Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3rd Edition and the Old School Feel

I'm reminded of all my memories of D&D because we've moved house, and I've been forced to cull my gaming material mercilessly. This has brought to light how much old school stuff I actually have, and how much 3rd Edition stuff I also bought. (I never picked up anything 3.5 or later though.)

The first rumblings of 3rd Edition came for me when I was working in Hong Kong, and I actually bought my PHB 3e from a WOTC-associated store there.

Did I like it? Yes. It felt like a re-imagining or reinvigoration of an old game. Great art (despite the strange penchant for painful-looking armor) and layout, a cleaned up ruleset and game engine (with the Ascending Armor Class and unified experience chart being my faves). I liked the Feats (despite the pre-requisites) with a hope that they would eventually take the Hero System route and expose the Feat-building rules to allow GMs to tinker with the Feats appropriate to their campaigns.

There was, however, a slow erosion of the style of gameplay I associated with D&D. What I know now as a sandbox campaign was given a nod in the books, but story-oriented play dominated source material with a brief rationale about how a dungeon could be considered as something akin to a - for want of a better term - railroad adventure. An inexact analogy to be sure, since the dungeon allows the return to prior rooms while most story adventures don't really allow going back in time to revisit past scenes.

I remember planning on collecting all Greyhawk and Mystara 3e stuff coming out, and racking my brains as to how to convert the creatures in my Gazetteer collection.

I'm quite thankful for all the online resources available now, and for the OSR movement's take on important aspects of the D&D experience that I feel were not given as much emphasis in the 3E/D20 boom. And I'm thankful for the community's determination to 'reclaim' the hobby -- there are always new gamers waiting to be discovered and not all of them may want the pure-story gaming experience.

Here's hoping that, as in the past, D&D will once again enjoy a resurgence as a recreational and creative experience. Whatever the catalyst may be this time.

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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