Monday, December 5, 2011

On the Subject of "Legends & Lore"

I haven't really read much of the Legends & Lore column at Wizards of the Coast, but I heard one of my associates complaining about Monte Cook's new articles, so I had to look at it.

Since taking over for Mike Mearls, Monte Cook has primarily written about the things that made D&D great in previous editions, and how to apply those to 4e.

Now, I don't care about system or edition wars.  I'm adapting a couple of AD&D modules for my 4e game.  I mostly follow OSR blogs on here, and I wrote an oD&D adventure for my 4e campaign. That having been said, I agree with my friend.  Monte Cook's articles are a really weird and clunky fit.  There are ways to simplify 4e, and make it run more swiftly, but it doesn't hybridize well with previous editions (which is one of the core complaints about it).

I thought this post (Monte's first, actually) was particularly egregious.  Monte Cook suggests a system to simplify perception — characters ought to have a set perception rank, allowing them to automatically succeed at perception if they're perceptive enough, or force a roll if there's some uncertainty.

The only problem with this system, is that 4e already does this: there is "passive perception" and "active perception," and it works almost exactly as described.

Unlike a lot of people, I don't think this proves Monte Cook is out of touch (although it certainly doesn't preclude the possibility), but rather that Wizards of the Coast is trying to expand their market base.  It's an apologist strategy aimed at OSR guys and 4e haters, because apparently Wizards of the Coast doesn't realize they already lost that audience.  You can find the core AD&D books for 1e and 2e for about ten dollars apiece, and the 3e books are still readily available (or you can just play Pathfinder).  The internet holds pdfs of out-of-print stuff, or you can grab a retroclone, or you never got rid of your old books.

Basically, sell 4e to 4e fans.  If Wizards of the Coast wants to break into the OSR market, Zak Smith gave a suggestion (I'm mostly referring to his first suggestion to "Publish two big hardcover coffee-table books with all the old TSR adventures in them").

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