D&D 5E A lesson I hope WotC learns from Paizo (with regards to 5E)

Mercurius

Legend
I wasn't sure whether to use a Pathfinder or 5E prefix, but anyhow...

So here it is: Make each hardcover book meaningful, chock-full of useful information. If you look at the Pathfinder hardcovers, they're brimming with page count, art, and--most importantly--stuff that useful to a Pathfinder campaign. From looking at the Pathfinder books I own, as well as online previews and books in stores, I never get the sense that any of the hardcovers were released simply because someone at Paizo is thinking, "Well, we better release another hardcover now!" Or, "We've got about 60% of a hardcover here, how to fill it out to publish something?"

If anything, Pathfinder errs on the side of too much information. But, for the most part, D&D fans love densely packed tomes. There is an age factor that means some long-time D&D players have a hard time deciphering small text, but I think this is a very small minority (maybe someone needs to start issuing official gamer magnifiers for the graying crowd? :p).

If I count correctly, there have been 15 hardcovers released for the Pathfinder game since the core book in the summer of 2009, including the campaign setting - just over 4 years. Add in the three known books for 2014 (Inner Sea Gods, Strategy Guide, Advanced Class Guide), and we can say that there have been (or will be) 18 total books in five years - that's about three and a half per year. That seems like a good number, about one per season.

Compare 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. 4E was released in June of 2008 and I believe the last hardcover published was the Heroes of the Elemental Chaos book in February of 2012. That's about 3 3/4 ears. Now looking at hardcovers only, but including all hardcovers - including campaign settings and annuals - WotC published 39 during that span, about 10-11 per year - almost three times as many as Paizo.

Now let us be clear that both Paizo and WotC released a ton of other products, from Adventure Paths and Golarion campaign books for Paizo, to smaller softcovers and box sets, not to mention the Essentials books, for WotC. But I'm honing in on hardcovers, because a hardcover traditionally means a "special event" and is the iconic form of a D&D book since AD&D. Sure, the box set is even older, but most of us cut our teeth on AD&D 1E or 2E, which means that we identify with the hardcover (to be clear, I love box sets, but they "feel" somewhat different - not lesser, but not "These Are the Official Rules" vibe you get from hardcovers).

When you look at Paizo's lineup for hardcovers, none seem like duds. I don't play Pathfinder, but I do own about half of them and will likely buy one or two more. If I did play Pathfinder, there might be one or two that I wouldn't purchase, but I would consider all (and maybe buy all, if only for completeness sake, a neurosis shared by many of my fellow D&D enthusiasts). But when you look at the 4E lineup (not to mention 3E's 100-odd hardcovers), a bunch stand out...even most. You could make an argument for all of them, but as hardcovers? Couldn't we have combined a few of them or kept them to online resources or softcovers?

So here's the lesson I hope WotC learns from Paizo, but restated: Make Hardcovers Special! As a general rule, one per season is enough. While you're at it, utilize the online tools for players options and then maybe publish a hardcover annual of online options. And yes, we love box sets! They work great for mega-adventures and campaign settings. Actually, I'd love to see the box set - in high quality, sturdy cardboard - be the default for campaign settings. Then you can include a World Book, Player's Guide, and Monster Compendium, plus maps and other goodies. Box sets = Gamer Goodness.

There you have it.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
I mostly stopped buying 3.5 books in 2007 due to a decline in quality for most of them. The round round of complete books were semi useless rubbish. The monster books were still decent (Libris Mortis etc).
Paizo just went with lets make quality books again instead of spam garbage.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I hope D&D takes a cue from Savage Worlds - $10 rulebooks.

The big problem D&D has is that it has 30 years worth of materials that fans will demand be available "right now!" or they'll feel that they are missing important components in their game.

I certainly would like to see a trickle instead of a flood of product, but it would have to be balanced with having as much base material available as soon as possible.
 


Mercurius

Legend
[MENTION=52734]Stormonu[/MENTION], a Savage Worlds-esque "quick start" rule book would be really nice, for $15 or less.

As for the second sentiment, I agree but I think this can be circumvented or, more realistically, at least mollified with really good core books. For instance, include a chapter on the planes in the DMG so that Manual of the Planes can come out a year later and not be rushed (and, for that matter, make MotP really good and include some of the info from the other books). This also means including all of the iconic races and classes in the first Player's Handbook.

I for one would like to see each hardcover be substantial - around 300 pages. Too many of the 4E hardcovers were 160-page books that could have been printed in a smaller print 96-page supplement, which basically insults the intelligence of your buying populace. Gamers are, by and large, above average in intelligence and while they (we) have our own flaws and blindspots, we tend to notice when a publisher is trying to pull a fast one on us by increasing font size and creating more white space.
 



Halivar

First Post
  1. Beautiful action art all through out. This is a MUST. You are marketing to kids that are picking up the books and flipping through them at Barnes & Noble. Based on art alone, they will buy Pathfinder over 4E 500-brazillion-to-one. Just look at the static poses on the 4E cover. Awful, just awful. Compare with Paizo covers. It just screams metal. IMO, this is 4E's #2 mistake.
  2. 4E's #1 mistake is eschewing prose to read like the unholy conglomeration of legal document, a car manual, and a Chinese take-out menu. Again, think about the kids at B&N. What are they going to want to read? Pathfinder, with more traditional prose, or 4E? Again, I think 4E will bore them and they will gravitate to Paizo's offerings.

Now, why am I focusing so much on random non-ttrpg kids at B&N? Because, unbiased by years of gaming, brand loyalty, expectations, etc., they can see perhaps more clearly what is actually "cooler" in a way that only really tickles us grognards on a subconscious level, despite all the sophistication and intellectualism we bring into our hobby.

Secretly, we still want to bring the metal. 5E needs to package and present as such.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
  1. Beautiful action art all through out. This is a MUST. You are marketing to kids that are picking up the books and flipping through them at Barnes & Noble. Based on art alone, they will buy Pathfinder over 4E 500-brazillion-to-one. Just look at the static poses on the 4E cover. Awful, just awful. Compare with Paizo covers. It just screams metal. IMO, this is 4E's #2 mistake.
  2. 4E's #1 mistake is eschewing prose to read like the unholy conglomeration of legal document, a car manual, and a Chinese take-out menu. Again, think about the kids at B&N. What are they going to want to read? Pathfinder, with more traditional prose, or 4E? Again, I think 4E will bore them and they will gravitate to Paizo's offerings.

Now, why am I focusing so much on random non-ttrpg kids at B&N? Because, unbiased by years of gaming, brand loyalty, expectations, etc., they can see perhaps more clearly what is actually "cooler" in a way that only really tickles us grognards on a subconscious level, despite all the sophistication and intellectualism we bring into our hobby.

Secretly, we still want to bring the metal. 5E needs to package and present as such.

4E and Pathfinder both have the same artist on the cover lol and both are awful.
 


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