Tuesday, 28 August 2012

D&D Next, The Sundering & The Future of FR

GenCon finished a week or two ago and the big news for FR fans was, of course, the new version of the Realms which is to be preceded by Yet Another RSE known as The Sundering.  And it seems that Mike Mearls (IIRC - it was one of the WotC guys) has said that will be the last Yet Another RSE for a while which means, of course, there will be one within a year because novels sell better than RPGs, but I digress....

For some strange reason, WotC has decided that the timeline will advance but some of the changes caused by the Spellplague and related events will be unwound by The Sundering RSE and certain deities - and possibly countries - will return. The post-The Sundering Realms will then become more like the pre-Spellplague Realms.

I really don't get it. The fans who hated the Spellplague and what it did to the Realms would probably prefer that the Realms was reset to 1375 DR or so and the later events - some of which were really stupid (the Helm/Tyr/Sune love triangle, for one) - simply ignored. That way the history of the Realms remains unbroken and the "bad bits" can be written off as a bad dream (or whatever).

Personally, I plan to stay in the 4E Realms for quite a while. Here are my reasons:

1. From what I have seen of D&D Next it is nothing more (or less) that yet another homebrewed fantasy heartbreaker that combines a couple of new ideas with ideas cherry-picked from various other D&D editions and non-D&D games. 

2. D&D Next is also being overseen by Mike Mearls. One thing I learnt from Gary Gygax: when a guy gets a reputation for not being able to meet a deadline, and for rushing things at the last minute because he is unable to meet a deadline and then publishing those things when they are not truly complete, never buy anything of theirs ever again. After the debacle of the incomplete Iron Heroes, I have no intention of getting interested in a Mike Mearls product and that definitely goes for D&D Next.

2A. When a game designer or author has a reputation for publishing something when it is incomplete then says his next game is going to be "modular" just assume that "modular" is a weasel word for "incomplete".

3. I actually like the emptiness of the 4E Realms. I've got lots of rooms to play, no metaplot issues to keep track of, and anytime I need a ruin or dungeon I only have to look at my pre-4E Realms stuff and I can use almost anything I find there. As for the missing deities - awesome! - I have campaign arcs that practically write themselves because I can simply write a campaign based on bringing them back (and yes, Eilistraee, I am looking at you). Anyway, the history is still there, bar the 100 or so years that is largely missing and which is, frankly, irrelevant.

4. When I look at the real FR4E haters on Candlekeep, I notice that a lot of them (perhaps even most of them) don't even play D&D anymore. Their needs are different. My players and I just want a world we can play in. We have that, we love the 4E ruleset so we have no need to change.

Anyway, all that said, I still wish the Next version of the Realms was reset to 1375 DR. I think that would have gone over better with the fanbase. But no matter what, I want D&D Next and the new Forgotten Realms to do well so that we keep seeing D&D and FR products in the future.

Edit: Wed 05Dec12

If I am reading the various messageboards correctly, it seems that Next (aka The Mike Mearls Fantasy Heartbreaker) isn't quite getting the traction at this point where you would think that it is going to be a success. Also, for a game that is supposedly about returning to D&D's roots as a reaction to the widespread dislike for 4E, it seems to be getting more and more complicated and less and less like the earlier editions of D&D. (The OSR movement ain't coming back, Mike!)

I'm not really sure what to think. While people keep saying it's another two years before it is released, I actually think the two year period started a year or so ago and I suspect we will actually see this game next year, possibly at GenCon in August.

I still see nothing about the importance of adventures. 4E was stillborn because so many of the original adventures were absolute crap or - as I not-so-diplomatically have stated it - were specifically designed to showcase the worst parts of 4E and send people to Pathfinder.

I still want Next to succeed so that D&D continues to be published and, perhaps more importantly, the Forgotten Realms continues to be published. All I know is that I am not going to be a Next customer other than a DDi subscription.


  1. Hey, nice blog! Are you done updating? :)

    I found you while looking for ideas for my campaign on the 4E Neverwinter setting (which is definitely my favorite 4E setting book). I completely agree with you on D&D Next and Mike Mearls. I'm hoping 13th Age will step up and fill the d20 gap, personally. And WotC would never rewind the scenario, that would be admitting 4E's FR was a failure, and I look forward to what they are going to pull off to bring the FR feel to the older days!

    Anyway, congrats for the blog!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Leandro.

    I'm definitely not done with the updates; rather, I've been sick and also travelling again. We're getting back to our Neverwinter game next week I think so it's time to start posting again.

    I'm always looking for more ideas so please let me know if you have a Neverwinter blog or Obsidian Portal page.

    Cheers :)