Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Enthusiasm War

Something strange is brewing just below the surface of D&D's upcoming 5th edition.  I don't know if it's a backlash or some kind of mutant rebound backlash reverberating through the RPG echo-sphere.  Anyway, the effects are being talked about even though only a few people are addressing the problem itself.  And it is a problem, in my estimation.  Not because I have a particular view and others aren't agreeing with it, but that many gamers are fighting some invisible edition war over a set of rules which doesn't even exist yet.  It's not even a war of editions - it's a war of enthusiasm (or lack thereof).  Why?

Below are the eight camps I've seen.  Chances are, you're in one of the categories below or a hybrid of multiple categories.  Again, I don't care who is where or why... I would just like everything on the table so that maybe some civility can prevail, if not transcendent introspection.

1.  So, we've got people who are loving the promise of 5e and what it represents.  

2.  People who are tentatively optimistic but skeptical.  

3.  Those who just don't care.

4.  Those who think 5e is doing far too little, too late and are unhappy about one thing or another.

5.  A few cranks who absolutely loath 5e and what it represents.

6.  5e lovers who are sick and tired of what they perceive to be 5e hating trolls.

7.  Those disenchanted by what they've seen of 5e who just want the 5e lovers to shut up already.

8.  Cautious, intrigued skeptics who feel harassed or threatened by all the 5e love.

9.  Oops, forgot this one: individuals who are mad that 5e isn't being heralded as the awesome-est version of D&D ever!

Maybe the gaming community just needs to work this stuff out on its own by constantly arguing back and forth.  I don't know.  However, I will say that in certain corners of the internet, the trolling, flaming, petty bickering, and "threadcrapping" looks pretty ugly.

Perhaps we can agree on a few things... our very own Geneva Convention?  If one side refrains from using the phrase "OSR Taliban" and projecting that the other side "hates 5e" even though they're only skeptical or ambivalent, the other side can stop this: "Your 5e super-fandom is threatening my cautious appraisal of what I've seen so far; now I'm going to go off on it - and you!"  Sound fair?

Even though I'm pleased about what I've seen from all the articles, interviews, forum discussion, and playtest documents regarding 5e (yes, I've done the research), that's not why I'm on the + side of the debate.  Just to be clear, I'm not against debate.  In fact, I love it... when it's constructive.  Another reason I'm pro D&D is because our hobby is shrinking and could eventually die off if we're not passionate about its progression.

Now, there are many routes to rejuvenation.  5e isn't the answer to everything and, for you, it might be the wrong answer.  But at least it's something.  A step in the right direction.  Want to go a different route?  Awesome.  Do it.  Grow paper & pencil tabletop roleplaying in your own way. Just know that if you decide to do nothing, then 5e might be the only reason ordinary people know what a roleplaying game is five years from now.  "You know, like Dungeons & Dragons."

As a community, we can be critical while still being supportive; we can like what we like while understanding those who don't.  I propose we approach further discussion consciously.  Hopefully, that's not too much to ask.