21 January 2013

WotC gets it all wrong again... maybe...

  Hah!  I remembered to post today so as not to screw up my NY Resolution within the month of January.  Today has been kinda exhausting.  K got her ear tubes put in today, which meant getting to the surgery center by 0645, a quite early morning on the heels of a week of crappy sleep due to Z and K both having issues sleeping through the night.  Ugh.  It's so amazing - I mean, everyone who has had children keeps telling us this, but until you've lived it...  Z is sharp as a tack, and is falling in love with Star Wars, without much prodding from me.  I just showed him the movies, he decided he wants to watch them all the time.  He asks me some very interesting questions about the films, it's interesting the details a three-year-old can remember from films.  I've still not gotten around to explaining to him about Qui-Gon falling asleep at the end of Phantom Menace.  Yes, I showed him the prequels - but he saw the original trilogy FIRST.  Twice each.  My wife is the one that insisted we introduce him to the prequels...  K amazes me by not being a baby anymore.  It seems like it was just the other day she was an infant who would only fall asleep on my chest, and now she's walking, learning new words every day, using utensils when she eats...  wow.

  OK, so, gaming.  Two things had me extremely excited about D&D products over the last two days, but one of them is only a possibility and the other may turn out to be totally disappointing to me.  First of all, Wizards of the Coast, following on to their successful reprints of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons first edition and the 3.5e corebooks have decided to reprint AD&D 2nd Edition.  This had me pretty excited.  2e is quite often either ignored or downplayed by the D&D community.  There are quite a few people who feel that 2e lacked flavor, since TSR removed demons, devils, assassins and half-orcs from the 2nd edition.  Some say the Dungeon Master's Guide was inferior to the first edition version.  Some think it was either too far from 1e, or not far enough.  For me, 2nd Edition was the game of choice when I was in high school.  1989 was my freshman year, and by that time I'd been playing D&D and AD&D for three years, with D&D taking the lion's share of that gaming time.  My BECMI books and later the Rules Cyclopedia (more on that later) were most of my gaming where D&D was concerned.  Now, don't get me wrong - during this period I played Traveller, Palladium Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Price of Freedom, Gangbusters, Gamma World, MechWarrior, Star Frontiers...  lotsa stuff.  But as it was for many other players, D&D and AD&D were our bread and butter.

  Back to 2nd Edition.  When it came out it was pretty awesome to our high-school eyes.  Visually, the Easley covers were striking, the glossy interiors with some pretty iconic paintings - like Elmore's dragon hunters - were inspiring.  The rules were cleaned up, things like initiative actually made sense...  At the time we called it a win.  The DMG was thinner, and it was missing things like Gygaxian prose and artifacts.  The Monster Manual came in a three-ring binder, kind of odd, but I did later get some of the expansions that clipped into the binder.  With 2nd Edition came some of the campaign settings that drove us for years.  I was a fan of Ravenloft and Al-Qadim.  I still keep them both on my bedroom bookshelf for before-bed reading.  I loved 2e.  I didn't realize at the time I was supposed to hate it...  We didn't have the internet back then.  Oh, and don't get me started on how amazing the actual content of the monster book was - ecology, society, behavior.  You had more than a paragraph and some stats, there was real flavor to their monster writeups!

  Around 1995, 2e got a revision.  The covers were re-done, the interiors re-done, the errata worked into the text, and a lot of extra rulebooks like the Player's Option and DM's Option books came out.  THAT, we hated.  The new trade dress was just... not as heroic, not as inspiring somehow.  The interiors of the books had red text on white backgrounds for section headers.  Ugh.  The art had changed, the "feel" had changed, and what the hell were all these extra rulebooks?  No thankee.

  So, I find out WoTC is going to be reprinting 2e as premium collectibles.  Sold.  Put me down for a copy of each book.  Maybe extra copies of the PHB.  But wait - is it the iconic 1989 version they're reprinting?  Nope.  It's the craptacular 1995 version.  The one none of us played, as we were playing MechWarrior, Shadowrun, Vampire, Traveller : The New Era and a bunch of other stuff by then.  The black cover books hold no nostalgia for me.  I hated them when they were new, I avoid them at Half-Price Books.  I'm not shelling out $50 per book for that interior layout, or that cover art.  Just... no.

  So... disappointment.  Now for the part where I get excited.  WotC has a poll to find out which product we're interested in seeing get the premium reprint next.  On the list is... THE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS RULES CYCLOPEDIA.  Yes, folks, my single favorite D&D book of all time.  With this volume I could run campaigns from now until doomsday and never need another book.  Characters levels 1-36, mass combat, domain management, even a basic overview of The Known World and Hollow World.  It's all there.  THIS book summed up D&D for me.  It compiled the Basic, Expert, Companion and Master's rules into one sturdy tome and delivered it for fast and easy play.  Huzzah.  I own three of them.  There's one more at Half-Price Round Rock for $40 that I'll score if I get a 50% off coupon before someone else buys it.  Why?  Because my extra copies await the day some needy young gamer comes along and needs to have one bestowed upon them.  In the last year I have given away copies of Star Wars D6, Shadowrun, D&D 3.0, Basic D&D, Marvel Superheroes and MechWarrior.  I buy spare copies of my favorite games when I can find them cheap, and I gift them to folks who would benefit from having them.  My way to propogate the gamer species.

  So there's my thoughts for the week.  AD&D2e, sold, but only if they go with the orignal 1989 material.  Rules Cyclopedia?  Definitely sold, if they decide to do the reprint.  I fear if they reprint the black border 2e and it fails to sell, as the reaction of my fellow gamers on www.therpgsite.com and www.rpg.net seem to indicate it might, more reprints may not happen.

  I've got a lot more thoughts, but it's late, I've gotta get to work early tomorrow, and I think I just heard K wake up crying... again...

  Until next time, True Believers.

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