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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Forty-Three

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

I referred to the blog Hidden in Shadows yesterday and I am going to return to that well again today. This goes back to one of the early posts titled The Ghost of Arneson and D&D Next.(the development name for 5E).

In the beginning he lays out all the reasons that he was not interested in "brand D&D" and what things led him to being surprised and intrigued.

My caveat here is that I have never played any 5E so I do not know how much of what he talks about ended up in the final product. I would love it if someone well versed in 5E as published would do a comparison of this Hidden in Shadows blog post and the finished product. That said I am going to throw out a few things here and then encourage you to go read the full post and comment. So he says:
I’ve been seeing things in the 5e discussions that are making me blink, and wonder if the ghost of Arneson is haunting the design team (although I’d be very surprised if Mearls and co realize in the slightest who’s design ideas they are echoing.)
One of the things about this post that is fascinating for me is that when I read it back years ago is that it told me things about Arneson's game that I did not know at that point in time. It also made me sad that so many creative people die so young.
Mearls:
“…it's OK to do different things with D&D.  One of the things I really want to do with Next is build in different group and DM styles, and make it clear that those are just ways to play the game. Like, if you're group likes to make optimized characters the DM runs the game in Nightmare mode and that's fun, or the group that hates combat uses story-based XP and never fights anything.”
Compare to:
Arneson:
“D&D at its start was a simple system with guidelines that could be tailored to the players. The game was a co-operative effort by the players (Each having strong points and weakness.) to overcome the obstacles (Problem solving.) set up by the DM, The skills (Such as found in my *AIF game.) allowed you to build your character. As each edition came out new layers and more/different ruled were added. Some good, some bad, always more restrictive in some way even if it was a more 'simple' game.
*Adventures In Fantasy

Obviously I cannot quote the whole thing, although I would love to do that and comment on it line by line. There are quite a few comments about roleplaying and paying lip-service to that part of the game. Arneson and Mearls both talking about skills and how they should work. Arneson talks making a really unique character class, that he did that in his original campaign all the way up to today.
So I feel vindicated because a lot of the stuff I wanted to do has now been added.  People don’t realize that I came up with it way back when.  You have to look at an early first edition to even get an idea of that.  So, I’m happy.” 
There are tons of quotes in this article, all of them enlightening from about 8 years ago. How many of these things have you done in your campaign? How different is it for younger people and for older people like myself?

Arneson says things like:
“We’re trying to capture a different flavor of how you do magic and how you implement magic…
Again, just to catch the flavor of a fantasy world where you can’t assume the orcs you’re going to find are the same old orcs and you can kill them in the same old way
I always thought that dragons should be huge blusterous things that, each of them, are unique.
This is one of the things that has always been a feature of my campaigns is that all my dragons have been completely unique from each other. Yeah, I have a dragon write-up, but it merely a loose guideline that I created so a player could take a dragon as a character, but NPC dragons - no two are alike.  
It’s important to note here that first magic items Arneson designed for play were intelligent, aligned spell casting swords.  He made a list of each one and it’s powers.  Magic items in Dave’s campaign were always of the quirky and unique variety with a story behind them.
I love magic swords, and I have never used the table, I design each one as an individual work of art. In fact most of the tables I create are for reference and so I do not forget different options and ideas, but I do not actually follow the tables or the write-ups when I create magic items. My players are not going to come across multiples of the same item, they are going to come across unique occurrences of an item type.

Oh btw, the reason there is no link to the reddit post by Mearls is because I do not have the link and have not read the full post.

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