from the Wise (Guys)
the twentieth issue of The
As some of you may have noticed, ICE is currently soliciting submissions for "The Vault", an archive of Rolemaster, Spacemaster, and Bladelands material to be found on their website. In
exchange for acquiring all rights to contributions, ICE is offering modest compensation in the form of product gift certificates.
This is probably an opportune juncture to remind you that while The Guild Companion cannot offer monetary compensation for articles, contributors keep the copyrights and other rights to any articles published in The Guild Companion. We are also willing and able to publish articles on a much broader range of topics for almost every role-playing game, collectible card game or wargame. We are interested in receiving reviews of all interesting gaming products and encourage gaming-related fiction submissions. So keep writing for us!
The Third Edition
Well, it's here. For better or worse, the much-hyped Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons has arrived. It's been a very long time since I've played or DM'ed Dungeons & Dragons; indeed my only set of D&D rules is the red box of the Basic Set as I migrated quickly to other game systems, reaching Rolemaster via Middle-Earth Role-Playing and a host of minor games. However, like the majority of the gaming community, I, too, have succumbed to temptation and purchased a copy of the brand-new Player's Handbook.
I won't steal the thunder of David Bate's complete review, but rather confine myself to a few impressions.
Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons is a very playable fantasy role-playing game. I took my copy on holiday with me as light relief from the bundle of social histories and autobiographies that were required vacation reading for my current writing project. I ended up GMing (or should I say DMing) for one of my brothers. We built a first-level elf cleric together and he managed to battle his way through half of the sample dungeon in the Red Box rules (I simply adjusted AC's of the monsters to be compatible with the new rules and off we went.)
OK, the Basic Set was also a playable game. The Third Edition has removed most of the deficiencies which eventually removed the gloss of old D&D. There is a single game mechanic rather than multiple incompatible task resolution methods, a general skill system, special abilities, and the removal of silly racial restrictions on character classes and levels. There are still horrid anachronisms such as class-specific skills and the Vancian "fire-and-forget" spell casting paradigm still afflicts some classes.
All in all, the Third Edition is a vast improvement over its predecessors. I can foresee that many new
D&D players will never feel the need to change their game system. I also predict that the ease of character generation and play as well as the availability of
D&D players will draw many non-D&D players away from their current role-playing games to Third Edition.
The Big Switch?
So I've bought the new Player's Handbook (and indeed will have bought the new Dungeon Master's Guide by the time this editorial is published), I've already run Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and I have just finished off my latest Rolemaster campaign. Will I become a convert to Third Edition, transform my fantasy campaign world into
D&D terms, and abjure Rolemaster?
Or at least not yet.
I would cheerfully play in a Third Edition game, but running a full campaign is a different matter. Now, while I complain about the hassles of hunting results across attack and critical tables and the drudgery of character generation as much as the next Rolemaster GM, the end results are usually worth it in terms of better stories. Conceivably I could sacrifice Rolemaster criticals and fumbles for the mundane multiple damage critical effects of Third Edition, but there are player-characters and just as importantly NPCs which can be created in Rolemaster which cannot (yet) exist using Third Edition. These diverse characters have shaped multiple epics in my gameworld, and I am very loath to allow similar characters to become unavailable to both players and myself in future campaigns.
Perhaps the Prestige Classes scheduled to be introduced in the Dungeon Master's Guide (and likely to be the focus of much fan development in the D20/D&D community) will expand the variety of possible character types sufficiently to overcome my reservations. Time will tell.
At any rate, I don't currently have any epic plots in mind for a new fantasy campaign. What I do have is a plot for a superhero mini-campaign and the beginnings of a science-fiction campaign to be set in my own idiosyncratic alternate universe, so my big switch will be to take a well-earned break from medieval fantasy …
Farewell (for now ...)
Time for me to stop ranting and for you to start reading. Our next issue will be published in November 2000 but until then,
Keep gaming and have fun!
Nicholas HM Caldwell