Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is an ultimate edition of D&D possible?

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.


benensky said...

Glad to see you back blogging - Thanks

I think if they learned anything from 4E it is how not to market a new edition. The uniting of the different editions is just marketing spin. Hope I am wrong though.

I hope they do take all the feedback from the play testing to make a better game. The play testing of the 4E classes and races that were released on DDI early in 4E did result in changes to the final release. How much of this was from the developers and how much was from play testing feedback is debatable.

I do fear they will undo all the good stuff in 4E. I always felt that Mike Mearals never really liked 4E and has worked to purge WoC of all the 4E supporters. You may think that is not true but look at where all the 4E developers are now. I liked the balanced game focusing on co-operation. Hope it does not go
back to a power gamers game I thought 3.5 was.

I hope the new edition is better. However, we will see.

Medraut said...

@benensky- I am glad to be back blogging, hopefully I can keep it up.

Like you, I hope that all this talk about uniting different editions is not just spin and/or code for scrapping the balance and team focus of D&D 4E.

While I miss some of the customization that D&D 3E offers, I also remember how bad the power gaming could get. The Lords of Tyr has always had a mix of hardcore and casual gamers, and I remember how quickly the casual gamers began to fall behind in power level. This has never been a big issue in our D&D 4E games.