D&D 5E 5E Books Through 2021 and the Road Ahead (2022 and Beyond)

Mercurius

Legend
All of this has been discussed many times before, but given that we now know the full publication schedule for 2021--at least for major products (books)--I thought it was a good time to update my chart and start a thread.

The Chart: D&D Major Products/Books, 2014-21
Some of you might remember my chart that I've shared a few times over years, which I've updated to include 2021 books.

Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 7.04.32 PM.png



There still might be a surprise or two for 2021, but I think we're fairly certain that the book schedule is complete. Presumably we won't know anything about 2022's releases for at least several months - maybe not until early next year (depending upon when 2022's first book is released...March?).

5E's Patterns of Publication
In the chart above, we can see some clear patterns:
  • Three books per year from 2015-17, four books per year from 2018-20, and five books in 2021. That would imply that we'll see five books in both 2022-23, if the pattern holds (which it may not, but almost certainly won't go down).
  • There's been one "splat" per year from 2014-21, if we consider Acquisitions in that category. Even if not, that's six of seven years, so at the least we can say that AI filled the "splat slot" for that year.
  • There's been 1-2 settings and 1-2 adventures from 2018-21, and 2 settings in each of the last two years (implying that's the pattern going forward).
  • Three of the last four years have seen a Magic book published.
  • Since 2017 there has been one compilation adventure book published in odd-number years (2017, '19, '21).

Approaching 2024: Completing a Cycle?
Much has been spoken about 2024 as the 50th anniversary of D&D and, to a lesser extent, the 10th anniversary of 5E. While nothing is guaranteed, most seem to agree that we'll see at least revised core rulebooks, if not a new edition. Only time will tell. But ten years is a long time without some degree of revamping, especially if we consider history. From the completion of the 1E core line in 1979, we have seen new editions or revisions like so (new editions in bold, revisions in plain):

OD&D 1974 | B/X/BECMI 1977, 1981, 1983, 1991 | AD&D 1979, 1989, 1995 | D&D 2000, 2003, 2008, 2014

Meaning, the previous longest gap was ten years between 1E and 2E, which is the same length of time between the publication of 5E and 2024.

So while WotC has sometimes spoken of 5E maintaining some degree of "evergreen" status, it does seem highly likely that we will--at the least--see some kind of revamping of the core rules; whether mostly cosmetic and minor tweaks ("5.2"), a significant revision ("5.5") or a new ruleset ("6E") remains to be seen (my guess would be somewhere in the 5.2 to 5.5 range).

Regardless, we could look at the next two years--2022-23--as the "completion" of 5E or, at least, Phase One of 5E. If we entertain this view, we can also look at what is missing in the first eight years, both in terms of popular classic themes and rules (e.g. planes, a full treatment of psionics, epic play, etc) and settings (most notably Planescape and Dark Sun, but also Dragonlance, Greyhawk, a full treatment of the Forgotten Realms, etc).

What do we know? Not much, except that at least two more classic settings and three new settings are in the works, although WotC has been clear to say that not all of these may come to publication.

Probable 2022-23 Books
So if we take those two years, we have at least 10 books, maybe as many as 12-13 if they decide to expand the quantity (meaning, 10 if the pattern of 5 per year holds, but up to 13 if they move to 6 in 2022 and 7 in 2023, which I think is unlikely but possible). If we also take the basic formula of 1 splat, 1-2 adventure books, and 1-2 settings per year, that gives us:

2022-23 Book Slots by Type (assuming 5-6 books per year, or 10-12 total)
Splats: 2
Settings: 3-4+ (likely 1-2 Magic, 2 classic, 1-3 new)
Adventures: 2-4 (likely 2-3 story arc, 1-2 compilation)
Additional/Unknown: 0-2 (most likely settings, but could be something else)

The Questions for You
So I have two questions for you:
  1. How would you fill out that 2022-23 release schedule, given the above parameters?
  2. How do you think WotC will actually fill it out?
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
There's been one "splat" per year from 2014-21, if we consider Acquisitions in that category. Even if not, that's six of seven years, so at the least we can say that AI filled the "splat slot" for that year.
Acquisition Incorporated is an odd duck of a book, I'd almost call it more of a Setting book, just a quirky and bizarre Setting (Office Comedy Realm Management).
 

Mercurius

Legend
Forgive the nitpicking, but is there any reason why Murder in Baldur's Gate (affiliate link) isn't included in the column for 2013?
Yes, there is a reason, but not a good one: I forgot about it, or didn't recognize it as being on the same level as the two I mentioned when I started the document some years ago. I'll add it in, if only for my own reference.
Acquisition Incorporated is an odd duck of a book, I'd almost call it more of a Setting book, just a quirky and bizarre Setting (Office Comedy Realm Management).
Yeah. That's also why I wrote that it filled the "splat slot." The possibility of more such books in the future is one of the reasons why I added the "Additional/Unknown" category to the book slots, rather than just bumping up the other slots by 1 each. One thing we can say about this iteration of WotC is that you just never know what they have brewing...and that's a good thing.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
2022-23 Book Slots by Type (assuming 5-6 books per year, or 10-12 total)
Splats: 2
Settings: 3-4+ (likely 1-2 Magic, 2 classic, 1-3 new)
Adventures: 2-4 (likely 2-3 story arc, 1-2 compilation)
Additional/Unknown: 0-2 (most likely settings, but could be something else)

The Questions for You
So I have two questions for you:
  1. How would you fill out that 2022-23 release schedule, given the above parameters?
  2. How do you think WotC will actually fill it out?
As a preliminary note, I will suggest that we might see some of these categories break down a bit: the Strixhaven book is what I would call a Setting book, but it has a campaign compromised of 4 modular adventures that covers Levels 1-10, so it might also count as an Adventure book.

I think we will see 5 books a year, as they have 5 project leads now, so one book per year each from each of thw following:

  • Jeremy Crawford (who did Tasha's last year and focused on helping Hamon ramp up for Strixhaven in 2021)
  • F. Wesley Schneider (Theros in 2020, Rabenloft in 2021)
  • Chris Perkins (led on Wildemount & Icewind Dale in 2020, Candlekeep & Witchlight in 2021)
  • James Wyatt (helped Crawford with Ravnoca in 2018, Eberron in 2019, Theros I'm 2020, and Fizban's in 2021)
  • Amanda Hamon (worked on Ravenloft as a freelancer & project lead fpr Strixhaven with Crawford's help in 2021)

A couple things stand out: Perkins is the "Adventure Guy," but has also helped with Setting books (Eberron & Wildemount). Crawford is the "Rules Guy," but has also been involved with Settings (Ravnica, Eberron, Strixhaven). The other 3 have primarily worked on Setting books.

We know that Perkins is leading one of the two "Classic" Settong projects, and my guess is he will bring us Planescape in 2021. We also know that they have another Classic Setting vbook, my guess is Dark Sun, and I will go a step further and say that Schneider is a good fit for that project, having navigated darker and more divergent Settigns already (Theros & Rabenloft) particularly handling the potentially problematic aspects of those Settings elegantly.

That leaves two brand new Settings not related to Magic, and a returning Setting (probably the Forgotten Realms). That's 5 books in 2022-2023, and 10 books seems a fair guess.

For the remaining 5, I forsee 2 big "storyline" Adventure books, and 1-2 compilations as those seem successful. Throw in 1-2 Magoc Settings, and we have a 2 year schedule with room for pruning. I'll go a step further into speculation, and guess we may see a Kamogawa: Neon Dynasty tie-in Setting book to provide a less Eurocentric Settijf in the mix.

I don't think we will see any big straight Supplements, but who knows.
 

JEB

Legend
We also know that they have another Classic Setting vbook, my guess is Dark Sun, and I will go a step further and say that Schneider is a good fit for that project, having navigated darker and more divergent Settigns already (Theros & Rabenloft) particularly handling the potentially problematic aspects of those Settings elegantly.
Or they're having Schneider tackle Dragonlance, so he can give it the Ravenloft treatment. Would certainly explain that statement on canon...
 


Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Just don't see Dragonlance being(?) as high a priority.
Yeah. As a new player, I read the first trilogy of Dragonlance books. It was fine and all, but nothing to go crazy about. They'd likely only bring it back because of nostalgia, and I'm not sure of Dragonlance nostalgia is as profitable as people like to pretend/think it is. It doesn't fill any setting niche that 5e hasn't already done through the Forgotten Realms or Wildemount. Heck, Wildemount even has the "the setting is divided by a huge war that the PCs can get involved in" that is kind of the whole hook to play in Dragonlance (again, besides nostalgia).

I think that the returning campaign settings are Dark Sun and Planescape. Both are really popular, and both have their own niches that are currently unexplored in 5e (post-apocalyptic and psionics, planar-travel and gonzo-setting), while also being able to get the nice gravy on top of the Nostalgia factor.
 

Mercurius

Legend
As a preliminary note, I will suggest that we might see some of these categories break down a bit: the Strixhaven book is what I would call a Setting book, but it has a campaign compromised of 4 modular adventures that covers Levels 1-10, so it might also count as an Adventure book.

I think we will see 5 books a year, as they have 5 project leads now, so one book per year each from each of thw following:

  • Jeremy Crawford (who did Tasha's last year and focused on helping Hamon ramp up for Strixhaven in 2021)
  • F. Wesley Schneider (Theros in 2020, Rabenloft in 2021)
  • Chris Perkins (led on Wildemount & Icewind Dale in 2020, Candlekeep & Witchlight in 2021)
  • James Wyatt (helped Crawford with Ravnoca in 2018, Eberron in 2019, Theros I'm 2020, and Fizban's in 2021)
  • Amanda Hamon (worked on Ravenloft as a freelancer & project lead fpr Strixhaven with Crawford's help in 2021)

A couple things stand out: Perkins is the "Adventure Guy," but has also helped with Setting books (Eberron & Wildemount). Crawford is the "Rules Guy," but has also been involved with Settings (Ravnica, Eberron, Strixhaven). The other 3 have primarily worked on Setting books.

We know that Perkins is leading one of the two "Classic" Settong projects, and my guess is he will bring us Planescape in 2021. We also know that they have another Classic Setting vbook, my guess is Dark Sun, and I will go a step further and say that Schneider is a good fit for that project, having navigated darker and more divergent Settigns already (Theros & Rabenloft) particularly handling the potentially problematic aspects of those Settings elegantly.

That leaves two brand new Settings not related to Magic, and a returning Setting (probably the Forgotten Realms). That's 5 books in 2022-2023, and 10 books seems a fair guess.

For the remaining 5, I forsee 2 big "storyline" Adventure books, and 1-2 compilations as those seem successful. Throw in 1-2 Magoc Settings, and we have a 2 year schedule with room for pruning. I'll go a step further into speculation, and guess we may see a Kamogawa: Neon Dynasty tie-in Setting book to provide a less Eurocentric Settijf in the mix.

I don't think we will see any big straight Supplements, but who knows.
I like your reasoning here.

Question: do you think the adventures and compilations will continue as is--kind of general and/or set in the Realms--or do you think they'll be centered on, say, Planescape or Dark Sun?

My main point of divergence is that I don't agree that they'll cut out splats. Rather, I see them doing Planescape as two books--one a Manual of the Planes type book (splat), the other a setting book (Sigil and the Outlands, maybe other locations that could be used as a starting point for a planar campaign, perhaps the Rock of Bral). I could also see one of the adventures being planar-themed, perhaps starting in the Realms and then heading off into the planes, or maybe a compilation.

Dark Sun is more cohesive and tightly thematic to allow for a single book ala 4E, but of course there's a lot of material to make more than one book. But my guess is that it will be singular.

As for Magic, no idea which planes they'll do next, other than that they'll all be on the higher end of the Rabiah Scale, most likely (Ravnica is currently a 1, Theros 3, Strixhaven/Arcavios 4). Or to break it down further, here are the planes that are a 5 or higher:

1 Dominaria, Innistrad, Ravnica
2 Zendikar
3 Theros
4 Arcavios, Eldraine, Kaldheim
5 Alara, Amonkhet, Ikoria, New Phyrexia, Tarkir

Kamigawa is a 7, so not sure they'll do that. Of the ones above, Innistrad is too Ravenloft-y and Dominaria too vanilla, so I don't think they'll do setting books. Eldraine is possible, but not sure they want to go Arthurian/European. Amonkhet and Kaldheim might be too culturally specific. Tarkir too, but it does bring an Asian-style setting to D&D, and has the benefit of not being much related to China or Japan and thus not stepping into controversial waters. I could see one of Zendikar, Alara, Ikoria, and New Phyrexia, especially if they want to bring more epic play into the game. All four would be a lot of fun and have "gonzo-esque" qualities and would be bringing something new to 5E.

And of course it also depends upon what the new settings are. If one is Asian-influenced, then I think Tarkir (or Kamigawa) is less likely.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yeah. As a new player, I read the first trilogy of Dragonlance books. It was fine and all, but nothing to go crazy about. They'd likely only bring it back because of nostalgia, and I'm not sure of Dragonlance nostalgia is as profitable as people like to pretend/think it is. It doesn't fill any setting niche that 5e hasn't already done through the Forgotten Realms or Wildemount. Heck, Wildemount even has the "the setting is divided by a huge war that the PCs can get involved in" that is kind of the whole hook to play in Dragonlance (again, besides nostalgia).

I think that the returning campaign settings are Dark Sun and Planescape. Both are really popular, and both have their own niches that are currently unexplored in 5e (post-apocalyptic and psionics, planar-travel and gonzo-setting), while also being able to get the nice gravy on top of the Nostalgia factor.
I think the DL modules frpm 1E would make sense for a big update eventually, as they seem solid as Adventure modules.
 

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