We need to be clear on that point. Since Mr. Wick is no liar, and I'm sure that his opinions were sincere in his recent blog entry where he claimed that D&D is not an RPG, because it is just a mechanical combat-game, and where he suggests that since D&D is a "game you can successfully play without roleplaying", unlike real RPGs like Call of Cthulhu.
The only possible conclusion from all this is that John Wick has never once played D&D in his life.
Oh, he may have thought he was playing D&D. He may have mistaken some other thing he did for D&D, and this twisted his mind to lead him to the place where he unfortunately finds himself today, where he barely seems to understand what an RPG is.
Because you see, D&D is not in any way a game you can successfully play without roleplaying. You can, no doubt, play a really shitty game of D&D without roleplaying. But you could do exactly the same thing with Call of Cthulhu.
You could run either game, strictly mechanically, doing no roleplay. You could stat up a bunch of D&D adventurers and then play out a bunch of combat encounters with orcs. You could stat up a bunch of CoC investigators and just have them find clues via mechanical rolls and then just automatically lose sanity based on checks, and fight with (and probably die from) deep ones in a tactical encounter.
The only difference is that D&D characters would be slightly tougher in the fight.
You could say the same thing about FATE, for that matter. You could say the same about Seventh Sea or L5R. Shit, you could say it about Dogs in the Vinyard. If you wanted, you could just run through everything automatically, with no more roleplaying than D&D.
In fact, D&D at least OBLIGES more roleplaying if you intend to. In many new-school games, instead of roleplaying you can just roll your social skills when you interact with an NPC. You don't have to lie to them, or manipulate them, or enchant them, you just have to ROLL your Deception, Diplomacy, or Seduction.
Now tell me again which one is "Roll-playing and not Role-playing"?
But the thing is, this is a really shitty way to play an RPG (or indeed, as I understand it, even a storygame).
And once you realize that, and realize that D&D has precisely as much or as little roleplaying potential as CoC, and probably more than new-school games that include a bunch of social mechanics to help you avoid actually just roleplaying it, then the only conclusion you can reach is that John Wick thinks that one is an RPG and the other isn't only because he has either never played D&D at all, or he played a really shitty game of D&D at some point and it traumatized him.
And shit, that's how most D&D-haters get their start. Some shitty GM touched them in a bad place and they never got over it.
Its logical that D&D would have a lot of shitty GMs and that people would be more likely to have a bad D&D experience, for two reasons:
a) D&D is the first game a lot of people ever play. Often as mere kids, with other mere kids, who don't really know what they're doing. By the time they move on to another RPG, like say CoC, they're already a bit more mature and thus MISTAKENLY think that CoC is a more mature game.
b) D&D is the most popular roleplaying game in the world, by a wide margin. That means that it's likely, by mere weight of numbers, to have the most number of shitty GMs.
But that also means there are more awesome GMs for D&D than for any other RPG in the world. By that same rule of numbers, there are more fucking amazing DMs running D&D today than there are good games of CoC, L5R, and FATE put together.
If Mr. Wick thinks that a game of D&D run without roleplaying can be called "successful", he's never played a real game of D&D in his life. He's certainly not played in one of many games; in my (lotfp) Albion game last week, where there was a culmination of events from over a year of real-time and years of game play, in an epic Game-of-Thrones-esque situation of betrayal, shifting allegiances, rebellion and scenarios where the values of ideas like friendship, loyalty, social class, and truthfulness were all tested. Plus a "reveal" scene where the PCs' boss (Richard Crookback) finally showed his true motives of revenge and what many would call villainy (certainly ruthlessness); and a gruesome and very roleplay-heavy death scene.
Shit, he hasn't even played in anything like my DCC game, which is a much lighter kind of fare than my Albion campaign, but even there roleplaying is the foundation or corner-stone of the entire game. Where the PCs have to regularly interact with a vast range of colourful characters, wind their way through exotic and unusual groups and cultures (in a very detailed, very Gonzo, but internally consistent world), figure out where they stand with the various conflicting power groups in the areas they travel to, and (in the case of the party spellcasters) negotiate with their often erratic and demanding Daemon Patrons, or as clerics deal with a certifiably insane G.O.D.
So no, its a pity, but Mr. Wick has clearly never actually played a successful real game of D&D. And the "negative reaction" Mr. Wick noticed that gamers had toward 4e D&D was not because it was "too honest", but on the contrary, because it was a game designed to cater to people who believed this lie, this utter bullshit about D&D invented by people who despise the game, that it was only meant to be tactical combat game. And it FAILED as an edition because the vast majority of D&D players don't play the game that way.
And, I'll note, I'm sure there were some people who managed to have some decent campaigns with it.
In any case, John, I once invited you to come visit me in Uruguay and check out my lodge. I think you should really consider taking that up, especially now. Not only will I show you around this amazing country, and give you the masonic tour, but I'll also teach you how to play D&D. It sounds like you desperately need it.
Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Image Latakia