Jun 8, 2009

What's in a name?

I love 4th edition, but it also leaves me a little unsettled.

What I admire about it is how Wizards has put together an impressive product line. The graphic design is the best D&D has seen - you can read that logo from across the room (unlike the previous edition books). The art is outstanding! The shelf of products is impressive. From the hard cover books, the dungeon tiles, module packs, player cards, to the miniatures. It all comes across as well thought out and designed.

I can also recognize how well designed the game is. As a game designer myself, I know how hard it is to design a new game.

And that's why it leaves me unsettled. It's not really D&D anymore, it's a new game.

Yet I continue to purchase the books, read them enthusiastically, and dream about the adventures I could be having. We've only played a few sessions, and those sessions have focused on combat.

More recently we've been playing Swords & Wizardry, though it is quickly becoming something other than S&W as we've been house ruling the heck out of it. Yet as much as I love Swords & Wizardry, there is no denying the power of the Dungeons & Dragons logo on a book. It's very similar to when you go to the store, you can buy generic cheaper, and it's probably just as good, but branding has a powerful appeal.

We could just play an older edition of D&D, but there is something vital about a game that is alive with supplements continuing to come out.

And this is why I feel unsettled. I want to play D&D, but I feel like D&D only exists in the imaginations of the fans and in dusty old out-of-print books.