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D&D 5E Do you think we'll see revised core books in 2024? (And why I think we will)

Do you think we'll see revised core rulebooks in 2024? And if so, which option?


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Mercurius

Legend
Following up on a (somewhat) heated discussion about whether or not we'll see revised core rulebooks in 2024, I thought it was high time for a new poll (i did a similar one a year or two ago).

NOTE: THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU WANT, BUT WHAT YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN.

Here is a list of reasons why I think it likely that we do. In no particular order:

  • Core rulebooks are the biggest sellers. While 5E is selling like no other edition, and presumably this includes every book, there is nothing like core rulebooks as far as sales go. In fact, this was a major aspect of the "edition treadmill" of past editions: You publish the core rulebooks to start the edition, then endless splats and other supplements until, after long diminishing returns, you exhaust the major aspects of D&D canon. One of the reasons 5E is so successful is that it has taken a different route, a "less is more" approach with 3-5 hardcovers per year and very few secondary (non-hardcover) products. Compare this to 15+ hardcovers in the peak years of 3.5E and 4E, and as many as 70 (!) total supplements in 1995, the height of 2E (precipitating TSR's crash and sale of D&D to WotC two years later).
So while the bulk of the old ways no longer apply, core rulebooks remain strong sellers (as of this writing, the Player's Handbook is #171 among all books on Amazon and still dips into the top 100 now and then, I believe; it is also the #2 among D&D books, just behind the latest, Ravenloft).​
  • Revised Core Rulebooks Don't Compete with but Replace the 2014 Versions. They won't compete with them, but replace them. Meaning, all the people that would have bought the 2014 version will buy the revised version in 2024. Added to those folks are the many people who will buy a revised version to replace their own 2014 version, which is a substantial number, meaning in addition to ongoing sales, potentially (tens of) millions of old players. Meaning, unlike the current core boooks, it has two customer bases: New people coming into the hobby and people wanting the revised version.
  • It will be 10 Years. 10 years is an epoch in gaming time - it will be 20% of D&D history. Simply on this fact alone, revised rulebooks make sense. That's 10 years of tens of millions of players and hundreds of millions of games. That's lots of time to figure out what works well and what needs tweaking. While the 5E rules are probably the least complained-about D&D ruleset, at least that I can remember going back to the early 80s, there are still, inevitably, going to be things that need work. Furthermore, there have been--and will be, over the next few years--new rules, subclasses, and little fiddly bits that can be added to the core rules. Meaning...
  • There's Lots to Revise. Not just errata, but all the little bits that have been published along the way, as well as areas in desperate need of attention: e.g. the ranger, and probably the monk and sorcerer; subclasses, races/heritages, alignment, etc.
  • The 50th Anniversary is Too Good an Opportunity to Pass Up. I would guess that, in addition to the revised core rules, WotC comes out with some sort of commemorative product, maybe something like a 50 Years of D&D book ala the Ars & Arcana, or Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, etc. But again, with the spike in sales that new core rulebooks offer, I don't see why what is, in the end, a business, would pass up such an opportunity. And it is an opportunity.
  • Consumerism, Baby! For better or worse, we live in a consumer culture. Anyone on the iPhone treadmill knows this; each year, there's a new iPhone, and while I don't follow it closely enough (I still use a 7), it seems they alternate minor and major changes. It would be naive of us to think that Apple is offering us their most advanced technology; the whole point of the yearly phone is to keep people buying. They probably have the tech for the 15 or later already worked out, and are just inching along to keep countless people in the upgrade cycle. Now D&D isn't the iPhone and WotC isn't Apple, but Hasbro is a large corporation and, in the end, they are beholden to shareholders.
  • Socio-cultural Changes. Regardless of where you stand on he various "hot topics," we can all agree that some tweaks should probably be made, if only to clarify intentions and difference between fantasy and reality, and further separate D&D ideas from real world baggage, and perhaps emphasize different modes and styles of play. 2021 is seemingly a different world from 2014, and who knows what 2024 will be like, but the times they are a-changin. Meaning, if nothing else, it is a good time to present a D&D that is truly of the 21st century and one that reflects the current player base, while still, hopefully, retaining the traditional qualities that formed the game into what it is today.
  • Publish New Books While at a High Rather Than at a Low. This might sound counter-intuitive, but as @Ruin Explorer said, it is better to come out with a revision while things are going well. Not to mention, with 50+ million people allegedly playing D&D, that's a lot more potential sales than if, say, D&D declines and there's 10 million fans.

I could go on, but those outline some basics.

Oh yeah, here are further explanations for the poll "Yes" options:

  1. "Mild" - Mostly Cosmetic 50th Anniversary revisions ("5.1 to 5.2"). New art, new covers, maybe some re-organizing of content, and a few additions from the past decade of D&D: maybe a few subclasses, subraces (or heritages), he new rules for racial ability scores and alignment. Meaning, nothing more than cosmetics and midl changes.
  2. "Moderate" - Many small to moderate changes ("5.3-5.5"). As above, but revisions of certain classes, and maybe some other tweaks and fiddly bits, but still not structural changes.
  3. "Major": A bonafide "6E" (by whatever name). A brand new edition. This would almost certainly be more like 1E->2E than 3.5E->4E or 4E->5E, but it would be something more than #2 above.

Which one do I think will occur? In order of likelihood: 2, 1, 3. I think 2 is more likely than 1 because there are a lot of things to change and adjust, and even if nothing major changes, in total it will feel like something in the range of "5.3" to "5.5."

As for 3, I think WotC is out of the "new edition" business and will instead go for "revisions," at least as long as the current Golden Age lasts (and they never do). Whether that is 10, 15, or 20 years from now, who knows. But 5E is booming and chances are it won't crash before 2024. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a true new edition would have far more risk than reward. A new edition is not needed, just a few tweaks and polishing.

So what do you think?
 

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  • The 50th Anniversary is Too Good an Opportunity to Pass Up. I would guess that, in addition to the revised core rules, WotC comes out with some sort of commemorative product, maybe something like a 50 Years of D&D book ala the Ars & Arcana, or Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, etc. But again, with the spike in sales that new core rulebooks offer, I don't see why what is, in the end, a business, would pass up such an opportunity. And it is an opportunity.
Yes.
  1. "Mild" - Mostly Cosmetic 50th Anniversary revisions ("5.1 to 5.2"). New art, new covers, maybe some re-organizing of content, and a few additions from the past decade of D&D: maybe a few subclasses, subraces (or heritages), he new rules for racial ability scores and alignment. Meaning, nothing more than cosmetics and midl changes.
And yes.

I have a hard time picturing WotC letting an opportunity to rake in millions and millions of "bonus" dollars in 2024. I have an especially hard time picturing WotC upper management successfully defending such a decision to their corporate masters.

But that doesn't mean a Golden Anniversary Edition (or whatever) is a bad thing. The ranger, the monk, orcs and drow, and a few other easy spots in the core books are clearly areas that WotC agrees with much of the audience need improvement, and this is a natural time to do so.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I think the 2024 consolidation will be a 5.2.

Mostly, it will be reorganization. A few clarifications and updates will raise eyebrows, sorta like the recent "lineage" approach raised eyebrows. But everything from the 2014 PH will be strictly compatible.
 
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WotC pretty much won't admit the issues that would lead to a 5.5E, so I feel that other than reworking the races/lineage because of real world baggage, it would be a small revision only.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Maybe cosmetic changes, but I don't think we'll see anything more than that. Every book they publish hits the top sellers list. The core books still sell well.

So fancy cover special print? Sure. Maybe new pictures and some minor wording changes. At least that would be my bet.
 

Reynard

Legend
I don't think WotC has any motivation to try and pull a 5.5. The vast majority of their new customer base really could not care and less about game balance or similar issues that would drive such a revision.

Need evidence? Head over to r/dnd and look at what "the kids"* are doing with homebrew stuff. They are worried.

*I absolutely do not mean that in a pejorative sense. It is my personal shorthand for young millenials and zoomers.
 

JEB

Hero
Considering how different the 2014 and 2021 approaches are for character race design, I don't see how they can avoid overhauling the character race section, at a minimum, in a 2024 revision. Turning Tasha's character class options into the default (as well as integrating the new ideas they have for uses per day and such) also seems likely, and while that would be a less radical redesign, it's still going to mean a lot of little changes. Monsters will not only lose alignment (which is an easy change, delete some text) but humanoids (and possibly others) will almost certainly get a substantive lore rewrite (not so easy).

And that's just the minimum changes I expect - once you've crossed those thresholds, I don't see why Wizards wouldn't make lots of other little adjustments while they're at it.

However, I also expect the game to remain highly compatible, because it would be foolish to start from scratch after several years of nearly unparalleled success for this edition. So I see "moderate" as most likely. That said, they (or fans) may wind up calling it a new edition anyway...
 

Reynard

Legend
Considering how different the 2014 and 2021 approaches are for character race design, I don't see how they can avoid overhauling the character race section, at a minimum, in a 2024 revision. Turning Tasha's character class options into the default (as well as integrating the new ideas they have for uses per day and such) also seems likely, and while that would be a less radical redesign, it's still going to mean a lot of little changes. Monsters will not only lose alignment (which is an easy change, delete some text) but humanoids (and possibly others) will almost certainly get a substantive lore rewrite (not so easy).

And that's just the minimum changes I expect - once you've crossed those thresholds, I don't see why Wizards wouldn't make lots of other little adjustments while they're at it.

However, I also expect the game to remain highly compatible, because it would be foolish to start from scratch after several years of nearly unparalleled success for this edition. So I see "moderate" as most likely. That said, they (or fans) may wind up calling it a new edition anyway...
How can they avoid it? No one cares. Seriously. They don't need a Core Rules Overhaul. The majority of the base don't consume media that way. They just do the thing. They aren't going to worry about it. They are just going to play D&D and aren't going to have and cares left to worry about what the PHB says because they have already moved on.
 

JEB

Hero
How can they avoid it? No one cares. Seriously.
Based on the nature of the changes Wizards has made to character race designs in this year's Unearthed Arcana articles, I think it's plain they think people care about these things, even if you believe otherwise. And that's really all that matters.
 


Aging Bard

Canaith
You aren't thinking big enough. WotC have already said they want a quickstart D&D where two new players, a character and the DM, can start playing in an hour. So let's extrapolate from this:
1) No DM: Eliminating the DM is a huge but inevitable step. The WofC plan has always been in the direction of the player, and the DM ultimately gets in the way of player wishes. To be clear, I strongly dislike this direction but fear it is inevitable.
2) Solo play: This is the logical conclusion of the above two events. And solo play will be a huge sales boost. Imagine the number of new players who can play however they want with no judgment whatsoever. It's the closest we have to a Star Trek holodeck.
3) Celebrity authors: Just like screen actors have taken over voice acting, professional authors may take over writing RPG modules, with former RPG authors reduced to converting the stories of professional authors to the RPG format. Again, not a result I desire at all, but a result that seems very likely.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think “moderate” best describes the changes I think we’re likely to see. Removal of alignment from races and monster stat blocks. Possibly the addition of a few races and subraces such as orcs, goblins, duergar, and svirfneblin. Maybe the Tiefling subraces but they do take up a lot of space. The codification of floating ASIs in place of racial ASIs. Spellcasting racial features Feats revised to allow you to cast them with spell slots gained from your class. Possibly the updating of more 1/short rest abilities to prof bonus/long rest. Maybe the optional class features from Tasha’s worked into the classes, but those might still be marked as optional, hard to say. Basically, taking some of the changes that are currently being grafted onto the base rules in supplementary books and working them into the core rules. But that’s the most I would expect to see.

I would love to see a proper 6e, but I don’t see it happening.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Possibly the updating of more 1/short rest abilities to prof bonus/long rest.
For the record, I really, really hope I’m wrong about this one. It’s a trend I have hated seeing in new releases, and I will be deeply saddened if/when the few short rest holdovers we still have get written out. If nothing else, I hope they at least leave the Warlock intact, because it’s by far the most unique and interesting class in 5e.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Oh yeah, just to clarify my original post and vote (5.3 to 5.5), I think more of a 5.3 than a 5.5. Maybe I should have been more granular than the three ranges. But I think we'll see more than cosmetic, but not quite a "5.5." They'll play it safe with backwards compatibility but will take the opportunity to fix problem areas and revamp the core books with 10 years of learning beneath their belts.

5.1 for new art, covers and errata.
5.2 for a bit of re-organization and stuff added from other books (e.g. sub-classes).
5.3 for revamped races and classes, alignment, racial bonuses.

I think it unlikely they'll go beyond that, but who knows.
 

FreeTheSlaves

Adventurer
There would be a heck of a lot of play testing and development to change the PHBs. It's the core product, man, stuff something like this up and they'll have another 4E on their hands and can kiss their jobs & reputations goodbye.

I see a lot of stick getting thrown at races and alignment in Enworld threads, but I'm betting doing those in would be cripplingly divisive. I for one wouldn't touch a product without.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
Several years before 5E there was a huge deal made out of playtesting and "D&D next" with the dragonspear campaign etc and dragon articles etc. No one was around guessing if a new edition was coming out WOTC was saying publicly it was and they very publicly did the largest playtest in history before it was published (which turned out to be a huge success).

We have seen none of that to date, as such I think there is absolutely no chance of a 6E in 2024. We will get some expanded rules that are consistent and entirely backwards-compatible with the current rule set I think.
 





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