D&D General Ben Riggs on how to make D&D a $1 billion brand

FallenRX

Adventurer
I can‘t believe how much stuff is obviously poorly presented in the adventures before it even hits the table. The encounters are generally fine, it’s the surrounding adventure that often makes no sense, mostly NPC motivations but also location design.

I remember @pukunui and I trying to make head or tail of Dragon Heist when it came out. Absolute mess.
Because there are two seperate teams working on WotC modules, a story team and a design team.

The design team makes a actual adventure that is more open ended and supposed to be a broader scenario, then the story team adds a odd "story" too it, that usually adds a pretty linear plot too a more open ended thing, with tons of odd rails and stuff to make it a "story".

I've noticed this and its bugged me every since, and notably curse of strahd and a few others which dont have the story team trying to rail it, are some of the best out there.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Because there are two seperate teams working on WotC modules, a story team and a design team.

The design team makes a actual adventure that is more open ended and supposed to be a broader scenario, then the story team adds a odd "story" too it, that usually adds a pretty linear plot too a more open ended thing, with tons of odd rails and stuff to make it a "story".

I've noticed this and its bugged me every since, and notably curse of strahd and a few others which dont have the story team trying to rail it, are some of the best out there.
The books become very useful when one sees them as constituent parts to be used like Lego bricks with a suggested build, rather than a fully cooked meal.
 

pukunui

Legend
They need to grow the entire brand by a doctor of 6 or 7. Good luck with that.
Yes, I'm sure someone as brilliant as Doogie Howser MD could figure it out. ;)

But sometimes it's hard to believe that some encounters and areas were even played once before publishing.
If you have actual, paid playtesters whose job is to check for this ...
Amusingly, I'm pretty sure Dragpn Heist was one of the times when Perkins went in depth on the playtest process WotC has set up on Dragon Talk.
I can only speak from my own personal experience as a playtester. I can't say if there are or aren't any paid playtesters, but I can say there are heaps of us who do it for free. I can also say that often they send us only part of an adventure to test rather than the full thing (or ask us to playtest only part of it - like with Dragon Heist, we were asked to test a specific season only; with the Mad Mage follow-up, we were given only a single dungeon level to test). On top of that, they often don't give us very much time to do the testing. I don't know how many groups out there are able to playtest stuff at the drop of a hat, but I suspect WotC gets more "I've read this and here's what I think" type feedback than actual "I ran this and here's what we found in play" feedback.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yes, I'm sure someone as brilliant as Doogie Howser MD could figure it out. ;)




I can only speak from my own personal experience as a playtester. I can't say if there are or aren't any paid playtesters, but I can say there are heaps of us who do it for free. I can also say that often they send us only part of an adventure to test rather than the full thing (or ask us to playtest only part of it - like with Dragon Heist, we were asked to test a specific season only; with the Mad Mage follow-up, we were given only a single dungeon level to test). On top of that, they often don't give us very much time to do the testing. I don't know how many groups out there are able to playtest stuff at the drop of a hat, but I suspect WotC gets more "I've read this and here's what I think" type feedback than actual "I ran this and here's what we found in play" feedback.
Fair enough: it does make sense to me thar individual pieces get more playtest than the whole thing, since the books so often boil down to being collections of disparate parts that can be played together but don't necessitate a sequence. Which is fine, since that's more useful to me than a long railroad.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
The books become very useful when one sees them as constituent parts to be used like Lego bricks with a suggested build, rather than a fully cooked meal.
Yeah but that’s a silly bump in the road to minting more DMs. I can’t believe it has to be this way.
 

vecna00

Speculation Specialist Wizard
I don't agree with everything he mentioned. However:

  • "Return to the boxed set! Create handouts, maps, character portraits, in-game journals, & clues to go with the game. (Also make PDFs of those goodies available.)"
This I agree with wholeheartedly!

It's a shame that Beadle & Grimm's are really the only ones making boxed set product so far, and they're expensive! If they made basic boxed sets with softcover books without the main extras of their premium boxes, I would buy a lot more of them!
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't agree with everything he mentioned. However:


This I agree with wholeheartedly!

It's a shame that Beadle & Grimm's are really the only ones making boxed set product so far, and they're expensive! If they made basic boxed sets with softcover books without the main extras of their premium boxes, I would buy a lot more of them!
I think that's the issue: how economically feasible ate box sets, and are they actually more helpful than hardcover books or Beyond...?
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Yeah but that’s a silly bump in the road to minting more DMs. I can’t believe it has to be this way.
It doesn't, unless one is committed to the notion that RPGs cannot be designed or taught, but that they are instead ineffable products of auteur intent, which can only be understood by intuitions that cannot be communicated.

This belief is infuriatingly widespread.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Speaking only for me, I can say that they are easier to use at the table than a hardcover book. The hardcovers tend to look nicer on my shelves though.
I did appreciate the slipcover format for Spelljammer, and a box set may have fit that even better (with a mite higher pace count)...but how much more might that have cost?
 

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