Written by Jeremy Morgan, tabletop games editor, gamer, and software developer.
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Monte Cook and the Monstrous Legacy

19 October 2011

I’m taking a short break from my usual series to talk a bit about the latest Legends & Lore article from Monte Cook (@MonteJCook on Twitter). If you haven’t had a chance to read it, go here now, otherwise you won’t get as much out of this post. Just to summarize (so I can better organize my thoughts), the gist of it is preserving the legacy of monsters from previous editions of D&D. It’s an interesting topic, and it set the hamster in my brain spinning on his wheel. This topic is something I’ve been encountering a bit with my Planescape conversion, so I think I’m in a good position to talk about it.

First, let me mention what I agree with I can really get behind updating monsters from previous editions. As I read through some of the older editions, I see monsters and think how neat or interesting some of them are. I agree that there is something to be said for not always re-inventing the wheel. It’s nice to let some of the second-stringers get some playing time.

Where I diverge is the thought that this updating of existing monsters is in opposition to looking at the present and future. I think the two can (and should) go hand-in-hand. A good working knowledge of history is helpful when assessing the present. However, I also think that modern game design should factor in more heavily. We should not toss out the lessons learned from several decades of game design of various types and genres. It is good to have an injection of new blood from people who don’t carry the baggage of all that history. A fresh perspective is sometimes needed to move on and make things better.

In short, the history of the game should inform us, but we should make decisions based on modern design principles. If this is what Mr. Cook is proposing, I’m all for it. If not, we might have to talk. I can say that the poll seems to support the latter instead of the former, which concerns me.

What did you think of the article?


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