Over on the Wizards of the Coast’s D&D website, game designer Mike Mearls has posted the first of a weekly article he’s going to write about various topics from D&D’s history. Although I have some mixed feelings about Mike Mearls, I am looking forward to his weekly articles because I really enjoy reading about the history of D&D. Reading about the influences behind the game and the decisions that the early founders of the hobby made when creating this hobby of ours is one of things that got me interested in starting my own blog.
The basic gist of this first post of Mike’s is that, deep down, despite which edition of the game we prefer, “there are far more things that tie us together than tear us apart.” He specifically points out the argument behind ascending versus descending AC, which I find hilarious because a couple of years ago, it’s something that was discussed constantly on James Maliszewski’s blog. For just one example, read some of the comments in this post. That’s only one of many posts in which James’ readers tend to argue back and forth over the merits of descending versus ascending AC, or vice-versa. Some of these arguments are led by James himself, who is an avowed hater of ascending AC.
I think Mike has hit onto something, though. Really, if some of these people spent less time arguing about minutiae like weapon speed factors, skill systems, race-as-class, and ascending AC, they would have more time to actually play the game. It’s another constant theme I see among the so-called OSR (Old School Renaissance) – complaining that they don’t have time to play or prep for their games because they’re too busy with “ real life.” Apparently “real life” to these people means combing through dozens of blogs espousing the virtues of the Three Little Brown Books over any other form of D&D and writing long-winded comments on each post, most of which involve lamentations of not having enough time to play.
So, just stop it. There is always going to be a geek-need to champion one’s preferred version of a game (or an incarnation of a super hero, or computer operating system, or…, well, you get the idea). That’s just part of Geek DNA. And I do it myself. But, I do actually make time to still play the game (and read the comics and… well, again, you get the idea). But, I do try to stop short of making fun of the people who prefer other versions that I don’t like. I occasionally do fall into that trap, but as I get older I am usually able to stop myself. Like Mike says, when you boil it down, I probably do have quite a bit in common with someone who prefers 1st Edition AD&D, even though that’s not my cup of tea.
I will point out, though, that, despite what Mike says in his post, 3rd Edition is not just for number-crunching losers, and 4th Edition is a lame tabletop MMO. J