Tuesday, November 16, 2010
What Wizards of the Coast could learn from all those Worlds of Darkness.
I began thinking about how White Wolf successfully executed a number of base lines all sharing the same rule system. The new World of Darkness games all share a basic framework. Whether vampire, werewolf, mage, changeling, promethean, hunter, or sin-eater, all characters start out as a human with the basic rule system. The human then undergoes a change depending on the "fatsplat" used to run the game.
It's really a perfect system from where I'm sitting. You've got a universal rule system that you then build up your special character on top of that.
I realize this is one of the oldest ways to develop games on top of games. That being said, it was really perfected by the new World of Darkness. It's created a universal language that people playing across game lines can understand. A werewolf knows how to dodge a gun shot coming from a hunter (some might say all too well!). This keeps things simple, but a casual read-through of any two fatsplats will quickly show that the simplicity does not sacrifice a unique gaming experience.
So I've been thinking, and I really feel like Wizards is missing a great opportunity with how they're handling 4th Edition. Now that they have a rock solid foundation of a system with their powers, healing surges, etc., why not expand the market? Release a new core book late next year (I don't know what you'd call it, but not "Dungeons & Dragons") explaining how the system works. Then, instead of releasing new campaign settings each year for D&D, release a series of unique genre toolkits, each with their own setting. Make a pure sci-fi game with its unique world and special rules. Release a swash-buckling historic game with muskets and big funny hats. I haven't bought a Wizards 4e book outside of Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms since I don't know when, and that was just to see how the Essentials format worked. Instead, I've looked to other systems or other companies like Goodman Games and Dias Ex Machina to scratch my non-fantasy itch. I would love the opportunity to buy other games based on the 4th Ed engine with the high production values Wizards has to offer!
Get to it!