I heard about the layoffs through this month’s Ampersand column (sub. req.). I noticed that, f’rex, Dave Noonan’s name wasn’t in the list of designers, but failed to read anything into it. Call me naive, I guess.

It wasn’t until Jonathan Drain’s latest round of links popped up on my feed reader that I dug deeper. (Aaaaand I just noticed that this update happened to include me. Wow. Thx, Jonathan!)

I’ve never been as into D&D as I have since 4th Edition since, when it comes down to it, I’m more of a White Wolf guy. It’s for that reason I’ve not really been familiar with a lot of the big names on the WotC side. But when I saw Dave Noonan’s name on the list, I was shocked. I felt like I’d lost a friend. Why’s that? 

It’s quite simple: the D&D podcast. It’s amazing what a difference hearing someone’s voice really makes. I didn’t start listening to the podcast until well after 4th Edition had been announced, so when I did start, there was plenty of back material to go through.

I figured the podcast would be informational but not entertainment, if that makes sense. Gamers aren’t known for their social skills, and I assumed that it would, at times, stray into rambling or arguments of minutiae. When I did listen, I was struck by how interesting these guys were to listen to.

Dave Noonan defied my expectations most of all, mainly because he talked like, well, a regular person. He was relaxed and seemed to be enjoying himself. It was infectious. The podcast became for me what I imagine radio shows are for some other people— you don’t really know these guys, but despite that, you do kinda feel like they’re friends.

I have no idea if they’re going to can the podcast. I sure hope it continues, as I enjoyed listening to folks like James Wyatt, Chris Perkins, Mike Mearls, and I look forward to hearing them again. But it sure as hell won’t be the same for me. I’ll miss Dave. Hopefully that he can find some kind of safe harbor.

I do have one final thought, which is that there are other people on the list, and it’s kind of amazing to me that they’d lay off a bunch of those people like this. Where I come from, experienced, smart people like these are your greatest assets. Of course you need to bring in and nurture new talent, but who do you think provides that kind of mentoring? It’s not management. It’s not HR. It’s the people they work with, people who can impart shit that’d take years of trial and error to figure out. The mind boggles. I can only wonder about the future of the hobby when a leader like this consistently nukes their own talent.

And I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about that.