How about now? No? September really cannot come quickly enough for me, and all because of three little words: RED BOX D&D! Folks, all memory of what Wizards of the Coast are releasing between now and then has gone from my little brain. This is the single biggest, most significant role-playing release of the year. And I’ll tell you why.
Just look at it. Just look.
This, my friends, is what the D&D Starter Kit should have been. This is the first few levels of D&D, in full, including character generation. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with what the Starter Kit included – the 64 page Dungeon Master’s Book is particularly excellent, and all you need for 1st-5th level DM’ing. But the lack of character generation was a pretty major failing in an otherwise brilliant product.
From what I understand, Red Box fixes that, and more.
This is Old School, capitalized and in italics for emphasis. There’s just four races – human, elf, dwarf and halfling – and four classes – fighter, rogue, cleric and wizard. There’s a solo adventure in the 32 page Player’s Book, and an adventure in the 64 page Dungeon Master’s Book. There’s dice in the box. I’ll say that again there are dice in the box! You do have to bring your own wax crayon, though, but I’ll forgive them that. Here’s the full product info.
I’ve been banging the “Fourth Edition is old school really” drum for a long, long time now, and this is exactly what I’ve been talking about. I know there will be some die-hard 4e critics out there who will claim that just because it’s dressed up to look like old school doesn’t make it old school, and I’ve just two words for you: You’re Wrong. Look at that box! Look at that Dungeons & Dragons font! Just look at it! This is Wizards of the Coast listening to their customers, and responding. From what I understand of the DDXP announcement, there was barely a mention of D&D Initiative at all around this product other than a mumbled “maybe later”. This is pen-and-paper gaming at it’s finest, with no computer needed.[1. Not, of course, that you need a comuter to play D&D at all. But they’ve been pushing the Initiative subscriber model so much it’s become an ingrained belief.]
I really hope they don’t screw this one up.
Finally, this is a copy of D&D that parents will buy for their kids. That’s something which the game (the whole industry, in fact) has been missing for almost 30 years. Pretty much since the first D&D Red Box, in fact. It’s a complete game that doesn’t need three books just to frickin’ play the game and comes with everything you need to get little minds (and older, bigger minds for that matter) hooked on the game we know and love. Hasbro needs to get this in every toystore in the land with a giant cardboard cutout dragon pointing to it saying “YOU NEED THIS!”. At the risk of sounding apocalyptic, if they don’t do this, the hobby won’t last another generation.
Think I’m being overly dramatic? Then ask yourself this question: how many kids do you know playing D&D, right now? How many gamer groups welcome teenagers into their midst? How many teenagers would spend $100 on the PHB, DMG and MM instead of a shedload of console games? Some, certainly, and I’m sure that folks out there will attest that there’s a bunch o’kids gaming with them regularly, or they’re running games with their own children on a regular basis. But I’ll wager it’s not enough to support an entire hobby financially. Mainly, that’s a problem caused by the culture the majority of us live in where Adults and Kids are being increasingly segregated by media-fueled paranoia about pedophiles living under your bed and other ridiculousness. Yes, pedophiles exist, but to treat every stranger like they are one is a terrible, terrible thing. That’s a whole ‘nuther topic I’m not going to go into though.
The point is this: for whatever reason, kids need to discover the magic of D&D for themselves. Just like we did, in fact.
And it starts with opening a Red Box.
Is it September yet?