Why D&D next is no good
"D&D next is garbage."
That is a pretty strong statement about a game that hasn't been released. I must be a fan-boy of some other system. I must have a prejudice against D&D and the establishment. I must jump to conclusions in the absence of evidence. Really, there must be something wrong with me.
I acquired my opinion from reading their designer blog. I read carefully and reflected on what I was reading with a growing horror. Horror because I know how well it will sell initially -- far better than any other system released next year. Horror because I knew that they are creating a clay golem. Without heart and without and brain it will dominate next year's game market.
Exhibit A: They are not making the game for any reason apart from "the life-cycle of D&D 4.x is over and they are losing 3.x market share to Pathfinder." They don't know what is wrong with the different editions, but they are trying to unify them into a single product. If they can consolidate 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th edition players into a single ruleset they can sell more books.
So, they have a mandate from marketing. There is a business reason to make a new edition -- but not an artistic one. To this end they are asking for feedback from players -- giving them voting and polling buttons on banal microscopic elements of the rule set. There is an abundant lack of vision. They have assembled a team of technicians who can write rules; but have demonstrated that they are completely without direction. You cannot make art by pandering to the masses.
Exhibit B: They are building from the rules not the experience. They are specifically trying to create the best D&D game, not the best roleplaying game. First, they list a set of D&D contrivances and identify them as "sacred cows." It would not be D&D without these elements is the argument. Sadly, without introducing novel elements to game, they have set their sights on finding the "Universal D&D house rule System." Like Paizo, they don't want to make a new game. They want to exchange rules -- taking what is already written and combining them into a set of "most palatable" rules.
So, I read over the blog postings for the upcoming edition and can no longer contain my contempt and derision.
I dislike TV shows designed by executives; developed by committee; and scripted by formula. I feel the same about my games. Games like Vox, Burning Wheel, True20, GURPS, Riddle of Steel, and so many others have to take a back seat to mindless tripe. I am sure that the art and marketing budget for "D&D Next" will be massive.
And I'll buy a copy too. I may hate myself for doing it -- but it will have a spot on my bookshelf (right beside the 4th Edition PHB).