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‘Advanced’ Dungeons & Dragons

Yaarel

Explorer
‘Advanced’ Dungeons & Dragons

Split D&D 5e into two separate design spaces:

Advanced D&D: setting-neutral core rules, with lots of customizability options
Setting D&D: setting-specific rules, premade builds, baked-in flavor, vetted for balance



Advanced D&D is a toolkit to customize world building and character building. This rule set continues to update to add new content and to errata of old content. The Advanced D&D core rules are always changing to respond to new desires and concerns of DMs and players.



Setting D&D never changes. It is a one-time purchase that is evergreen because the rules for that setting are always true for that setting. Once a group purchases a Setting D&D product, they know, future updates will never change the book. There might be an expansion pack, to add to the founding setting book, but it will never change the rules.

By contrast, Advanced D&D is always changing. It continues to update and evolve, including the addition of features from a recent setting to present the mechanics in a setting neutral way. Updates might also errata certain features and combos because they are overpowered or underpowered and require more precise balance.



Setting D&D is a stand-alone product with a specific setting rule set. Its rules have fewer moving parts, picking between a handful of premade classes and races with prechosen features. These ‘fewer but bigger’ choices, include baked-in setting flavor, and are guaranteed for reasonable gaming balance.

Dark Sun is an example of Setting D&D, where this setting presents a unique cosmology and only certain races and classes. It would look like a ‘Dark Sun Players Handbook’. Likewise, the current ‘Players Handbook’ is Setting D&D, where a ‘modern’ Forgotten Realms setting ports in certain features of Greyhawk (races), Planescape (great wheel cosmology), and even Nentir Vale (fey and shadow cosmology, and tiefling and dragonborn races). Eberron is an other example of Setting D&D, with its own unique cosmology and its own bake-in flavor for races. Each Setting is its own stand-alone gaming product, independent of the other.

Each Setting D&D is essentially a premade cosmology offering pregenerated races and classes to play. If the DM and players want to customize a Setting, then they use the Advanced D&D Core Rules as the tool kit to do this.


Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is the lifeblood that connects and unifies the different Setting D&D products. ‘AD&D’ compiles all of the mechanical options from every setting, and becomes the toolkit to help customize any specific setting.
 
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pukunui

Adventurer
They tried that with 4e. Didn’t seem to work so well (or else they’d still be doing it that way).

You could also argue that TSR did it that way with 2e, and while they managed to make it look like it was working for the better part of a decade, we now know it wasn’t really ...
 

flametitan

Villager
This is one of those ideas that sounds elegant, but is unlikely to produce the results you want. It just reminds me too much of AD&D 2nd, wherein every setting line produced was assumed to be mutually exclusive, and it eventually split the market. There were ravenloft players, planescape players, Birthright players, rather than D&D players. This was generally seen as one of the reasons TSR collapsed, as it produced too many "setting D&D" lines, and no book sold enough to keep itself profitable.

Making different "Setting D&D" books screams to me as TSR 2.0, and instead of solving the hypothetical problem, just makes D&D compete against itself.
 

neogod22

Villager
This is one of those ideas that sounds elegant, but is unlikely to produce the results you want. It just reminds me too much of AD&D 2nd, wherein every setting line produced was assumed to be mutually exclusive, and it eventually split the market. There were ravenloft players, planescape players, Birthright players, rather than D&D players. This was generally seen as one of the reasons TSR collapsed, as it produced too many "setting D&D" lines, and no book sold enough to keep itself profitable.

Making different "Setting D&D" books screams to me as TSR 2.0, and instead of solving the hypothetical problem, just makes D&D compete against itself.
This
 

neogod22

Villager
Unfortunately that means the only setting for 5e will probably always be FR. If they put anything out for any other settings, they will probably be some one off book that's not going to really get supported
 

Yaarel

Explorer
They tried that with 4e. Didn’t seem to work so well (or else they’d still be doing it that way).

You could also argue that TSR did it that way with 2e, and while they managed to make it look like it was working for the better part of a decade, we now know it wasn’t really ...
4e did different from the design proposal in the original post.

4e was ‘Advanced D&D’ in the sense of continually updating, but it lacked ‘Setting D&D’. It made the mistake of trying to combine all of the *unique* settings into one mash-up homogeneous supersetting.

What 4e should have done is let the Forgotten Realms setting remain true to the Forgotten Realms setting. And likewise, let Dark Sun and Eberron and so on be completely separate settings that had nothing to do with each other.
 
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pukunui

Adventurer
[MENTION=58172]Yaarel[/MENTION]: Perhaps, but 4e did have a "one and done" setting book model of sorts. FR and Eberron each got a player's guide and a campaign guide and that was it. Dark Sun got a campaign guide and a monster manual and that was it. Adventures not included.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
This is one of those ideas that sounds elegant, but is unlikely to produce the results you want. It just reminds me too much of AD&D 2nd, wherein every setting line produced was assumed to be mutually exclusive, and it eventually split the market. There were ravenloft players, planescape players, Birthright players, rather than D&D players. This was generally seen as one of the reasons TSR collapsed, as it produced too many "setting D&D" lines, and no book sold enough to keep itself profitable.

Making different "Setting D&D" books screams to me as TSR 2.0, and instead of solving the hypothetical problem, just makes D&D compete against itself.
The hope is, unlike 2e, the ongoing 5e ‘Advanced D&D’ will continue to update with *all* of the options from all of the unique and separate settings. Thus there is a unifying core 5e rule set.

This unifying rule set is only possible because it is setting neutral. If needing setting flavor, purchase an official setting, or build your own. Either way, DMs will tend to want the AD&D continually updating rule set when wanting to tweak a particular setting.

If each official setting only has ‘fewer but bigger choices’, the desire to customize it by means of the AD&D rule set will be strong.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
[MENTION=58172]Yaarel[/MENTION]: Perhaps, but 4e did have a "one and done" setting book model of sorts. FR and Eberron each got a player's guide and a campaign guide and that was it. Dark Sun got a campaign guide and a monster manual and that was it. Adventures not included.
To be fair, the Forgotten Realms settings was violently transmogrified into the 4e supersetting. To some extent, Eberron too.

For 4e, all options became ‘core’ for all settings.



The hope for 5e is. The system encourages each setting to be unique, with a cherry-picking of races, classes, backgrounds, and cosmology that has no purpose but to further the setting tone and flavor.

By itself, AD&D is unusable without a setting. So purchasing an official one is a desirable choice. Symbiotically, each setting only has a limited number of options. So consulting AD&D to customize the setting is a desirable choice.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
This is one of those ideas that sounds elegant, but is unlikely to produce the results you want. It just reminds me too much of AD&D 2nd, wherein every setting line produced was assumed to be mutually exclusive, and it eventually split the market. There were ravenloft players, planescape players, Birthright players, rather than D&D players. This was generally seen as one of the reasons TSR collapsed, as it produced too many "setting D&D" lines, and no book sold enough to keep itself profitable.

Making different "Setting D&D" books screams to me as TSR 2.0, and instead of solving the hypothetical problem, just makes D&D compete against itself.
You could do it but each setting would not get any support after the initial book and TSR supported each world with novels. Some settings could be folded into one book and use the old material for fluff. Still you would only do a handful of settings mostly converting the mechanics required for that setting. They do not get a novel line, follow on adventures or anything like that.
 

flametitan

Villager
The hope is, unlike 2e, the ongoing 5e ‘Advanced D&D’ will continue to update with *all* of the options from all of the unique and separate settings. Thus there is a unifying core 5e rule set.

This unifying rule set is only possible because it is setting neutral. If needing setting flavor, purchase an official setting, or build your own. Either way, DMs will tend to want the AD&D continually updating rule set when wanting to tweak a particular setting.

If each official setting only has ‘fewer but bigger choices’, the desire to customize it by means of the AD&D rule set will be strong.
I still don't see that as any different from 2e. 2e still assumed the AD&D Player's Handbook was needed in order to run the game, and a lot of the infamous players' options came from books that weren't setting dependent. Likewise, it seems like you're putting too much weight on the idea that D&D players will "evolve" past and start needing this "AD&D 5e" for customization. It's vocal amongst these crowds, sure, but this is a forum that's built on theorycrafters and minmaxers. There's a distinct possibility that the majority of people purchasing might not want this level of depth in customization, and so stick to "Setting D&D." In the end, I feel like from this model, the only thing that's changed is that there's now five or six different PHB's on the shelf of your LGS, all trying to grab the eye of the newbie.

You could do it but each setting would not get any support after the initial book and TSR supported each world with novels. Some settings could be folded into one book and use the old material for fluff. Still you would only do a handful of settings mostly converting the mechanics required for that setting. They do not get a novel line, follow on adventures or anything like that.
If that's the case, I'm not sure why you'd need dedicated core books for settings. Again, doing such a thing would only lead to more different "Player's Handbooks" for new players to look at and try to decide which to use.

And how are we going to deal with starter boxes? I'd argue the 5e Starter set is a major contributor to its success, as it gives new players a way to jump in. Will we have to make a new starter box for each "Setting D&D," or will there only be one starter box?
 
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TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
4e was ‘Advanced D&D’ in the sense of continually updating, but it lacked ‘Setting D&D’. It made the mistake of trying to combine all of the *unique* settings into one mash-up homogeneous supersetting.
Ultimately, the sales success of the past four years makes it pretty clear that this isn't a mistake.
 

flametitan

Villager
Oh, and before I forget: How will we handle adventures? Will they be setting specific, thus solidifying these as competing product lines? Will they be setting neutral, and thus force DMs to use AD&D anyway, making Setting D&D redundant? Will there just not be adventure modules, thus leaving behind those who can't put in the work to make their own stories?
 

Yaarel

Explorer
@flametitan. Adventures should be setting specific. Some are specifically for Forgotten Realms. Some are specifically for Dark Sun. And so on. DMs can use Advanced D&D core rules to modify the adventure. Many DMs develop a homebrew setting, and might modify the adventure to make it suitable for a region within their own setting.



@TwoSix. I agree, the 5e design model is financially successful, so far. The strategy of ‘bigger but fewer choices’ with baked-in setting flavor, makes a vivid ‘feel’ that is conducive to corporate branding, for brand recognition, movie licenses, and so on. Also, the fewer but salient options are helpful for beginner players, and newbies are how to ‘grow’ a brand.

The ‘D&D’ setting is Forgotten Realms, but modified to port in Greyhawk (races), Planescape (great wheel cosmology), and even some 4e Nentir Vale (fey and shadow cosmology, and tiefling and dragonborn races). This baked-in setting flavor is the ‘branding’.

On the other hand, many veteran players are growing impatient with the lack of support for other settings, and the scarcity of character customization options. So, some players are less happy with the status quo.

The proposal in this thread, allows WotC to keep ‘D&D’ as a ‘Setting’ for brand recognition. At the same time, ‘AD&D’ strives to meet the needs of other players.



@flametitan. Regarding 2e, I never used a 2e official setting. Players who are more familiar will need to add their insights here. My impression is. 2e has ‘Setting D&D’ with a choice of independent settings. But then 2e lacks ‘Advanced D&D’ in the sense of a systematized unifying rule set. The early editions of D&D were an ad-hoc patchwork of conflictive rules. Each setting had its own workable rule set, and evolved to the point of becoming less *mechanically* compatible with rules of other settings. For 5e, ‘AD&D’ would be a unifying rule set that would include and systematize all mechanical options from all official settings. So it is easier to import a mechanical feature from one setting into an other setting, by consulting the AD&D core rules.



@pukunui. As an aside. I see AIME as an ideal for what ‘Setting D&D’ can look like. (Adventures in Middle Earth, for 5e, by Cubical 7.) AIME repurposes the 5e mechanics to craft a specific setting for a specific playstyle. It has its own cosmology, unrelated to Forgotten Realms/Planescape. It has its own limited assemblage of races (cultures), classes, backgrounds, and feats (cultural virtues), that are crafted for the flavor of the AIME setting. It continues to add accessory books that carefully expand the AIME setting. It adds some new options, but only if working well for the setting, and the new books never cancel out previous options.

If AIME was a WotC setting product, then the AD&D core rules would update with any new *mechanical* options that an AIME book made available, but without its setting flavor. So options in one setting become doable for an other setting.
 
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guachi

Villager
Unfortunately that means the only setting for 5e will probably always be FR. If they put anything out for any other settings, they will probably be some one off book that's not going to really get supported
Then the game is no longer the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. It's the Forgotten Realms roleplaying game with pretenses of being something else.
 

Harzel

Explorer
[MENTION=58172]Yaarel[/MENTION], what problem are you trying to solve (and/or what are the benefits of your proposal)?
 

MonsterEnvy

Explorer
@Yaarel, what problem are you trying to solve (and/or what are the benefits of your proposal)?
I imagine they are still mad about elves, and that they have a +1 instead of a 2.

Then the game is no longer the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. It's the Forgotten Realms roleplaying game with pretenses of being something else.
No it's not. Plus Forgotten Realms even uses most default D&D stuff.
 
@flametitan. Adventures should be setting specific. Some are specifically for Forgotten Realms. Some are specifically for Dark Sun. And so on. DMs can use Advanced D&D core rules to modify the adventure. Many DMs develop a homebrew setting, and might modify the adventure to make it suitable for a region within their own setting.
Then you're splitting the player base. A player who runs Ravenloft has no need or desire for a Dark Sun adventure, a Dark Sun player finds Planescape modules a waste. You'd create the TSR Catch-22; to support multiple settings, you'd have to increase your production schedule so most settings got some support, but by doing so your increasing the amount of product made (and the cost of development for each) and at the same time insuring people won't buy things not for "their setting" so they will sell "less" than a generic (or semi-generic FR) product would.

Every setting added increases the cost to WotC and increases the opportunity cost for the purchaser (as DMs rarely jump settings or run multiple simultaneously). Even homebrewers have a finite limit to the amount of any given setting (unless said setting has Barovia next to Xen'drik across from the Silt Sea). This just screams diminishing returns.

We will never see the return to glory that TSR producing 9 different versions of AD&D, each to their own small subsection, was. Because it was financial suicide then, and it'd be even moreso now.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
Then you're splitting the player base. A player who runs Ravenloft has no need or desire for a Dark Sun adventure, a Dark Sun player finds Planescape modules a waste. You'd create the TSR Catch-22; to support multiple settings, you'd have to increase your production schedule so most settings got some support, but by doing so your increasing the amount of product made (and the cost of development for each) and at the same time insuring people won't buy things not for "their setting" so they will sell "less" than a generic (or semi-generic FR) product would.

Every setting added increases the cost to WotC and increases the opportunity cost for the purchaser (as DMs rarely jump settings or run multiple simultaneously). Even homebrewers have a finite limit to the amount of any given setting (unless said setting has Barovia next to Xen'drik across from the Silt Sea). This just screams diminishing returns.

We will never see the return to glory that TSR producing 9 different versions of AD&D, each to their own small subsection, was. Because it was financial suicide then, and it'd be even moreso now.
We know the 5e Dark Sun setting will happen. According to your personal preference, how should Dark Sun adventures play out?
 

flametitan

Villager
We know the 5e Dark Sun setting will happen. According to your personal preference, how should Dark Sun adventures play out?
I won't say this is preference, but rather what it'll sound like will happen, either by interpreting what they're currently doing, or previous precedence: There will be an adventure that covers the big selling point of Dark Sun (a la Curse of Strahd for Ravenloft), and possibly a "Athas Adventurer's Guide," That'll cover the big regions and the player options, a la the SCAG. After that, it'll be opened to the DM's Guild, and then likely not touched upon again, or at least not for another few years.
 

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