After the game on Wednesday, Jeff said something to the effect of, “I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just not playing D&D” when playing 4e. He reiterated this on his blog.
My response was that I think that the difference between 4e and 3.5 is smaller than the difference between 3.5 and any pre-3.0 edition. The thing is, 3.0 took a pretty significant step away from previous editions, and 4e – I think – continues away from them in a similar direction. So, yeah. If your standard of ‘what is D&D’ is deeply tied to pre-3.0 versions, 4e probably won’t feel much like D&D to you. If, however, you started playing with 3.x, you probably won’t understand what the fuss is about.
I began playing D&D in, probably, 1981 or so (it is hazy, but I remember being nine years old whenthe box said Ages 10 and up and thinking that I had won a prize or something), but I’ve never been wedded to a particular edition. I freely (and probably incoherently) mixed Basic and Expert rules with AD&D… and sometimes Gamma World. I also played other RPGs pretty early on – and not just those that were AD&D clones. The WEG James Bond 007 game was a favorite, as was the early Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP) game. As such, I just never became particularly wedded to any idea of The One True Game.
So, when Jeff made his comment, I asked him if it mattered whether or not 4e felt like D&D to him. I know this is heresy in some circles, but – really – if you have fun playing a game, does it matter how it is branded?