Perkins indicated that WotC fully plans on electronic versions of the rulebooks, but that they have no timeline as of yet -- "We have every intention of releasing the books in electronic versions. But we don't have a date at this time."
Even more notable, however, was a reference to an intention to revive the Open Gaming License.
It is our intention to bring back the OGL. We just don't know when we are going to do it yet.
What's the OGL? Glad you asked! The Open Gaming License is a way to allow third parties to publish support material for a game. It was created by Ryan Dancey when he was at WotC, and used extensively throughout D&D 3.x and is currently used extensively by Pathfinder third-party publishers. Indeed, the Pathfinder RPG was created by using it. D&D 4E did not use the OGL, and there have been hopes that WotC might return t it with 5E. From what Perkins said at Gamehole Con, it sounds like they intend to.
He also talked about the ideas of fun and humour in D&D rulebooks -- "A great deal of my time and effort was spent to inject the fun that had been sucked out of D&D.", going on to say "One of my goals is to make sure 5E contains lots of humor. Remember the little b&w comics in the 1E books?"
The new DM Screen fully unfolded, courtesy of Gamehole Con
Other tidbits included:
- We want you to go hunting for buried treasure here. There's lots of stuff you aren't meant to catch the first time through the books.
- In the Monster Manual, right up to the bitter end, the Nilbog was there. I was told it was dumb and to pull it out.
- In the DMG there is an item called the alchemy jug. It's dumb. We got a little wacky with its new contents. Mayonnaise is now in D&D.
- A lot of material left out of MM could serve as the foundation for another MM. This would likely be done in house.
There has been discussion about the overall "brand" strategy for D&D, which Perkins commented on. He mentioned that "...people at Hasbro that never cared about D&D before, care about it now; Hollywood is fighting over it" and assured folks present that "the role playing game is the heart of D&D, just like comics are for Marvel". He did note that "D&D has world wide cultural penetration, though Forgotten Realms does not." The branding plan includes a variety of things -- "We are planning for the best. Coming up with story ideas for all kinds of things. (Triple A game titles, TV shows, movies.)"
There isn't a New York publisher that wouldn't pass out if you told them the number - it's impressive.
The launch of D&D 5E has been very successful. As Perkins observed, "Player's Handbook was number 1 for part of a week and top 3 for two weeks on Amazon; they've gone through "a few printings so far"... "There isn't a New York publisher that wouldn't pass out if you told them the number - it's impressive."
I looked at the overall storyline strategy yesterday. If you haven't yet, you should read that article. Perkin's added some extra context and detail, indicating that "Not every story will necessarily include a player option type book" and that "Consultants are being pulled in for each story as appropriate, including some old TSR individuals." Of course, Ed Greenwood was present at the Con with him, and he and Perkins provided info on what to expect from the Forgotten Realms:
- The next story in the Realms after Tyranny of Dragons will be Elemental Evil. It will be very different in tone from ToD.
- Story after EE is already being developed and also different in tone. Alice in Wonderland is mentioned as one spark....
- The FR timeline was advanced to allow reasonable time for certain elements to return, such as the Zhentarim and Harpers.
- Allusions to a giants based story influenced by a Shakespearean play.
- FR world content will initially be more focused on particular areas, likely tied to campaigns.
- Elemental Evil will be set in the Sumber Hills and Dessarin River valley.
Chris Perkins runs a game; photo courtesy of Bill Cavalier!