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Review: The 4th Generation

By Jason Campbell

NOTE: a review copy of The 4th Generation was provided to free of charge. No other compensation was given in exchange for this review. This Wednesday, March 6, 2024, we also will have an interview with Mr. Kuntz.

The 4th Generation is a new publication from legendary TTRPG author and historian Robert Kuntz. This 40 page PDF is the first chapter of Kuntz’s upcoming book A New Ethos in Game Design.  It’s a philosophical look at roleplaying games built around the premise that Dungeons & Dragons began an entirely new generation of games. 

The work begins by discussing what roleplaying games consist of. Evidence supporting statements such as “it had likewise never been identified as a new game system, even though Gary Gygax’s pointed quotes in the original version of the game and elsewhere can only bevinterpreted as him understanding that it was a new system type.” are supported by historical notes form Mr. Kuntz’s long history in gaming.

The work discusses that RPGs as originally designed were “open” in that they relied on and encouraged the creativity of it’s players, while the current systems (noted in 2007) implied that adventure design was the province of professional game developers. 

The author does in depth analysis of roleplaying game systems, and leans into the idea that the scalability of these game systems is core to these games being frameworks, not a strict set of rules. He later mentions The God Game, a system he created in the 1970s to enable higher level play in a fantasy role playing framework. 

The author then reaches back into the tradition of oral storytelling and discusses how this tradition morphed into the modern role playing game. It introduces the idea that Dungeons & Dragons strengthened this tradition. 

The work concludes by collecting the evidence into a short proof that Dungeons & Dragons was not just a new game, but a new type of game. This work is not easy to absorb, but I’d argue that’s to its strength. The games we play are for fun, but the subject of role playing games is an in depth subject that deserves this type of research and analysis. 

You can find information on this and other works at Rob Kintz’s website: