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

Tovec

Explorer
No, but the last time I introduced the game to a bunch of kids, they saw the (3.0e) core rulebooks, asked "do we need to read all of that?",
To which I'm sure you replied, "No, of course not, you need to worry about your character sheet. I do the heavy lifting as a DM and even I don't need to read all of this." Or I guess not, since..

and I watched the interest die in their eyes.
And thus Christmas was ruined. Because reading is hard.

Whether you need to read it or not, the mere existence of those 300+ page rulebooks is a barrier.
The other way to look at this, for any edition, is that the larger the book the more information you have when you need it. If 3e released a book only 100 pages long, you would constantly have to go looking in other books for spells, items, races, feats, etc.

I think it doesn't matter how big the books are as long as the quality is there. I would probably like smaller books over all, assuming the same cost and quality, if only for the transportation issue but as far as getting into a game; I think what matters most is if the information is there so that when something comes up I can find it instead of having to guess at an inappropriate answer. "The DC to hide behind a barrel? Um... 35? That sounds good, right? I don't have the skills book yet."


And not for nothing but if WotC doesn't sell a hardcover book (resorting to sell only PDFs or some other god awful electronic media format only) then I won't buy their books. I have learned over a series of years that electronics at the table are death. I don't want to FORCE it in order to run a simple game. Give me a physical book please, or I simply will not buy it.
 

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delericho

Legend
To which I'm sure you replied, "No, of course not, you need to worry about your character sheet. I do the heavy lifting as a DM and even I don't need to read all of this." Or I guess not, since..


And thus Christmas was ruined. Because reading is hard.

Yes, of course I told them it wasn't necessary. The point still stands: they were able to play, and to enjoy the game, because I was there and was able to provide the rules interface for them.

But in the absence of an experienced player to get them started, 3e requires that: someone needs to buy three rulebooks ($60 at release, rising to $90 with the third printing); someone needs to read those rulebooks, then either that person needs to explain the rules to the other players, or they too need to read the PHB; everyone needs to create a character, a process that is likely to take a newbie at least half an hour; the DM needs to prepare an adventure (or use a premade one, meaning yet more expense and reading).

And then they get to start having fun.

Faced with that, it's no wonder that most potential players choose WoW instead. Frankly, it's a bloody miracle we're talking about 5e at all.

The barrier to entry for this game is really quite significant - near $100 and 1,000 pages of reading. And that for something you might enjoy. Glib dismissals about reading being hard might be marginally amusing, but they're not even remotely helpful.

(And, yes, the answer to most of those problems is a really good starter set, coupled with a decent migration strategy from there to the 'real' game. We're yet to see one from WotC, despite several attempts.)

And not for nothing but if WotC doesn't sell a hardcover book (resorting to sell only PDFs or some other god awful electronic media format only) then I won't buy their books. I have learned over a series of years that electronics at the table are death. I don't want to FORCE it in order to run a simple game. Give me a physical book please, or I simply will not buy it.

As I said in my previous post, we're still in the transition phase. WotC shouldn't yet be considering abandoning print entirely. And, in particular, there are some products that will essentially always need to be done physically - the aforementioned starter set being being one of them.

But the days of building a strategy around "sell books" are probably done. And I think both WotC and Paizo know it.

(With regard to Paizo: the important distinction there is between selling books and selling subscriptions to book lines. That's the crucial distinction, and what allows them to do what they do. Because they know they have X-thousands of subscribers for their lines, they already know that they can safely print Y-thousands of copies of the "Advanced Class Handbook", safe in the knowledge that they will make a profit. That allows them to plan a strategy years in advance, it allows them to take some risks, and basically gives them a lot of freedom to move. But if every Paizo subscriber were to cancel their subs tomorrow, even if they then bought exactly the same books from their FLGS, the result would be disastrous for Paizo - not because of the loss of the money, but because of the loss of the guaranteed income, and the freedom that that gives them.)
 

the Jester

Legend
I want books that I actually enjoy reading. The 4th edition books were as boring to read as a VCR manual.

YES! With rare exceptions, a 4e book is more like an instruction manual than a tome of eldritch lore- which is exactly wrong.

Honestly, though, I think it would be a mistake for WotC to base their strategy on selling hardback books at all. We're still in the transition period, but electronic publishing is in the process of killing print and taking its stuff. And, as soon as you're unbound from using physical media, then when adding 'bits' to the game (that is, new feats, monsters, spells, etc), an electronic book is probably the worst way to present that information.

The day D&D is not available as a hard copy is the day that I no longer play the newest and shiniest version of the game.
 

delericho

Legend
The day D&D is not available as a hard copy is the day that I no longer play the newest and shiniest version of the game.

Again, I don't think they should stop producing print material - we're not at that point yet. But I do think they would be making a mistake if they put "sell books" at the heart of their strategy.

It's a question of placing the focus elsewhere, not about outright replacing the books.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I've never sat down and read any rpg book from start to finish. The best way to learn to play D&D is to jump in the river and join an already existing group. Barring that - say, with a new edition - I still think you have to learn as you play. No one - or should I say, very few - actually sit down and read the entire book before playing.

I remember when I was starting with 4e in late 2008, I found a web-site (a blog, I think) in which someone gave the "must read" pages in the 4e Player's Handbook in order to start playing. I would suggest that WotC offer something similar - a strong first chapter of the PHB that summarizes the rules, including examples of play.

I also think its a good idea to come out with a beginner's box set before the core rulebooks. In a starting set you can have a "quick start guide" of how to start playing (~12 pages), then a player's guide for character creation and basic rules (~36 pages), and a DM's guide for running the game (~24 pages), plus an adventure to take you up from levels 1-3 (~36 pages). That's about 100 pages, only 12 of which players "must" read (the quick start rules), and then can read through some of the player's guide as they make their characters.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yes, of course I told them it wasn't necessary. The point still stands: they were able to play, and to enjoy the game, because I was there and was able to provide the rules interface for them.

But in the absence of an experienced player to get them started, 3e requires that: someone needs to buy three rulebooks ($60 at release, rising to $90 with the third printing); someone needs to read those rulebooks, then either that person needs to explain the rules to the other players, or they too need to read the PHB; everyone needs to create a character, a process that is likely to take a newbie at least half an hour; the DM needs to prepare an adventure (or use a premade one, meaning yet more expense and reading).

And then they get to start having fun.

Faced with that, it's no wonder that most potential players choose WoW instead. Frankly, it's a bloody miracle we're talking about 5e at all.

The barrier to entry for this game is really quite significant - near $100 and 1,000 pages of reading. And that for something you might enjoy. Glib dismissals about reading being hard might be marginally amusing, but they're not even remotely helpful.

(And, yes, the answer to most of those problems is a really good starter set, coupled with a decent migration strategy from there to the 'real' game. We're yet to see one from WotC, despite several attempts.)



As I said in my previous post, we're still in the transition phase. WotC shouldn't yet be considering abandoning print entirely. And, in particular, there are some products that will essentially always need to be done physically - the aforementioned starter set being being one of them.

But the days of building a strategy around "sell books" are probably done. And I think both WotC and Paizo know it.

(With regard to Paizo: the important distinction there is between selling books and selling subscriptions to book lines. That's the crucial distinction, and what allows them to do what they do. Because they know they have X-thousands of subscribers for their lines, they already know that they can safely print Y-thousands of copies of the "Advanced Class Handbook", safe in the knowledge that they will make a profit. That allows them to plan a strategy years in advance, it allows them to take some risks, and basically gives them a lot of freedom to move. But if every Paizo subscriber were to cancel their subs tomorrow, even if they then bought exactly the same books from their FLGS, the result would be disastrous for Paizo - not because of the loss of the money, but because of the loss of the guaranteed income, and the freedom that that gives them.)

WoTC made a good starter set once and it was sold for $10. It was for AD&D though in 1999 and the silver anniversary.
 





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