D&D 5E Announcement Next Week--What Hints For Upcoming D&D Books?

WotC uses Unearthed Arcana to playtest D&D material which often ends up in a later hardcover book. Mages of Strixhaven was in Unearthed Arcana in June 2021, and Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos was published in December 2021. Draconic Options was in Unearthed Arcana in April 2021, and Fizban's Treasury of Dragons came out in October. The same applied to Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, and other books--the lead time appears to typically be somewhere around 6 months. So what have we had recently which might give us an insight into upcoming books?

WotC is holding a press event this coming Friday, with an embargo for March 22nd (which is Tuesday next week), meaning that an announcement is around the corner.

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Unearthed Arcana has slowed in the last year or so, but there have been two notable articles:
  • August 2021 -- Travelers of the Multiverse. 6 months after this was February, so if the 6-month lead time theory holds true, a multiverse-themed book would be imminent. The amount of speculative chatter about Spelljammer, Planescape, and 'Planejammer' is at a high.
  • March 2022 -- Heroes of Krynn. This UA was released last week; six months would put a Dragonlance hardcover roughly about September, around the same time that Weis & Hickman's new Dragonlance novel releases.
So these two appear the most likely--some kind of multiverse book, and a Dragonlance book.

We know that a new starter set--Dragons of Stormwreck Isle--is on its way this year. WotC has spoken about two brand new settings, and two classic settings in 2022 (which fits the theory!)

starter.png

They also spoke about a 'brand new format' for the 2 classic settings--WotC's Ray Winninger said in June last year that ""Each of these products is pursuing a different format you've never seen before. And neither is "digital only;" these are new print formats."


As I've mentioned on a couple of occasions, there are two more products that revive "classic" settings in production right now.

The manuscript for the first, overseen by [Chris Perkins], is nearly complete. Work on the second, led by [F. Wesley Schneider] with an assist from [Ari Levitch], is just ramping up in earnest. Both are targeting 2022 and formats you've never seen before.

In addition to these two titles, we have two brand new [D&D] settings in early development, as well as a return to a setting we've already covered. (No, these are not M:tG worlds.)

As I mentioned in the dev blog, we develop more material than we publish, so it's possible one or more of these last three won't reach production. But as of right now, they're all looking great.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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I'm pretty sure by "formats" they're referring to the types of publications they already do: Adventures, Campaign Settings, Bestiaries.
My interpretation of the statemt about a "format we haven't seen before" wasn't that it's a wholly new format, but that the settings in question had not previously been released in that specific format. An example might be a revival of Spelljammer, but published as a book that's primarily adventure compilation--the focus being less on the systems and worlds of wildspace, and more on the kinds of adventures you could have--or a revival of Dark Sun, but published as a book of hazards and environmental affects--communicating the setting not as a specific place or history, but as a high concept of "here's ways the environment might try to kill you, imagine for yourself what kind of world might have all these".

Something like this would be really smart. It would expand and update the setting, while leaving the original material useful for further depth if one wanted to pick it up on DriveThruRPG.

I hope your wrong.
 





jeremypowell

Adventurer
I'm pretty sure by "formats" they're referring to the types of publications they already do: Adventures, Campaign Settings, Bestiaries.
My interpretation of the statemt about a "format we haven't seen before" wasn't that it's a wholly new format, but that the settings in question had not previously been released in that specific format.
Nope.

In the Nov. 3, 2021, Dragon Talk podcast linked earlier in this thread, it's clear that cohosts Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito, and Director of Product Management Liz Schuh, are all thinking about one or more specific upcoming physical products they can't yet discuss publicly, when they say:

Shelly: You are always thinking about ways in which we present our products....Sometimes it's in a box, the way that the Essentials Kit or the Starter Set might be, and sometimes it's a book....I'm sure that you've got other tricks up your sleeve that you can't reveal now—

Greg: (laughs)

Shelley: —but you and Ray in the "Future of D&D" panels have alluded to exploring other options and formats.

Liz: Yeah. So that's one of the really fun parts of the job, looking at: What are different components that we can put together that will enhance people's play experience, really enhance the fun that people have at the table? And we have been exploring some fun new ideas. In 2022 I think you'll see some interesting new components that we've never released before.

(transcript edited for clarity by removing ums, repeated words, etc.)
 
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Shelly: You are always thinking about ways in which we present our products....Sometimes it's in a box, the way that the Essentials Kit or the Starter Set might be, and sometimes it's a book....I'm sure that you've got other tricks up your sleeve that you can't reveal now...
Call me unimaginative but I'm having difficulty imagining a physical RPG setting product which doesn't boil down to being:

A) A box, possibly with books and so on in it.

or

B) A book or number of books, possibly with some kind of container that one might call... a box.

I mean, I guess you could have a ring-binder? Please no.

Honestly the whole "novel physical product" thing fills me with 1990s dread. The 1990s were filled with attempts to do something different with physical RPG products and very close to 100% of them were goddamn terrible ideas in the long run.
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
Call me unimaginative but I'm having difficulty imagining a physical RPG setting product which doesn't boil down to being:

A) A box, possibly with books and so on in it.

or

B) A book or number of books, possibly with some kind of container that one might call... a box.

I mean, I guess you could have a ring-binder? Please no.

Honestly the whole "novel physical product" thing fills me with 1990s dread. The 1990s were filled with attempts to do something different with physical RPG products and very close to 100% of them were goddamn terrible ideas in the long run.
I'm not saying it's going to be mind-blowing, or even really innovative, though I think it could be.

I'm saying that the transcript clearly demonstrates that at least part of what Ray Winninger means by "new format" is, in fact, some actually "new" (at the very least, new to WotC-published 5e material) physical stuff, not just new digital stuff and not just a book with new-to-5e content, nor even a new box of booklets, punch-out cards, maps, etc. (since that would just duplicate the Starter/Essentials format, to which in the transcript they explicitly contrast this unspecified new thing).

It's a new physical format, and while Schuh appears to use "components" and "format" more or less interchangeably here, it also seems unlikely to me that all of these people would so frequently use the term "new format" if all they meant by that were, say, making their own spellbook cards in-house rather than licensing those rights out (which is a change that WotC wants, or at least recently used to want, to implement [we know this from the Gale Force Nine lawsuit]), or even making a 2e-style setting box set.

I think it's entirely possible that whatever they're alluding to here is just some new kind of component that will be included in an otherwise old-fashioned box set such as Dragons of Stormwreck Isle. But I think it's much more likely that this will be an actually new-to-WotC component type, even though it could be something we've seen before from third-party publishers or in other RPGs.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that this will be some sort of digital-physical hybrid, though I won't speculate as to what kind. If true, this would most likely be a pass from me, but it's certainly the kind of thing I think WotC would choose to go with.
 



But I think it's much more likely that this will be an actually new-to-WotC component type, even though it could be something we've seen before from third-party publishers or in other RPGs.
I feel like this is going to be very bloody expensive, and I don't like it.

Every time I've seen a third-party publisher do something cool with components, it ends up with $$$ being the cost, not $$.

I'm sure WotC's scale can lower the price, but we'd still likely be looking at a product significantly more expensive than previous ones, if they do anything "fancy" with the physical production.

On top of that, I don't buy physical gaming products any more if I can possibly avoid it. Far too much of my limited space is taken up by them already. And any really elaborate or weird physical product risks causing issues adapting it to digital. Even if the digital transition is okay, the digital price will likely be jacked up by XX% to reflect the higher physical price, which is just like... ugh.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
The discussion about "components" has made me think; could this be mini's related? None of the current WotC rules have embraced minis, even the starter sets. They have been content to allow WizKids to sell optional minis (even some at premium price) but nothing has directly needed them.
 

The discussion about "components" has made me think; could this be mini's related? None of the current WotC rules have embraced minis, even the starter sets. They have been content to allow WizKids to sell optional minis (even some at premium price) but nothing has directly needed them.
Ten or fifteen years ago I'd absolutely have assumed this was what it was.

But I think the era of pushing minis as a big thing is somewhat passed. And I'm not sure that WotC has the facilities to get minis manufactured that are sufficiently high-quality as to impress the general D&D audience enough that it would override the "Why the hell are you packaging a bunch of minis with this campaign setting and doubling the price?!?!??!" factor. Games Workshop probably could just about pull that off, because their modern plastic minis are astonishing. But they're specialists.

Also it being a setting rather than an adventure makes the idea of minis kind of odd. Especially as I believe WotC themselves claimed a very large percentage of people (the majority?) play 5E Theatre-of-the-Mind.
 

Ten or fifteen years ago I'd absolutely have assumed this was what it was.

But I think the era of pushing minis as a big thing is somewhat passed. And I'm not sure that WotC has the facilities to get minis manufactured that are sufficiently high-quality as to impress the general D&D audience enough that it would override the "Why the hell are you packaging a bunch of minis with this campaign setting and doubling the price?!?!??!" factor. Games Workshop probably could just about pull that off, because their modern plastic minis are astonishing. But they're specialists.

Also it being a setting rather than an adventure makes the idea of minis kind of odd. Especially as I believe WotC themselves claimed a very large percentage of people (the majority?) play 5E Theatre-of-the-Mind.
Also, giving the shipping problems they have been having, I would be very reluctant to have a bulkier product made from a wider range of different components.

But still, businesses make bad calls sometimes, so I can't rule something out simply on the basis of it being a bad idea.
 


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