I’m confused by the item in the picture. Is that a potty-training toilet?
An interesting choice, yeah. He mention an iPad potty training app, so toilet.
Hasbro is spending a lot of marketing dollars here.
As usual, when the marketing budget is sky high, quality is abysmal. I think I’ll rather stick with retroclones.
I’ve been gaming with the same group of players for over 14 (16?) years and I agree with almost ALL of the statements in the article. Although my preference for an online Tabletop program is Fantasy Grounds, but Roll20.net is almost as good an alternative.
I’ve played every single iteration of D&D, starting when I was 7 or 8 years old - so going on 35 years now. So far, 5th is my favorite; just ahead of 3.5. It’s got the new-player friendliness of 4th with the creative freedom of 3rd. I should take a photo of my RPG bookshelf. I think some of them might still be in boxes and it’s overflowing.
OK. Another “Old man yells at cloud” article.
Jason, that world never went away. You left it.
GenCon is the largest gathering of RPGers in the world and it’s only gotten larger EVERY year for the last 20 years.
D&D hit a rough patch there as the new owners tried to make it play nice with their other properties. One of the things they did was to “open” the ruleset which led to Pathfinder, a system that is arguably more popular than the original currently.
Don’t bemoan the lost imagination of children if you aren’t giving them the tools to play with. And iPads and the web have done nothing to harm those tools. They’ve made them more prevalent, easier to obtain and work with.
Great article. Could have done without the picture of a toilet, made me not want to share it on Facebook. It’s humorous, but doesn’t really fit.
The new D&D 5th Ed is just fantastic. I’m loving the heavier emphasis on original creations (original multiverses and races? Um, yes please?), storytelling, and the fine touches of the world. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new DM guide.
But it’s phrases like this that kind of leave a bad taste in my mouth:
There can be no innocence or imagination or wonderment in the world of Reddit, Pornhub and 4Chan – just blank, numb, drooling fixation on a screen flickering with horrors in a dark and lonely room, the hell of isolation within one’s own id.
This erosion of imagination and empathy, and accompanying emotional psychosis, lives not just in the deepest depths of the Chans but in everybody who exists in a band of perception narrowed to include only their cell phone.
It comes across with a tinge of condescension and disconnection that further enforces the “good old days” notion. Maybe you just don’t interact with the parts of the modern world that have those virtues you feel are lost, or you are readily exposed to the parts that are lacking it.
I am boggled by the amount of young people today that are creating - just glance to YouTube, Behance, Tumblr, Reddit, Kickstarter, Imgur and more for a slew of young storytellers, animators, “journalists”, actors, engineers, comedians, inventors, scientists, chefs, etc. Most of my two siblings’ friends write fiction, inspired by the popularity of creepypasta or the successes of various young authors, turning short blog entries into full-fledged books or novellas. Greentext on the chans has contained some of the better modern prose, fiction, and humor that the internet has to offer. Point your browser to /r/FifthWorldProblems, /r/VXJunkies, /r/NoSleep (now a default reddit), or /r/SCP for some excellent reddit-based imagination play and interactive fiction - and much of those communities skew young.
But then, all of my evidence is anecdotal too. My feeling, however, is that the virtues expressed through 5th Edition are just natural extensions of the very healthy creative experience that young people have in our modern world. That greater access to information and materials, as well as the reduction of friction to create and publish to a wider audience and have that audience be able to respond, has made young people more adventurous in general…and in greater numbers.
Did you know the URL would abbreviate to “the-awesome-glory-that-is-dung.html” before you added the toilet picture?
I have to kind of agree with this.
The hobby has kept on going and there is so much more out there now (though D&D 5th edition is cool).
I fell away from role playing games myself, but I’ve been slowly getting back into them over the last couple of years and I’m really taken by the indie RPG scene. There are so many cool niche games with interesting mechanics and ways of adjudicating whatever your imagination can come up with.
Want to be modern day paranormal investigators like the Ghost Busters? You can! Check out InSpectres by Jared Sorensen.
Want to be pulp era millenial avatars born to save the world from mad scientiests and talking gorilla kings like the Planetary or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics? You can! Check out Spirit of the Century.
Want to be an action scientist ripped from the pages of the Atomic Robo comic? You can! Check out the Atomic Robo RPG.
Want to be the medieval mice patroling the territories, maintaining the scent border, and maintaining order in the settlements of the Mouse Guard comics? You can! Just check out the Mouse Guard Role Playing Game.
Want to experience the terror of a horror movie or good ghost story with the creeping doom of the story’s end fast approaching with each scene? You can! Check out the Dread RPG that uses a Jenga tower, instead of dice, to resolve all the action in the game.
Want to be super spies that realize the world’s greatest conspiracies are run by vampires; Bourne Identity meets Dracula? You can do that too! Check out Night’s Black Agents, an amazing game by Kenneth Hite.
There are hundreds of games like this out there. That’s not to say that D&D 5th isn’t also great. I’ve been getting into Pathfinder, a D&D offshoot myself. But, it does speak to a rich culture that has continued to move and evolve from the place where some of us may have left it. Sure, come back to D&D, but realize that there is a teeming ecosystem out there filled with games we only dreamed of as teenagers.
And that doesn’t even include the fertile ground for the imagination and social play that exists in board games. I know when I was a teenager, we played RPGs and board games; stuff like Talisman, Chainsaw Warrior, Aliens the Board Game, Dune the Board Game, and Car Wars. This area has changed and evolved as well with literally hundreds, if not a thousand or more, games released each year. Plus, there is a great community of people out there that are happy to share these discoveries with you. If you are interest in getting back into role playing games or discovering them for the first time, I highly encourage you to check out hobby board games as well.
Name one retroclone better than 5e, because the only people saying this I have ever run into has been blindly hating or will never like d20 because the variance.
5e is built upon the best ruleset of 3.5 - E6. The starting classes include fixes and re-balancing of 3.5 classes (probably the most egregious error of 3.5 and made worse in 3.pf), and sharply pulls back on how detailed the rules were to invite more narrative and creativity within a defined D&D framework. It provides more class options than any previous edition core rulebook and the way they are constructed means home brewing is easy to do and encouraged.
The PHB was probably the worst release of the books, with some goofy wording and questionable halfling art (which I don’t hate). However, the MM included a lot of great detail and was a good counterexample to what I didn’t like in the 4e MM which was pretty much stat blocks and scripted encounters.
The DMG is also amazing. I finally got a copy and it is a tomb of quality advice and goodies that is everything that made Dungeon World’s GM advice so good as well as including all the classic details. Unfortunately it also makes it a massive book at something like 320 pages.
Still incredibly rules heavy, but a very easy system to pick up an play with beginners and veterans. Not a good game for first time GMs though. The modules are brutal and the rules are comprehensive with all those spells, classes, magic loot tables, and monster lore.
I should’ve just let you post, you said things way better than I could have.
I also like that after lamenting that there can be no wonderment in Reddit we get this:
I could quibble with the idea that I think kids these days have a deficit of ways to imagine. I think they will have just as much imagination as I did, I just can’t imagine how. It may be our deficit that’s the problem, as with any generation gap.
But, I love the article, and I especially enjoyed the references to Christian mystics, and other forms of religious and spiritual imagination and the idea of putting storytelling and DnD in that context. That’s a beautiful idea, and it elevates the hobby.
Your central premise, that imagination is a conduit into reality, not away from it, is fantastic, thanks for a great read.
5e is an excellent ruleset that really brings a lot of liveliness and flavor to the game. It’s a lot of fun to play and, so far, seems like WotC has put together a “best of all worlds” version of D&D.
I agree with Jason’s argument, and I’m biased because I’m a roleplayer and a GM. I even like some of his other works on the redonkulous subject of chaos magic but this is too much. Will anyone ever do a RPG/gamer article on this subject, written for and directed at the general public who are not roleplayers, without invoking D&D. There are a bazillion great RPGs out there, and even an article on something as stupid as WarHammer 40,000 or BESM would OK, but not the god damned D&D reference again. I know it’s the gateway drug of RPGs, but it’s exactly that. It’s the high school stoners who are now in their late 30’s, smoking blunts behind the high school gymnasium, at their 20th reunion. It’s just sad.
There are so many better games out there than D&D these days. Even CoC was a better game, and that came out in the early 80’s. Fuck I hate D&D. Can you tell?
He finds the time to slide a Gamersgate jab in there as well. Classy bro, classy.
I can’t help but think all of this “the digital world is robbing us of imagination” is just recycled arguments from the 1960s in regard to television. Which in turn were recycled arguments from the 1920s in regard to movies.
Not a good word to use anywhere, really.
Although I would like to see a good thread on what people’s preferred approaches and preferred games are.