Top Five Reasons To Not Upgrade To The Latest Version

Why do I have such a downer on updates to game systems?


1. It’s expensive.
I’ve spent thousands of pounds over the years on roleplay books. At least 90% of that was on supplements and campaign settings rather than rulebooks so you can understand when I get a little miffed when the publishers bring out a new version that makes all those supplements and settings worthless in the eyes the new system.

2. Same old story just different rules.
So when WOD went through a reboot very little changed. The mechanics where mixed up and ‘refined’ and that’s about it as the same basic story kept going. To be fair to White Wolf they basically shot themselves in the foot when they first published that Gehenna was on it’s way. Or were they just very shrewd people that knew exactly how many people would buy the new rules?

With Dungeons and Dragons 4ed  they’ve basically turned it into D&D lite. It’s not a refinement of the previous games or an expansion on the system. They’ve took the popular parts from online computer games and melded it together with the previous rules to create something that doesn’t feel, to me at least, like any D&D game I’ve seen before. Why not keep the old D&D line going or at least fix the bits that didn’t work and release 4ed as a new game line but one that uses the same world? Have it as an extension of the mini battles game and market it to the crowd of young gamers moving up from Pokemon and the other card games that seem to be morphing into spinnig top battles.

3. Did I say it was expensive?
Forget the cost of the books I’ve bought in the past that are now worthless. Lets look at how much it costs to get a Forgotten Realms game going now that 4ed is out. The DM/players guides come in at $60 for both of them and the setting books add another $60-70 onto that as well. Your talking over $120 just to play the basic setting and never mind any of the expansions they bring out in the future. What if you go to all that trouble and you find you really don’t like the new setting or you really don’t like the new 4ed rules?

4. Physical space
I live in a normal sized house in the UK. We have plenty of shelf space and yet I am forced to keep a sizable amount of my books in boxes in the attic. I cannot find anywhere to keep my almost complete collection of oWOD books never mind space for the new system should I ever give in and buy it.

5. Mental space
I’ve already memorised the rules and mechanics of 13 separate gaming systems over the years. Do I really need to squeeze another one in? At what point will my mind begin to fail and the AD&D equipment charts start to meld together and be mistaken for the Small Creatures Crit Table from Rolemaster?

The old games worked. Sure they had their flaws but so do the new versions. Pick one and stick with it but I just wish the old system I loved still had official work being published for them.

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  1. bonemaster says:

    You could also add, that there are several things I still want to get for the old edition as well.

    I think the melding has already begun in my head. I sometime think things work one way, only to find that I was thinking of different game or edition.

    BTW, I’m with you, 4ed just didn’t seem like DnD to me either. I agree is should have been called something except I doubt that they would have gotten the sales that they did, if it was called something else.

    bonemasters last blog post..Meh, Another Sword +1

  2. Bob says:

    Your right they wouldn’t have got the sales but you would have had a larger audience for the supplements they produced.

    I know there was no way they wouldn’t bring out a new one and the additional sales are certainly going to help keep WotC afloat for a little while longer so that’s certainly a good thing in one way.

    In an ideal world though I would still be able to get stuff for the games I play.

  3. wickedmurph says:

    In general, I agree with you. I think if you’re happy with a version and a system, and your players are, you should stick with it. Of course, all of us suffer from “game lust” and desire to read all the cool stuff in the newest, shiniest of books, but when it comes down to it – the issues of cost and space have, for me, increasingly trumped desire.

    I will admit that I’ve taken to downloading digital copies of some gamebooks – reviewing them and deciding if I want to buy them. Since I know I won’t use most of them, I get a chance to vet them for usefulness before I drop 40 bucks on them. The ones that I really will use, I go and buy. Since I don’t find digital rulebooks to be very good for actual gaming, I don’t really use them, just read them over as a preview.

    I find it’s the best trade-off I can make between the realities of limited money and space and the addiction to new gaming stuff that we all wrestle with. It’s not the best solution, in terms of legality or supporting the industry that I love, but it’s the best one I’ve come up with so far.

    On a slight tangent, I have to totally disagree with you on the 4e doesn’t feel like DnD score. I think that comparing red-box with advanced or 2e with 3.x, you see as large a difference. 4e goes off in a slightly different direction, but to call is DnD Lite is being willfully ignorant about the nature of the game. Difficulty does not equal value.

  4. Tom says:

    Love 4th ed, but too each their own.

    I can understand not wanting to upgrade, but you can’t get miffed. Rpg publishers are companies that are in it to make money, thats not a knock thats reality.

    It gets to a point where they run out of room to make supplements and its time for a new version. If you don’t want them, don’t buy them. Your old books aren’t “worthless” at all.

    P.S. Anyone else getting tired of the 4e video game comparison? Sour grapes.

  5. Mike Lee, Southeast USA Point of Contact, Living Forgotten Realms says:

    Keep on the Shadowfell for 4e has enough rules and pre-gen characters to get started, and IMO determine if you like the system. There’s also a starter set with counters and dungeon tiles. You can also sing up to D&D Insider for a month (under $8) and access loads of content including all the items, powers, and monsters in the game. So you don’t have to buy all the books right away.

    I have to give a nod to Warhammer 40K: Dark Heresy for putting out an adventure with pre-gens, and enough rules to play.

    I think all RPGs should do this. It’s a good way to build a genuine fan base where most of the people bought the books because they were playing, and not the other way around.

    As an admin for LFR, con-goer, and old-school gamer with old grognard friends, I have heard about every type of opinion of 4e. It is-what-it-is. The best edition for some, and not even D&D for others. And for a bunch of people, something in-between. Personally, I play it because it’s simple, fast, and fun.

    It’s a lot like TOFU to me. You add your flavor of choice to a well-honed system, but the system itself is pretty generic. Personally, I like to add a 1e adventure style in an FR world flavor.

    I think the player base needs to grow into the new system, and 3.5 (updated by Pathfinder and soon, Monte Cook) is still a great system for the people who like a different kind of D&D. But there is just no way that 4e is going to be anything other than it is, so why complain?

  6. Bob says:

    I’ve done that in the past myself to find out if a book was worth buying but I find large pdf’s to be almost unreadable on a computer screen if they are longer than a few pages long.

    With your examples I’m not sure I get the red box to advanced comparison. It says it in the name AD&D that it was a huge step and whilst 2ed to 3/3.5 was a huge jump in some respects as well I still see this change to 4ed as going off at a tangent rather than making the game better. Thats where im getting the lite side of things. They are appealing to the players of WOW or the multitude of card games out there rather than your historically protective of the system D&D player.

  7. Bob says:

    I get they are there to make money. I just don’t like being wrung for every penny I have just because they decide they want more from something that can still give.

    As for the books not being worthless I know they aren’t which is why I still run AD&D games. They just become fluff though is you want to use 4ed rules as the mechanics need to be rewritten.

    I don’t know where your getting the sour grapes thing from. The way I see it the biggest threat to tabletop games is computer games. As you say the companies want to make lots of money and in the past its been very hard to carry over the D&D ruleset into a computer game without bogging it down. With 4ed you now have a ruleset that can carry over very easily to a computer game and also has a combat system not that far removed from the biggest mmorpg’s out there. Add in the online tabletop software and you’ve got the biggest integrated game on the planet and an easy way to print money. It’s not a bad thing I just don’t like the style of play of encourages.

  8. Bob says:

    KotS may well have enough to play and get a taste but it’s still not a patch on what you might need to run a decent campaign. It’s still a hefty amount of cash to fork out should your tastebuds be mistaken when you go for the bigger portion next time.

    I do like the what Dark Heresy has done and I’m sure there are others like it. Does Shadowrun not have something similar that is free to download for testing? Despite having the book I’ve never actually played DH though but then I’m just a 40k gimp that will buy anything Games Workshop throw out I think.

    As for tofu I think I may be sick at the though but I like your point.

    And why complain? Because I can. It’s mostly down to no longer being able to find any new players in my area willing to play anything other than 4ed. All the folk I know from before this generation have either gave up gaming or are already in my gaming group. 4ed has actually taken away all variety round these parts.

  9. Zaerion says:

    pathfinder looks to be a nice 3.5 update for those people who are disappointed with the way 4.0 turned out. i haven’t played it myself, but i have the beta rulebook and was gonna give it a spin one of these days.

  10. wickedmurph says:

    I bought 3 4e books (120 bucks), dug out a bunch of old miniatures and markers (we all have em) and built myself a game board from clear plastic and gridded posterboard for about 10 dollars. I also picked up the screen for what, 15 bucks? I can play 4e to my hearts content for 145 dollars (Canadian). I would prefer that they had kept it under a hundred, but that’s not too much as far as I’m concerned.

    I don’t need the printed adventures, don’t subscribe to Insider, don’t need campaign settings – I can do that all myself. You don’t really need to spend that much money to play 4e, although it’s a bit more than a stand-alone 1-book system. I probably could have skipped the DMG, as I’ve been dming for about 20-odd years now. Not too expensive, but that’s because I’ve been carefully considering what I need, not just picking up the new books willy-nilly.

    I like 4e because it gives me everything I like about gaming, and minimizes the stuff that I don’t like, and don’t have time for anymore. I have a job, a wife, a kid on the way, I volunteer at a fire department, and I don’t have time to play a game that has huge prep times. 4e does the trick for me, and for my group. It’s not lite, it’s focused – targeted on the really fun bits. Some people enjoy the “other” stuff, but honestly, I think that they are the minority.

    As far as the red box to advanced analogy, adding the word “Advanced” to the name of the game wasn’t any difference, in 80′s speak, than putting 4th Edition on 4e – it’s a new version of the game – taking it in different directions. And it did, took it in very different directions. Advanced to 2e, not so much different direction as refined it, but 3e was back off in a different direction again. Just like 4e is now.

    You don’t have to like it, but I think your criticisms are without merit. You don’t like that it’s what people want to play? That sounds like a problem with you, not with the system. I always hated Vampire, personally – but when my group was playing it – I played it, and found the stuff that I enjoyed.

    I agree with your reasons not to upgrade to the latest version, but I think you forgot the BIG caveat: “Unless your group wants to…”

  11. Bob says:

    I keep meaning to track down a copy of pathfinder for a quick look at it.

  12. Bob says:

    That money you spent would feed my family for a week. I can’t justify spending that one roleplay books unless it’s going to get a lot of use. My example was also someone using the most popular campaign setting WotC made for D&D which bumps up your costs slightly.

    Yes it can be done on the cheap but not everyone plays the game your way just as very few play it my way.

    I get that you like 4ed. You find it fun and can’t justify spending a lot of time on game prep. I’ve never been one for game prep but the style of game itself is what gets me. I don’t like the combat and mini combination. That’s the side of the game that makes it or breaks it for me.

    As for not liking that its what people want to play. It’s that there is no choice or variation in what people want to play. The only RP systems I can by in my local bookshops are 4e and the Battlestar Galactica game. There is no exposure to anything else and its the folk playing WOW that are buying it. They don’t want to play anything else and fair play to them. I do however. I know there are a lot of games out there that are great fun but without the willingness to try them no one finds out about them.

    I’ve never been a fan of taking one for the team just because you don’t like a game. Why should I play a game for 6 months if I don’t like it? I’m there to enjoy myself and if during a game I have to struggle to find a side of it that I enjoy then it’s not working for me. I have the same sort of time constraints on my life as yourself so why waste them on something I don’t enjoy? Our group works because we’ll try a game and if someone doesn’t like it we move on. If others did then they might start a campaign up with it but you can almost guarantee the ones that didn’t like it will give it a miss.

  13. Ravyn says:

    Murph: The income thing alone is not “without merit”. Not all of us have the budget to be shelling out in the hundreds for new game systems, particularly not in this economy.

    Regarding the article itself: I agree with you that treating 4E as a spinoff system would’ve been a good move as far as Wizards was concerned. (Though I’m biased; 4E was announced right after I got tapped by a startup planning on supporting 3.5. Disclaimer over.) They could’ve avoided the whole “You are going to switch completely”-”Am not!” exchange that created the backbone of the Edition Wars, and had two sub-demographics that they could pander to without having to worry about alienating one by satisfying the other.

    Ravyns last blog post..Engaging Secondary Characters: Socratic Characterization

  14. Dave T. Game says:


    I’m disappointed, since your posts are usually so much more interesting than this. Resorting to the same edition war stuff (it’s not D&D, it only appeals to kids and WoW players, etc.) is not terribly interesting. In fact, if you had just stuck with #s 1, 3, 4, and 5, your point would be much stronger here. I’m sorry you’re having problems finding players for other games in your area, and I hope you resolve that. It certainly doesn’t matter to me that you don’t play 4e (I’m a big advocate of finding the right RPG for you and your group), but you can express that without the insults on those of us who do enjoy it without resorting to a lot of the same stuff that’s been thrown about ad naseum to the point where both “sides” get touchy.

    Dave T. Games last blog post..CONTEST: Roll Into the New Year

  15. Brian says:

    the newest edition of D&D doesn’t even have druids as a playable class.

    how bunk is that?

    I have been playing druids since 1981 and according to 4ed, that’s not possible.

    we need to resurrect Gary Gygax

  16. Bob says:

    Dave, I’ll openly admit it’s been a slow day here.

    My main point was meant to be a very general one and made the mistake of mentioning D&D which seems to be the main sticking point. I don’t play 4e just the same as I don’t play Call of Cthulu. It’s just not my kind of game any more.

    As you may have picked up on twitter part of this post was an attempt to get a reaction but it certainly wasn’t the disagreement I was expecting when I started writing the post.

    I promise I’ll find the ‘interesting’ for the next batch of posts. :)

  17. Bob says:

    I think it’s a case of waiting for the next set of books for that one. It was certainly something I wondered when I picked up the book the first time round.

  18. wickedmurph says:

    It’s funny, I read this entry to be more general than just “don’t play 4e”. The points that Bob raises are mostly valid ones for all gamers, regardless of what game they enjoy. Space, time, money – these are all constant constraints.

    But really, lets be honest with ourselves here – we’re gamers – we spend large amounts of money on books that we barely ever use – we do this. To expect us not to is not realistic. We do have to be more careful and thoughtful and discerning when times are tight, but WoTC or any other publishing company is not to blame for this.

    Also, Bob – it must be nice to live in the States – 150 bucks feeds 2 people for a week here in Canada. I had to think hard and check out what I was getting before I dropped that amount of coin, but I got what I wanted, and my group all likes it.

    wickedmurphs last blog post..Consistent, or Fair?

  19. Hammer says:

    Bob does make a very good point about not being able to find players around here. It’s Scotland’s biggest city/urban sprawl and I’m still finding it easier to get players from another country for PBM.

    But c’est la vie, hopefully doing the local cons this year will open some opportunities ;)

    Hammers last blog post..D&DI: Digital Revolution or Damp Squib?

  20. Hammer says:

    I’m pretty sure Druids are coming in the Player’s Handbook II in October, and some folks on the Blogger’s Network have already come up with Homebrew versions of the missing classes.

    Look out for previews of the PHBII in the near future though. Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade did a playtest podcast for WOTC which should be getting released in the next few months.

    Hammers last blog post..D&DI: Digital Revolution or Damp Squib?

  21. Hammer says:

    Oh, and I think your being a bit generous with your currency calculations Bob. The PHB, MM and DMB RRP for ±$35, taking it up to $105 for just the core books. About $150 for the FR books as well.

    When I was over in Vegas, I looked at prices for the books to see if I’d be cheaper getting them in the US, and there were actually cheaper back here, even taking the into account the good exchange rate. I think we get them cheaper because books are untaxed.

    Hammers last blog post..D&DI: Digital Revolution or Damp Squib?

  22. John says:

    You are right about almost everything:

    GURPS 4th ed. changed the game into a much more cohesive and powerful system.

    I was also skeptical about NWoD, but Werewolf and Changeling are amazing. I’ll take or leave the rest of their products.
    They changed the world a great deal, so I don’t really know where you are getting that. But the above mention products are worth buying the NWoD core book and then those two settings.
    No offense meant, but it sounds like you haven’t read much of the new material.

    4th ed. D&D is a complete waste of money. Everything about it is a business scam. WotC is dead to me.
    I’ll keep AD&D 2nd and my 3(.5) books if ever have to play D&D. There are so many better systems out there.

  23. Bob says:

    To be honest most of my knowledge of the nWoD comes from talking to a few of the writers when it first came out. I’ve had the books for a while but I always concentrate on the game mechanics differences. The story never jumped out at me as being vastly different when I read it.

    I’ll need to give it another shot.

  24. Bob says:

    Everywhere I looked the books were in sales reduced by about $10 which might account for the price differences ;)

  25. Bob says:

    I’m in the UK and have to feed a family of 5 (soon to be 6) so money doesn’t stretch that far I’m afraid :)

  26. Bob says:

    Did I see dates for the podcasts kicking about somewhere?

  27. Bob says:

    If the Glasgow one goes ahead without any hitches ;)

  28. Hammer says:

    Possibly. I haven’t seen them yet.

    Hammers last blog post..D&DI: Digital Revolution or Damp Squib?

  29. Tom says:

    Hmm, maybe it wasn’t fair to refer to “sour grapes”. I think I’m just sick of all the 4th edition negativity. It seems like all the “haters” are latching on to the video game comparison. If you don’t like it, move on. Theres only a million other RPGs to choose from! LOL

    Personally, I like video games. Wizards would be dumb not to reach out to that crowd. Every video game rpg owes everything to DND, might as well borrow back.

    Tabletop games have no chance competing with video games directly; they’re best bet is to embrace that audience and not try to convert them completely.

    Regarding the cost, Rp gaming is a very cheap hobby. Even if you feel the need to get every book wizards put out, you could do that on $30-$40 a month. Keep in mind you don’t need every book to play.

  30. Bob says:

    I think my problem is that so many folk are insistent that I give it more of a chance. You get it from one side and I get it from the other.

    The problem I have with them trying to grab that new audience it that the section that they are losing in doing so contains me. I get grumpy when that happens.

    And no you don;t need every book to play and yes you can buy them one book at a time. It still remains that if you want to run the basic FR setting you need to buy 4 books and whilst I’ve waited 3 months to play the game I’m writing just now I normally I couldn’t wait 4 months just to run one game. hell it’s took me 3 months to find the cash to buy one new rulebook! I guess I’ll need to eat more of my chickens and grow more veg in order to afford new D&D books :(

  31. Asi says:

    It´s a free .pdf download at

  32. dan says:

    so play 3.5 if you want. or 3. or ad&d. or tunnels & trolls or whatever. adding 4e makes it just as separate a game in the minds of my players as 3.5 is from ad&d – that is, it’s not like we just stopped playing one game and switched to another. so, for people who say 4e is a ‘different game’ – yeah, you’re right. so what? play it when you feel like it and play 3.5 when you feel like it. same thing you always do, basically…run some games on one system and some on another…

    oh, and i don’t pay a penny for any rulebooks. ‘scalled “bittorrent”. look into it.

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