I can’t help but notice that WotC is desperately trying to catch up with Autarch.
I can’t help but notice that WotC is desperately trying to catch up with Autarch.
Well, Battlesystem (the name, anyway) has a long history by now… 1E was published for AD&D 1E, and was very much like the wargames D&D is based on. It’s pretty nifty, really, and there’s modules (Hordes of Dragonspear, some of the Dragonlance modules, the Bloodstone Pass series) that include, as major parts, Battlesystem battles. The second edition, for AD&D 2E, was more like a lame attempt at a Warhammer knock-off.
It’s funny to see them going back towards those roots - although from a quick read that looks a lot like a combination of old Battlesystem and Mongoose’s d20 Mass Combat rules.
You may have noticed among the list of backers that Mr. Mearls is one of the higher backers of the core ACKs rules, so there was definitely some interest. I appreciate their extra-simple implementation, essentially just scaling the numbers up.
I’ll be interested to see where it goes, though I’m still on the fence about diving in to 5th edition. Thankfully, I managed to save my 4e books from a life of obscurity by using the implied nerath setting for my ACKs game
Yeap - I recall playing it a bit back In The Day.
The thing I bet it’s not going to have is the Campaigns side of the rules that let you know how to build/manage/move those armies - the read of it seems a bit more focused on set-piece battles within a module/adventure.
I do vaguely recall Mongoose’s effort. There were a handful of d20 systems that were met with more-or-less excitement. I think Green Ronin had something the Black Company book as well.
Saw this a few days ago. It definitely seems Mearls liked a lot of what he saw when he backed ACKS. I seem to recall one of his previous columns discussed a downtime system that reminded me of the ACKS Campaign chapter, too. However, both then and now, the Next implementations of these concepts strikes me as far more shallow (remains to be seen, of course!) than the ACKS equivalents. I don’t want to be one of those forumite complainers (who never actually plays) crying about spherical cows (e.g. if the new Battlesystem and downtime systems work fine in play, even though the numbers look borked), but I’ve found the numbers don’t seem to add up. Particularly with attacks between different creature-size units. I dunno…maybe I’m just misreading Mearls’ post.
my take from a lot of the 5th ed stuff is that there seems to be a fairly specific kind of gamer in mind: it’s someone who wants rules that are crunchy enough that they would shy away from a more narrative driven game like FATE, but also not wanting to get so caught up in the minutiae of tracking lots and lots of things (outside of their one character or a few monsters) that they shy away from anything starting to resemble a wargame. To be fair, it seems like a reasonable bet.
I agree. I have a feeling it’s going to do better than the online peanut gallery would suggest, largely by being very approachable for new blood.
I’ll still stick with D@W.
I think this is a reasonable summary; they are looking to make a game that occupies the place traditionally occupied by D&D, that of the middle-of-the-road game.
It’s a compromise game, because it’s generally inoffensive on its own and you can houserule it into the game you want, no matter what kind of game you want. Unfortunately, this was a much better position to occupy 20 years ago (or even 10 years ago) than it is today.
Today, the indie RPG scene is vastly stronger than it has ever been, and as a result, anyone who wants to find a specific kind of game can find it. Having played the playtest, I don’t object to Next. It’s a fine and inoffensive system. It’s not fantastic, but it’s workable. The problem is that it’s not the best at anything for me. If I want to play a game of sheer badassery, I’ll play 4E. If I want to play a detailed tactical combat but low-power game, I’ll play Hackmaster (new edition). If I want to play a detailed-world campaign-activity game, I’ll play ACKS. The only reason I would select Next is if the group as a whole disagrees what system to play and we need to compromise. (Which, to be fair, is reasonably likely to happen for my group’s next game, though I keep trying to bludgeon them with the ACKS Core book, and it might take.) Its niche is a social niche, not a game niche.
Yep. I haven’t heard anything lately about licensing, I’ll be real curious to see which way they fall. We’re all here because of the OGL, and 4E came and went pretty quickly, all things considered.
That being said, the economics side of ACKS isn’t that hard to fit into any edition, and with that domains and those domains at war. The game I play in right now is a bastardized 3.5E/Pathfinder/Trailblazer/E6 sort of madness, and I’m looking to apply some ACKSisms to it right now via character action.
Yep, from my experience with the Next playtest, it isn’t bad. It just doesn’t stand out from the several dozen D&D-type games now in the market. It lacks vision, unlike ACKS (or LotFP or DDC-RPG, for that matter), which is all about vision and grand design. D&D Next feels like just another fantasy heartbraker based on the D20 SRD.
A good analogy would be map editors and custom games in Computer games. It used to be that releasing good tools to the community would pay off in the form of amazing custom mods that would, in and of themselves, justify the purchase of your game. Eventually, though, tools got good enough that people would just develop their own wholly independant game.
Same goes for D&D. It used to be that the key to success was a book or article that let you do “X in D&D” where X was a murder mystery or a steampunk pulp adventure or a heist. Now people will play GUMSHOE or FATE or Fiasco instead.
Green Ronin had a system in Black Company and a slightly simpler system in Trojan War and Testament. The Black Company one was marred by some really bad typos (or math errors) that made it more confusing to learn than it should have been.
There was also a simple system in AEG’s Way of the Daimyo, for Oriental Adventures/Rokugan.
Malhavoc Press had (IMO) a very good system in Cry Havoc!
Mongoose had one in Crusades of Valour that reminded me a lot of the Green Ronin system on the surface, although I never used them enough to know whether that resemblance would stick around in play.
I think that the biggest thing D&D Next is going to have going for it is that, of the games mentioned here so far, only a small fraction of the RPG population will have even heard of them (e.g a niche of a niche market); it’s easy to forget this on a forum where virtually all the participants are a small, self-selected group of hardcore RPG players. D&D will have the appeal of being D&D, a game virtually anybody who roleplays knows about. Several people have already alluded to the fact that they have trouble getting their group to play ACKS, or whatever other game they wish to play. To that point, D&D Next doesn’t need to be the best RPG, or anyone’s favourite, it just needs to be the one that everyone at the table can agree to play.
I’ll say it again: I think Next is going to do better than a lot of people think. Ultimately, I think that’ll be good for a game like ACKS, as if there’s any uptick in players, particularly new (or old, returning) ones, some of those are going to spin off into ACKS. I highly doubt that the reverse will be true (or, at least, the numbers will be negligible).
Yeah. Really, I’m much more impressed by D&D 4E than anything I’ve seen of Next (in the playtest packages, etc.), even though 4E is not at all my kind of game. (Although I’d love to see a turn-and-grid-based tactical party combat RPG in the style of Blackguards or Avernum/Exile or Natuk based on it.)
Mie Mearls is a fan of “our type of D&D” and has been a friend to me, Autarch, and my other company, The Escapist–I wish him enormous success with D&D Next and am glad he’s including mass combat in the game.
One of the original purposes of the d20 SRD was to allow innovation around D&D mechanics which would ultimately lead to the game becoming better. If ideas and innovations from ACKS helped make D&D Next a better game, I think that’s pretty awesome!
The Battlesystem rules that Mike talks about I his column are the kind of simple rules you will use if you only use skirmish mass combat sparingly if ever in your game. Like a lot of things in DnDNext it feels like its a thing that could be expanded upon by the groups that wish it and ignored by the groups that don’t care about it without hurting the game.
Like I said before, I hope Autarch will be able to publish for DnDNext, Especialy a book about the economic side of things, running domains and all the downtime things you can do.
That’s very…I dunno, I want to say “magnanimous”, but that’s really not the right word in this context. Regardless, I think a lack of enmity there (the opposite, in fact) is great to hear. As I said before, I think a successful D&D helps ACKS and many other RPGs, with the only clear loser likely to be Pathfinder (due to player-base overlap and the network effect).
Some combination of that and professionalism. There’s either a Chinese or a German word for it I’m sure.
I didn’t actually mean to sound edition-warry there; the Original Post was more of a comment on the relative sizes and agilities of the two publishers.