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    Lightbulb 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Greetings, Playgrounders!

    Let me explain the title. GNS Theory (Gamist, Simulationist, Narrativist) as it relates to D&D focuses on three aspects of the tabletop experience.

    The gamist view is about participation and power.

    The simulationist view is about creating, exploring, and interacting with a 'living' world.

    The narrativist view focuses on what's best for the story.

    I mention all these because D&D's first four editions (and their subeditions, like 3.5) cater strongly to these playstyles already. (These are based on my experience, and the accounts of trusted sources.)

    1E and 2E are more rules light, emphasizing the narrativist view. The rules are largely suggestions to be heeded or ignored by the GM or group as a whole in favor of making a certain story happen.

    Gamists and simulationists still have a place. D&D is, after all, a game with a focus on interactivity. Simulationists may get caught up in the grand fluff text and large variety of settings.

    3.x and Pathfinder has a tremendous simulationist vibe. One of the goals of the d20 system was to be able to plug in real world values and have a real world-like result happen. 3.x and Pathfinder are also far more rules-intense than 1E and 2E, meaning you're expected to know the rules before you sit down to play so you can do it 'right.'

    Consistency is a big thing: Having standardized XP progression across classes, saves, skill points per HD, HP, and so on makes things predictable for those who know what to expect. Second, we finally got standardized rules for making items, even if they don't always apply! Thirdly, WotC and the occasional third party publisher have already created pretty much everything you're expected to need (and then some!) as a character, player, and GM.

    Gamists and narravists still have their place. We're in a community that helps each other make characters (for power, as a pasttime, and for the lulz- I mean, the odd things possible within the game) and resolve power disputes. Plenty of people still make their own worlds and stories, but railroading is very frowned upon.

    Also, 3.x seems to emphasize making characters over making worlds. (WotC realized there was more money to be made catering many books to 4-6 PCs and players than one DM with advice that's largely universal across systems.) Faerun and Eberron were the most promoted 3.x settings with slight nods to Ravenloft, Oerth/Greyhawk, Krynn/Dragonlance, Planescape, and perhaps others.

    4E took things to a very gamist extreme. My initial impression of the 4E PHB was that 4E is a game that admits it's a game. The world is mostly there as a backdrop to the action that is tactical minis combat. Abilities were divided into at-will, encounter, daily, and ritual, with rituals having 'utilitarian' or non-combat use. Other abilities were almost entirely for combat, be it the inflicting or recovering from damage or status effects.

    4E also caused a massive rift with its sudden shift to a gamist perspective. Simulationists were suddenly lacking rules that made sense. (What, no flour in the PHB? NPCs exist only to facilitate the PCs?) Narrativists were split. On one hand, there was plenty of room for DMs to add their own stuff, though rule 0 has always existed in some form. On the other hand, if the world already requires so much disbelief to suspend, why will people go the extra mile to accept what I as GM offer?

    And now 5E is on the way. From its preliminary announcements, it plans to have modular rules for 1E-4E styles of play. Even if it succeeds, I'm not sure where else D&D can go. It's satisfied the 3 main types of fans over the past 30-40 years, and each can claim his favorite edition, usually the one he grew up with.

    D&D, however, is profitable. If it's profitable enough, people will keep making it, buying it, playing it, and changing it into something I don't yet know. The very definition of what makes D&D feel like D&D is personal and up for debate. D&D, to many, is synonymous with tabletop gaming or RPGs. It was a major innovator in its inception, but how else can it innovate enough to warrant an entirely new edition?
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    The world runs on money. That's all that matters. So long as D&D keeps making money, they will keep selling it. They don't care what's better for the game, what makes sense, or what would fit better or benefit the most players and DMs. They only care about what they think will sell more, and it has been systematically proven that "coolness" and shiny things will always sell more than quiet, unassuming but solid and well-written systems.

    Hoping for the best only leads to endless disappointment. Best to just get used to things getting consistently worse. It's better than way in the long run.

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Well new thinks I can think of:

    Augmented reality, it will take some time yet until this technology will be cheap and widespread enough to be feasible but in 10 or so years you can bet there will be an entire d&d edition centered around that.
    Well you could argue that you can just take an older edition and make it augmented reality ready but that does not make as much money ^^

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    N+1E is the end of D&D for all possible values of N where N is the current edition of D&D.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    D&D ends when you stop playing it.


    More seriously, it seems like you are trying to crowbar the previous editions of D&D into GNS theory primarily as a way to discredit D&D5 for then attempting to be "all of them". First, this doesn't work because being high-gamist, high-narrative, high-simulation is not necessary impossible or even difficult; I've said before that the restriction to doing all three to a high degree is more a matter of time/money spend focusing on them than one part excluding another. (A highly, highly focused game in one direction may require ignoring the others, but that's a borderline case.)

    The second problem is that your examples don't quite match up. AD&D doesn't "emphasizing the narrativist view" anymore than other editions, beyond not having a lot of specific rules - and you'd need to ignore a lot of options in 2nd edition to do so. D&D3 may attempt to be simulationist, but tends to trip over its own angles in doing so - I'm not talking about drown-healing, but just the basic skill mechanics and combat maneuvers acting incredibly awkward.


    The problem with D&D5 isn't going to be its attempt to violate GNS theory as much as WotC just not being very good at what they're trying to attempt. What we've seen so far looks to be an old-system revision, mainly d20 + D&D3's ability score values. However, the system revisions I've seen (v.3.5 and Essentials) have primarily been minor tweaks to an existing system, either cutting stuff out or making a few changes, rather than major... well revisions.

    They seem pretty good when making an actual new system (D&D4 was fun to play) but their promises and the expectations of D&D5 pretty much exclude their ability to so that. The biggest problem with D&D5 might just be the system's attempt at overgeneralizing, at too many potential supplements, and at trying too hard to be AD&D/D&D3 without being them to find acceptance with the fans.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    GNS theory is a nice theory and all, but it's not some bible to be used to judge systems. Honestly, every edition of D&D I can remember has had plenty of Doomsaying going on. To be completely honest, saying "the End of D&D" is a completely ridiculous statement. D&D will continue to exist in some form or another for years to come, and pretty much no one has more RPG experience than WotC. D&D 5e will be profitable. And if it doesn't hold fan attention in the long run, D&D 6e will replace it, just as 5e is replacing 4e.

    You're kind of off the mark on the older editions of D&D. D&D has never been a Narrative focused game, ever. Try playing some WoD(especially the older stuff), and you'll see what a narrative focused game looks like. D&D has always been game focused. D&D evolved from wargames, and the elements of wargaming have always been strongly presented within. At the core of every edition of D&D has been a wargame ruleset, typically with out of combat actions just tacked on.

    Reading the design notes of 5e, it looks like they are designing it as a game first. It looks like they are simplifying the areas where D&D has traditionally performed poorly, and emphasizing the areas where is performs well. I for one have high hopes for 5e, you can label me as "Cautiously Optimistic"
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Accepting, for the moment, your argument that each system has the characteristics that you describe, and assuming that I knew somehow there was a 33/33/33% market share split between each type of gamer, I would argue that the system WOTC should emulate for 5E should be a narrative system.

    There are still plenty of people buying 4E products and enjoying that system, and the simulationist genre has Pathfinder as stiff competition. But narrativist systems have a large crowd of built-in fans that have been playing older editions or free rules-lite variant systems that could instead potentially shift to 5E. So I see WoTC make old-style play the "core" module and then one could layer on more 3.5-style customization or 4E-style tactical decision-making as desired. Speaking of which, the module for the playtest is an obvious attempt to hook the old school crowd, as was designing the fighter to be so straightforward.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    The problem with applying GNS theory to a game system is that those categories aren't mutually exclusive, and they're also rarely, if ever, divorced from one another. GNS theory doesn't imply anything about game design or the market for games. This comes to mind.

    But, even assuming that GNS implies what its supporters seem to think it does about systems as a whole, a modular 5e could vary from table to table in its relative amounts of G, N, and S-ness. That's actually their goal, to make each group tinker with the list of rulesets they use so that the game conforms to your group's playstyle. Assuming they can do so effectively, which, admittedly, is an astronomically large assumption, then by your own argument, 5e should thrive. And with the marketing guys not actively trying to alienate fans of previous editions this time around, there's a serious chance that, if done well, a D&D that formalized the 'house-rule' culture could do very good things for the hobby. In theory. No, not that theory. See above for that one.

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Oh my god, "GNS Theory" nonsense again.

    I'm a believer in "F Theory" (No, not that one!).

    Make a game that is fun, with mechanics that fit the premise of the game, and that are as complicated or simple as they need to be. Design the game in accordance with your vision of what the game should be, and leave the GNS to the armchair game designers.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    Oh my god, "GNS Theory" nonsense again.

    I'm a believer in "F Theory" (No, not that one!).

    Make a game that is fun, with mechanics that fit the premise of the game, and that are as complicated or simple as they need to be. Design the game in accordance with your vision of what the game should be, and leave the GNS to the armchair game designers.
    But GNS helps you understand your vision. You can't follow your vision when you don't really know what you want and how you get people to get what you want.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Siegel View Post
    But GNS helps you understand your vision. You can't follow your vision when you don't really know what you want and how you get people to get what you want.
    I can't tell if that is a joke or not, so I'll respond as if it isn't.

    People have been designing games since long before GNS Theory was put from pen to paper. GNS doesn't help me understand how to design a game anymore than reading box scores helps me understand how to hit a curve-ball.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    I can't tell if that is a joke or not, so I'll respond as if it isn't.

    People have been designing games since long before GNS Theory was put from pen to paper. GNS doesn't help me understand how to design a game anymore than reading box scores helps me understand how to hit a curve-ball.
    Especially when you consider GNS was basically made for a guy to tell you what games he did and didn't like. Narrativist were his favorites, simulationist were his least favorites and gamist were the games where he didn't want to anger the fanbases of said games so he gave it its own classification. The terms themselves are okay..ish, I suppose. But they don't and shouldn't really have any reflection on game design as a whole.

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    N+1E is the end of D&D for all possible values of N where N is the current edition of D&D.
    Precisely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    And now 5E is on the way. From its preliminary announcements, it plans to have modular rules for 1E-4E styles of play.
    That's what the marketing department says. Looking at the actual playtest, however, it's basically a simplified version of 3E.

    And actually, that's a good thing: people don't need modular rules for 4E playstyle, because they can just go and play 4E. The same applies to 1E.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Siegel View Post
    But GNS helps you understand your vision. You can't follow your vision when you don't really know what you want and how you get people to get what you want.
    Even if you disagree with GNS, evaluating it to the point where you can disagree with it is a useful thought exercise.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    GNS has been thoroughly debunked. It was always more about personality than theory anyway.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    N+1E is the end of D&D for all possible values of N where N is the current edition of D&D.
    This.

    But really, if 5th edition satisfies everyone, we might not need a sixth edition. We could just keep getting expansions/sourcebooks indefinitely. In GIMPS, there hasn't been a new edition for 8 years, but that doesn't mean it's "the end of GIMPS".
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    The GNS theory again? I'm not going to defend 5E or anything - I'm past caring about D&D and if 5E crashes and burns it might make more room on the market for better systems. But trying to shoehorn it into the GNS is nonsensical, because the GNS theory is nonsense. It might be useful if it didn't try to claim that the three approaches are somehow mutually exclusive.
    If we're going to judge the first scraps of 5E we've been given, we should judge them on their own merits rather than by a bogus theory.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    And actually, that's a good thing: people don't need modular rules for 4E playstyle, because they can just go and play 4E. The same applies to 1E.
    It applies to 3.X as well.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by 137ben View Post
    This.

    But really, if 5th edition satisfies everyone, we might not need a sixth edition. We could just keep getting expansions/sourcebooks indefinitely. In GIMPS, there hasn't been a new edition for 8 years, but that doesn't mean it's "the end of GIMPS".
    Whether or not we need 6e, WotC will try and sell it to us.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    There should be an RPG-Version of Godwins Law: "When you base your argument on GNS, you automatically lose the debate."

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    That's not what Godwin's Law says, though. Not by a long shot.

    Anyway, 4e, 5e, whatever, I'll stick with FantasyCraft.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    I can't tell if that is a joke or not, so I'll respond as if it isn't.

    People have been designing games since long before GNS Theory was put from pen to paper. GNS doesn't help me understand how to design a game anymore than reading box scores helps me understand how to hit a curve-ball.
    The other issue is that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you've put games into nice GNS boxes, the tendency will be to design games *around* those boxes.

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    There was a lot of doom-saying during the last days of TSR. But then Wizards of the Coast bought the intellectual property and created 3rd Edition and the OGL, bringing in an unprecedented amount of support.

    Even if 5th Edition/Next fails, and WotC falls into a rut, it's only a matter of time before some other hobby company buys it and puts a new spin on it.

    It's not so much a matter of D&D "dying" so much as it dies and gets resurrected in a new form. Like a circle of life and death.



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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    I prefer RPG Theory myself. It examines Games where you Play Roles. It's actually rather innovative.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    The terrible truth for me is that it really doesn't matter what ends up happening to the I.P. I'm glad that Pathfinder is still a way to get new published content into the system I like, but with the amount of quality fan made material for 3.5, I could game solely with 3.P for the rest of my life. I'd love to have a new system that's really interesting, but I'm honestly not that exciting about what I've seen so far. Here's hoping that D&D Next works and is awesome though!
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Libertad View Post
    There was a lot of doom-saying during the last days of TSR. But then Wizards of the Coast bought the intellectual property and created 3rd Edition and the OGL, bringing in an unprecedented amount of support.

    Even if 5th Edition/Next fails, and WotC falls into a rut, it's only a matter of time before some other hobby company buys it and puts a new spin on it.

    It's not so much a matter of D&D "dying" so much as it dies and gets resurrected in a new form. Like a circle of life and death.
    And then you have to count the fact that WotC is owned by Hasbro, which will never let an IP die and just sit on it and WotC itself has Magic the Gathering, aka a license to print money.

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Speaking as a veteran of a thousand psychicedition wars... The edition isn't even out yet? Isn't this a teech early?
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That's what the marketing department says. Looking at the actual playtest, however, it's basically a simplified version of 3E.
    keeping in mind that the playtest is the simplest possible representation of the core mechanic which is useful to test. the game itself is certainly going to have more bolted on, but that's maybe a year off.
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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmerged View Post
    Speaking as a veteran of a thousand psychicedition wars... The edition isn't even out yet? Isn't this a teech early?
    It's NEVER too early!

    With the implementation of Warrior's Focus and the Rostral Flop, 8E is doomed to be more financially-doomed computer game than man!
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-06-05 at 08:40 PM. Reason: 7e, on the other hand, is not. His name is Gerald.

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    Default Re: 5E Seems like the End of D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by eggs View Post
    It's NEVER too early!
    Your right lets just skip to writing how 6e is going to suck that way we'll have our bases covered in five to seven years when it comes out

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