Is D&D essentials going to drive a fissure between players?

WotC has put up some information on the new D&D essentials line. I’m all for a simplified edition to roll out for new players. Currently I think the game is very overwhelming for new players. I posted a while back what I considered the bare bones 4E books someone needed to play. So I get WotC’s decision on releasing what would be a new and improved red box basic Dungeons and Dragons.

But something has irked me with their new announcement. I get the trimmed down list of races and characters. I get the slimmed lists of monsters. I get the tweaked game mechanics in dropping daily powers (scroll down to the bottom of the original link). What I don’t get is including material for leveling up characters from 1 to 30.

I think this is a bad idea. I really hoped that the essentials line would carry players up to the heroic tier. Want to progress further? Then jump on over to game edition that everyone else is playing. I think this is very intuitive and fits in well with the product philosophy of previous editions. Offer a slimmed down version with enough options and rules to progress a character up to a certain point. When your group is ready, you have all these other products you can pick up to play.

I especially don’t get the new essentials player’s books especially in relation to the 320 page rules compendium. Maybe new folks should just buy the rules compendium, with the new player’s books related to new and old players alike?

Given the mechanics change now, with a level cap of 30, and the apparent push for experienced players to pick up the essentials player books now I’m not too keen on the essentials version. I’m seeing potentially a line being drawn with the folks that play original 4E and the people playing D&D essentials. I am all for a ‘graduation’ of sorts to the original 4E. But if they are tweaking the player mechanics, I’m seeing a lack of meshing with folks playing an ‘essentials compatible’ wizard in with a 4E campaign.

Maybe I am reading too much into this. I was thinking that D&D essentials was a bare bones way to introduce players into playing 4E. But something smacks of a complete new edition rolled out with the essential line that looks like it might be dividing people that play D&D further, rather than bringing them together.

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