In digging through the most recent of White Wolf's catalogues/news magazines, the White Wolf Quarterly, I came across an interesting note in the section on the new Everquest II RPG that they're publishing. Apparently, they're re-writing the pen & paper RPG to go along with the launch of the new MassMOG. Either it's opportunism or a good idea; neither of which I can fault.
"In the same way that EQrpg was compatible with 3rd Edition fantasy role-playing, EQIIrpg runs quite easily alongside v.3.5 game rules. But the game as a whole uses a more streamlined, sleeker rule-set.We’ve eliminated a number of things — like attacks of opportunity — which have caused no end of confusion at the gaming table in the last few years."
I picked up most of the first edition of the game last winter, when White Wolf was running a massive sale on the books, figuring that, if nothing else, cheap games are a good thing. I didn't have a hell of a lot of time to read through the rules before I packed them into storage and came back to Korea, but there was one thing that I found really interesting in my brief perusal. (And I have to hand it to the guys responsible; these books are pretty hefty. Well worth the low, low price that I put out for them.)
Namely, these books aren't 'officially' D20. As you can see with the above quote, they go out of their way to mention anything like a Dungeons & Dragons brand name. Now, I'm not familiar enough with the licensing arrangements on the OGL, but I get the feeling that they went over the legal stuff specifically to find a way to keep from having to hand any power over to Wizards of the Coast with this stuff. (My assumption is that, were they to trumpet it as being D20 or Dungeons & Dragons based, they'd have to cut out the Character Creation rules that WotC wants you to buy their books for. By cutting such logos off their books, they don't have to advise people to buy other company's games... Again, this is the assumption that I'm left with.)
What intrigued me with this snippet is that Attacks of Opportunity seem to be a royal pain in the ass to other gamers. A little further web-browsing shows that Wizards has set aside a page or two just for the sake of dealing with these questions. (Recently, too, seeing as they were posted in the last month or so...) Most of the hits on Google have to do with trying to clarify these rules, being as it's apparently one of the major sources of confusion with the game. Being as 2nd Edition came out before internet discussion groups were a mainstay of culture, I'm left to wonder if there was anything nearly as confusing in that edition. Hells, THAC0 was a walk in the park in comparison, from the look of things...
In the end, this is going to make me go back and look at the EQ RPG in a little more depth. The initial reading had me confused, mainly because I had expected (erroneously, as I soon found out) that it was just another plug-in for the monolithic D20 machine. If it's that much different that they eliminated such a cornerstone of 3rd Edition, I'm intrigued.
Of course, the problem that I have with Attacks of Opportunity is that it's the main thing in the argument for using miniatures in a game. And when I initially was running 3rd Edition for a group back in the States, my intention to cut out the whole AoO aspect of things to cut down on the bookkeeping, I was greeted with what ranged from incredulity to borderline hostility. Looking back, I was denying the powergaming munchkin from being able to min/max his character... Not a great loss there...