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5E Kate Welch on Leaving WotC

Kate Welch left Wizards of the Coast a few days ago, on August 16th. Soon after, she talked a little about it in a live-stream.

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She started work at WotC as a game designer back in February 2018, and has contributed to various products since then, such as Ghosts of Saltmarsh and Descent into Avernus, as well as being a participant in WotC's livestreams. In December 2019, her job changed to that of 'senior user experience designer'.

"I mentioned yesterday that I have some big news that I wouldn't be able to share until today.

The big news that I have to share with you today is that I ... this is difficult, but ... I quit my job at Wizards of the Coast. I no longer work at Wizards. Today was my last day. I haven't said it out loud yet so it's pretty major. I know... it's a big change. It's been scary, I have been there for almost three years, not that long, you know, as far as jobs go, and for a while there I really was having a good time. It's just not... it wasn't the right fit for me any more.

So, yeah, I don't really know what's next. I got no big plans. It's a big deal, big deal .... and I wanted to talk to you all about it because you're, as I've mentioned before, a source of great joy for me. One of the things that has been tough reckoning with this is that I've defined myself by Dungeons & Dragons for so long and I really wanted to be a part of continuing to make D&D successful and to grow it, to have some focus especially on new user experience, I think that the new user experience for Dungeons & Dragons is piss poor, and I've said that while employed and also after quitting.

But I've always wanted to be a part of getting D&D into the hands of more people and helping them understand what a life-changing game it is, and I hope I still get the chance to do that. But as of today I'm unemployed, and I also wanted to be upfront about it because I have this great fear that because Dungeons & Dragons has been part of my identity, professionally for the last three years almost, I was worried that a lot of you'll would not want to follow me any more because I'm not at Wizards, and there's definitely some glamourous aspects to being at Wizards."


She went on to talk about the future, and her hopes that she'll still be be able to work with WotC.

"I'm excited about continuing to play D&D, and hopefully Wizards will still want me to appear on their shows and stuff, we'll see, I have no idea. But one thing that I'm really excited about is that now I can play other TTRPGs. There's a policy that when you're a Wizards employee you can't stream other tabletop games. So there was a Call of Cthulhu game that we did with the C-team but we had to get very special permission for it, they were like OK but this is only a one time thing. I get it, you know, it's endorsing the competition or whatever, but I'm super excited to be able to have more freedom about the kinds of stuff that I'm getting involved with."
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I'm not sure you can make the PH an easier experience for new players without simplifying the rules and removing options. They've already gone a long way in that regard, far enough for the PH as far as I'm concerned. That's what the starter sets are for, and they all do a pretty good job in 5e. Focus on making those better, and opening new avenues to learn the game, and leave the corebook for people who want more than a starter set can offer.
I disagree.
 

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MockingBird

Explorer
I'm kinda late to the discussion. Looking back to some of the earlier posts got me thinking about my first experience with D&D or AD&D rather. I got into the game towards the end of TSR and AD&D. I lived in a small southern town so I didnt know anyone else who played the game or didn't think it was an entry point into devil worship.

During this time many of the starter sets and core books were scarce and my book store wasn't getting anymore in until the fate of TSR was resolved. I picked up the Players handbook with no idea how to play. This was before YouTube or Reddit. I had no one to show me the ropes. I taught myself how to play the game and how to DM. I proceeded to then teach my cousin and another friend how to play.

Fast forward to 5e. Now if a 10 yr old kid never having seen the game played back in the 90s can teach himself to play and DM the game its hard for me to believe that 5e is so complex that its impossible for new players to pick up. As long as there is a desire to learn it then it will be learned. It is light years easier with all the attention the game gets to learn the game if one really wants to. 5e has been the easiest game to teach out of all the other 4 editions. I dunno thats my unnecessary 2 cents to this discussion. Im no genius or wiz at math i just had a interest and desire to learn a game. Same with Axis and Allies, which to me is more complicated in a 10 pg pamphlet then 5e is over 3 books.
 


R_Chance

Adventurer
I disagree.
And I agree with him. I think it could be a bit easier... but easier is relative. Anything with the pile of information in a PHB is not going to be "easy peasey". You could streamline it, provide sidebars / flowcharts etc. but the sheer amount of information which the bulk of fans want in the PHB will make it difficult for any newcomer. Use "better techniques" (and ymmv on what those are) on an intro game and you're still going to have to reduce the mass of information (classes, races, spells, etc.) presented to make it "easier". My 2 cp of course.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I was paging through Arcana of the Ancients by Monte Cook Games, which basically ports the Numenara setting for 5e. I love how it keeps extra space for margins on the outer side of all pages which is uses to give play tips and cross-references to related rules with page numbers or related sections in adventures. That would have been VERY helpful with PHB.

The Arcana of the Ancients book demonstrates how you could make the PHB and DMG and especially adventure books far more user friendly without having the change the rules or even the overall organization of the material.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
And I agree with him. I think it could be a bit easier... but easier is relative. Anything with the pile of information in a PHB is not going to be "easy peasey". You could streamline it, provide sidebars / flowcharts etc. but the sheer amount of information which the bulk of fans want in the PHB will make it difficult for any newcomer. Use "better techniques" (and ymmv on what those are) on an intro game and you're still going to have to reduce the mass of information (classes, races, spells, etc.) presented to make it "easier". My 2 cp of course.
The information in the players handbook could easily be made much more accessible for new players simply by reorganizing it. 5e really isn’t a hard game to learn, but it does a terrible job of teaching itself.
 

The information in the players handbook could easily be made much more accessible for new players simply by reorganizing it. 5e really isn’t a hard game to learn, but it does a terrible job of teaching itself.
Does a trombone "teach itself"?

D&D is not meant to teach itself, and anyone who expects a new player to read the PHB before playing has unreasonable expectations.

How information is organised is a matter of personal taste, but simply reorganising the information isn't going to make a significant difference. There is still simply far to much volume of information for it to be reasonable to expect new players to digest it before playing.

The only way to make D&D a game you can "teach yourself" to to reduce the quantity of rules to something that would comfortably fit onto four sides of A4. That's about the most rules you can reasonably expect a player to digest before playing.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
D&D is not meant to teach itself,
Then it's poorly designed.

and anyone who expects a new player to read the PHB before playing has unreasonable expectations.
The problem is not on my end. It's lies with those who won't/don't read* - in a game so heavily based on reading. I refuse to lower my standards. Others can simply improve theirs.

*small children & the handicapped excepted - and the small children get taught to read.
 

Does a trombone "teach itself"?

D&D is not meant to teach itself, and anyone who expects a new player to read the PHB before playing has unreasonable expectations.

How information is organised is a matter of personal taste, but simply reorganising the information isn't going to make a significant difference. There is still simply far to much volume of information for it to be reasonable to expect new players to digest it before playing.

The only way to make D&D a game you can "teach yourself" to to reduce the quantity of rules to something that would comfortably fit onto four sides of A4. That's about the most rules you can reasonably expect a player to digest before playing.
Trombones don't teach themselves, no. That's why most who learn get a teacher or find a good beginner's book. The teacher in D&D is already covered. What we're discussing is getting a better beginner's book, not changing the way trombones work.
 

Trombones don't teach themselves, no. That's why most who learn get a teacher or find a good beginner's book. The teacher in D&D is already covered. What we're discussing is getting a better beginner's book, not changing the way trombones work.
If you think you can write a "beginner book" that actually works, I suggest you do so. In my experience, "beginner books" aren't worth the paper they are printed on, and are no substitute for a teacher.
 

Then it's poorly designed.
Are golf, knitting, embroidery, tennis, quilting, fishing, hunting, driving, dancing or playing a musical instrument "poorly designed"?

I would argue that any pastime that can be learned by reading a four page booklet is too simplistic to be worth bothering with.
The problem is not on my end. It's lies with those who won't/don't read* - in a game so heavily based on reading. I refuse to lower my standards. Others can simply improve theirs
Now this is gatekeeping! :mad:

D&D isn't based on reading, it's based on speaking and listening.
 

If you think you can write a "beginner book" that actually works, I suggest you do so. In my experience, "beginner books" aren't worth the paper they are printed on, and are no substitute for a teacher.
It's still better than trying to noodle about on your own without either. And just because it will never match a teacher, is no reason to not produce the best possible guide you can for those not fortunate enough to have a teacher.
 

It's still better than trying to noodle about on your own without either. And just because it will never match a teacher, is no reason to not produce the best possible guide you can for those not fortunate enough to have a teacher.
And if you think you can do significantly better than WotC's basic rules, I suggest you do so.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
You can design toast the rpg and some people gonna find it to complicated.

By now D&D more or less cones down to three books and each book is going to be over 300 pages.

That's D&D, you could tweak the PHB a bit but there's only so much you can do before you need 6E.
 

MGibster

Legend
I don't know why anyone would be hostile towards the idea of a Player's Handbook that was better organized and/or written in a manner as to be more friendly to new players. While I believe most new players come aboard with someone to teach them how to play, there are likely some new players who learn the game on their own and end up teaching it to others. It's nice that they can consult YouTube these days but if the PHB can be improved then why not?
 

Quick question - page 1 talks about Kate Welch leaving, then the next couple of pages head off in tangential discussions. Does anywhere else in the 25 pages of this thread touch back on the original subject of Kate Welch leaving? I just don't have the time to read through a 25 page thread and I have a suspicion if I've read page 1 I've read all the pertinent information on the subject of the thread. But if more information popped up, I'd appreciate a page number!
 

Insulting other members
I don't know why anyone would be hostile towards the idea of a Player's Handbook that was better organized and/or written in a manner as to be more friendly to new players.
It's more a case of thinking that the idea that shuffling that information around would make the slightest bit of difference to "the new player experience" is stupid.

How rules are presented is a matter of taste. I found the 4e rules inaccessible because they where presented as the rules to a combat boardgame rather than the chattier, storytelling approach of 5e.

But the fact is D&D has too many rules for any new player to absorb in one go. It doesn't matter how you present it, it is the amount, not the manner of presentation that makes D&D hard to learn without someone to teach it to you. I would also add that I don't see that as a problem. Things that are easy are rarely worth spending time on.

That being the case, the only possible way to make D&D more accessible is to take an axe to the rules and massively reduce the number.

Hence the hostility. People who claim that equating "improving the new player experience" and "dumbing down" is a strawman are living in cloud cuckoo land. It is not possible to do one without the other.
 

Quick question - page 1 talks about Kate Welch leaving, then the next couple of pages head off in tangential discussions. Does anywhere else in the 25 pages of this thread touch back on the original subject of Kate Welch leaving? I just don't have the time to read through a 25 page thread and I have a suspicion if I've read page 1 I've read all the pertinent information on the subject of the thread. But if more information popped up, I'd appreciate a page number!
No, no further information.
 

wicked cool

Explorer
Welch has not clarified her position? has she followed up on social media at all

It is sad that the kids from the 70's and 80's could teach themselves how to play D&D (Thaco was not easy)and this generation cant or is complaining at all. These starter editions are easier than 90% of the boardgames out there nevermind roleplaying games (i'd argue its easier than magic the gathering)

Im going to be that guy-Back in my day we didn't have a computer or a phone to help us with rules. We were able to jump from D&D to traveler to Star Frontiers, Gangbusters, James Bond, etc and I feel confident that we got the rules mostly right
 

Welch has not clarified her position? has she followed up on social media at all

It is sad that the kids from the 70's and 80's could teach themselves how to play D&D (Thaco was not easy)and this generation cant or is complaining at all.
That's kind of a misrepresentation. The younger players in my group have never complained.

I think some people think "more people would engage in [my hobby] if only [...]". It could be D&D, it could be sports, it could be whatever. The fact is, some (many) people are never going to be interested in an activity, no matter how "accessible" you make it. Different people like different hobbies. And that is a good thing. Pretty much everyone I know either plays D&D or would never-in-a-million-years play D&D, no matter how simple the rules where.
 

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