Friday, May 25, 2012

I just don't care

...about 5e, or DnD Next, or whatever it is they're going to call it.  I know the gaming blogosphere is abuzz with talk and speculation and open derision, and that the open play test was to begin some time soon, or recently.  It's just that I don't see it affecting me in the slightest, and so I can't bring myself to give a damn.

I don't give a damn about WOTC's latest reinvention of the proverbial wheel for the same reason I don't give a damn about American Idol.  I already have the edition that I like.  The latest season of Idol may have been, technically speaking, a fairly solid production, or it may have been a steaming pile of crap.  The finalists might be vocal aces with bright futures in the music business, or caterwauling twits that will flop and be forgotten, but I don't waste my time and words either pulling for their success or berating their flaws and gleefully predicting their failure.  They're not my style, so I ignore them.

I don't think the future of the hobby hinges on the quality and success of 5e, either, and frankly I'm not concerned about it.  If it flops, oh well.  If it succeeds, I won't grudge new players their preferred edition, any more than I'm going to make a concerted effort to get kids who are growing up on pop and hip-hop to scorn it in favor of Rush and Tom Petty.  If old school strikes a chord with them, they'll find their way to it.  If not, the hobby still survives, mutating and evolving into something I find distasteful and barely recognizable, but which is ultimately irrelevant to my life and pursuit of happiness.  I'm content to remain far behind the times marching to my own drummer (who sounds a lot like Neil Peart.)

As far as my music analogy goes, I think 5e may be even less relevant to gaming than American Idol and its ilk are to music.  I can't record new songs in the style of Bachman-Turner Overdrive or Blue Oyster Cult.  For better or worse, unless they decide to go back to the studio and crank out a new album, I'm stuck with their past catalog.  But I can draw maps and write old school adventures to my heart's content.  I have my old rule books still, and they work every bit as well as they always have for inspiration, reference, and fodder for creativity.

It certainly would be awesome if Wizards would release all the old editions of D&D, either in print or PDF or both, so that new gamers could be more aware of their options, and old ones returning to the hobby could find their favorite rule sets, modules, and supplements.  I can still buy the old albums of Deep Purple, Kansas, Boston, Dire Straits, and The Who on CD or digital download, but the Moldvay Basic Set and the Keep on the Borderlands are only available via ebay or if you're willing to turn pirate and do some google searching for the buried treasure (not that I have any problem with digital "piracy," since I find "intellectual property" to be an invalid concept, but I digress.  It would still be nice to have a completely above board, white market source for old school TSR products.)  Nonetheless, we do still have some eminently serviceable retro clone rule sets, and quite a few old schoolers who continue to write and publish adventures and supplements for them, whether for free or for a fee.

At the end of the day, whether DnD Next is a screaming success, or ends up in the scrap heap, I'll still be playing my Classic D&D (with house rules,) and that's the edition my nieces (and hopefully nephews, when they're old enough) will play at my table.  If they get hooked, I'll gladly pass on the old school torch, along with my collection of game books and dice, to them, and they can teach their friends, and perhaps some day their own sons, daughters, nieces, or nephews.  With any luck, I might get to hear them blaring Tom Sawyer and Burnin' For You from their car stereos, too.

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