Posted by : David Guyll January 09, 2012
Also known as "zOMG 5E!"
Before I get into it, you can check the announcement here (as well as sign up for the open playtest when it comes out), check out a 60+ page on RPG.net here, and read an article on The Escapist here.
So, yeah, 5E (or whatever, that is not the real name, but for sake of ease I guess that is what we are going with).
When 4th Edition was announced I was apprehensive that I would hate it. As more of it was revealed the apprehension turned to excitement as I realized that I was really liking what I was seeing; classes besides spellcasters had shit to do and did not become obsolete, and monsters were much easier to create on the fly and deal with. In actual play I was surprised at the flexibility of classes that previously had rigid progressions and options, such as the monk, ranger, and paladin, the ease of which it was to realize concepts like dual-wielding fighters and fighter/wizards, and how different classes felt despite being non-magical melee archetypes.
Basically it was dropped like a bomb without any build up (thread upon thread of random forum speculation does not count).
This time there was build up in the form of Monte Cook (of system mastery fame) being rehired, along with a slew of ill-received columns where he pitched existing concepts, posted polls with loaded choices, and seemed to do his best to illustrate that he did not actually read the 4th Edition rules. So with him as one of the heads of the chimera that is the 5th Edition team--the design one no less!--and the popular theory being that his Legend & Lore columns were his attempts to try and sell us on his ideas that, regardless of poll results, were going to be effected anyway...well, let us just say that I am again apprehensive.
Really all I have heard so far is that the rule set will be modular--allowing groups to set complexity to taste--and also be an edition that will somehow cater to fans of every edition. Just going off of my years of experience on the forums over the past few editions, to put it mildly this sounds like an impossible order to fill. After seeing how well it worked for Paizo and Pathfinder, even the prospect of an "open playtest" does not fill me with much hope (though I signed up anyway).
What I am hoping is both that Cook can be kept in check, and that things do not go back to the days of Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards. The guy on The Escapist mentioned that we would "be surprised" which rules make a comeback, and I am hoping that those are good surprises. Ultimately I do not think that I will hate what comes next, though this is the first time where the thought of skipping an edition has crossed my mind. Eh...if that is the case I still have my books.