The Escapist has quite a roundup of D&D articles this week, spurred by the D&D Essentials “Red Box” release.
The most notable is this interview with D&D R&D Group Manager Mike Mearls. In it, he acknowledges that 4e turned out a lot of previous D&D fans – “Look, no one at Wizards ever woke up one day and said ‘Let’s get rid of all of our fans and replace them.’ That was never the intent.” But it’s an implicit acknowledgment that that’s what happened. They also discuss the mechanics of 4e being too dissociated from reality and making it very difficult to immerse with it. None of this surprises me, because it’s exactly what I said about 4e when it came out:
Though I’ve bagged on Mearls for some of the 4e design decisions, I had heard he’d been playing around with older school D&D and he appears to have gotten an understanding of the major lacks of 4e and how to get it back on track as really being D&D again. Wait, here, let him tell you…
“If you are a disgruntled D&D fan, there’s nothing I can say to you that undoes whatever happened two years ago or a year ago that made you disgruntled – but what I can do, what’s within my power, is that going forward, I can make products, I can design game material, I can listen to what you’re saying, and I can do what I can do with design to make you happy again; to get back to that core of what makes D&D, D&D; to what made people fall in love with it the first time, whether it was the Red Box in ’83, the original three booklets back in ’74 or ’75 or even 3rd Edition in 2004, whenever that happened, to get back to what drew you into D&D in the first place and give that back to you.”
So congrats to Mearls and props for admitting that 4e had gone outside the lines of what many of us wanted in D&D, and that they’re actively going to try to do something about it. Good news for 5e!
And that’s really what I wanted. My critique of 4e hasn’t been “edition war for the sake of edition war” or general grousing – I knew that if people said loudly and clearly what they wanted out of D&D, that eventually someone would listen (changes of the guard happen frequently over at ol’ WotC). It’s all about wanting D&D to return to a game someone can use to simulate a game world and immerse in a character, without being tossed out into board-game mode.
All the 4e lovers are in a tizzy over it, claiming that the article must be a wildly biased hackjob because no one could ever admit any flaws in 4e, but they’ll get over it, as they lap up whatever Wizards does without discretion. So, it’s a win-win.
It may be too early to roll out the “Mission Accomplished” banner, but it seems we have the terrorists on the run! And that’s why Mike Mearls is my…