RPGs, D&D, and Sports Media

I may have mentioned this before, but along with gaming, two of my favorite things are tennis and the NFL. I’ve been watching a lot of the French Open and reading a lot of the “between seasons” media coverage of the NFL. That coverage is always interesting, filled with storylines and possibility to carry the fans into the next season. And I love this stuff as much as any fan, eating up the hope for my team to do better…

See, I’m a Dolphins fan. If you like the NFL… well, let’s just say that the Dolphins have been a little bit of a sad team for a few years now. The fans remain, but we all want our team to be better, to give us something. The general manager has come under a lot of fire, coaches have been sacked, celebrities have been trotted out to look good for the fans. And there have been some moments of awesome, some quality highlights. Overall though, things have not been good. And I read a blog the other day about how the Dolphins are finally turning it around, finally “getting it right” in the way they deal with fans and football decisions… Here’s the link if you happen to be a fan like me, if not, well, I’ve pretty much said the important stuff here already…

And reading this felt to me like they could have been just as easily talking about D&D Next. I sort of feel like this when I read about D&D Next, when I interact with the Playtest materials. I played the heck out of 4E D&D and even though I realized that it is not the game for me, it has diehard fans and moments of brilliance. But 4E was also a strange and radical departure from “what had come before.” 4E wasn’t like other D&D editions, even being a big change from 3E. But when I read the 5E materials, when I listen to Mearls talk about it/write about it, I’m just not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I love the re-empowering of the DM. I love rulings-centered play. I love the streamlined monsters and encounters. It seems like they’re doing it all right. Still not a fan of a bunch of other stuff that I see in the playtest, still not a fan of the way characters look. And honestly, I really do have a feeling that I can’t shake that really the design team just picked and chose stuff from other games they liked and plugged them into D&D… I wish I could, I feel like I’m being unfair… but that’s what I see when I read the playtest.

So WotC is saying the right things and putting stuff “out there” for the fans… but as the other article said, Storylines are great, but wins still matter — and I have to wonder, if D&D Next doesn’t wow, what happens to D&D after Next? And can just saying the right things really make enough of a difference to pull us back when so many in the fanbase are feeling just as burned as they ever have (or even if they don’t feel so strongly, just feeling sorta “meh” about the whole thing anyway)?

Just thinking out loud (and I always love to lament the state of my Dolphins).

Thanks for reading.


3 responses

  1. if D&D Next doesn’t wow, what happens to D&D after Next?

    Well, most of us go back to playing 0E, 1E, 2E, 3.x, LL, ADD, S&W, C&C, Pathfinder, etc. 5E will remain a cul-de-sac for a few people, but if it doesn’t deliver, it’s not like we have nowhere else to go.

  2. […] [1] The Rhetorical Gamer is kind of “meh” on it– sure there’s good and bad to pick over in the whole thing…. But R.G. likens the buzz to off season news coverage of a mediocre team that is doing all the right things, but that maybe stands to continue their disappointing streak. This is coming from a guy that “played the heck out of 4E D&D” before he realized that it wasn’t the game for him. […]

  3. I suppose that’s the case. I’m just wondering what happens to the “name” of D&D in that case.

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