Speculating on the Future of D&D
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  1. #1
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    Speculating on the Future of D&D

    So let's talk about the future of D&D. The context is that we're more than midway through 2018, with D&D thriving and allegedly as popular as ever, or at least since the boom of the early 80s. We've also just seen a new setting announced for the first time in over a decade, and a new Eberron "living" PDF released. This fall will see the release of three hardcover books, all heavily setting related: Waterdeep, Undermountain, and Ravnica. This is also the first year since 2014 that we have seen more than three hardcovers published (5 in 2014, 3 each in 2015-17, and 4 in 2018).

    So what lies ahead? What do you think we'll see in 2019 and beyond? How are Mearls and company changing their publishing plan if at all? Are we going to see 4 or even 5 hardcovers next year or will they go back to 3? Where do you think the focus will shift to in terms of adventures, themes, and worlds?

    (By the way, I'm not talking about eSports or a possible film franchise--except as those IP branch-offs pertain to and influence the TTRPG.)

    My own speculations....

    I do think that Eberron sets a new precendent for "classic settings" that they are at least strongly considering continuing, depending upon how Eberron does. Presumably the Wayfinder's book didn't take a lot of resources to create: it was mostly one author and as far as I can tell, includes mostly recycled art. The document itself will continue to evolve as they playtest and finetune rules, and eventually it will be offered for POD (once its "finished"). Who knows, maybe they'll eventually spiff it up with new art and produce an actual hardcover book in a couple years.

    There really seems no downside to continuing with further PDF-to-POD classic settings, even one or more per year. The obvious candidates, in rough order of likelihood, would be: Dark Sun, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Mystara. After that you get into the "hmm, maybe" territory of settings with less of a following: Birthright, Rokugan, Nentir Vale/Nerath, etc. As I said in another thread, the Forgotten Realms is kind of in its own category. Will they follow a similar approach or will they go full in and produce a hardcover setting book, or maybe even just leave it as a kind of nebulous default setting for story arcs?

    I didn't mention Planescape or Spelljammer because I think one of next year's hardcovers is going to cover one or both in some kind of 5E version of Manual of the Planes (I know they don't want to recycle old titles, so it won't be that).

    If I were to guess, next year we'll see something like the following:
    *D&D Multiverse book - 5E version of MotP covering Planescape (and Sigil), Spelljammer (and Rock of Bral), and brief summaries of some of the major worlds.
    *D&D Muliverse story arc - maybe something like the Blood War, against the githyanki, etc.
    *Dark Sun book - either a dedicated story arc that overviews the setting, covers psionics, and has a sandbox-style adventure set-up; or a setting PDF ala Eberron with a story arc hardcover
    *A fourth hardcover? Maybe they split PS and SJ, or maybe one multiverse book with two separate story arc books; or maybe a FR setting book, or a Dalelands setting/story arc? I also think we'll see some kind of desert story arc at some point soon, either Anauroch (which could fold in Dalelands) or Raurin.

    I don't think they'll go beyond 3-5 hardcovers, probably 4. We'll see at least one classic setting covered per year via at least PDF/POD going forward, but some may be covered via hardcover setting sandbox/story arc combos, or possibly even in a two-book fashion.

    But my main prediction is that 2019 will be the "year of the D&D multiverse" and that the next classic setting (other than meta-settings) that we'll see covered will be Dark Sun.

    Long-term I don't think we'll see anything resembling 6E for quite some time, if ever. We might see a "5.1" revised version of the core rulebooks, but maybe not until the 50th anniversary in 2024, and those will likely be backwards compatible.

    We'll also probably see more cross-pollination with Magic, at least if Ravnica proves fruitful. Don't have a sense yet how a movie franchise will impact the game; I suppose it depends how successful (and good) it is. Still hoping for a Dragonlance trilogy with high production value. But Mr. Manganiello, you look nothing like Tanis and you're probably going to be too old for Caramon. Sturm maybe?

    What do you think?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    So let's talk about the future of D&D.
    I'm just going to go with "DOOOOOOOOMED!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    This is also the first year since 2014 that we have seen more than three hardcovers published (5 in 2014, 3 each in 2015-17, and 4 in 2018).

    So what lies ahead? What do you think we'll see in 2019 and beyond? How are Mearls and company changing their publishing plan if at all? Are we going to see 4 or even 5 hardcovers next year or will they go back to 3? Where do you think the focus will shift to in terms of adventures, themes, and worlds?

    What do you think?
    OK, seriously, though, I'm starting to think the choice of Eberron points to more books coming out per year going forward. I guess the franchise has been successful enough, long enough, that they can entertain a little bit more investment and faster production. Eberron is 'kitchen sink' kinda setting, it made room for virtually everything from decades of D&D lore.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Wednesday, 25th July, 2018 at 01:11 AM.
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  3. #3
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    I don't want to make predictions just yet. Ravnica has been a surprise curveball. To some extent, I bet it is a product test. Same for Eberron, to be honest. What a future release schedule will look like will depend on how well those two products sell. I hope Eberron does very well (and have already bought a copy of the Wayfarer's as such). If it does, we might see more settings open up as PDF/Playtest-to-POD releases. That is probably the best we can hope for setting based products as setting based products typically don't sell very well. Whether we see more Magic-the-Gathering releases as D&D worlds will probably depend on how Ravnica does. I suspect that the Ravnica release was forced onto Mearls and company from on-high. I am sure it will be quality product, as Mearls will probably try and make the best of it, but I am currently extremely ambivalent about that product and can't say more. I both think it looks exciting and I am very disappointed that it isn't Planescape/Spelljammer. I thought that we were going to get a Planescape/Spelljammer release this time around, so I still think that Planescape/Spelljammer is probably the most likely next product in the schedule. As for all other settings (including Dark Sun), I think we can hope for an Eberron release at best, and even then, only if people purchase the Wayfarer's guide.

  4. #4
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    D&D 6th edition will be released next year and have an eSports focus and require magic cards to cast spells. It will tank and take the whole TTRPG and CCG markets with it, forcing Hasbro to sell off WotC to Paizo, who will merge it with Pathfinder to make a system so complex that H&R Block will start charging to fill out character sheets.


    ... Did I do that right or did I miss something?
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  5. #5
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    I would like to see Greyhawk.I think it would be an interesting old school contrast with Eberron.

    I like also to see some rule support/options for tactical gaming in 5e. I am not sure whether there is a market for modularity (I remember than word being used early on ) of game styles rather than game worlds, but I like to see if these rules could stretch a bit wider.

  6. #6
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    I think people are missing a big part of these two settings books. Neither was really written by the D&D team. Eberron was written by Keith, and he's not a regular employee as far as I know. Basically all it seems they did there was to allow a known entity to publish a new settings on the Guild. I doubt they really had very much involvement, and virtually no risk with it.

    "Hey Keith, want to publish an update of your setting on the Guild? We'll help with some art, but really you just get the regular Guild author deal..."

    And Ravnica, as has been said, it's just pulling together info and art they already had and putting it into a D&D book. Sure, it's much more involvement than Eberron because you have to provide more than just lore, but still...

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    ^Which is largely why I think we'll see more "classic settings" in the PDF-to-POD format: because it doesn't take a ton of resources to get the initial PDF out there, and they have freedom to go as far with it as they want, or not at all.
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    Well, they've said the Ravnica setting was chosen to match what was going on in M:tG, and it gives well with the urban fantasy flavor if the D&D story. The Magic team has their sets planned through 2021, and it would not be a surprise to see them work together in a similar fashion in the future. I expect one storyline, with the option for extra story lite material in another book (TftYP or Mad Mage), one moster or rules book, and maybe more setting stuff. In fact, I've heard the clack that Ravicna has as many monsters as MToF, so I could see an eventual Eberron or Dark Sun hardcover being as much beastiary as anything.

    Mearls has stated that the plan is to iterate the Wayfarers Guide, but they might do a hardcover that shares only some of the crunch, focusing on other parts of Eberron. This could work nicely.

  9. #9
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    Theyre considering Eberron to be the prototype for some future settings. Id bet lore heavy settings will be shotgunned out. Dragonlance, greyhawk, dark sun and spelljammer will land on the Guild in 2019. All building off player input that leads to print in 2020. Also a Sigil multiverse planescape adventure will collect epic tier storylines from the previous adventures.
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  10. #10
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    Whats puzxling about the Ravnica book is that theres not an adventure to accompany it to show how it works. Im wonderimg if that will come, if ever, and how it might be delivered. Publishing hardcovers that appeal to players and DMs seems smart. POD for adventures also seems smart and allows for easy revisions (fof those with electronic copies anyway...)

    As far as output, i agree that 4 hardcovers a year seems manageable (though also seems like a lot...)

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