Thursday, March 25, 2010

Edition Loyalty, Edition War

Over in the world of "contemporary" D&D, there was a recent flap when Clark Peterson (of Necromancer Games fame), announced that he was "swearing off 4E"... "Because Pathfinder is D&D". On the various message boards, this declaration was met for the most part with level-headed responses of "cool", or "glad you found a system you like". Scattered amongst those were less level-headed responses, ranging from petulant "what happened to our 4E cheerleader" to near-cultish chants of "welcome to the Fold"(Gooble Gobble). Lines were drawn in the sand, threads were locked, and so on.

And Clark's annoucement was extremely gentle compared to the majority of such postings.

Which got me thinking: When did gaming start requiring a declaration of loyalty?

Along with: Who wins when you make your declaration?

Don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as anyone for engaging in the odd edition skirmish, even if primarily from the standpoint of devil's advocate. But its getting increasingly hard for me to imagine choosing one game/edition, and one game/edition only, as the One True Game. I currently run Swords & Wizardry, along with lots of stuff from OSRIC, along with lots of my own houserules. To further muddy the waters, I often use 4E-style "minions", I've recently added the option of using classes from Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Characters, and I'm thinking of throwing some Pathfinder feats into the mix. Also, in the last three years alone, I've played in 3.5 and 4E campaigns, as well as a session of OD&D, 2 sessions of Microlite20 and a brief online session of HARP.

So where do I fit in? What's my place in the culture of "Brand Loyalty"? Am I some shifty double-agent, not to be trusted? Am I a gaming Switzerland, stolidly Nuetral, to my peers' undying chagrin? Am I a spineless slacker, too weak-willed to stand up and take a side?

Is it possible that, some day, I might get up on my soapbox and declare to any who'll listen, "I just can't stand Swords & Wizardry anymore; from now on, I'm only running Gamma World!"?

Well sure, anything's possible.

But for right now, at least, I can't see the point in doing so.


  1. I don't see the point in doing so either. Sadly most declarations are accompanied by condemnations. It need not be that way, but often is. I can’t stand jigsaw puzzles, but don’t fault those who enjoy them. Your life, your time, your actions, try not to make a mess of it.

  2. Yeah, I definitely agree. We don't do that sort of thing with our boardgames... so why would we keep doing that with our RPGs?

    I can see getting more into a game, or getting tired of it for a while... but the factionalism of "my favorite game" vs "your favorite game" really feels silly now. :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Whoa, let's try that again...

    If I'm ever in a musical band, I'll push for the name to be, Gaming Switzerland.
    ---FTW! :D

    Yeah, really.
    --Who cares about those who are so off their rockers as to decry an individual's choice of games?
    ---Nuts. And I mean that in a purely clinical sense. :)

  5. Let me tell you something. This whole thing about D&D -- 4th ed and 3rd ed, first ed, second ed, original ed; plain and simply boils down to preference. I simply do not understand it. We need to unify as a gaming culture; not break apart over which game is the best.

    Simply stupid. No wonder muscled men who work out in gyms think we need a life. :(

  6. Yep, I agree, Al. Back before 4e was officially released, but WotC was releasing previews, I have to admit I was upset at the changes made. In hindsight, that was silly. The problem lies in that the name "D&D" has been applied to so many different rule sets, that some folks can get defensive about how it's applied.

    What really put things into perspective for me was a post some guy made at ENWorld stating that folks should start seeing each edition as a game in its own right. Once I took on that mindset, I saw the stupidity of the edition wars.

    If you want to play 4e, go ahead. How does that change my 3.5 campaign? Why should I be bothered if someone likes LL over C&C?

  7. No wonder muscled men who work out in gyms think we need a life.

    Less acting like dumbbells and more lifting them! :D

  8. I've settled on one game, Labyrinth Lord, because I just don't have the time to divide my efforts. But I'd sure love to play some S&W White Box, some 1e AD&D, and probably at least sample some others more often.

    I'm not really into the more recent editions, but I certainly wouldn't mind trying them out.

  9. Amen. I'm far too fickle to declare eternal loyalty to any one game. I'm glad that I don't have to. As a GM, I'm going to choose a given system based on a) how it supports what I'm trying to do in a particular game and b) if I can get any players for it. As a player, it all comes down to what my favorite GMs are running. I'll *play* anything with a good GM.

  10. Like Frost, I have to admit I was upset when I first saw what WotC was doing with 4th edition. The truth is, things that I used to enjoy - like heading down to my flgs to check out the new D&D releases or hitting the newsstand for Dungeon and Dragon magazines - well...I'm sure you get the point.

    I felt...I don't know, left behind, I guess. But that was before I discovered Jeff's Gameblog and, through that, the (mostly friendly) OSR community. So, in retrospect, the release of 4th edition ended up being a good thing for me.

    I understand how ridiculous and pointless the edition wars are, I really do. But I remember what it was like to feel like something I loved was being taken away, so I also understand why some people feel disenfranchised. Is it rational? Not really. But neither are human beings, most of the time.

  11. The stakes of such 'declarations' are different when made by a third-party publisher. Petersen was declaring the future direction of Necromancer Games, not simply revealing his own game preferences. As such, such a declaration is helpful to current and potential customers.

    As for myself, I am a victim of gamer's ADD, so I could never commit to one system "uber alles".

  12. Lets hear some hooting and hollering about Necromancer Games getting back in the game!

    I'm looking forward to what they're going to put out next!

  13. @Akrasia/Blair: Sad to say, Clark was very clear that he was speaking wholly of his house game, not of any publishing prospects.

    It would be nice to see Necro back in the publishing game, regardless of edition, but I don't think its in the cards. At the most, we might get a "Pathfinderized" version of the OGL Tome of Horrors (of dubious usefulness to anyone who already has the 3.0 version, or the 3.5 version). As far as the much desired Sword of Air, Treasure Maps, or Tegel Manor goes, I must reign in my usual optimism.

    That said, I'm a big fan of surprises! ;)

  14. From the man himself:

    "It's true, and you don't need me to confirm it, Necro has been dormant for some time. The 4E thing didn't go as planned for lots of reasons. It's too bad, but it is what it is. Now that Pathfinder seems to be the best game out there (my opinion, not trying to start some war, you all can play what you want and don't need me to tell you what to do), the problem becomes one of where things are at. For Bill and I we are both at such different places now than we were a few years ago. I'm not sure that running Necro again is viable for us. So dont expect a full scale Necro revival. I just don't see it.

    That said, we have some goals:

    1. Bill and I are working with Steve at DTRPG to get print on demand of Necro products.
    2. I am talking with Erik Mona and I would love to find a way to do a Tome of Horrors, Pathfinder Edition. I've even mentioned it to Scott. But this is real preliminary.
    3. One day I'd like to write adventures again, likely for Pathfinder. But I have nothing in the works currently.

    That is where things are at.

    The Necro fans rule. You long term ones are really the best. Thanks to everyone. Not bowing out, just updating


  15. I'd like to add to the amen chorus here. I grew up with 1e (I started with Holmes, but the ref never let me look at the book) and truthfully I don't much like it- more power to those that do, though. However, I really dig 0e/S&W WB, but ironically enough I was put off it at first, because I was told from a variety of different sources that 0e and old school game in general were more about imagination- and there always seemed to be the sly insinuation (and sometimes not so sly, really) that people playing newer editions or games were some how deficient in this regard. The message seemed to be, "real gamers, with real imaginations are playing the old games; new games are for the feeble minded and unimaginative," when, imo, it should have been, "Hey try this, or take a second look at it, you might dig it." I came on line late, though, and missed the first rounds of the 1e/2e vs 3e edition wars so I really lacked the context to properly judge where old school gamers were coming from (i.e. weathering years of bullshit talk about gaming "evolution"). So I was unable to understand all the hostility. Which is something we should all consider maybe, not everyone reading what we write has the background to understand where we're coming from, and what may seem, to some, like a justified strike back, may seem to others like baseless aggression.

  16. The human desire for consensus is an old, old instinct from when we were social plains apes. It's so ingrained in some people that when someone they don't know, and whom they will never meet, states an opinion or preference contrary to their own they will flip in a paroxysm of nerd rage.

    The only drawback I see of so many different editions is sometimes it gets hard to get a playgroup going with everybody you'd want. My own local game-o-sphere includes avowed 4E players, a contigent of oldskoolers whom I am pleased to be gaming with, and a few who insist on anything BUT D&D. I'd love to sit at them all at the same table, but sadly ya can't please all of the people all of the time.

  17. I own and have played every edition of *D&D and the Retro clones, near clones and enspired by clones out there.

    They are all fun.

    Isn't that what it's about, having fun?

  18. If you are not playing using the original wood grained box set, and I mean only the 3 LBB's and no supplements, you are not really playing D&D!

    (just in case you couldn't tell, I kid)

  19. I'm about as anti 4Ed as any Grognard, but I have to grudgingly admit I have found myself liking a few of the new rules and if I had t make any recommendation it wouldn't be 4.0's PHB, DMG or MM. but the quick start rules you can download for free at WOTC's site. Minus all the powers feats and other obnoxious crap like the Dragonborn, I think it covers all the rule changes an old school gamer might be interested--but don't quote me!

  20. @ THOMAS -





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