Slog tipper Rich says that the much-reviled 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons (which I first told you about back in June of 2008) is soon to be no more. And the owner of D&D, local gaming company Wizards of the Coast, seems to be crowd-sourcing the next edition:
...beginning sometime in the spring, we will begin open playtesting. Through our web site, we will release a growing set of rules, classes, monsters and other materials for your study and feedback. We seek to reach as many people as possible, from the gamer who just started with D&D last week to the gaming group that has been together since the early-1970s. For this process to work, we want to give a voice to all D&D fans and players of all previous editions of the game.
You can sign up for the playtest right here. The New York Times story on the revamp is here. My advice to D&D would be to stop trying to compete with Worlds of Warcraft. D&D attracts a very specific group of people—people who enjoy learning and utilizing complex systems of rules and regulations. Button-mashing a dragon to death isn't the same thing as manipulating the random roll of dice into a desired outcome, and that's something that World of Warcraft can never replicate.
People enjoy and get into D&D precisely because it has an air of something bookish and esoteric. It's the sense that there's a whole, complex world there waiting to be discovered that appeals to novices. Dumbing it down and transforming it into a cheap WoW clone isn't going to help matters at all. That's not to say that technology shouldn't be incorporated into D&D (iPad rulebooks would make DMing much easier) but it is to say that technology should be incorporated intelligently into D&D, to enhance the pre-existing experience, rather than trying to turn it into something different.