Polls from WotC

This article is being dissected over at Dragon’s Foot, where-in Mike Mearls calculates the complexity increase over editions of D&D.  While I find his means of counting complexity a little odd, I do agree with the conclusion that complexity is most certainly increasing.  And like the posters at DF, I also wonder at his motivations for posting this info and then delaying any real conclusions for a week.  Is 5e on the way?  Will the outcome of his poll actually impact the direction of a new edition?

What I find really disturbing though, is the results at the bottom from previous polls:

Legends & Lore: Poll #2 Results

How much player content would you feel comfortable reading and incorporating into your campaign each year?

  • 97 to 128 pages per month (about 1,200 pages per year): 20.0%
  • 33 to 64 pages per month (about 600 pages per year): 16.4%
  • 241 to 320 pages per month (about 3,600 pages per year): 15.9%
  • 65 to 96 pages per month (about 960 pages per year): 13.4%
  • 129 to 192 pages per month (about 1,800 pages per year): 11.8%
  • 1 to 32 pages per month (about 300 pages per year): 11.8%
  • 193 to 240 pages per month (about 2,400 pages per year): 6.6%
  • Nothing new; all I want and need are the core rules: 4.0%

What kind of stuff do you want the most?

  • More character options (spells, classes, weapons, armor, gear): 24.8%
  • More adventures: 24.3%
  • More info for existing settings: 17.5%
  • More DM options (NPCs, monsters, treasures): 13.4%
  • New settings: 11.4%
  • More optional rules for DMs (variant critical hits, alternate XP rules): 8.6%

Are these numbers for real?  The majority of players want more character options and at a rate of about 1200 pages per year?  Good golly, am I ever out of sync with the average Wizard’s blog reader.  My D&D books are 64 pages each, for a whopping total of 128 pages, and that’s plenty for me.  The only item in the second list that is at all appealing to me is more adventures, every other option is something I’d flip past quickly and ignore.

There are only two possible conclusions for the numbers above.  The pessimistic view might think the numbers are cooked to justify the direction D&D is already taking.  The pragmatic view might point out that most people going to Wizard’s site and posting on polls have already drunk the kool-aid, and like the direction recent editions have gone, while those of us who disagree avoid that site entirely.

Whatever conclusions you want to draw, I can at least say this for certain: I continue to have no interest at all in what Wizards does to a game that happens to have the same name as an old game I love.  As sad as it makes me, I am clearly no longer their demographic, and I might as well stop reading any news they publish as it’s likely to just make me grumpy.

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8 Comments

  1. It’s strange isn’t it? Even the guys I know in their early 20s don’t incorporate new information in their games at that rate.

  2. I think the question is misleading. He asks how much content the reader would “feel comfortable reading and incorporating into your campaign”, but I suspect all he really wants to know is “how much will you buy”. I suspect the answers folks chose are more in line with that question than the former. They may even read it, but incorporate it all into a running campaign? That sounds like way too much work to be worth the effort.

  3. I’m actually surprised the even higher page-counts didn’t win out, to be absolutely honest.

    Peruse the WotC D&D forums for some time (or rather, don’t; reading Youtube comments is more enlightening) and a number of posts are complaints that 4th Edition does not yet have enough races, classes, or player options. People complain that there is not yet a class/power combo that lets their first-level plate-armor wearing wizard cast clerical and druidic spells out of dual-wielded longswords that can turn into invisible werepanthers four times a day. I’m only being a tiny bit facetious here.

    It’s staggering. It’s by no means, of course, the only opinion- there are still 4e players who stick to the core books (or are even more restrictive than that), but the overall mentality is “there’s never enough,” and there is a STRONG correlating opinion, at least in the online community, that a DM who restricts even a single class or race is, at best, “killing the fun”, at worst, “malicious.” Hmmmm…

    It’s hard to imagine where it could end. There is no way to win the race of more, more, more. The 4e player base as a whole will never truly be satisfied. They want more of everything, at a steady rate, and then howl for blood when one of the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of character options is not perfectly mathematically balanced to every other option- something that is nearly impossible to do when homebrewing unless you’ve really taken the system apart or simply file the serial numbers off existing options, so the ball for new content is really in WotC’s court as far as many players are concerned.

    There has been speculation that 5e will be “more old school” because Mearls runs (or ran) an OD&D game at WotC, but I think that’s hogwash. WotC doesn’t really want or need to regain players who are entrenched in systems that they have been playing since before M:tG Alpha. I think an 5e by WotC will be even MORE modular than 4e- that is, it will have even more “parts” per character beyond race, class, powers, and feats, and then release spare parts online at a constant race, for the life of the edition.

    Though honestly, it’s hard to imagine where else they could expand the line considering the current staggering volume of options, except by making every single monster they publish also playable as a race and/or class, and introducing even MORE cross-compatible systems like Gamma World until D&D is just a completely modular, any-thing-goes generic ruleset.

    Which is funny, because that was certainly a possibility with D&D all along, and no one needed to subscribe to an online service and suckle at the teats of the developers to make it all work.

    1. So basically, your prediction is that 5e will be GURPS. 🙂

      I suppose to each their own. I’ll just wrap myself up in my cloak of indifference and try to remember not to follow links posted on DF that begin with wizards.com. I will have to try to remember to keep my head down at GenCon though. I’m seriously concerned about what kind of goofiness I’m going to hear coming from the Wizard’s tent.

  4. This directly reinforces my theory (since somewhere in 3.5 era) that D&D publishing (by WOTC/Hasbro) is fated to devolve into catering to an ever more nichey, unber-hardcore-only audience. Hey, they do buy more stuff, right? Ultimately there will be 1 customer who buys 10 titanic tomes each year, price $1 million each.

    Hereby patting myself on the back and feeling less grumpy than usual.

    (Still: Really amazing.)

  5. I guess I just find it surprising that these kinds of players not only exist, but form the majority of the hobby. I suppose we can thank WotC for one thing: they’ve made it very easy to identify and avoid that kind of player.

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