Wizards of the Coast has officially announced Dungeons & Dragons 5E. This probably isn’t a shocker to people who follow the industry. The rehiring of veteran game designer Monte Cook, especially considering the tenor of his recent Legends & Lore articles, pointed to a new edition. Recent rulebooks have also seemed more willing to experiment with the existing D&D 4E rules, reminiscent of late D&D 3E books like the Tome of Battle.
And of course sagging sales of D&D 4E products probably sped things along. After all, traditionally nothing sells as well as the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual.
What I find interesting is that D&D 5E was announced so early in the process. Even though it was obvious a new edition was in the works, I expected them to keep mum out of fear that they would torpedo the sales of upcoming 4E products. After all, why would you buy books that will soon be considered obsolete?
Well, according to Mike Mearls they intend on conducting open playtests and soliciting feedback from the gaming community. Of course this is a great marketing line, but the fact that they would risk hurting sales of these upcoming books makes me think that they are serious about getting feedback from the gaming community on D&D 5E.
The real question is whether or not this will work. Wizards of the Coast is hoping for an “ultimate” edition of D&D that will help unite the fractured fanbase. I’m not sure if this is even possible. D&D means different things to different people, and when products are designed to please everyone they often end up pleasing no one.
Nevertheless I remain hopeful. There are a lot of talented game designers behind this new edition at WOTC and if RPG blogs have taught me anything it is that there is a lot of untapped talent in the gaming community.
In any case, this new approach to creating the new edition has piqued my interest.