Earlier this week I ranted about 5e from the viewpoint of 'I in particular and the RPG hobby in general don't have to have 5e to survive, be creative, or attract new people'. I only wrote it because I was getting direct messages from friends, acquaintances, and strangers that without 5e RPGs are dead, games will stagnate, the hobby will shrink, etc.
When I wrote that rant I received some negative feedback from 5e boosters ranging from 'you are hurting the industry, man' to outrage and accusations of dishonesty for mentioning the list price for the game, to a threat to physically assault me for 'smearing 5e'. Ah, the internet.
But since I wrote it I have also been getting direct messages from friends, acquaintances, and strangers along the lines of 'thank goodness you stand with the side of Light against the horrible, evil 5e that will destroy all that is good and great about our hobby'.
So let me revisit this.
If you think 5e is the End of the RPG Hobby As We Know It and it is more evil than Michael Bay I have news for you - 5e is a good thing, and nothing in the entertainment world is more evil than Michael Bay.
I hear you say,
"In your other article you trashed 5e"
Actually, I didn't. I pointed out that people who state I must support it and I must use it are wrong.And I stand by that - if 5e never existed the RPG hobby would be fine, and creative, and bring in new people. I will download and examine the free PDF - but I have copies of Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Four-Color, Blueholme, Spellcraft and Swordplay, Renegade, Myth and Magic, etc., etc., etc. Just like I have copies of Bushido, Timelords, Aftermath!, TFOS, and a dozen other games - I am an RPGer, I pick them up.
But I have no plans to run 5e and - wait for it - I don't need it.
But that doesn't mean it is bad.
The fact that 5e is being released will bring in new blood. No, not because 5e is magic, but because boosters ranging from FLGS owners to the guy who wants to punch me will get out there and run demos, talk to people, email them, blog about it, etc. As i said in my earlier rant, bringing in new players is about people, not systems. But 5e will get some people who don't evangelize our hobby to recruit for the cause for the very first time.
I want us all to think about how much we recruit new players without it being prompted by outside forces. Seriously - how often do you invite new people to play, host demos, etc? If you really are an OSR booster you do those things, right?
5e isn't going to harm the OSR one little bit. It might not help, but it won't hurt. The OSR is, by definition, about surviving and maintaining creativity. While a particular OSR game might flourish or fail the fact is the sorts of games that created the RPG community are here to stay.
For both sides of the equation, let me put it another way - in 40 more years will 5e be 'old school'?
Walk with me a moment.
Does Swords & Wizardry 'hurt' OSRIC or 1e? Does Blueholme 'help' Labyrinth Lord? If someone who plays 2e doesn't pick up, and play, and champion, Lamentations of the Flame Princess is he 'hurting the hobby' or in danger of 'stagnation'? If someone who plays 2e picks up and likes Blood and Treasure has he 'betrayed' anything and does the change 'hurt' the OSR?
No, of course not. None of that makes any sense.
So why would 5e be any different? 5e is just one more RPG among many, nothing more or less. The fact that it is new only means that there is a marketing push. In 4 months to 5 years some other new RPG will come out and kick up the same brouhaha all over again. Trust me, I've seen this happen often before. I know people still very, very bitter over MegaTraveller. Or Traveller, the New Era. Or T4. Or all three. Guess what?
The LBBs weren't erased when T4 was published. And people weren't magically more creative because T4 was published, either.
Same here. 5e will not make you give up OSR and it won't inject you with 'build a better campaign' medicine, either.
It is just a game.