D&D Essentials = AU D&D?

July 6, 2010

D&D Essentials sounds like they’re doing alternate universe takes on the core classes.

I’m not totally sure what to think of all that. I do like that they’re focusing on the iconic 4 classes as a core book for the players.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Rules Compendium looks like – if they’re separating out the character stuff in it’s own book, you won’t have masses of character powers etc. taking up space.

It’s kinda hard to say if this will actually work well at pulling in new players- the 4E rules as they stand, are pretty fiddly (mind you, this has been true since 3E as well).

Will they be simplified? To what level? Any game works on finding it’s niche, and D&D over the last 10 years has found it’s niche in the player base of folks who like fiddly mechanics. It’s a tough balance between simplifying enough to expand the appeal and yet not losing whatever elements made it appealing in the first place.

The other elements that’ll be interesting to see are a) can you set up and play in less than 30 minutes? b) can you have a satisfying one-shot of play? When we look at a lot of indie games push into new markets, it’s simply meeting the logistical requirements people have.

A simplified game that still takes an hour between character generation and rules explanation, or 3-5 sessions to “really see it” isn’t going to be a great intro game.

Part of the problem is that D&D now faces a lot of competition in terms of similar experiences- there’s a ton of boardgames and card games about dungeon crawling, or fantasy heroics, which you can learn and play quickly.

Hopefully there’ll be some damn good advice or procedures to help new players take advantage of two things rpgs do well no other game does: a) making the personality of your character count and b) allowing for improvisation of any suggested action.

It sounds interesting, we’ll have to see how that all turns out.

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