I'd call this an open letter, if I thought there was any chance it would reach it's destination...so let's just call it food for thought. Or perhaps a crazy and bearded DM on unemployment ranting to the winds. Doesn't particularly matter to me, so long as you listen and think.
Dear grand high mucky-mucks who run my favorite hobby,
Good morning, and hello. Donny the DM here, and I have a few things I'd like to get off of my chest. As you probably don't know, I'm a DM, blogger, and generally a fan of you and your works - however - I am troubled.
This is for several reasons, but we'll get back to that. you see, I am also not troubled (that is to say, that when I'm not troubled...I'm...not...troubled...?) Anyway, I'd like to start with the velvet glove before showing my backhand if you don't mind.
1.) 4E - Please pass a hearty round of congratulations for me. 4E is the best edition that has been released to date. I've been playing since release, and cannot remember having more fun playing D&D. I have some minor design quibbles, but none of it matters enough to need mentioning at this point.
2.) DDI - Please give a second back slap to whomever came up with the idea for DDI and adventure tools. These two pieces of software have revolutionized my tabletop. FINALLY a legitimate use for the near ubiquitous techno-gadgets that have become such necessary status symbols.
3.) The future - It looks so bright, I might need shades. I am salivating at the thought of finally getting to play gamma world, and cannot wait to find out what the next two campaign settings will be! (holding out for spelljammer).
All in all, I feel that the hobby is in good hands. Now that the edition wars are finally dying back to isolated skirmishes between the new town guard and the cave-people, we can finally begin moving forward to the gaming singularity.
Goodness, all this happy and sunny crap is starting to make my beard itch. Let's sow some karmic seeds to balance this out.
1.) 4E - you guys can admit it. You didn't playtest 4E worth a shit did you? All those closed door sessions and NDA's got you a product that really has chapped my ass a few times. I hope you wanna know why, 'cause I'm a-gonna tell you regardless. On release day, I ordered the fancy-schmancy-guy name of Dancey 3 book collection of core rulebooks, and was blown away....
Then cometh the errata.
Not just any errata, but errata that has since reduced my books to cellulosic paperweights. And that was just in the first 6 months! Since then, I have gone from a little gnaw of buyers remorse to not buying dead tree D&D books anymore. Not because I'm some jaded jerkoff fanboy, but because my money matters to me. Hell, I broke that rule once, to buy the forgotten realms campaign setting with the proceeds of a 3 month long recycling binge - and was happy that it was done almost right the first time, but I feel that this was not the norm...my Martial Power and it's SIX PAGES OF ERRATA seems to be more the norm.
This is a problem. A very big problem. I cannot trust what any of my books say until I have double checked them, and so I have this fat folder filled with printed errata that was such a pain in the ass we quit using it. On the bright side, you seem to be getting your acts together in that sense, but now we are changing stuff from the core because we changed our minds a year later. WTF!!? You guys owe me new - updated - books, and I am not buying any more D&D books until I get them.
2.) DDI - I've made my opinions clear a couple of times. I'll re-iterate the issues I still have, and we can go from there. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH DDI!!!? No updates in forever, and those gaping bloody holes in my adventure tools screen. Where is the treasure parcel generator? Where is the encounter generator? Where is the character visualizer? At this point, the online tabletop is forgotten - as in vaporware forgotten, and you know what? I'm okay with that. It's all of the other little tools I need to make my life easier that I miss. Unfortunately I don't even know if any of them is still in development, due to the iron wall of embarrassed silence that has been erected since the grandiose promises so long ago.
I use DDI religiously. IMO, it is the ONLY way to make an accurate character, and I will not accept one that hasn't been made on it. This would be easier if we had a GROUP SUBSCRIPTION WITH GM/PLAYER PERMISSIONS, but obviously this is a bad idea - right? Hello? Anybody?
I don't even know why you are still publishing books, but that is another discussion entirely.
3.) The Future - The future seems to hold more of the same. I see great stories, books, and campaigns coming out, and I am seeing splatbook creep IN THE CORE MATERIALS. Contrary to what some will tell you, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The only way I can keep up with all of the books, races, classes, builds, feats, powers, is to use DDI. Unfortunately, I cant make use of anything recent due to a lack of updates, and I still have to use third party apps to fill in the gaps. Hire some software developers please, there are a lot of them that are out of work right now.
As you can see, the three biggest strengths of 4E, are shadowed by it's three biggest failures. PLEASE guys, don't forget about us poor, miserable wretches that actually have to pay for your products. We have needs and wants too, as well as extremely limited budgets to work with.
Until next time, game well - and be excellent to each other.