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D&D 5E Long-term campaign setting plans (speculation)

Mercurius

Legend
After one setting supplement in the first four and a half years of 5E, we're now going to see the fifth such supplement in the last year and a half, starting with Ravnica in November of 2018 and ending with Mythic Odysseys of Theros in June of this year (if we include Acquisitions Incorporated as a setting book; if not, it is still four). While I'm hesitant to extrapolate from the past, as things can always change, it is interesting to note that of the five books, only one is a traditional D&D setting; two are Matthew Mercer's Exandria setting and two from Magic: the Gathering.

This got me wondering several related questions:

  1. What are the future plans of D&D with relation to settings? Are they going to be somewhat equally dividing their attention between Magic (Ravnica, Theros), classic D&D settings (Eberron), and new settings (Exandria)?
  2. Is this recent wealth of setting books an anomaly or a sign of things to come? And as a secondary question that may answer the primary one, how are these books selling compared to story arcs and rules supplements?
  3. Specific to Exandria: Will we see similar treatments of the other continents of Exandria--Marquet, Issylra, and the Shattered Teeth--as we saw of Wildemount (and Tal'Dorei via Critical Role publishing)?
  4. Specific to Magic: Which settings are next? (Assuming they continue to publish Magic settings, which seems an almost certainty, especially if Theros does as well as Ravnica did). This has been discussed elsewhere, so maybe doesn't need re-hashing.
  5. Which classic D&D setting is next?

My thoughts:

My guess is implied in the question above: I think WotC has a three-pronged approach: classic settings, Magic, and new settings. If I had to be more specific, I would guess that they'll publish one of each every other year, so we'll see 1-2 setting books per year. The next classic one in 2021, a Magic setting in 2021 or 2022, and a new setting book (either more Exandria or something else) in 2022.

For Exandria, I would guess they'll do at least one more book (2022?), possibly covering Issylra, Marquet, and the Shattered Teeth in one big book. Maybe in a few years (2024?) they'll do an expanded version of the Tal'Dorei book, published by WotC. Critical Role is very popular, and it just seems to be the logical thing to do. Plus, a trilogy of hardcovers that surveys the entire world has a nice ring to it.

As for classic settings, it is hard imagining not doing Xendrik and Sarlona, but my guess is that, especially considering Keith Baker is doing his own Eberron book, they won't expand upon Eberron, but move onto something else. My guess would be Dark Sun and Planescape are up next, in one order or the other. I don't see them doing Krynn, Greyhawk or Mystara, considering that the FR and Exandria have "vanilla-ish" fantasy covered well. Dark Sun awaits the psionics rules and Planescape would be a logical way to support higher level play, and they can fold elements of Spelljammer into it. A Faerun circa 1490s guidebook seems possible, but I wouldn't be surprised if they just continue using the Realms as the default setting for story arcs--so we'll probably see upcoming arcs set in the Dalelands/Cormyr/Sembia/Moonsea (Myth Drannor?), maybe Thay/Aglarond, and possibly Mulhorand/Unther/Plains of Purple Dust (Desert of Desolation?).

What say you?
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
First thought: you mention two Wxandria products, but there has just been one. Acquisitions Incorporated certainly is a Setting book, but it is set in the Forgotten Realms. So that's two traditional D&D Settings, two Magic and one and a half licensed.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think further Magic Settings are likely (to the extent that eventually I can forsee them co-developing a Setting new to both systems from the ground up!), and further classic Settings are certain. I don't know what other licensed Settings they would even want to do, but they've been awhile to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
 

The D&D RPG team is pretty small still, so just getting three new hardcovers out each year is tricky. Which is why they often rely on reprints in the spring. But people like quarterly books and slightly more frequent releases...

The MtG books help with that, as the bulk of those books can be written by the MtG story team. I expect we'll continue to see one of those every couple years as a "bonus" book.

I doubt we'll see another Critical Role book for a while. Wildemount was made possible because Matthew Mercer has extensive notes necassary for the campaign, which were expanded by freelancers. Any other book will require a lot more work by him and other parties. There's not a year of campaigns and prep to use as a foundation.

For classic settings... I expect Dark Sun. Because they can fill the book with new monsters and the psionicst.
And... that's it.
I just don't see them doing expansions on Eberron. That material is done and there's just less incentive to purchase without new class options. And other settings offer so little else. Dark Sun next fall in 2021, a new MtG setting 2022 and that's it for settings.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The D&D RPG team is pretty small still, so just getting three new hardcovers out each year is tricky. Which is why they often rely on reprints in the spring. But people like quarterly books and slightly more frequent releases...

The MtG books help with that, as the bulk of those books can be written by the MtG story team. I expect we'll continue to see one of those every couple years as a "bonus" book.

I doubt we'll see another Critical Role book for a while. Wildemount was made possible because Matthew Mercer has extensive notes necassary for the campaign, which were expanded by freelancers. Any other book will require a lot more work by him and other parties. There's not a year of campaigns and prep to use as a foundation.

For classic settings... I expect Dark Sun. Because they can fill the book with new monsters and the psionicst.
And... that's it.
I just don't see them doing expansions on Eberron. That material is done and there's just less incentive to purchase without new class options. And other settings offer so little else. Dark Sun next fall in 2021, a new MtG setting 2022 and that's it for settings.

The WotC D&D team is maybe less small than you remember these days. Folks like Dan Dillon, Ari Levitch, Adam Lee, Wesley Schneider, Kate Welch, Chris Perkins, Jeremey Crawford can put out a few books a year.

Dark Sun, Planescape, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Spelljammer, and even a fuller treatment of Ravenloft seem likely for classic Settings. Maybe even Birthright. A stream of Magic Settings seems probable at this point. Gamma World or Star Frontier are also feasible.
 

The WotC D&D team is maybe less small than you remember these days. Folks like Dan Dillon, Ari Levitch, Adam Lee, Wesley Schneider, Kate Welch, Chris Perkins, Jeremey Crawford can put out a few books a year.

Dark Sun, Planescape, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Spelljammer, and even a fuller treatment of Ravenloft seem likely for classic Settings. Maybe even Birthright. A stream of Magic Settings seems probable at this point. Gamma World or Star Frontier are also feasible.
And yet the actual number of books released in house hasn’t increased. And has actually decreased as only two books in 2019—and likely 2020—were done by that “larger” WotC team.

They’re doing more stuff (licensed starter sets) but not as much for us traditional and established fans.

-Edit-
Ravnica kinda has killed the niche for Planescape. I can’t see them doing Sigil now. Greyhawk is problematic and doesn’t really need updating: you can buy a PoD copy of the folio and have enough to run. They already did the iconic Dragonlance campaign with Tyranny of Dragons, so that likely won’t return. Plus, that audience is starkly divided between people who liked old Dragonlance and people who prefer the new 5th Age. And Ravenloft is “done” as far as they’re concerned.
The kingdom management of Birthright is interesting. But they could just as easily do that in the Realms.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
And yet the actual number of books released in house hasn’t increased. And has actually decreased as only two books in 2019—and likely 2020—were done by that “larger” WotC team.

They’re doing more stuff (licensed starter sets) but not as much for us traditional and established fans.

-Edit-
Ravnica kinda has killed the niche for Planescape. I can’t see them doing Sigil now. Greyhawk is problematic and doesn’t really need updating: you can buy a PoD copy of the folio and have enough to run. They already did the iconic Dragonlance campaign with Tyranny of Dragons, so that likely won’t return. Plus, that audience is starkly divided between people who liked old Dragonlance and people who prefer the new 5th Age. And Ravenloft is “done” as far as they’re concerned.
The kingdom management of Birthright is interesting. But they could just as easily do that in the Realms.

Acquisitions Incorporated was done by the Penny Arcade people, but Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Descent into Avernus, Eberron (with Baker's contribution), the Essentials Set and the Rick & Morty set were all done in-house in 2019.

Ravnica and Planescape don't really cover much similar territory, frankly. I have little doubt we will see Planescape get a 5E Setting book at some point. Dragonlance is very popular, so I would not count it out either.
 

Acquisitions Incorporated was done by the Penny Arcade people, but Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Descent into Avernus, Eberron (with Baker's contribution), the Essentials Set and the Rick & Morty set were all done in-house in 2019.

Ravnica and Planescape don't really cover much similar territory, frankly. I have little doubt we will see Planescape get a 5E Setting book at some point. Dragonlance is very popular, so I would not count it out either.
Actually... Ghosts of Saltmarsh was done by Wolfgang Baur and some Kobold Press freelancers
Descent into Avernus featured a staggering number of freelancers helping. And, as you said, Eberron was largely done by Keith Baker copying his work in Wayfarer’s Guide.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Actually... Ghosts of Saltmarsh was done by Wolfgang Baur and some Kobold Press freelancers
Descent into Avernus featured a staggering number of freelancers helping. And, as you said, Eberron was largely done by Keith Baker copying his work in Wayfarer’s Guide.

The conversions of the modules were Baur & Winter, but the sandbox and the vehicle rules were in house. Sure, there were a lot of freelancers on Avernus, there always are, but Adam Lee did the lion's share of work, to my knowledge. Eberron had a lot more material than the prototype guide, written...in-house.

They've also hired a bunch of in-house people in the past year, and their growing freelancer pool is surely a plus for their ability to put out a few books a year. Settings, it seems if done right, can be very big. With Ravnica and Eberron, they seemed to crack the nut on how to do that effectively, and have begun capitalizing on that.
 

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