Excellent post over at Vancian Magic about 4th edition D&D and the rush to make GMing a rote skill.
If there’s one fault of 4th Ed., then it is the sheer bloody laziness it instills in DMs… Has anyone say and looked at the encounter set-up pages? They are so close to eliminating the need for a DM now (and, please note, boast about this in the DMG!) because the whole tactical-combat-map&mini thing basically runs itself.
I’m sure for WotC this is a huge pat on the back moment. With the best intentions they make the task of refereeing a game easier and easier, quicker and smoother until… Well yeah, until the challenging art form is reduced to book keeper, and by 5th Ed. it’ll just be a computer doing that. Subscribe-a-DM… Fantastic. Yep, that’s absolutely great.
Now that’s bad, but the side-note of it is watching a 4th Ed. generation DM try to do something off his own initiative… He’s never learned how! For all that was lamentable with White Wolf games, at least they restored the spirit of “making worlds, crafting plots, LEARNING how to be a good referee…” something TSR had lost amidst crunchy nonsense by that point.
If there is one place where the Old School Renaissance is currently vital to the hobby as a whole is keeping this art alive (the Indie movement has some of it although auto-engines have a place there).