D&D 5th Edition: Something Deeper

There's some very interesting stuff being circulated about the approach Wizards of the Coast are taking to the new edition of D&D. Greg Tito of The Escapist played in the session that David Ewalt was in as well. He's got some fascinating things to say in that article.

First, on 4th edition, Tito was one of the playtesters. He says, "Our feedback was summarily ignored, and Mearls admitted that was essentially true of all the feedback Wizards received from the 4th edition play test." That's pretty awful, but it's not all that surprising.

On the new edition, "Many things are now in the game that were missing from 4th, while newer concepts have been reworked to feel like they've been there all along.".

The stuff that was missing from 4th shouldn't be that hard to quantify. Proper multi-classing, I'm guessing, is almost certainly some of it, and doing away with rituals and reintegrating them as spells is more. And maybe the old Great Wheel cosmology will be back. I'm sure there are others.

There's a direct quote from Mike Mearls, "We plan to continue offering people access to tools like the D&D Character Builder and the D&D Monster Builder to support 4th edition", and then, to expand on that, Tito says:

In other words, Wizards vows it's not replacing 4th edition, but merely adding another layer of rules that will cater to the people unhappy with the latest edition's changes.

That's interesting, because it indicates that 4th edition has enough people playing it to be worth keeping it, and also that there are enough people not playing it for it to be worth constructing a new, more retro-form edition to bring the older players back - those now playing Pathfinder and the OSR variants. It also hearkens back to the days when there was Basic D&D and Advanced D&D - somewhat before my time, but I've read about them.

That would make a more complex product offering, and that's a difficulty for marketing, particularly when it's a hobby area. Hobby products are often bought as gifts, and the possibility of buying the "wrong kind" of D&D may be enough to put a less knowledgeable buyer off. Wizards haven't said, of course, that the new game will be called D&D - but that would be a massive departure.

Posted by Drew Shiel at January 10, 2012 2:31 PM

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