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D&D 5E How would you improve Dragon+, WotC's Online Magazine?

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Hi all! So I'm making this thread for the simple reason that I have noticed a great deal of nostalgia for the original Dragon magazines, and even the Dungeon magazines. Plus a great deal of appreciation for newer 3rd-party zines, and the success of MCDM's Arcadia.

This same appreciation doesn't seem to exist for WotC's current online magazine, Dragon+. I'm not really surprised this is the case as a huge bulk of the book is adverts for their own products.

But imagine a hypothetical situation; you've been hired onto the WotC team, specifically to pitch ideas for the Dragon+ magazine. You don't have a ton of power and can't start the magazine from scratch, but you are responsible for pitching new ideas to include or replace ones in Dragon+. What would you pitch?

My idea; I would in my spare time convert some of the most popular adventures from the original Dragon/Dungeon magazines for 5E, and release one for each new issue of Dragon+. No new art or maps or anything, just updated statblocks and DCs for the traps and such. I'd try to keep most of the text the same. That would in my mind gives folks a lot of the nostalgia, be fairly cheap to produce, and give people a hook to check out the magazine that a lot of folks don't have!
 

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pming

Hero
Hiya!

Er... I don't think its "nostalgia", tbh.

The old mags, from day one on, had multiple things going for it;

(1) Physical, Tangible Item. It's made of dead tree and ink. You can read it, sure, but you also FEEL it, you SMELL it and you HEAR it. Digital? You see it...and it's not even the same kind of seeing (re: digital is 'transmissive' light, not 'reflected' light). These are HUGE advantages to have over a digital version. We humans like our senses and we use them all the time. It's how we learn. It's why many of us can read a physical magazine article once and remember it...but need to read a digital article multiple times and still get things wrong (ok, from my experience and those of my older friends; our brains aren't "wired for digital"...so maybe it different with the youngsters now...).

(2) I can pass it to a Player at the table to read or take home. Another big advantage.

(3) I OWN it...meaning I can do what I want with it. I can keep it. Write in it. Give it away. Sell it. Or whatever else. I am the one in control of my purchased product...not a massive company.

(4) I can take it with me to places where there is no electricity or active internet. That means camping, road trips, ocean Caribbean cruise, or just in the car as I drive my parents around town to do their shopping and whatnot while I wait in the car.

Those features are not "nostalgia". They are VERY desirable things from a consumer standpoint. I'd take a physical, b/w paper book over a fancy full-colour-with-animation-and-sound digital 'book' every single time! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
Hiya!

Er... I don't think its "nostalgia", tbh.

The old mags, from day one on, had multiple things going for it;

(1) Physical, Tangible Item. It's made of dead tree and ink. You can read it, sure, but you also FEEL it, you SMELL it and you HEAR it. Digital? You see it...and it's not even the same kind of seeing (re: digital is 'transmissive' light, not 'reflected' light). These are HUGE advantages to have over a digital version. We humans like our senses and we use them all the time. It's how we learn. It's why many of us can read a physical magazine article once and remember it...but need to read a digital article multiple times and still get things wrong (ok, from my experience and those of my older friends; our brains aren't "wired for digital"...so maybe it different with the youngsters now...).

(2) I can pass it to a Player at the table to read or take home. Another big advantage.

(3) I OWN it...meaning I can do what I want with it. I can keep it. Write in it. Give it away. Sell it. Or whatever else. I am the one in control of my purchased product...not a massive company.

(4) I can take it with me to places where there is no electricity or active internet. That means camping, road trips, ocean Caribbean cruise, or just in the car as I drive my parents around town to do their shopping and whatnot while I wait in the car.

Those features are not "nostalgia". They are VERY desirable things from a consumer standpoint. I'd take a physical, b/w paper book over a fancy full-colour-with-animation-and-sound digital 'book' every single time! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
Printers exist.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Hiya!

Er... I don't think its "nostalgia", tbh.

The old mags, from day one on, had multiple things going for it;

(1) Physical, Tangible Item. It's made of dead tree and ink. You can read it, sure, but you also FEEL it, you SMELL it and you HEAR it. Digital? You see it...and it's not even the same kind of seeing (re: digital is 'transmissive' light, not 'reflected' light). These are HUGE advantages to have over a digital version. We humans like our senses and we use them all the time. It's how we learn. It's why many of us can read a physical magazine article once and remember it...but need to read a digital article multiple times and still get things wrong (ok, from my experience and those of my older friends; our brains aren't "wired for digital"...so maybe it different with the youngsters now...).

(2) I can pass it to a Player at the table to read or take home. Another big advantage.

(3) I OWN it...meaning I can do what I want with it. I can keep it. Write in it. Give it away. Sell it. Or whatever else. I am the one in control of my purchased product...not a massive company.

(4) I can take it with me to places where there is no electricity or active internet. That means camping, road trips, ocean Caribbean cruise, or just in the car as I drive my parents around town to do their shopping and whatnot while I wait in the car.

Those features are not "nostalgia". They are VERY desirable things from a consumer standpoint. I'd take a physical, b/w paper book over a fancy full-colour-with-animation-and-sound digital 'book' every single time! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming

I probably should have put this in my OP, but I don't think a physical product is on the table... yes WotC has the resources, but everyone I've spoken to has said that a print magazine is not really a profitable enterprise. MCDM has spoken repeatedly on why a print version isn't possible.
 

dave2008

Legend
I may be one of the odd balls that really likes Dragon+; however, I think it could easily be improved. IMO, what it needs is simply more stuff and a return to some classic series. So, my pitch would be:

More content:
  • More adventures
  • Alternate rules (not just UA, or introduce UA firsts with Dragon+)
  • Maybe a 1-20 AP
  • DM Advice
Bring Back:
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre
  • Demonomicon of Iggwilv
  • Lords of Chaos (4e)
  • Deities and Demigods (at least 4e)
  • Dragon's Bestiary and/or Ecology of ....series
 
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grimslade

Doddering Old Git
I think the problem with Dragon+ is that it is exclusively an advertisement to whatever the current WotC offerings are. It is trade dress masquerading as content. Original content sprinkled in with pimping the released hardback would go a long way. It would require greater editing resources, however, so there is a cost. Right now we pay nothing for Dragon+, so I expect nothing of it.
 


jgsugden

Legend
An online magazine is just a gaming website with a content release schedule.

To preserve what Dragon meant to older players, it needs to provide new things to add to the game that are not just easily available online elsewhere. That is a really hard charge for an online offering. As such, I think that Dragon should return to the realms of a physical product, but not a magazine.

If I were to reboot Dragon, the ideal version to me would be:

1.) Quarterly.
2.) Supported by WotC to allow for the inclusion of content related to Adventure Paths, etc...
3.) Would include props for in person gaming (Terrain, miniatures, initiatives trackers, DM screens, condition markers, distance measuring devices, flying platforms, spell cards, spell templates, Deck of Many Things, Bag of Tricks with Tokens for the Summons, etc....)

That would be the modern equivalent of what Dragon used to do for me as a DM.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think the problem with Dragon+ is that it is exclusively an advertisement to whatever the current WotC offerings are. It is trade dress masquerading as content. Original content sprinkled in with pimping the released hardback would go a long way. It would require greater editing resources, however, so there is a cost. Right now we pay nothing for Dragon+, so I expect nothing of it.
Well that is not completely true. There is a lot of advertising and "synergy," but there is also some new original content. Unfortunately, I think there has been less of that recently.
 

I've little use for promo material for books I'm already going to buy. The behind the scenes interviews and whatnot are kinda neat, but I barely notice when a new issue drops.

I've been reading lots of old Dragons lately, and the content that holds up (for me, this is subjective), isn't always the hard rules stuff. Yes, there are some great magic items and spells and classes in old Dragons. But in this day and age, I don't think people want someone showing up to their table with some random spell that isn't in any of the books. Instead, its things like the Ecology articles or Wyrms of the North, the lore that expands the world and inspires DMs. The comics also do it for me - something longform like a Wormy or a Snarfquest would be great to see again.

This same appreciation doesn't seem to exist for WotC's current online magazine, Dragon+. I'm not really surprised this is the case as a huge bulk of the book is adverts for their own products.

Seeing issues of Dragon magazine on the shelves helped get me into gaming in the 80s, and back into gaming in 2002. There's something to be said for having that physical presence where people can stumble across it.
Printers exist.
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
Actual content that isn't advertising would be a good start. So many OLD articles hold up today, about dungeons and wilderness and Hell and, well, so much. How to play, how to DM, how to design almost anything. The old magazines are gold mines of info. NO ONE is going to look back at Dragon+ and type that 20 years from now.......

As for Dungeon magazine, we just got that in Candlekeep, IMO. Now, I'm not sure any of these will be classics, but there are some good ones in there.
 


Marc Radle

Adventurer
Yeah, I REALLY miss Dragon as a print mag. There is nothing quite like a professionally produced physical magazine (or module, book etc.)

The online thing is, as has been said earlier, just a stylized website with a release schedule.
 

Stormonu

Legend
A POD (Print on Demand) option for subscribers or one-off orders (could do this through DriveThruRPG).

Throw in a "Map of Mystery" with each issue, as everyone can always use an unkeyed map to populate.

A Rogue's Gallery article that devotes a page (+ possibly stat block) to an interesting NPC that can be injected into a game - could be an ally, nemesis, henchmen or other NPC the characters could encounter, possibly something that could be bumped up to a PC as a sidekick character.

An "Advanced" article that takes some aspect of the game and delves deeper into it for those that want more intricate rules for a subject. Things like suggestions for crafting, starting a side business, ruling a keep, spells with consequences/corrupting magic, more intricate subclasses and the like. With a firm preamble that these are optional rules for those that want the extra detail.

A research article relating to gaming. It doesn't have to be too in-depth, but something that can provide an overview of a subject and a jumping off point for encouraging the reader to take a deeper dive into the subject if it interests them.
 

This same appreciation doesn't seem to exist for WotC's current online magazine, Dragon+. I'm not really surprised this is the case as a huge bulk of the book is adverts for their own products.
I mean, the main thing I'd do would be fill it with content, instead of adverts.

That's why no-one likes it. Because the actual content is near-zero. Dragon had:

Articles with rules and ideas from both WotC people and third-party people - tons of them, this was the bulk of it
Opinion pieces
A help column
Comics
Reviews

And so on.

Dragon+ has pretty much NONE of that. Even just like, a handful of articles, which had the same status as UA, rules-wise, would take it from "ignore studiously" to "read every issue" for a huge number of people, and it would actually get talked about.
 

ART!

Hero
I think just a wider variety of content - maybe even just added incrementally to see what people respond to - would get me to check it out more often. As is, I checked out a couple issues when I first downloaded the app, and haven't checked back since.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I'd just like there to be an option to download individual articles in pdf. There's an early article on world building that I'd love having an easily accessible version of.
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
I think WotC believes that DMsGuild fulfills the other aspects of old Dragon and Dungeon. You can get new rules and scenarios for a small fee. They don't have to expend for editors and still get a cut.
 

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