D&D Ultimate Edition: Late for the party


Last week I decided to write up a series of blog posts about D&D, edition wars, and a personal pet project I wanted to undertake to make my own “Ultimate” version of the D&D rule set.

Little did I know before I’d even started posting them, here comes WOTC announcing they are working on the next version of D&D. Not only that, but I was clearly picking up some telepathic transmissions from the design team as we seem to be working from a similar design document.

So here is what I wrote late last week (it was to be the fourth post in a series of five)….

Part 4: Rolling my own

I’ve gotten it into my head that I want to make a new version of D&D. Of course if I wanted to share it I’d need to call it something else but until then I’m calling it D&D: Ultimate Edition.  Not because I have confidence it will be all that ultimate, but to set a high bar for my objective of melding together some of what I think are the best aspects of D&D and adding a little of my own personal style to make it “perfect” for my personal needs. So it would only be “my ultimate edition,” not “the ultimate edition.”

There are a couple of philosophical approaches that should make the effort somewhat unique.

#1: I intend to construct one core set of rule books that contain layers of rules. The inner core game would serve as a simple and fast play model while the outer optional layers offer a more detailed and expansive play experience. The books would teach how to use the rules options to create games with different play styles but which are of the same familiar core mechanic.

#2: I want to explain myself and the rules. I intend to not only offer the rules but to give my most concise explanation of why they are the way they are. I want to empower the reader to change and improve on the game with the benefit of the reasons I structured it the way I did. If the rules have flaws and sacrifices made, I want to point out those as well.

Aside from all that, I will be borrowing heavily from every game I’ve ever played as well as from advice from those I know and respect. And I’ll set out to do what play testing I can. I expect that my output will be pretty far from any given edition of D&D but reading it you should have a clear idea where all the inspiration comes from and why I chose it.

Granted there is a good chance I simply won’t finish this project and like many it will go a ways and then my interest will simply shift elsewhere or it will never quite get the priority needed for the time it will take. Nor if I do finish it do I have any grand aspirations of trying to gain it some kind of wide acceptance or influence. Oh I may dream of such things of course, but I think it’s unlikely. Most great projects take a team and this is a by design a personal effort to satisfy myself. I’ll consider more what to do with it in earnest if I actually get close to finishing it.

And there you have it…

So now #1 is not so unique after all, in fact it sounds like one of the primary objectives of the new D&D design team. J Can’t say I’m disappointed. While they may not make all the same choices I would, I can say I’m on the same page and thinking on the same lines as Monty Cook and Bruce Cordell and that makes me pretty happy. Clearly they came to this conclusion a good bit before I but it seems we are connecting some of the same dots.

Of course #2 remains a bit unique. It’s something I did in my Advanced Feats series and it seemed well received. Since the 5E effort is going to be at least partly out in the open, and I do happen to know a few of the team members at least a little, I’ll be sure to put in a word for the open design philosophy.

If things go well and the gods of RPGs bless all the design team’s hearts with gaming goodness, perhaps we will all be playing our own Ultimate editions of D&D each in our own way yet also the same.


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