Every week, Now You Know recaps the Know Direction content of the past week, previews the Know Direction content of the week to come, and shares the thoughts on the state of the network from the director of operations, Ryan Costello.
The Know Direction Network traces its roots to the 3.5/4e edition wars. Early on, we partook in said wars on the 3.5 Private Sanctuary podcast, taking Wizards of the Coast’s business personally, characterizing them poorly, mocking them freely. A forum member at the time was an active 4e player, and he eloquently and nonconfrontationally explained how what we were doing made him feel and why he disagreed with it. As a result, we instituted a rule that whenever we critiques D&D 4e, we had to say something nice about it as well.
Some of our compliments were tongue-in-cheek and it was clear that what we critiqued came from the heart but what we complimented came from research. Still, the tone shift toward fun and positivity, two qualities I wanted the site to have. It reinforced that we were a safe haven for 3.5 gamers, not a hotspot for anti-4e gamers. It also forced us to think more critically about a game we weren’t playing, which gave us better perspective on why we liked the game we were playing. From then on, as the edition wars heated up, we did our part to keep our cool.
Despite how the 3.5/4e edition wars split the community, I do regard them as interesting times. The Internet, OGL, and media messaging all impacted this edition change unlike any previous one. When 5e rolled out in 2014 (8 years ago, somehow), I thought we avoided a new edition war. Pathfinder was established. The last 4e rulebook released over a year ago. The world was ready for a new edition of D&D. And when Pathfinder 2e came out in 2019 (almost 3 years ago now), it seems to find its audience without rattling the D&D cage. Maybe because D&D 5e had gotten so big, the size of the audience Pathfinder took wasn’t as noticeable. What is noticeable is a sudden increase in saltiness online between both fanbases toward one another.
In the same way the emerging mainstream adoption of the Internet in 2008 impacted the 3.5/4e edition wars, the role of influencers in the RPG space seems to be impacting the D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e communities. D&D 5e being 8 years old, it’s one of the older editions of the game (especially when factoring in half-editions and major running change editions), so it’s not surprising a chunk of the audience is looking to refresh the game they’re playing. Where the most tension I’ve seen comes from is when an influencer suggests a change to D&D, having earned wisdom from years of experience playing the same game, and a Pathfinder enthusiast points out that their solution is built into Pathfinder 2e.
I understand the motivation to share what you love about a game that means so much to you. I also understand that changing games is more than just learning new rules but a combination of giving up momentum in one direction, moving away from the community tied to that game, and, in the case of influencers, giving up an audience. I think that’s why this edition war feels more aggressive. When the 3.5/4e edition war became the Pathfinder/4e edition war, it became about the two different tables with seats for gamers leaving 3.5. The 5e/2e war is asking gamers to walk way from one table to join another.
We rarely reference D&D 5e on the network, so anyone wishing to avoid the edition wars can remain confident that this editorial is a rare example of Know Direction content that references it.
Speaking of network content, here’s a recap of the Know Direction Network content from last week:
Recap of July 4th to 8th
What happened last week on knowdirectionpodcast.com and twitch.tv/knowdirection?
Monday, July 4th
Now You Know – A Sage To Follow
By Ryan Costello
I shouted out to RPG Sage, Randal’s innovative Discord robot that makes play-by-posts better. You might not believe me when I say it’s a coincidence that I plugged it the same week he launched Essence20 support, but it’s true. I reached out to him to see if it was at a good place to be plugged, and it lead to a conversation about adding Essence20 to the list of Sage games.
Tuesday, July 5th
Fox’s Cunning — Monster Mash(up)!
By Dustin Knight
Dustin shows how easily you can take separate 2e monsters and turn them into a single new monster. Not great for professional turnovers, mind you, but for GMs out there looking for monsters that feel original and leave an impression without having to make one from scratch, this article is an asset.
Wednesday, July 6th
Stephanie Lundeen has been a member of the Intrepid Heroes cast for years now, but I feel like I’ve only just gotten to know her thanks to this interview. She’s a fascinating and accomplished person, both in and out of the RPG space.
Thursday, July 7th
I’m loving these God episodes of Legend Lore. Because the gods play a role in both the setting’s history (which I’m often hazy on) and every player character, some more than most, across both editions, I find I’m both familiar with the material and have so much to learn. Like Sarenrae. If there was a protagonist god of the setting, it’d be her. But there was so much about Sarenrae that I didn’t know!
Investing In: Adventure Paths Not Traveled
By Rob Pontious
Rob goes in an interesting new direction this week, detailing the Golarion locations that different Adventure Paths visit. This helps GMs learn about the areas they’ll be running in, and players can tie their characters to areas beyond the adventure’s main region.
Preview of July 11th to July 15th
Block 1 of our 2-block schedule.
Monday, July 11th
If you want to ask Stephen Glicker and Mark Seifter about Battlezoo Eldamon, you gotta catch’em live! They join Luis and Vanessa to talk about one of the most buzzworthy #pathfinder2e third party projects.
Our Intrepid Heroes really wish they had a grenade.
Now You Know – Edition Wars, My Old Nemesis
By Ryan Costello
When it comes to edition wars, it’s better to be an observer than a participant.
Tuesday, July 12th
Danielle speaks with Banana Chan a designer on the culturally inspired game Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall.
By Nate Wright
Nate Wright’s journal of flavour and mechanics.
Wednesday, July 13th
I was a little too old for Pokemon when it first came out, and was just a bandwagon jumper on Pokemon Go, but I appreciate its place in popular culture, and I love when nostalgia fuels modern creativity.
Behind The Screens
By Ryan Costello
Veteran Game Master Ryan Costello talks with his fellow GMs on their side of the GM screen.
Thursday, July 14th
John and Jason talk Starfinder.
Now you know,