This post at RPG.net may be the most amazing satire that I have ever read on the whole edition war/pre-edition jitters thing. I am linking it, but I would like to preserve it in amber as well, so here is the text. I did not write this (though whoever did is using what looks to me like a low thread-count special log in just for such things which might be seen as "bannable") but I wish I had:
NEWSFLASH: New Version of Dungeons and Dragons Doesn't Please Everyone!
by moonkids on RPG.net
A fortnight of previews of the forthcoming edition of the One True Game has culminated in the release of a sample character sheet and a picture of some goblins. Almost immediately, several role-playing messageboards were “critically hit” by dozens of protests.
While ordinary folk went about their business today, the “heroes” of the Forgotten Boards leapt into action. Like all groups of people who have interests that are almost-but-not-quite identical, they were quickly at each other’s throats.
Several posters quickly pointed out aspects of the rules that were “unrealistic” or “utterly broken”. Others disagreed, stating that “those are the bits that are actually good” and suggested that perhaps “the bits you guys like are actually what is broken”.
While a few posters did try to preach patience and calm, they were quickly dispatched by their more combat-savvy brethren. We spoke to some of the posters to find out what was upsetting them about the new rules. User Tyler Gnoll had this to say:
“Well, extrapolating from this tiny subsection of the final rules, it’s safe to say that there are going to be some totally broken and over-powered character builds. It’s crystal clear that the entire edition has been lazily slapped together by people with gelatinous cubes for brains. I’m going to have to house-rule basically every single thing in the game, so what am I actually paying them for? I almost wish there was some way for me to not pre-order the books.”
While fifth edition has been built from the ground up to incorporate elements of every previous edition, and to be highly customisable to suit personal taste, this isn’t enough for some fans of the previous editions:
“The game is basically just Fourth Edition with a different number on it,” said user Manuel P. Lane. “I can tell because there’s a rule in there that I don’t like.”
User Metro Gnome was even more scathing:
“I don’t see why I should bother even looking at this rubbish. There are all these rules that are somewhat different to First Edition, which is clearly the greatest of all editions. If I can’t play a game that is identical to 1E in every respect out of the box, then what’s the point?”
When asked why he didn’t just keep playing 1E, he replied: “I will, of course. But it’s the principle of the thing.”
For others, the previews meant the reopening of festering wounds like the debate over what the completely abstract systems of Hit Points and Armor Class represent in the real world (they don’t represent festering wounds, ironically).
“I’ve worn heavy armour in real life,” said user pXX, “and my Dexterity definitely affected my Armor Class. I forgot to write the exact numbers down, though.”
“Hit points represent meat,” said user Claude N. Board, “When you reduce someone’s HP, you’re cutting arms and legs and steaks and sausages off of them. The only way to heal that jazz is by magic, in my experience. Of course, losing pieces of yourself never reduces your combat effectiveness, but that’s okay because it’s all abstract anyway, right?”
While D&D is ostensibly a “role-playing” game based in the collective imaginations of its players, other points of contention to arise have included the new edition’s focus on story and roleplaying elements that don’t involve any math at all(!), and the game’s “rulings over rules” philosophy:
“There needs to be a good, solid rule for absolutely anything and everything that a player could possibly imagine wanting to do,” said user Raul Sloyer. “I don’t care if that requires a Bookshelf of Infinite Holding. It makes me feel really uncomfortable to have to think of things that might not already have been thought of and written down, and then really vulnerable to have to talk to my Dungeon Master about them and have her judge whether or not they might be possible.”
Some were incensed less by the rules, and more by the fact that the rulebooks might contain superfluous information:
“I just can’t comprehend how they could waste all that space on rules that I won’t personally ever use! I was in the playtest and I gave them my phone number, but they never even called to check whether or not I care about electrum pieces!” said a clearly anxious Trudy Six.
While somewhat less controversial than the rules, the previewed art didn’t escape the gaze attack of learned forumite Knot Evil:
“Those goblins look totally wrong. Have they ever even met a goblin? Our … I mean, their noses aren’t anywhere near that big!”
It’s all looking pretty grim for the messageboard faithful. Tyler Gnoll went so far as to declare that he might even bugger off and never complain on a D&D board again. Amid muffled cheering from his fellows, he eventually changed his mind:
“The way I see it, I could cancel my pre-order and stay away from these boards. But then it’d always be at the back of my mind that all of this complaining would be going on here without me. And they probably won’t even be complaining about the right things. I think it’ll better for everyone if I take one of those newfangled Second Wind actions and stick around.”