“Dungeons and Dragons” is more than a game, it is a cultural phenomenon. Many, if not most gamers, have fond memories of playing this game in their childhood. It was the first RPG I ever played and I played it off and on for 25 years. The very name “Dungeons and Dragons” wears a warm patina of happiness in my mind. I am certain many others feel the same.
Before I jump into my main question, I need to provide a little background about myself. I have a university degree in rhetoric. Yes, they offer a degree solely in rhetoric. We studied Plato and the usual classics, but a large portion of the degree covered how to analyze the influence of words and images on an audience. We spent hours looking at advertising and dissecting the tricks used to influence the audience to buy a product. Ultimately, it was about using emotion to influence perception. Words or images of smiling, healthy people on a cruise tries to touch a part of our psyche that desires that state of affairs. It is a visceral, subconscious response that influences our conscious behavior (buy a cruise). Just a picture of a boat without the smiling people has far less impact. There is no emotional “distortion” of the image. A ship is just a ship.
It is this distortion that interests me. A few days ago it occurred to me that much of my perception of anything “Dungeons and Dragons” is colored by decades of memories. This is simply a part of life, but it did inspire my question: How much is the historical, emotional attachment to Dungeons and Dragons affecting perceptions of 4th edition rules? Would you be as satisfied ( or unsatisfied) with the rules set if it did not wear a D&D cloak?
This is not an attempt to start an old vs new school argument or bashing the rules set. I truly am interested to hear if gamers would play 4e rules without 30+ years of D&D emotional baggage and expensive marketing. I came up with an answer for myself. What that is does not really matter. I would rather not taint the results with my opinion. I challenge you, gentle reader, to embrace your biases and seek the answer to this question yourself: If you wandered into a book store and found a plain, photocopied booklet of 4e rules would you use them ?
Trask, The Last Tyromancer