Saturday, July 17, 2010

A poll to the public

Today while I was working, I asked Ty, one of the library's regular teen visitors, if he would be interested in a Dungeons and Dragons program. His response?

"What, that old thing from the 1970s?"

4th Edition, it is, then.

EDIT: I want to make this introduction to RPGs as fun and inspiring as possible and encourage them to try and play them in their own free time outside of the library. This is going to be a first step, hopefully towards a wider appreciation of different games that may include retro-clone or original D&D games. But in all honesty, I don't think that a game like Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry is going to spark these kid's imaginations. As I mentioned in my first Elesyian Fable post, kids these days aren't really interested in the material that inspired earlier editions of D&D. They want to be heroic from the get-go, shutting down coup attempts, diving Indiana Jones-like into tombs of forgotten gods and generally having a badass cinematic time of it. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS.

I'm still probably going to continue work on the Elesyian Fable game, and who knows? Maybe I'll get the chance to play it with some teens or younger kids in the future. I really would like to create a B/X derivative game that's angled towards kids who've never gamed before, but are familiar with whimsical fantasy like the Legend of Zelda and One Piece. But for this particular instance, I think 4e Eberron is going to be for the best.


  1. Hey, you are most likely right. Today's teens are going to respond to the "flash" of 4th Edition, and the stuff from back in the day (yes, even the clones) will not appeal. And WotC knew that when they created 4E. The kids these days (can't believe I just friggin' typed that...where's my cane?) want the glossy pages crammed with manga-style art that depicts manga-style action. The current owners of the game knew that going into the new edition. And you're right, there's nothing wrong with's just the perception of those of us who were teens during earlier iterations of the game that will balk at how today's young gamers will flock to something we consider so out of touch with what we knew. But us wiser old-heads need to realize that what is happening is inevitable, that the presentation needs to change and adapt. Or else the game will die out. Now, some of us older guys might say "Good, let it die, rather than become something so mutated."

    It's late and I am rambling. I hope I make sense. I am not a big fan of 4E for my own gaming efforts. I don't really care if other people play it, young or old. I only care that D&D still exists in some form. Now, I won't get into the whole discussion right now about how "4E isn't D&D." It's too damn late for that. Bottom line for me is, 4E isn't the D&D I grew up with. But in some way, deep down, theres's gotta be some of that old D&D spirit left. Or maybe I'm an old deluded fool. That's entirely possible.

  2. No worries, mate. I totally respect that 4e isn't everyone's cup of tea and I VERY much appreciate your rational approach towards the '4e isn't D&D!' bullshit that I hear bandied around the blogosphere ad nauseum. If everyone is having fun, then you're playing it right, whether it's B/X, Deadlands or Don't Rest Your Head.

  3. No, 4e is not bullshit. It's not the game I grew up with but what we've got to remember is that the young folk of today (I'm 45 so I'm allowed to say that) have grown up with MMORPG and computer games of various types, all of which emphasise flashiness over depth, style over substance. It's unfortunately the fact that the brain prefers instant gratification to something it has to work at.

    Where was I? Oh yes, so these kids are not going to want to go for a style of D&D that they have to put a lot of work into, rather than one that mirrors to a greater or lesser extent, the games that they're used to playing on their computer already.

    That having been said, as Carl Nash said on his blog, you can play 4e in an OSR way

    - it just takes a bit of savvy and the right attitude and before you know it, the kids will be in the sandbox, having a whale of a time.

    That having been said, you are doing well to get a game going at the library. Round our way, you have to front up a fistful of readies to hire a room and I've put up two posters on the noticeboard advertising my 1e recruiting - both of them were removed mysteriously a week or two afterwards. No explanation given. I can't afford to keep running off posters only to have them torn down so that avenue of recruitment is off the list.

    And if someone described D&D as "that old thing from the 70s" I'd have to say "It's not OLD, it's CLASSIC!

  4. I would definitely describe 4e as being heroic from the get-go, rather than growing into that heroism in Classic D&D games. I want to grab these kids quick and I think that a game where you start out being able to do some pretty heavy things mechanically is definitely the way to do that. I've been taking a lot of inspiration from Zak S's 'I Hit It With My Axe' post from the beginning of his blog and the fact that every character in 4e, not just mages and clerics, has to make Encounter and Daily choices for their powers does a lot to add an engrossing tactical element and put everyone on the same footing.

    Remember, these are all kids from a somewhat decayed neighborhood who have never played a pen-and-paper roleplaying game in their lives. If they are truly creatively sparked by this program, I'd like it if the exact rules that they learned how to play with were available in professional codified form, as opposed to a very personal, house-ruled to hell PDF thrown up on Mediafire with donated art.

    I'm sorry to hear about your library woes. It's really a great place that should be free for people to host and play games. Of course, this D&D campaign is going to be an official teen program and working at the library definitely helps. :)

  5. nephews, age 15 and 12, really wanted to play D&D (the old 1981 version), after playing it a couple times, they cancelled their World of Warcraft accounts, saying it was boring and repetitive by comparison.

    I gave 'em a copy of Labyrinth Lord when they moved to Virginia.

  6. And if the older versions of D&D spark their imagination in a way that engenders a continuing love of roleplaying, then bully for them! Though it might have something to do with how cool uncle JB is into it. I know that's how I got interested in wargaming. :)