Tuesday, February 04, 2014

5e "Hat Trick"

Another D&D related topic.  Actually, this is from a guy who's excited about 5e.  Or D&D Next, or whatever they're officially trying to call it.

He says that what it does is a "hat trick"--three things it delivers that speak to those especially who are fatigued with 3e, Pathfinder and 4e grind.  The three things are,

  1. Speed of play
  2. Bounded accuracy
  3. Theater of the Mind
Nos. 1 and 3 I parsed easily enough.  I had to ask what #2 was.  Speed of play; well, clearly.  3e and even moreso 4e got bogged down in really grindy, slow, combat.  Sometimes it was because the rules were too cumbersome and had to be referenced a lot (especially with regards to some of the details of 3e), sometimes it was just because the tactical game was designed specifically to be that way (more a 4e problem.)  5e then, supposedly is much faster to play.  Is it faster than pre-5e?  How does it compare to the B/X pairing?  How does it compare to Microlite20?  Well, Speed of Play doesn't have to approach an absolute to be good--some depth is good, after all.  But keep in mind that this guy admits that he's only familiar with iterations of D&D.  He's never played any other game.  But nobody argued with him here either.  Certainly, speed of play is something that I want from my systems these days.  Grindy higher level 3e combat has soured me quite a bit on detailed rule systems.

Theater of the mind is a fancy term, but all it really refers to (at least his usage of it) is the ability to play the game without needing battlemats, miniatures, and other physical representations because of tactical positioning.  In this regard, the guy who made this claim got some more flack from folks with more depth to their roleplaying experience.  Sure, 5e may have more theater of the mind friendliness than 4e or even 3e, but not as much as earlier editions of D&D, and certainly not as much as other games like, say, Feng Shui.

I also highly desire mechanics that don't hinder theater of the mind style play.  But I admit that I'm a little bit suspicious of mechanics that specifically enable and encourage it.  I'd rather just have mechanics that easily allow it. 

Bounded Accuracy is a notion--a paradigm on how to flatten the power curve of heroes.  Allow them to level without allowing that to break the verisimilitude of the game, or otherwise cause all of the problems that levels can bring.  Considering that I just posted about levels a few days ago, I thought this was kind of interesting.

Anyway, here's the link to the design diary that specifically points out Wizards of the Coast's philosophy of bounded accuracy.

All in all, this "hat trick" is encouraging to me.  It indicates that I'd probably like 5e.

Doesn't, though, at all make any promises about my ability to prefer it to what I already have.  Going back to my idea of the Great Schism; I think one after-affect is a diaspora of D&D players.  Getting us all back under the big tent again is probably impossible.  I'm happy with what I have, and I don't feel any need to go look for something else just because it's "official."  I am, however, encouraged by what I see so far.  It looks like a good direction for D&D to me.

No comments: