D&D 5E Further Future D&D Product Speculation

TheSword

Legend
The best arguments I've heard include:

1. Encountering slavery is hurtful and traumatizing to people, including already marginalized people.
2. You're not going to get an authentic examination of the human misery and suffering caused by slavery in D&D, and publishing a "sanitized" slavery regime is a bad look.

Paizo has stated they aren't excising references to slavery from already published works, but they won't have any stories that reference slavery going forward. I'd be surprised if Wizards takes a different approach.
There is a way around that. Just replace the word slave with the expression ‘Prisoners with jobs’. Surely we can be a bit post modern about this.

In any Dark Sun campaign I would definitely have a High Templar (if not Sorcerer king) based on Jeff Goldblum.

 
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Mercurius

Legend
I don't really want to get into hypotheticals, as Jeff Grubb is not a cultural consultant, and does not AFAIK have any degrees showing expertise in the Near/Middle East.

I would say it is in good form to get cultural consultants and experts advisors... who are actually members of the community being adapted?
I personally see it as a bit artificial and unnecessary, for a variety of reasons. For one, the "community" being adapted--in the case of a 5E Al-Qadim product--is an amalgam of Medieval and Ancient Middle Eastern cultures, folklore, legends, and myths, and just pure fantasy ideas. As far as I know, there aren't any ancient Sumerians available ;). But more seriously, there probably isn't any one person, or even small group of people, that are members of all cultures involved, even if we take their contemporary correlates (not to mention, ancient Sumer and modern Iraq are only very tenuously connected).

Not to mention, if WotC held this standard, then they'd need to apply it to all products - not just non-Western. Consider all the little elements that go into, say, the North of the Forgotten Realms...how to assign a cultural consultant to that, and what would they need to be an expert of? Meaning, if ethnic representation becomes a requirement in this regard, why is an American any more qualified to write about a setting inspired by Northern European cultures than one inspired by Middle Eastern cultures?

Now if it were a book that was meant to represent a modern, real-world culture, that would be a different thing. Or if it is a very specific culture or historical period, then the relevant consult would be a good thing.

But for fantasy books that are inspired by a variety of sources, I think the key is a combination of good research and awareness (and avoidance) of stereotypes and negative depictions. That said, I can see how having someone with relevant training in catching such things would be useful to have involved, but I don't think it has to be an Arab consultant for Al-Qadim, just as I don't think it has to be a Germanic (or whatever) consultant for the North.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I repeat. Whipper snapper.

Well, I'm not saying they were poorly received, broadly speaking. I'm pointing out that there's a difference between sales and reception among old fans.

Sales will be wildly high considering 5E is the most popular edition of D&D ever. That doesn't mean old fans like the new stuff.

There are more fans now than there ever were before. Even if all the new fans bought the new stuff and all the old fans didn't...5E would still be wildly popular. It's not an either, or.

It sells well =/= old fans like it. That's literally the only point I'm trying to make.
It doesn't mean old fans don't like it, either.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
I personally see it as a bit artificial and unnecessary, for a variety of reasons. For one, the "community" being adapted--in the case of a 5E Al-Qadim product--is an amalgam of Medieval and Ancient Middle Eastern cultures, folklore, legends, and myths, and just pure fantasy ideas. As far as I know, there aren't any ancient Sumerians available ;). But more seriously, there probably isn't any one person, or even small group of people, that are members of all cultures involved, even if we take their contemporary correlates (not to mention, ancient Sumer and modern Iraq are only very tenuously connected).

Not to mention, if WotC held this standard, then they'd need to apply it to all products - not just non-Western. Consider all the little elements that go into, say, the North of the Forgotten Realms...how to assign a cultural consultant to that, and what would they need to be an expert of? Meaning, if ethnic representation becomes a requirement in this regard, why is an American any more qualified to write about a setting inspired by Northern European cultures than one inspired by Middle Eastern cultures?

Now if it were a book that was meant to represent a modern, real-world culture, that would be a different thing. Or if it is a very specific culture or historical period, then the relevant consult would be a good thing.

But for fantasy books that are inspired by a variety of sources, I think the key is a combination of good research and awareness (and avoidance) of stereotypes and negative depictions. That said, I can see how having someone with relevant training in catching such things would be useful to have involved, but I don't think it has to be an Arab consultant for Al-Qadim, just as I don't think it has to be a Germanic (or whatever) consultant for the North.

WotC has absolutely started hiring cultural consultants everytime they cover material that is not Europe-inspired. The criticism of Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd largely cemented that it needed to be constant going forward.

I mean, just recently MTG released Kamigawa, and a cultural consultant was one of the speakers in the announcement event/video. The company takes this stuff very seriously now.

And please, don't say "oh this area is too big, you'd need to hire a cultural consultant for every culture is impossible" (wrong) or "what-about-EUROPE" (who cares). Not debating these logic fallacies, not worth my time.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Right. As I said. But WotC won’t do that because it would mean publishing a setting where slavery is a defining characteristic.
It's already a major part of the game as I linked several exampled some pages back.

It's in the PHB and DMG, used by 4 or 5 races. It's in Acquisitions Incorporated. It's in Eberron. It's in Xanathar's, including for use in PCs' backgrounds. It's in Wildemount. It's in Ravnica. It's in Mordenkainen's. It's in Theros. It's in Sword Coast. It's in Volo's. It's in Minsc and Boo. It's in the MM.

That's almost every book put out and every setting that I can search through. I doubt that they will remove it from Dark Sun or shy away from making Dark Sun because of slavery. If Dark Sun is made, it will come with a warning at the beginning of the setting book, as well as advice on how to limit or get rid of it should you want to.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I am a bit lost imagining which traditional dnd settings they are planning to revamp...

I don't think psionics are blocking Dark Sun... don't we already have psionics in Tasha's book? I rather think the problem is that there are no religions and very restricted magic in Dark Sun. You can't easily market a setting which makes the majority of the core books unusable.

Mystara and Greyhawk, I still don't know what distinct features they have. They are like a less developed version of Forgotten Realms, with less magic, less monsters, less factions, less stories, less everything.

Birthright is interesting but has a very specific game element that may make it a bit too niche.

So that leaves Planescape as a safer bet, with the only caveat that without DiTerlizzi art it may just not capture the vibe.

Or, they could just revamp Forgotten Realms again. SCAG was regionally limited, they could cover a different area or zoom out over the whole Faerun. But I would expect this for after the 50th anniversary edition so that they can present another cosmic deity-slaughtering continent-rearrangin cataclism to represent that now everyone got a free feat.
 

TheSword

Legend
Planescape surely is too close to Radiant Citadel and Spelljammer. That’s three books in two years based on extra-planar weirdness. Surely they need something a bit more grounded in place.

I’m dying for something like Ghosts of Saltmarsh, that takes a finite place or perhaps two or three and develops it over the course of a campaign. Rather than recreating the D&D equivalent of Star Trek or The Librarians.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
One thought that keeps nudging at the back of my mind--and I was reminded of when, I think, Ruin Explorer said "let's kill Kalak again!"--is that some of these settings have been largely untouched for decades. I mean, even 4E Dark Sun was 12 years ago, and 2E Dark Sun was first published 31 years ago (and only had a six-year run). So with Dark Sun, we have a setting that was published for a bit over a half-decade 25-30 years ago, then briefly resuscitated 12 years ago.

Now on the other hand, consider that the vast majority of the current player base is under 30 years old and also--and more importantly--never played D&D before 5E. Meaning, I'm fairly certain that 80-90% of current D&D players have never killed Kalak - and it may be more like 95%. Meaning, killing Kalak would be a new and potentially novel experience for most.

Now let's think of "Killing Kalak" as a proverb. In other words, as a general principle for something that older folks--be they grognards or quasi-grognards--have done, but younger folks (newish players) likely haven't.
Even some of us old grogs never got to kill Kalak. We read about it in the novels.

I do think if they put out a Dark Sun book it should roll back the setting to the original boxed set, with Kalak alive. That would be a fantastic adventure path. Killing Kalak. But, again, you'd run into all the problems of slavery being such a huge part of the setting. It could be done, of course, I just don't think WotC is willing to do it. At least, not in a way that won't either offend or piss off a large chunk of some group with a stake in the setting. I mean, look at the Ravenloft book. One of the Domains of Dread was a plantation with slavery in the original, but was changed to a prison in the new one. They're not likely to touch Dark Sun without ripping that part out of it.
 

teitan

Legend
WotC has absolutely started hiring cultural consultants everytime they cover material that is not Europe-inspired. The criticism of Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd largely cemented that it needed to be constant going forward.

I mean, just recently MTG released Kamigawa, and a cultural consultant was one of the speakers in the announcement event/video. The company takes this stuff very seriously now.

And please, don't say "oh this area is too big, you'd need to hire a cultural consultant for every culture is impossible" (wrong) or "what-about-EUROPE" (who cares). Not debating these logic fallacies, not worth my time.
I think, looking at products for 5e from actual European countries, that MAYBE, WOtC ought to hire European cultural consultants if that’s a criteria because their Medieval European culture is pretty caricature and way off base. The handling of Fey is definitely not authentic at all to cultural roots and a caricature based on Americanizing of Celtic, Gaelic, Finnish and Nordic faerie tales.

I’m not joking. All that said though, I still love D&D lore for being unique and different and interesting takes on old ideas, giving them a new spin that the only reason people think they’re stale and old hate is because they’ve been swiped by video games and non-licensed fantasy authors making them the norm. See The Witcher using the D&D chromatic and metallic dragons.
 

TheSword

Legend
Even some of us old grogs never got to kill Kalak. We read about it in the novels.

I do think if they put out a Dark Sun book it should roll back the setting to the original boxed set, with Kalak alive. That would be a fantastic adventure path. Killing Kalak. But, again, you'd run into all the problems of slavery being such a huge part of the setting. It could be done, of course, I just don't think WotC is willing to do it. At least, not in a way that won't either offend or piss off a large chunk of some group with a stake in the setting. I mean, look at the Ravenloft book. One of the Domains of Dread was a plantation with slavery in the original, but was changed to a prison in the new one. They're not likely to touch Dark Sun without ripping that part out of it.
So if you want to kill Kalak. Dig out the Campaign Hell’s Rebels by Paizo. Reskin it to Darksun, and make Khalak the big bad. Replace the opera with the arena. It is a perfect revolution based campaign across 1-14 levels. If Dark Sun is released as a setting book but not a campaign for 5e then I would definitely run that.

Part 1: The heroes get caught up in a crackdown on freedoms in the city and become designated as rebels.
Part 2: The heroes discover and then clear a hideout in the city, complete with lingering magical protections (an old Veiled Alliance safehouse?)
Part 3: The Heroes seek allies from outside the city (a rival sorcerer king, one of the slave tribes, or the halflings of the forest ridge?
Part 4: The rebellion happens across the city
Part 5: The heroes have to secure the city and deal with the aftermath, including a threat they created themselves in part 2.
Part 6: Their ex ruler isn’t finished with them and reaches out from beyond the grave/the grey. The Pcs have to end the ex rulers threat for good.
 
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teitan

Legend
Planescape surely is too close to Radiant Citadel and Spelljammer. That’s three books in two years based on extra-planar weirdness. Surely they need something a bit more grounded in place.

I’m dying for something like Ghosts of Saltmarsh, that takes a finite place or perhaps two or three and develops it over the course of a campaign. Rather than recreating the D&D equivalent of Star Trek or The Librarians.
You don’t really know yet about either. Spelljammer’s planar component may just be limited to the astral and the Radiant Citadel similarly limited as well.
 

With all the discussions about a 5e Al-Qadim, the thing is, we have an updated Zakhara product, created with the help of cultural consultants, on the DM's Guild. It seems to do very well with keeping the setting more or less intact while dealing with the previously questionable material and issues. If a DM's Guild product can do that, why not WotC?

Why argue about hypotheticals? Read it (or at least the previews) and see if it's a successful update or not. What was done right, or wrong? How, if necessary, could WotC improve on it? As I said, I'm of the opinion they did just fine. What are others' opinions?
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
With all the discussions about a 5e Al-Qadim, the thing is, we have an updated Zakhara product, created with the help of cultural consultants, on the DM's Guild. It seems to do very well with keeping the setting more or less intact while dealing with the previously questionable material and issues. If a DM's Guild product can do that, why not WotC?

Why argue about hypotheticals? Read it (or at least the previews) and see if it's a successful update or not. What was done right, or wrong? How, if necessary, could WotC improve on it? As I said, I'm of the opinion they did just fine. What are others' opinions?
It’s a good book. They replaced a few words, tried to update kits, and had some good ideas. I don’t like the mechanics they presented, but the overview and lore text they did was great.

That’s why I said upthread that WotC should just hire them to update Al-Qadim.
 

It’s a good book. They replaced a few words, tried to update kits, and had some good ideas. I don’t like the mechanics they presented, but the overview and lore text they did was great.

That’s why I said upthread that WotC should just hire them to update Al-Qadim.
Right. But people were still discussing it as a hypothetical. I'm simply trying to draw attention to the fact that it's not hypothetical, but something that has actually already been done.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So if you want to kill Khalak. Dig out the Campaign Hell’s Rebels by Paizo. Reskin it to Darksun, and make Khalak the big bad. Replace the opera with the arena. It is a perfect revolution based campaign across 1-14 levels. If Dark Sun is released as a setting book but not a campaign for 5e then I would definitely run that.

Part 1: The heroes get caught up in a crackdown on freedoms in the city and become designated as rebels.
Part 2: The heroes discover and then clear a hideout in the city, complete with lingering magical protections (an old Veiled Alliance safehouse?)
Part 3: The Heroes seek allies from outside the city (a rival sorcerer king, one of the slave tribes, or the halflings of the forest ridge?
Part 4: The rebellion happens across the city
Part 5: The heroes have to secure the city and deal with the aftermath, including a threat they created themselves in part 2.
Part 6: Their ex ruler isn’t finished with them and reaches out from beyond the grave/the grey. The Pcs have to end the ex rulers threat for good.
As a broad idea, sure. Though I’d argue with the specifics. To even have a chance against a sorcerer-king the PCs would need to be 20th level. A sorcerer-king would laugh and wipe the floor with a 14th-level party. The sorcerer-kings are seven of the eight most powerful beings on the planet.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Planescape surely is too close to Radiant Citadel and Spelljammer. That’s three books in two years based on extra-planar weirdness. Surely they need something a bit more grounded in place.

I’m dying for something like Ghosts of Saltmarsh, that takes a finite place or perhaps two or three and develops it over the course of a campaign. Rather than recreating the D&D equivalent of Star Trek or The Librarians.
Weird is hip.

On the other hand, they do have Dragonlance coming up this year, and next year would be an opportune time for a Dominaria product for the 30th anniversary of Magic, if they want some Basic Fantasy stuff.
 

TheSword

Legend
As a broad idea, sure. Though I’d argue with the specifics. To even have a chance against a sorcerer-king the PCs would need to be 20th level. A sorcerer-king would laugh and wipe the floor with a 14th-level party. The sorcerer-kings are seven of the eight most powerful beings on the planet.
In 5e, with the right tools, I think they could kill a CR 20-23 creature at level 14. Don’t forget an 18th level Archmage is a CR 12 creature.
 

They gotta bring back real half-giants though, not goliaths. I still can't stand that they did that.
We've had Medium half giants for longer than we've have Large ones at this point. Like, seriously, medium half giants existed before Goliaths did and pre-date them by a year. Heck, Goliath's earliest version was just "Take the psionics away from half giants and give them survival stuff"
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I am a bit lost imagining which traditional dnd settings they are planning to revamp...

I don't think psionics are blocking Dark Sun... don't we already have psionics in Tasha's book? I rather think the problem is that there are no religions and very restricted magic in Dark Sun. You can't easily market a setting which makes the majority of the core books unusable.
What I think they could do is assign the domains to the various elements in the same way they assign them to gods. If you're a cleric of water, you can pick from the Life, Nature, or Tempest domains; if you're a cleric of Fire, you can pick Forge, Light, or War. They could even create expanded spell lists for each element and say that you can, should, or even have to replace the expanded domains spells in the existing domains with the elemental ones. E.g., it doesn't matter what domain you take. If you're an Air cleric, your 1st-level domain spells are feather fall and thunderwave (or whatever). If they include the paraelements, then they have even more options. Some of the existing domains, like Trickery or Death, might be hard to place, but they might represent rogue clerics (not rogue/clerics!) who eschew the traditional elemental setup or follow a twisted version of a normal elemental or something like that.

They could, of course, simply create four new elemental domains and say the other domains don't exist or are vanishingly rare.

Now, I'm not sure how they would do defiling/preserving magic, because I honestly can't remember how they did it in 2e.

Mystara and Greyhawk, I still don't know what distinct features they have. They are like a less developed version of Forgotten Realms, with less magic, less monsters, less factions, less stories, less everything.
I doubt that either of those settings has "less stories," since there are nearly an infinite number of stories that can be told in any setting--including the real world, which has no magic or monsters. All you need is creativity. I'm sure there are factions in Mystara and Greyhawk, and that those settings have enough room to add new ones without stepping on anyone's toes or annoying the die-hard fans. Provided that they're not just copies of the Realms' factions, of course.

What Greyhwak and possibly Mystara (don't know enough about that setting, beyond its kitchen-sink approach) would need is a bit of a primer on how to run gritty, lower-fantasy games. But they did small primers on different types of horror game in Ravenloft, so I imagine that it would be easy for them to spend a page or two on that. Most of the lower-magic aspects of those settings is that they were developed at a time when there stat and race requirements for classes so many of the caster classes were made rarer. It was harder to become a ranger or paladin (or illusionist) and bizarrely difficult to become a bard. The primer for a 5e game would simply need to emphasize that magic users of any type are a lot rarer than they are in the Realms.

Or, they could just revamp Forgotten Realms again. SCAG was regionally limited, they could cover a different area or zoom out over the whole Faerun. But I would expect this for after the 50th anniversary edition so that they can present another cosmic deity-slaughtering continent-rearrangin cataclism to represent that now everyone got a free feat.
As long as they stay away from the Sword Coast, which has been done to death. Bored Coast, actually.
 

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