How popular is D&D these days?
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:35 am 
 

It's all explained in the rulebook section of the site

http://www.acaeum.com/DDIndexes/Rulebooks.html

Which I really should have read before asking! D'oh. :)

  

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 1:23 pm 
 

I'm playing 3E right now with my son. It's actually not bad at all. This module is called Final Fantasy X. Luckily they adapted it to XBox, so I don't need to use crappy pencils and dice!

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 1:43 pm 
 

I prefer Lara Croft :P

  


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 3:04 pm 
 

Well, as mentioned, it depends on what you mean by "D&D."

The overall D&D role-playing marketplace did, indeed, go through a slump... several slumps, in fact.

Original D&D, of course, died in the late 70's with the release of the BD&D and AD&D lines. There were groups, of course, that still continued playing OD&D and their own home-grown variants, but they slowly died out, and today are very few and far between. Of course, no products had been released for it since late 1979 (the last being Swords & Spells, a poor miniatures game that brought D&D back to its roots, or tried to, I guess).

Golden Age of Dungeons & Dragons
After that point, there were the two versions, Basic D&D and Advanced D&D (the Holmes Edition of Basic kinda being an intermediate point before the two systems broke off). BD&D and AD&D both suffered from the same problems... rules creep. With AD&D, the hardback books got more complex and esoteric, too much so for some, though there were some players that found that appealing. With BD&D, once the Mentzer rules sets kicked in (Companion, Master, and Immortal), they added new rules that some players liked, and others rejected... just like with AD&D.

Dark Age I
Both D&D tracks suffered from 1984 to 1989, a period of general gaming malaise following the "Golden Age" of D&D from around 1977 to 1983. This had as much to do with the economy as with the growing complexity of the game (AD&D in this period being what I refer to as the "1.5 Edition," which included everything from Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures through Greyhawk Adventures; and the Mentzer Companion to Immortals rules for BD&D released from April 1984 through June 1986)... The decline, though, really had more to do with the fact that the players of the game introduced in the Golden Age had grown up and out of gaming. The younger folks discovered cars and girls, while the college-aged players went on to get married and have children and careers. This, combined with the growing complexity of both games that kept new players from joining in the hobby, made it a waning phenomenon.

Silver Age of Dungeons & Dragons
In 1989, TSR released the new, 2nd Edition of AD&D, which, for all complaints aside, at its base was still essentially the same system (as compared to the very different 3rd Edition), with a proficiency system added on, combat streamlined, and other rules, in general, streamlined... everything was simpler and easier, readily codified, and at a much lower reading level (I really, really missed the Gygaxian prose myself). While the new edition captured a fair number of new players, it was not a great success in capturing old players... many continued to simply play 1st Edition AD&D, and ignored the new rules. One thing that spurred interest in BD&D at the time was the development of the Known World Gazetteer line, which started in 1987, and gave the BD&D players a world to center their activities around. BD&D wasn't due to get a rules revamping until 1991, with the release of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, which brought most of the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master rules together in one tome, edited and streamlined yet again, and combined with information that had to that point developed for the Known World, the BD&D setting.

But that's where the real fracturing, and eventual loss of players, had occurred... in the AD&D campaign settings. There were a ton of them, and each new setting, though it brought in new players, also lost some... eventually, causing a net loss, as each setting eventually devolved into its own rules subset, and essentially its own game. It got so that it was almost impossible to import a character from one campaign setting to the next without major adjustments on the part of the character or on the part of the Dungeon Master to the setting. Rules that worked in one setting did not in the next, and so forth. Because of Dungeon Master and player loyalty to their campaigns, people no longer played AD&D, they played Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk or Dark Sun or Ravenloft. And the generic Players Handbook Rules Supplements exacerbated the situation even further... some DM's allowed them, other didn't, some allowed parts of them, while other elements were not allowed, and so forth. In modern parlance, the "network" of AD&D players was being fractured even further with every new setting or rules release... and every time the network fractured a bit, more players were lost, and the greater complexity drove away more potential players.

Dark Age II
So while there was a brief resurgence in player activity from 1989 through about 1994, at which point 2nd Edition AD&D became too complex and divided by campaign settings and rules expansions (the likes of which made the 1st Edition complexity seem simple by comparison). BD&D, too, it seemed, had run its course, and in 1994 the world of Mystara, as it had become known, was converted to an AD&D world (which would have exacerbated the fracturing even further, had anyone bought into it). Various things were tried at that point to re-launch AD&D in the market. Around 1995 TSR dropped the "2nd Edition" part of the logo, and the game reverted back to simply "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons." They released the "Player's Option" books and the "DM Option" books, which simply complicated things even further. I'm unsure exactly what all else happened at this point in developments, as I avoided products from TSR during this era like the plague... they simply had no connection to the game I was playing or running anymore. I presume it was similar for others, as well... as AD&D continued to decline in sales and in importance.

The nail in the coffin, though, came from left field, and was Magic: The Gathering. Collectible card games drew away players from role-playing games in droves (myself included). Released in late 1993, Magic tore through gaming like a hot .50 caliber round through butter. Various other events at TSR contributed to the eventual fall, but by 1997 it was all over, and TSR... and AD&D.. were sold to Wizards of the Coast (which seems strange, considering the rivalry, until you realize that it was done to keep the company out of the hands of Random House, which had essentially stabbed TSR, and its owner Lorraine Williams, in the back).

Copper Age of Dungeons & Dragons
Wizards of the Coast kept 2nd Edition AD&D going on life support for two and a half years, then released an entirely new system and called it "Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition," though in fact it was the 3rd Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, not Dungeons & Dragons. They mad ethe name change feeling (probably quite rightly) that anything named "Advanced" was going to scare off new customers. They were also able to do this as they cleaned up the original mess of trademarks and copyrights that had caused the original D&D/AD&D rift in the first place (long story). The system though, was not at all the same... significant differences exist between this version and all prior versions (which I shall not delve into here).

But... it was successful beyond anyone's wildest dreams. The new edition of D&D not only brought in new players by the scores of thousands, it also brought back players who had not touched D&D since they were in high school, some 20 years before. I know this not only from my professional work, but quite personally, as I ended up playing a year-long 3rd Edition D&D campaign with my buddies from high school... none of whom had played any version of D&D since we had graduated. At one point, Wizards of the Coast was estimating that there were, worldwide, more than six million D&D players. It was a renaissance in Dungeons & Dragons, partly due to the streamlining the game underwent (if you consider just the three core books) and partly because of the massive marketing campaign. But the Doom of Third Edition was spelled out at its birth... the very lifeblood that made it flow and run so very quickly was also destined to bring it low... and that is the d20/OGL system, by which anyone could publish products for D&D.

Dark Age III
Never before in the history of gaming had anything like it been seen. Everyone and their brother crawled out of the woodwork to publish "the best campaign setting/system variant/dark elf assassin handbook anyone ever did see." It was a veritable orgy of publishing, and it choked the whole system. Everyone always says WotC published 3.5, the intermediate edition, in 2003 to simply get a few extra bucks. My own theory is that they published it to cool down and try to tame the beast that they had let loose... but it failed, and the whole sales channel choked on a slew of books, mostly unadulterated crap, that made the complexities of 1st Edition and 2nd Edition seem like Candyland by comparison. By the end of 2004, retailers were clearing out d20 products at dimes on the dollar, if anyone was buying at all. WotC has also just about explored every splat-book it possibly can... they are even down to publishing books on kobold palyer characters! Even in the "core" system of D&D, then, complexity has overtaken sense... and so the Copper Age of Dungeons & Dragons comes to an end...

But that wasn't the only reason for the collapse. In late 2004, Blizzard Entertainment released the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, World of Warcraft. While other MMORPGs had been popular before, notably Everquest (1999) and the D&D-based Neverwinter Nights (2002), WoW changed the entire demographic, as by late 2005 it had more than five million players. Anecdotal evidence points to a great number of D&D players abandoning tabletop gaming for WoW... if this is so, it might be the final nail in the coffin for Dungeons & Dragons as a tabletop game, especially when Dungeons & Dragons Online premieres at the end of this month (February 28, 2006). Certainly, people will continue to play D&D, as the online experience still cannot compare to the in-person experience on a social level. But the easy to use and ready to play value of online games, for many, more than make up for the loss of direct social contact... especially among many gaming types. Will Dark Age III be an Eternal Night for Dungeons & Dragons? Only time will tell...

1974 to 1977 = Platinum Age
1977 to 1983 = Golden Age (1st Edition AD&D)
1984 to 1988 = Dark Age I (Complexity Collapse)
1989 to 1994 = Silver Age (2nd Edition AD&D)
1995 to 2000 = Dark Age II (Magic Ascendant)
2000 to 2004 = Copper Age (Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition)
2005 to ???? = Dark Age III (Post-d20 Collapse/MMORPG Ascendancy)


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 3:47 pm 
 

Great post!   8O  :D

  


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 3:56 pm 
 

Personally speaking I'm all for tabletop interaction. I have to admit I've been an avid computer gamer for years but frankly the appeal for me is waning a bit, and I really yearn for something as down to earth as *paper* and a good die to roll.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:39 pm 
 

Great post!

It'll be interesting to see if MMORPGs effectively kill D&D tabletop as a viable business within a big company like Hasbro.  I think it will simply because today's kids probably find D&D tabletop too slow, complicated and perhaps even too expensive, compared to the speed, ease, variability, bang-for-the-buck, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to play any time one wants offered by MMORPGs.

  


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:22 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:Above and beyond the fact that I don't evenconsider 3.0/3.5 as really Dungeons and Dragons as it is obviously not, there are a multitude of reasons as to why I do not like 3.0/3.5, To illustrate my point about 3.0/3.5 NOT being real D&D, let me say again the only similarities be 1st edition OD&D/AD&D and 3rd edition are the name itself, both are P&P FRPGs, you use dice, and the fact that you kill monsters/creatures and take their stuff. Those comparisons however, can be applied to just about any FRPG EVER MADE.


Well, that is quite too big a generalization. There are many RPGs where you don't kill a flea.

bclarkie wrote:Those reasons aside, IMNSHO, 3rd edition sucks, period.  It is entirely to rules heavy, the rule books are boring to read and they were created with no imigination what-so-ever. The game play itself caters to 12 year old munchkin powergamers who want to win it all and rule the world with PCs that have limitless powers and unlimited possiblilties.  I found when trying to read the original Core rulebooks, that I was more interested in reading my college level Calculus book, as it was more imaginitive, more easily understood, and not nearly as dry.  A lot of people like to compare 3rd edition as it was created for the video game crowd, and although I agree to a certain extent, in another extent, even video games put certain limitations on character and game play where as 3rd edition has virtually none.


A bit off topic, over this issue I wonder about a fact. One of the authors of the 3rd Edition is Jonathan Tweet. But, how much really did he contribute? What seems strange to me is the fact that he is the creator of one of the best game systems ever made (Ars Magica), how could he also be the creator on one of the worst? If anyone has info about the matter, I'd really appreciate solving this dramatic question of mine...

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:29 pm 
 

:)


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:08 pm 
 

Well, it seems that I somehow hurt your feelings, and personally I don't really understand why. I had absolutely no intention to flame you, much less offend you. So please, forgive any word that may have accidentally upset you, but please don't get to that harsh tone so easily, for I assure you there's no valid reason to resort to that.

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:12 pm 
 

guerret wrote:Well, it seems that I somehow hurt your feelings, and personally I don't really understand why. I had absolutely no intention to flame you, much less offend you. So please, forgive any word that may have accidentally upset you, but please don't get to that harsh tone so easily, for I assure you there's no valid reason to resort to that.


You haven't hurt my feelings at all, but when someone resorts to a personal attack on me directly, I am going to react harshly.  You have the right to disagree with my opinion, but your post went beyond that, whether or not it was intentional or not maybe a different story.  I am going to go ahead and edit my post and let it go. :)


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:32 pm 
 

I wonder about the power of online gaming.

    I have watched my son do it quite a bit...and some of my players tell me about their experiences.

    Mostly what I see is players running about fighting each other.  When I point this out they insist that there are many "adventures" which they significantly describe as "side adventures."  They insist that this is at the core of their gaming...but what they talk about and spend their time on is killing each other's icons and then boasting about it.

    The fun of hunting each other will get old fast.   After you've ego-flamed Lord FvsSTHash 50 times (and been reborn yourself 700 or so times), the fun has got to fade a bit.

    Sooner or later, the interpersonal nature of AD&D and the flash/bang of online gaming will combine.  When everyone meets on a Saturday night to play a computer game that their human DM created and moderates, then we won't even remember the difference between tabletop and computer RPG's.

Mark


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:43 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:
MShipley88 wrote:
    I am surprised that the same love of complexity does not attract older gamers to 3.5.  I think the objections to 3.5 are mostly nostalgia for the older version.

Mark   8)


To be honest, I like 3E less and less as I see more.  And no, it's not because of my nostalgia.  Actually, 3E is what got me back into D&D and I still have the Core books that I told my wife to get me for Christmas.  I thought then (and I still do now) that 3E came up with many good ideas, an excellent d20 system, changing in ability score progression and upper limits, defining abilities for monsters, new size rules, the addition of the Sorcerer class, feats & skills, workable rules for poison and energy drain (energy drain being the most unbalanced aspects of AD&D and something that I eventually allowed a save for - we could barely find time to play as it was, mutiple level drains could set a campaign back a whole year!) . . . .

Anyway, with all the reselling I do, I have purchased a number of d20 items . . . and the more I see, the less I like it.  That is nothing against the rules, per se, but a lot of the stuff . . . it's just stupid.

I, mean, it's really bad . . . it's like a poorly written fantasy novel . . . you know, you start reading it and by the time you are on page 50, you think:  "this sucks!" and put it on the shelf to just sit.

Again, I don't mean the rules . . . I mean the ideas.  The monsters, the prestige classes, the endless feats, the spells.  So much of it is just poorly written and poorly imagined.   Very low quality stuff.


If I were to run a d20 Campaign, all I would want would be the three Core books.  That's all I'd need.  I bet I could even run a campaign that many on these forums would enjoy have fun playing!  :D  

Even Deadlord!   8)

(I am, of course, assuming that the Player's are all quality RPGers and not reckless power gamers).


    I read very little criticism of the acutal game system.  Mostly I read flame attacks about "munchkins" and other belittling terms.

    It all reminds me of the criticisms of gamers in general that I used to hear back in high school.

    The perils of the open gaming license have given me perspectice on EGG and the paternal, conservative approach of TSR.   There used to be a sense of decorum and a sense of responsibility at the helm of D&D publishing.  Now, you never know if it is OK to let your kids open up one of the books before you check it yourself.

    D&D materials as a bad novel.....that is pretty much true of all D&D materials since the beginning of the genre.  I think it is the ages of the readers that have changed.

    It sure is fun to talk about these things.  I love a good flame war about AD&D and how this sucks or that bites.  The passion!  The fury!  The mock indignation!  Much fun.   :)

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:03 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:     D&D materials as a bad novel.....that is pretty much true of all D&D materials since the beginning of the genre.  I think it is the ages of the readers that have changed.


Mark   8)


Hmm, I guess I can't fault you too much there . . . even back in the days of 1E modules I thought most of them were kinda poor . . . in fact, I don't think I ever ran a published adventure after I was 15 - I did all my own Campaign settings and adventures.  They probably weren't all that much better, but since I knew all the backstory in my head, they at least seemed more intricate and deep.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:38 am 
 

I didn't see any personal attacks.
Mark, your tabletop/computer RPG idea has already been done. Neverwinter Nights.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:26 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:
Today I noticed an ad for Kobolds Ate My Baby in Dragon magazine.  At $14.95, it would have been out of my reach in high school.  I could never have spent $15 + tax for a game I might play only once.  Now, however, I thought about the concept of a beer and pretzels game night and I said....."Hmmmm.  Maybe."  We have the cash now that we never had back in the day.


$15?  :?  

http://www.9thlevel.com/buy_kobolds.html

http://thoughthammer.com/product_info.p ... 31252cbcd5

It's in my cart, but not my hands, so I can't review yet.

  


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:04 pm 
 

Actually, just based on inflation, that $15 product in 2005 would have cost only $8.45 in 1985... probably even less, as the cost of paper and printing has increased even mroe than the rate of inflation. Definitely affordable at the time, if you were buying AD&D books and modules...

As for the $15 version, it is the new "Super Deluxx" edition; the one pictured in the link in the standard 3rd Edition. Here's the Super Deluxx Edition:

http://www.koboldsatemybaby.com/store.html

Hardcover, with new color illustrations from John Kovalic...


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:25 pm 
 

Deadlord39 wrote:I didn't see any personal attacks.
Mark, your tabletop/computer RPG idea has already been done. Neverwinter Nights.


   The system has to be so clean and personal that the experience matches tabletop gaming.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:36 pm 
 

guerret wrote:A bit off topic, over this issue I wonder about a fact. One of the authors of the 3rd Edition is Jonathan Tweet. But, how much really did he contribute? What seems strange to me is the fact that he is the creator of one of the best game systems ever made (Ars Magica), how could he also be the creator on one of the worst? If anyone has info about the matter, I'd really appreciate solving this dramatic question of mine...


Well, last I heard Tweet hasn't done damn near anything since 3e publishing wise (personal life aside, I don't stalk him  :P ).

Both Ars Magica and 3E are popular games, with good sales...with 3E being much more succesful sales & marketing wise.  Sounds like he's twice successful, but not doing much (that I know) with it.

And 3e "teh sucketh" is a personal opinion not backed by money, wich is all that matters in business.  :P


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Post Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:28 pm 
 

Long ago I blended everything I liked from OD&D-Mentzer into a home brew that seemed to satisfy everyone I gamed with, well, almost everyone.

As Mishler already drilled the bigger perspective, I'll stick to my own neck of the woods.

The game all but died for my age group in my area (MS, AL & GA) around '93 but had gone strong until that time. Younger kids got into and still play the later editions to this day but there was severe dropoff a couple years ago.

Strangely, in the last year I've seen pickup for the older systems especially and interest in the game, overall. When asked, the younger guys always say something like, "well, the video games are cool, so I thought I'd try things the old school way." Of course, they love it. The face-to-face fun and fellowship is what it's always been about for me, anyway but whatever gets 'em interested and keeps 'em playing.

So, in short--right now--in my area, things are looking up...but in a retro way. All the better to me. :D


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