threads quickly wore on me as well. I am good with folks having different preferences. I am less fine with the “you are doing it wrong” comments.

      I certainly agree I currently have my fantasy gaming niches filled with DCC RPG, S&W (or L&L or OSRIC), and Pathfinder for when I want that 3.x feel.

      • I think 5th will probably end up being a mighty fine game when it’s all said and done. But it will have to wait for an opening in my already busy gaming schedule before I’ll give it a fair shake. 5th is not a gimme. It’ll have to earn it.

    • The first playtest is what led me neck deep into the OSR world. I enjoyed the light rules and quick play. When the second playtest added more complexity that is what really sparked my closing look at DCC RPG and things like S&W, LL, etc.

  3. It’s all a matter or opinion. I thought that 2nd Edition could use a little “tweaking” and I set about doing that with House Rules. I don’t think 2E is “broken,” so why “fix it?”

    I play some 3.5 these days, because that’s the only system being played by people I can find. But 4E? That’s never going to happen.

    So why should I bother with “5E?” Sorry, but I never though that D&D was “broken.” Thanks anyway.

    • I too do not feel much need for D&D proper these days. I think D&D needed to be very innovative this time around. The trying to please everyone with “options” or “modules” just doesn’t seem like a successful tab.

    • I have had all the core rule books since ver 3 when I was 10 and went and got it from the local bookstore. from what Ive noticed in my time playing is that 3 tried to evolve 2’s rules and then 3.5 came out and was like hey guys lets nit pick every rule to death and make it super complex for those that have been playing; but it left behind all the new gamers because of all the math and dice rolling made it confusing from the start.
      with 4 they tried to amalgamate dnd with action rpg feel, which was a cool idea but all those lazy people were like, but i can just play an rpg on my comp or console and have the same thing. again lazy.
      Dnd next allows you o create a wholey unique character from the get go(where as in pre 4th edition characters didnt really start differentiating them selves until higher levels through equipment and feat/ability choices) and cuts back on all the micro management. allowing a truely unique story to form from the DM and the players

      to those that say why bother, I say, why do you bother to comment on something that you obviously haven’t taken the time to understand. Im not saying that you cant use your old system of rules and have fun, but dont put down something that is new, simply cause at face value it seems less complex.

  4. They’ve had a really large number of people downloading playtest packets and answering the surveys, so “died from lack of interest” is, at the very least, a premature guess.

  5. Well, if it helps any I have had no end of interest locally in the 5E playtests I’ve run, with about 20 participating players over several sessions. The general reception is strong; 5E’s biggest hurdle (in this area, anyway) is breaking the iron grip Pathfinder has attained…and in general convincing gamers that their version of D&D is something they want to put aside. I know I’m looking forward to 5E. I like the direction it’s going for the most part….but most of my players despite trying and enjoying it see no reason to leave their preferred edition. We’ll see if my status as “the GM who decides what he wants to run” has any clout next year…

  6. The final packet comes out sometime in the next week, so when that drops, I’d be happy to either run a game or play one with you over G+ Hangouts, with or without the Roll20 app, in an Australian timeslot (I’m in NSW).

    There seems little point starting on the Aug packet so many people disliked, and the rules go dark for 12 months or more next week…

  7. Well it is good to see some passion for the system finally! Great to see. I promise you that I don’t think the system is broken. In fact it is quite the opposite! I just want to play it!

  8. Honestly, I’ve looked it over and showed it to my group and we’ve all had the same reaction. Why play it?
    We all enjoy Pathfinder and don’t see the point in learning this system. I’m the only player (Also the DM) that has played anything other than Pathfinder. I’ve played 2nd, 3.0, 3.5, and 4th. I actually felt right when I started playing Pathfinder.
    I also feel that I know that 5th will do the age old D&D method of putting everything in a ton of books that you will have to have all of to play “Correctly”.
    I’ll have to look through the newest playtest files, but I just feel like I won’t be impressed with it.

  9. Being new to the game (we play a family game of D&D 4th Ed.), my concern would be that the games don’t seem as kid friendly as they appeared when I was young and many of my cousins and uncles (always boys) would be obsessed with the game. Took us many books, website searches and research hours before we could even begin playing. Even now, I’m sure we don’t play it ‘correctly’. Simplified would be welcome. Let’s attract the younger kids back into D&D so there will be more generations of players.

    • Hi Charmaine. I play RPGs with my family as well. Just curious: are you playing 4th Ed. from the D&D Essentials books, or from other books? I thought the Essentials line did a nice job of simplifying aspects of 4E, while remaining compatible with all of the existing materials. Plus, the paperback format for the books is attractive when you have kids around the table — I don’t worry as much that something will be spilled on a book that I spent less than $20 for. Just thought I’d throw that out there, in case you were interested.

  10. I hear ya man, I tried to get a game rolling several times, Seems like a decent system, and a huge improvement on 4E (huge waste of money), but I couldn’t pull anyone together.
    Is the tabletop RPG dead?

  11. I’ve found the exact opposite in fact. D&D is alive and thriving. Here in South Florida, we run one of the largest groups of the D&D Next playtest at Tate’s Gaming Satellite, with an average of 30 players across 4 DMs playing the Dead In Thay campaign every Wednesday for 3 hour sessions. Keep your chin up!

    • When this was posted last year I could see issues with getting people to play a playtest doc for a beta test that was winding down. I suspect that the sentiment today, 9 days from the early release of the new Starter Set and Basic D&D core is very different, and probably pushes this blog post into the dustbin of history……

    • Good to hear. I also look like I will have someone running a game locally once the full version comes through so you are right! Not as dead as it was when I first started looking.

  12. I have not seen anything in 5E that will break Pathfinder’s hold on me. I am heavily invested mainly in time and campaigns, but also money to Pathfinder.

    Not to say I won’t give it a shot since I believe they are giving a core PDF out for free. So why not try it. Very smart on their part, and necessary given the hold of Paizo. I will try a face-to-face or two and some play-by-posts.

    Of course I am willing and excited to play anything, so if a DM shows up, wants to play 5E and it looks like we’d actually have the time to play, then yay. But reality is, I have limited time, so will probably stick with Pathfinder.

  13. have been using playtest rules…. there may be some improvments there but seem mostly a way to sell more rulebooks. I’m not sure each generation needs their own version…we have players from 21 to 65……

  14. Well, since this is almost a year old…have you changed your mind? There are so many groups on Facebook, and G+…and certainly elsewhere discussing NEXT as the release rolls out. The naysayers are few and far between as far as I can tell, though it may in part be because you have to go out of your way to join these groups, and naysayers may just not care enough.

    Not a lot of negative reviews of what finally came out.

    Here’s a positive one. It has the feel of classic d&d. I started in 2nd Ed. and I feel like I’m 12 again slinging dice for the first time. With that said they also, obviously, learned from d20 so there isn’t anything ridiculous in there like THAC0 or different xp progressions for different classes…or whatever was going on with the druid in those days. *shudders*

    The core Kernel is lite and smooth and highly modular, and at the end of the day beyond the core you have proficiencies, racial and non-racial features, and the optional Feats, and Multi-Classing rules.

    I have been truly astounded throughout the entire playtest and especially now with the personality charts with each background. With a few simple choices character personality just bleeds out almost instantly. Every one of the characters I’ve made, and all of my players have made have been so round right from the get go.

    NEXT slings open the doors and gets out of the way of RP with a sleek, rules lite system.

    Sadly I have a bunch of players that want to play, but are quite “busy” and haven’t gotten their characters in order quite yet. Soon though…very soon we return to a world I haven’t used since 3e was released. Its like going home.

    • Mark was the original poster on this, but I will say I have a rather favorable view of D&D 5e so far. I’ve read the Starter Set, have the PHB, and picked up Hoard of the Dragon Queen to run for a weekend game with the family and close friends. Definitely pleasantly surprised.

      I don’t see it replacing one of the OSR systems as my top spot, but I could see it bumping Pathfinder a little further down the list.

      Anxious to get it on the table!

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