So anyhow I’m reading the Wizards Presents books – or, as I’m growing to call ‘em, Wizards Prevents, for reasons which will become clear over the new few posts. I know it’s treading a fine line between knocking 4th Edition D&D (which isn’t out yet, and won’t be for months) and knocking the design decisions (which are out on public display), but I’m about to do the latter, so hold onto your pants, folks
Looking through Races and Classes is a great insight into the minds of the developers. It also makes it clean that these aren’t – to put it politely – Great Minds of Role-Playing Excellence when it comes to RPG design. 3rd Edition got those with Monte Cook, Jonathon Tweet, Skip Williams and the rest, and they managed to change the face of D&D completely, yet still stay faithful to it’s style and concepts. The 4th Edition designers have big boots to fill, and I’m frankly not sure they’re up to the task at hand. We’ll see – I’ve seen good and bad about 4th Edition so far.
A single sentence jumped out at my from Races and Classes, and it shouted “You guys don’t know feck about your audience, do you?!?!”. Here’s the meat:
- …we were afraid that most folks in our audience would see talking animals as some kind of joke.
C’mon guys!!!! Manimals are cool, and D&D has a long history of great animaline humanoids, none of which are a joke. We’ve had Lupins (wolf), Catfolk, Grippli (tree frog), Nezumi (rat from Oriental Adventures), Vanara (monkey, also from OA), Hengeyokai (animal shapechangers, from OA), Kenku (crows), Tortles (turtle), Crucian (crab), and lots more that I’m sure I’ve missed.
I’d argue that there’s more animal/humanoid races in the history of D&D than there are Dragon/humanoid races. They harken back to D&D’s earliest days with several appearing in the original D&D Creature Catalogue. As well as saying that animal/human races are “some kind of joke”, they say they’re too hard to do, mechanically. Dudes, check the Hengeyokai entry in Oriental Adventures, take out the shape-changing elements, and you’re done.
Putting animal hybrids into the Core would open up a whole raft of new races into D&D, and that would in turn open up the options for entire campaigns. We could have catfolk fighting dogfolk, elves in alliance with badgerkin and more. The possibilities, as they say…..
Instead, we get fricking Tiefling and Dragonfolk because, hey, We’re World of Warcraft too!