As I'm sure you are all aware, this past Saturday was my 23rd birthday. And while I was flattered by the nation-wide ticker tape parades, newspaper headlines, and laser carvings on the surface of the moon, I'm afraid my birthday may have eclipsed other, less worthy news items.
So now that the Cristal stains are all steam-cleaned out of the carpet (my Mom got me a new steam cleaner!) and George Clooney's finally woken up and staggered home, I think it's a good time to talk about a little story that you may have missed on Saturday.
Namely, the release of Dungeons and Dragons: Fourth Edition, which caused quiet, dusty nerdgasms all across the blogosphere.
My thoughts on the matter can best be summed up by my hope that Gary Gygax’s recently inhabited coffin’s got some padding in it, so he doesn’t hurt himself when he starts violently rolling over.
I’ve long had the sneaking suspicion that the bastards at Wizards of the Coast were just waiting for the G-man to go tits up so they could gut the franchise, and Fourth Edition finally proves me right.
Now, I’m sure I’ll take a lot of flak for that sentiment, especially since every geek outlet and Wizards devotee on the net has been singing the praises of the new edition, and why? Just because a massive streamlining has changed the game’s rules from a horrendous chore that only the most dedicated nerds could navigate without spewing out Cheeto powder in frustrated impotence, to a fun role-playing game that nearly anyone can pick up in an afternoon.
To paraphrase Dr. Malcolm from that Youtube re-enactment of Jurassic Park: these saboteurs were so excited to see if they could make D&D more accessible that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
I mean, how many fun, easy-to-play RPGs are out there? Lots. That’s why video games were invented…to roll dice behind the scenes while our various anime characters shoot things with swords somehow.
But how many, dense, torturous analog RPGs--where your life and death can hinge on any number of obscure modifiers hidden in any number of monolithic tomes large enough to crush a man’s skull--are sitting on the shelves?
One. Dungeons and fucking Dragons. And now you’ve ruined it.
I ask you, where are we to go? We, the people who play because there’s nothing sweeter than flipping through a book for five minutes to prove that our Halfling’s Alertness feat counteracts the 16 move silently check from the Undead Priest.
We, the people who live for the opportunity to hunt through the Monster Manual to find out whether Delvers travel alone or in pairs, and if they're intelligent enough to be mindlinked. You know, so you can gain its vast knowledge of dungeoneering.
We, the people who make scrupulous notes about every crossbow bolt the enemies fire, and force the DM to roll every time to see if they break (taking into account the hardness of the surface being struck).
We, the people who screech incoherently at the DM about a rigged game if a Kobold so much as thinks about firing more arrows than he had on his person when the battle began.
In other words, the totally unrelenting dicks for whom the game was designed in the first place.
That’s why I’ve written the following list of demands for D&D Fifth Edition, which Wizards will probably release later this year, after a mob of angry, fifty-year-old fat guys in cloaks charge their offices and claw them viciously with their finger-length silver rings, spilling Mountain Dew absolutely everywhere.
Don’t disappoint, Wizards. Otherwise I’ll only buy a single copy of all the Fourth Edition books, rather than my habitual three. And please, those of you readers who dabble in the D&D (and I KNOW you're out there) feel free to add anything you'd like to see in Fifth Edition. The revolution starts now.
When not blogging for Cracked, Michael rides his birthday jet skis around his birthday lake as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!