I have three friends who all like and run D&D.
Friend A loves the Old School Renaissance, has issues with 4e, can tolerate 3.x and is loving 5e so far, even having committed to running 6 sessions of it at a gaming convention. Friend B feels somewhat similarly about 1st and 2nd Editions, enjoyed 3.x well enough, has a deepseated hatred of 4e (as a GM, though he enjoyed playing it as player), and is also enjoying 5e. Friend C liked 4e a lot, like 3e a lot, and thought both were improvements on 1st and 2nd, yet he too is running 5e.
I have shared my love of 13th Age with all of them, Friend B is the only one who has looked into it too much, and didn’t like the way magic worked. Friend C has promised he will take a look, but his job keeps him busy along with his family. Friend A has not as far as I know looked at it.
Why? WHY? I might cry out, clenching my fist, as if I had some financial investment in it. I don’t.
And I think I can answer why. I have discussed before how 13th Age could have been laid out better.
More than that though, the player creation portions of the book are dense.
So, even though these cats are DMs at heart, I don’t think they can get past the character creation.
So, on the off-chance that Jonathan Tweet or Rob Heinsoo or some of the fine folks from Pelgrane stop on by, here is my suggestion: create a book for DMs. Create a book that explains the rules, make some DM Screen inserts, create a book that just explains how to run the game, create a book that has the monsters, create a book explain why the One Cool Thing is awesome, as are the backgrounds, show off the Icons. Let the players for these DMs deal with the character creation chapter. Highlight the good from a DMing standpoint. I think folks get lost, and can’t see past what they see as elements they don’t like. I want all of them to see how the game is run, how much players enjoy their characters, how a campaign isn’t reliant on magic items, how one character has a conflicted relationship with the Elf Queen because of a mispronounced word, and how this is a wonderful thing. Make it thin, make it cheap. Convert the DM, convert the players!
As a DM, my only complaint is that they don’t have a DM Screen or inserts available. That is a minor quibble. It plays beautifully. It allows for DMs to tell the stories they want to tell, to create the conflicts they want to create, to populate their worlds with interesting NPCs. The rules encourage this, not just with words, but with actual game mechanics.
Is this too much to hope for as the holiday season approaches?
A warm fire, some winter themed Mountain Dew, a bowl of Holiday Doritos, and a table of friends to game with?