Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Tales of the Valiant is here! Let the 2024 Edition Wars Commence

 I finally got my Tales of the Valiant Player's Guide and Monster Vault books, along with the very nice GM screen. Together these two books comprise all the core you need to play the game, so I am intrigued to see all the useful (but non critical) content in the GM's Guide coming out later this year.

The new books are sturdy, standard Kobold Press style, with gorgeous Kobold Press artwork that "feels like D&D" which is the best compliment I can provide to the game. Given that the Kobolds have essentially positioned Tales of the Valiant to be to D&D 6th Edition what Pathfinder 1E was to D&D 4th edition, this is a good place for them to reside.....whether that is by accident or design I cannot say. If D&D 6th edition -and go look at all the release details so far if you don't think the new D&D 2024 isn't a full-out new edition!- does not grab as much attention and go over as well as it could or should, then Tales of the Valiant could provide a more than suitable alternative. 

TotV will most likely remain niche no matter what, as its the kind of thing you sort of know about and get interested in if you're already hip deep into RPGs, while D&D has cornered a different kind of market with a more casual crowd who's overall interest is less obscure and more trendy. But if it turns out that D&D shed too much of its identifiable crust in the remaking, then we could indeed see people start looking around for alternatives (or maybe even just stick with their old books). 

I can see this happening: D&D 6E seems to be caught between two markets right now. The general perception of the new class and rules promotional details coming out strongly suggest a mechanical rework designed to appeal to a more hardcore crowd interested in a bit more mechanical rigor and tactical acumen. Simultaneously we are being told the game is being revamped for "how people really play" and there seems to be a strong push toward friendlier and less violent art, character focused development that leans hard into the "start as a super hero, not super zero" thematics that 5E was already noted for, and a broader sense of inclusion for game tables which eschew the rigors of mechanical combat in favor of pure role playing. These are interesting and very opposite demographics to appeal to simultaneously in a product....and I will be interested in seeing if WotC can pull it off.

There's also an entire segment of modern D&D gamers who have only come in to the hobby with 5th edition, and have never had to experience an edition change. For many, a perceived increase in mechanical rigor (or even just a moderate level of changes for change's sake) could be more than they want to deal with. I could be wrong....who knows!

Even if D&D 6E takes off and also succeeds via D&D Beyond and Roll20 (which, correct me if I am wrong, seems to be substituting for D&D Beyond's original goal of making the online experience more video-game and microtransaction driven), it's okay, because Tales of the Valiant clearly has the "I like physical books" crowd covered, and even better if you do want to go VTT with it, Shard Tabletop is a damned fine product. If TotV can manage to make Shard or something similar provide an easier set of tools to desgn and subsequently print out for live table gaming, they will manage to cater to both live and virtual crowds easily. With D&D Beyond.....I feel like maybe D&D is not as poised here as they had originally intended. But hey, it's not September yet, we shall see how that goes.

Amidst all this are other game systems, but I think they all suffer in odd ways that prevent them from getting to be the next Pathfinder 1E to D&D. Pathfinder 2E, for example, shed so much OGL identity that it is functionally a different sort of game now, one with few to no identifiable "D&Disms" left. At least Tales of the Valiant wasn't afraid to include an owlbear, for example! It retains a lot of stuff that firmly plants it in the realm of "D&Dlikes" which means its comfort level will be more familiar to many players now than PF2E. PF2E, meanwhile, is poised to be a good alternate for people who want a D&D inspired experience but also really want a lot more mechanical rigor and very tight math. There is a crowd for that, and they are already playing their preferred game (PF2E). 

Other potential contenders lurk out there, but each offers a niche experience. Swords & Wizardry Complete Revised is my favorite OSR experience next to OSE. OSE is also cool. Shadowdark is out there, and it seems like people do like it. None of them are poised to become the next Pathfinder 1E, though, because each is catering to a specific playstyle subset of the broader population.

Anyway, the last six months of this year will be a fun roller coaster for D&D and now Tales of the Valiant. I'm developing a new campaign (well, an old one set in a new -or old- era) for TotV and will start posting some details here soon. I think I have buy-in from my group, so I'm excited to get a chance to try it out before the D&D 6E madness hits in three months.

1 comment:

  1. I just got my ToV books as well, haven't had time to really read them yet, but the art looks great. I'm not really interested in D&D 6ed. at this point. Been trying to get my group to give OSE a spin. We shall see.