D&D 5E D&D's Classic Settings Are Not 'One Shots'

Spelljammer-ship-in-space-asteroid-city.jpeg

In an interview with ComicBook.com, WotC's Jeremy Crawford talked about the visits to Ravenloft, Eberron, Spelljammer, Dragonlance, and (the upcoming) Planescape we've seen over the last couple of years, and their intentions for the future.

He indicated that they plan to revisit some of these settings again in the future, noting that the setting books are among their most popular books.

We love [the campaign setting books], because they help highlight just how wonderfully rich D&D is. They highlight that D&D can be gothic horror. D&D can be fantasy in space. D&D can be trippy adventures in the afterlife, in terms of Planescape. D&D can be classic high fantasy, in the form of the Forgotten Realms. It can be sort of a steampunk-like fantasy, like in Eberron. We feel it's vital to visit these settings, to tell stories in them. And we look forward to returning to them. So we do not view these as one-shots.
- Jeremy Crawford​

The whole 'multiverse' concept that D&D is currently exploring plays into this, giving them opportunities to resist worlds.

When asked about the release schedule of these books, Crawford noted that the company plans its release schedule so that players get chance to play the material, not just read it, and they don't want to swamp people with too much content to use.

Our approach to how we design for the game and how we plan out the books for it is a play-first approach. At certain times in D&D's history, it's really been a read-first approach. Because we've had points in our history where we were producing so many books each year, there was no way anyone could play all of it. In some years it would be hard to play even a small percentage of the number of things that come out. Because we have a play-first approach, we want to make sure we're coming out with things at a pace where if you really wanted to, and even that would require a lot of weekends and evenings dedicated to D&D play, you could play a lot of it.
- Jeremy Crawford​

You can read more in the interview at ComicBook.com.
 

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I'd agree with that, and to be honest I think it was a decent idea, though i probably would have tried to lower the price point a bit by sticking the monsters and the adventure in one DM-facing book, and dropping the GM screen. The shrinkwrapping is a pretty logical thing too, since it stops the different bits falling out of the slipcase during packing or shipping. I don't think there's much nefarious about that.

The slipcase format wasn't the problem, so much as the contents of the slipcase being so lacking.

They tried making the setting books look super pretty, a Beetles and Grim lite, not realizing most people prefer affordible, less wasteful, and the books to have more content. This format boost costs of the product way too much.

Honestly if not for my fond memories of Planescape: Torment, my birthday being in October, and the Gatetowns bring interesting I wouldn't have gotten this.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
They tried making the setting books look super pretty, a Beetles and Grim lite, not realizing most people prefer affordible, less wasteful, and the books to have more content. This format boost costs of the product way too much.

Honestly if not for my fond memories of Planescape: Torment, my birthday being in October, and the Gatetowns bring interesting I wouldn't have gotten this.
It is just the cost of one hardcover and a DM screen.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
not realizing most people prefer affordible, less wasteful, and the books to have more content.
Citation needed! Do we know for sure that "most people" prefer more content over pretty? WotC does a bunch of market research, so it seems unlikely they'd tilt so heavily towards appearance over word count unless they had some basis for thinking that that's what the majority of their customers prefer.​
 

Citation needed! Do we know for sure that "most people" prefer more content over pretty? WotC does a bunch of market research, so it seems unlikely they'd tilt so heavily towards appearance over word count unless they had some basis for thinking that that's what the majority of their customers prefer.​

Look at all the Spelljammer threads here, on reddit, and on other forums, I haven't seen this level of complaints and disgust since the too thin SCAG.

Even other rescent setting books have gotten slammed for being too shallow and sometimes having unexplained retcons that aren't needed.
 


Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
Look at all the Spelljammer threads here, on reddit, and on other forums, I haven't seen this level of complaints and disgust since the too thin SCAG.

Even other rescent setting books have gotten slammed for being too shallow and sometimes having unexplained retcons that aren't needed.
Ah, I see. You're extrapolating from Internet complaints about those particular products to the generalisation that the majority of WotC's customers prefer word count over appearance. That's a tempting hypothesis for sure, but I'm not entirely convinced. Based on the overall trajectory of releases, I think WotC's opinion at least is that prettiness has a major impact on sales. I agree that word count is also somewhat important to WotC's target market, but to me, 5e seems to have the highest art/word count ratio of any edition. I think that's by design because WotC thinks that's what the majority prefer (i.e. it will sell better). So if you are expecting more than a slight course correction towards words over looks, I think you might end up disappointed.​
 

Citation needed! Do we know for sure that "most people" prefer more content over pretty?
For starters, this is a bit of a false dichotomy. It is perfectly possible for a company of WotCs resources to put out a product that is both content-rich AND pretty.

Second - well, WotC seem to believe this, given in the wake of Spelljammer several things happened - a) the page count of Planescape was bumped up from that of SJ, despite the very similar formats, b) Ray Winniger was moved on from WotC, with at least one article claiming that the poor reception of Spelljammer was a significant factor in the decision, and c) I recall an article or interview in which WotC actually alluded to the fact that they'd heard the criticism of Spelljammer and were trying to remedy it in Planescape, though development was too complete to move away from the slipcase model (I can't find the reference for this, if someone remembers it, please link me!).

Evidence is pretty strong that Spelljammer was very far from the success that WotC wanted, and with Planescape they seem to have reacted in such a way to indicate that they believe the lack of content was a major factor in this.
 

For starters, this is a bit of a false dichotomy. It is perfectly possible for a company of WotCs resources to put out a product that is both content-rich AND pretty.

Second - well, WotC seem to believe this, given in the wake of Spelljammer several things happened - a) the page count of Planescape was bumped up from that of SJ, despite the very similar formats, b) Ray Winniger was moved on from WotC, with at least one article claiming that the poor reception of Spelljammer was a significant factor in the decision, and c) I recall an article or interview in which WotC actually alluded to the fact that they'd heard the criticism of Spelljammer and were trying to remedy it in Planescape, though development was too complete to move away from the slipcase model (I can't find the reference for this, if someone remembers it, please link me!).

Evidence is pretty strong that Spelljammer was very far from the success that WotC wanted, and with Planescape they seem to have reacted in such a way to indicate that they believe the lack of content was a major factor in this.

Full agreement, they can have both, but I don't think the approach of Spelljammer's and Planescape's to that which upped material costs so much was the right way to do it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Look at all the Spelljammer threads here, on reddit, and on other forums, I haven't seen this level of complaints and disgust since the too thin SCAG.

Even other rescent setting books have gotten slammed for being too shallow and sometimes having unexplained retcons that aren't needed.
That suggests that dozens of people feel that way...?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I guess that shows how overpriced DM screens are… It is $20 more than a book used to be, that is 40% more. The same is true for Planescape now ($85 vs $60 after books increased in price)
"Overpriced" yet the $20 DM screen is one of the best selling D&D products. That suggests that the price is what the market will bear. And I assume that future DM screens will be $25, thanks to inflation.
 

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