Tuesday, 20 March 2012

One Hour D&D

I've mostly stayed away from all the 5th D&D edition internet "blah". I learned my lesson from the 4th edition release. In fact, I've managed to almost entirely dodge finding anything out about the new edition whatsoever.

So this is the first article I've read from Mike Mearls on the matter, and in honour of that fact, I'll comment on it: I'm in favour of this "one hour D&D" idea.

One hour is perhaps a little short for me, but I get the point. My group meets once a week and plays from 6.30ish to 9ish. Two and a half hours. That's the sweet spot for me before my attention starts to wander. But it's also practical - we have lives, so 8 hour marathon sessions are not possible every week; but at the same time we want regularity to maintain momentum, so we want to squeak in sessions on a weekly basis. The two-and-a-half-hour evening session is perfect for our purposes. Designers should recognise that this is around the norm for a working adult or a kid who goes to school.

Let's get this straight: it's extremely unlikely I'll ever play 5th edition. I've got BECMI or OD&D if I want to scratch the D&D itch, and I highly doubt they'll create something simpler or quicker to play than either of them. But this is exactly the right approach if they want to target D&D at kids (who have short attention spans) and/or adults (who don't have a great deal of time). That may mean they do not satisfy the hard core nerds who are into systems, want lots of rules to get their teeth into, spend weeks on character generation, and masturbate over their copies of the Book of Nine Swords every night before they sleep - but luckily that vocal minority is tiny in material terms.

12 comments:

  1. It's also much easier to make a system slower and more complicated; I imagine that the designers can (and probably will) via many splatbooks after the core release, and by those means may the systems folks be satisfied.

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  2. Yes I thought it was a rather nice article too. A couple of battles, a trap, a puzzle and a bit of character interaction in a 1-2 hour session is a very healthy, fun (and under-represented) way to play.

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  3. I've been following Mike Mearls/Monte Cook's posts out of curiosity, and this strikes me as the first that actually seems to truly "get it."

    It's generally easier to add onto a great foundation than to hack off the terrible pieces, so if they succeedat creating a system capable of "One hour games," I'll definitely buy a copy.

    Your mention of the Book of Nine Swords was both hilarious and highly accurate!

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  4. I remember reading that one of their design goals was to design a playable game with optional levels of complexity that could satisfy the crunch-nerds.

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  5. ...and while you can play a low crunch game for hours and hours if you want to, there's no way you could roll up characters and have a short satisfying adventure in only an hour with a rules/crunch heavy system.

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  6. This was the first thing they've said that had me nodding and thinking I might play their new game!

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  7. Our session time was a Sunday evening, from 1800 - 2200, and that satisfied us for nearly 20 years. The only exception would be the Christmas week 'special', where we'd get together for an all day event. It would be close enough to Christmas so that folks had the time off work, and far enough away from Christmas so as not to step on any toes.

    It was a fun time, we'd break and start the Christmas lunch, have crackers to pull, exchange small gifts, eat, drink and have a laugh. After which we'd clear away, set up again and continue the session, but the only difference being would be the party hats we'd be wearing. Once a year didn't seem too bad to do.

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  8. To me, 1 hour sessions means we could get a game going during lunch hour at work. We do card games and board games from time to time, but a daily Rpg could be a lot of fun.

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  9. Sounds to me like he's been playing BX, noticed how much faster it is and is trying to warm the 4e kiddies up to the idea.

    I know all the pathfinder modules I've played in would go down in about an hour or so under BX.

    Remember this article isn't for us; it's for all those addicted to super slow combat.

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  10. A game of an hour is a fine ideal. What we can enjoy from the rocks glass we can always elect to slam from the bottle; we're grownups here.

    If you can't get a solid game in in an hour, then each hour of the four or eight hour game is going to be shit anyhow.

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  11. @Cole - I would disagree with your sentiment that every hour over the hour of game play would be shit. It's dependant on the DM, the group and what's happening. I do, however, think a faster combat system is a better combat system, for both casters and warrior types. Especially when it comes down to mass combat situations.

    Apart from that, rules were, by and large, only ever referenced to clarify any ambiguity regarding a given action/outcome. For us it was about the story, the characters and the fun.

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  12. This is the first of these articles that has given me any hope at all to be honest. Reading between the lines, it looks to me as if Mearls has realized how very close to perfect B/X is and is struggling to find a way of bringing the possibility of this play style into 5E.

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