5E Mearls on other settings

I would counter, though, that if you go that route, you will lose some of the audience who aren't interested in a thematically "watered down" version of their setting.

The trick is to walk that narrow pathway that displeases the fewest of each chunk of audience. Now you're probably (and, IMO, unfortunately) correct that if you must piss off one or the other, you'll probably lose fewer of the die-hard fans if you make the settings more generic than you will the casual fans if you make them too restrictive. But I still feel that there's a middle ground that includes some level of omission/restriction, even if not as much as some die-hards would prefer.
The problem with this argument is whether adding new things to the setting (in terms of the PHB options) is "watering it down".

Settings grow and evolve, and sometimes they have to adjust to new material. Mystara in 2e had to find homes for multi-classing, rangers, bards, and half-elves. The 3e FRCS brought over all the planetouched races (previously from PS) to Faerun, as well as ret-conned the story. Arthaus Ravenloft had to contend with sorcerers, barbarians, monks, and half-orcs (the latter re-fluffed as Caliban). 3e Dragonlance did the same with Krynn as far as finding homes for sorcerers, monks, and such. 4e Eberron had to accommodate eladrin and dragonborn, 3e Dark Sun the psionic Handbook races, 4e Dark Sun a huge swath of PHB options like warlocks, bards, shaman, and sorcerers. Each of those settings were not ruined. They grew.

A few compromises can be reached (half-orcs were a poor fit for Ravenloft, so they replaced them with a mechanically similar yet thematically different race). But I think you'll see most, if not all, of the classes in PHB as well as a majority of the races have homes on Krynn, Athas, Cerelia, Mystara, Oerth, and Eberron. It makes sense to sell settings that can accommodate expansion. A DM who runs traditional Athas has little need for Volo's Guide to Monsters, so that is a sale lost. I can't see a scenario where having settings using half-or-less of the printed material out there makes them more money.
 

Hussar

Legend
I can't say I agree with that. If all they are trying to do is update a setting to the new edition, then they just need to deal with the crunchy bits that were altered as a result of rules that changed when the edition changed.
But, they can't do just that. The product isn't simply an update supplement for some gamer who has been playing for thirty years. It has to appeal to new gamers as well. There appear to be a rather large number of new gamers around. Someone's buying those PHB's anyway.

So, not only do they have to juggle making "appropriate" mechanical changes (trying to get an Artificer class that doesn't make people's head explode shows how easy that is), they also have to introduce the setting to people who have virtually no experience with that setting.

Which means, considering you have page counts, something is going to get cut. They have to. And no matter where they draw that line, someone is going to be pissed off.

I really don't envy them their job. Actually, surprising as this is to say, I find myself agreeing with [MENTION=518]JeffB[/MENTION] that they should simply abandon those old settings. It's a no win situation AFAIC. They might as well start fresh.
 

Shasarak

Villager
I really don't envy them their job. Actually, surprising as this is to say, I find myself agreeing with [MENTION=518]JeffB[/MENTION] that they should simply abandon those old settings. It's a no win situation AFAIC. They might as well start fresh.
I wish they would just license out their settings to other companies.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
The setting could be done as one off campaign books with no follow up support/adventures/novels.

Best way to do this would be outsource it to 3pp using original authors where possible (Heard, Baker are keen?) and adventures can be put on the DMGuild.
I agree with this.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I just realized, by choosing a cosmology without polytheism, thus needing to homebrew the campaign setting, and thus being legally restricted by WotC to the 5e SRD only, means no legal access to the Variant Human.

It looks like it is necessary to design a Variant Variant Human.
 
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Hussar

Legend
I just realized, by choosing a cosmology without polytheism, thus needing to homebrew the campaign setting, and thus being legally restricted by WotC to the 5e SRD only, means no legal access to the Variant Human.

It looks like it is necessary to design a Variant Variant Human.
Why would you need to reference variant humans in you setting guide though?

You could simply say that humans in your setting get the same mechanics as a variant human. After all, mechanics aren't subject to copyright.
 

Ahrimon

Bourbon and Dice
I really don't envy them their job. Actually, surprising as this is to say, I find myself agreeing with [MENTION=518]JeffB[/MENTION] that they should simply abandon those old settings. It's a no win situation AFAIC. They might as well start fresh.
The problem with that though is that even abandoning a system will upset some fans to the point of desertion. They really are darned if they do and darned if they don't.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Why would you need to reference variant humans in you setting guide though?
Why? Because the Variant Human is the only version of the Human that appeals to me. The racial abilities improvements are modest, being +1 in contrast to the ‘superhuman’ +2. But the extra feat puts the finger on Human versatility. And if the player decides to get a feat that grants +1 with a minor feature, to boost an ability to +2, well, that is excellent too, because every once in a while, there is a Human that really is super-smart, super-strong, super-charismatic, or so on, who even the ‘superhuman’ races admire.



You could simply say that humans in your setting get the same mechanics as a variant human. After all, mechanics aren't subject to copyright.
Yeah, I will probably go that route. Plus +1 improvements and choice of feat, but tweak some other stuff, and make sure the verbiage is different.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
[MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION]

Also, the whole point of my effort to homebrew is to have a version of the rules that do not refer to polytheism in any way, shape, or form. So, I will rewrite all the rules from scratch, reflavoring the mechanics in ways that are more useful to a diversity of campaign settings.

So, there will only be one version of the Human that will be available in this setting-neutral rule book, the one that gets a feat.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Die hard Planescape before the Faction War. Diehard Mystara before they ruined Alphatia. Also hated renaming Specularum as Mirros.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
I would counter, though, that if you go that route, you will lose some of the audience who aren't interested in a thematically "watered down" version of their setting.

The trick is to walk that narrow pathway that displeases the fewest of each chunk of audience. Now you're probably (and, IMO, unfortunately) correct that if you must piss off one or the other, you'll probably lose fewer of the die-hard fans if you make the settings more generic than you will the casual fans if you make them too restrictive. But I still feel that there's a middle ground that includes some level of omission/restriction, even if not as much as some die-hards would prefer.
It worked back in the day, I don't see any reason it ahould not work now. As long as they provide new options to replace the ones they take away then it should be fine. Plus, it's not like a gaming group couldn't simply allow a player who stomps his feet at not being able to play a gnome in Dark Sun to just play a gnome.

Nothing from the core books is actually being taken away. It's all still there for use.

There's a second aspect to these settings that we've been alluding to, but, not really talking about - what constitutes the canon for that setting?
They should go with whatever they feel is the best interpretation that they can produce and make interesting. I think there's a pretty good idea in most cases, but honestly, they should follow their gut and go with what they think is the most interesting creatively.

Again, anyone that married to a different canonical take can adjust things as needed.

And that's the issue that's going to happen every time they try to update the setting. There is going to be this massive backlash from hard core fans that will be completely unwilling to compromise on anything.
Well, it may be vocally massive on the internet, but that doesn't mean it will actually be massive. They need to do what they think is best. Keep the audience in mind, sure, but don't pander to the audience. I think most settings have a good starting point. It's usually how they began, honestly. Not always, but usually.

And personally, I wish te fans would just get over themselves. They need to relax. "Ravenloft after the Grand Conjunction?!?? What are those SOBs at Wizarda thinking???" As if they can't just change things to be the way they want.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
But, they can't do just that. The product isn't simply an update supplement for some gamer who has been playing for thirty years. It has to appeal to new gamers as well. There appear to be a rather large number of new gamers around. Someone's buying those PHB's anyway.

So, not only do they have to juggle making "appropriate" mechanical changes (trying to get an Artificer class that doesn't make people's head explode shows how easy that is), they also have to introduce the setting to people who have virtually no experience with that setting.
I am aware of that. And, to further clarify, I'm not suggesting just an update on the crunchy bits. While updating the mechanics is all the re-designing they actually need to, you are correct that they also need to rework the presentation. However, that doesn't require timeline changes or massive changes to the settings, especially changes that run contrary to the themes and character of the setting.


Which means, considering you have page counts, something is going to get cut. They have to. And no matter where they draw that line, someone is going to be pissed off.

I really don't envy them their job. Actually, surprising as this is to say, I find myself agreeing with [MENTION=518]JeffB[/MENTION] that they should simply abandon those old settings. It's a no win situation AFAIC. They might as well start fresh.
I'm not seeing how things have to be cut in any significant manner.

Assume X setting book is 250 pages; having 100 pages of crunch and 150 pages of non-mechanical setting details, maps, and overall presentation.

The setting details don't need to change at all. Ravenloft doesn't need another Conjunction, FR doesn't need another world-shaking event, and so on.

The maps don't NEED to change either, but better and clearer maps would almost always be helpful, so let's say those get updated with full-color maps and end up within three pages of the original amount of maps (maybe they take up an extra couple pages because a map gets expanded to two pages, or they add a couple maps clarifying the details in a cramped area of a larger map).

The crunch needs to be updated. That could result in more or fewer pages, all depends on how it's done and how the original was done. But, let's say it runs longer by 9 pages (I think that's probably overestimating, but as an accountant I like to make conservative estimates).

So, it looks to me like we're probably talking about a 12 page difference at most (I think the real number would probably be more in the six to nine range, but, as I mentioned, conservative estimates).
 

Hussar

Legend
Look at the reactions to Curse of Strahd in this thread. Complaints about how they reworked the setting and then jammed it into Forgotten Realms. There's already quite a bit of grumbling about Acerak appearing in Forgotten Realms. So, the idea that "anyone that married to a different canonical take can adjust things as needed" is already problematic.

And, then there's this:

However, that doesn't require timeline changes or massive changes to the settings, especially changes that run contrary to the themes and character of the setting
But, what about changes in that timeline that ran contrary to the themes and character of the setting? Adding druids to Dark Sun came pretty late in the run and was a major change. Dragonlance as another example was massively changed over the course of its run. What constitutes the "themes and character" of that setting?

So on and so forth. No matter what WotC does, they are going to get it wrong, at least according to a number of fans. Who are then going to make things unbearable for the rest of us while they take up their torches and pitchforks.

I'm sorry, but, I just watched how "reasonable" setting fans are for the past six or so years. I have zero faith.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
But, what about changes in that timeline that ran contrary to the themes and character of the setting? Adding druids to Dark Sun came pretty late in the run and was a major change.
Druids were in Dark Sun all along, with the change that they gained their power from a pact with a particular Spirit of the Land, and their spell access was determined by the land they were guarding (they would have major access to the sphere of Cosmos as well as that of an element appropriate to their guarded land, and possibly minor access to a second appropriate element - a druid guarding an oasis would have major access to Water, but one guarding a volcanic hot spring would have major access to Water and minor to Fire).

The late-comer druid thing you're thinking of is probably a particular group of druids mentioned in Mindlords of the Last Sea, the surfing druids of the tiny beach village of Cuarsen. That was a horrible, horrible idea, and should be expunged in any reasonable rewrite (assuming they even describe the lands outside the Tyr region in a hypothetical 5th edition version).

That said, you do make a good point otherwise. To take Dark Sun as an example, it changed quite a lot over its run, particularly as a result of the Prism Pentad-fueled metaplot. My personal opinion is that some of those changes were good and brought some variety to the setting (which was kind of monotonous in the original version), but the means by which those changes came about were bad and heavy-handed.

For those interested who don't know much about Dark Sun, the original boxed set covered an area called the Tyr Region or the Tablelands, about the size of Spain. This region had seven city-states, all governed in much the same way: a mighty sorcerer-monarch (who was a dual-classed level 21+ wizard/psionicist, with the equivalent of a prestige class that gradually transformed them into a dragon) at the top, served by a hierarchy of templars (priests who received magical power from the sorcerer-monarch, and had a number of civic powers like being able to command/accuse/judge the citizens of their particular city-state), and with noble houses owning most of the city and its slaves. There were some differences - for example, Balic made pretenses of being a representative democracy (but if the people voted wrong, the sorcerer-king Andropinis had a tendency to become wroth), and Draj had some heavy Aztec overtones with human sacrifice and stuff, but by and large those differences were cosmetic.

The Prism Pentad was a pentalogy of novels that drove some heavy change in the setting, particularly in the first and fifth books. In the first book (the Verdant Passage), we follow a group of heroes who learn that Kalak, the sorcerer-king of Tyr, is going to attempt a ritual that will rapidly progress him through the stages of dragon-hood (in game terms, from 21st to 30th level) at the cost of draining the life of the whole city of Tyr. They manage to stop and kill him before he can complete this ritual, and proclaim Tyr to be a democracy and end slavery.

In the final book, the heroes manage to first kill another sorcerer-queen, and later to kill the actual Dragon of Tyr (the guy who Kalak wanted to be like). However, doing so meant the release of the ancient being who originally powered the Sorcerer-Kings in their genocidal wars that caused the world to become what it is. Before they manage to trap this being in new bonds, he slays/banishes an additional two sorcerer-monarchs.

The end result is that after the Prism Pentad, four out of seven sorcerer-monarchs are dead or missing, and their city-states are all dealing with this in different ways. This means that there's some additional variety between the different city-states - in my opinion, a good thing. But the way we got to that point was extremely ham-handed.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
Look at the reactions to Curse of Strahd in this thread. Complaints about how they reworked the setting and then jammed it into Forgotten Realms. There's already quite a bit of grumbling about Acerak appearing in Forgotten Realms. So, the idea that "anyone that married to a different canonical take can adjust things as needed" is already problematic.
Not really. Because, even if people complain about Ravenloft here on these forums, it still sold very well, and seems to critically acclaimed, too.

I don't think most people who play D&D really care all that much about that stuff. Or, some don't care, and others do, but keep it in perspective. For every person on the internet complaining about how a setting got ruined, you have ten more who are happy with the setting, and then another ten who don't like the changes, but they just do what they want without worrying about what's "canon".

And, then there's this:

But, what about changes in that timeline that ran contrary to the themes and character of the setting? Adding druids to Dark Sun came pretty late in the run and was a major change. Dragonlance as another example was massively changed over the course of its run. What constitutes the "themes and character" of that setting?

So on and so forth. No matter what WotC does, they are going to get it wrong, at least according to a number of fans. Who are then going to make things unbearable for the rest of us while they take up their torches and pitchforks.

I'm sorry, but, I just watched how "reasonable" setting fans are for the past six or so years. I have zero faith.
Druids were there from the jump, as [MENTION=907]Staffan[/MENTION] already said.

And Dark Sun is actually a good example of a setting that made too many changes. The characters in the Prism Pentad novels pretty much dealt with all the major storylines and faced many of the major villains, going so far as to kill some of the Sorcerer Kings and even the Dragon. Which is fine for the novels. But then the Revised Edition had to run with those changes and re-establish the setting after the novels. And a large chunk of it was garbage.

The solution is not to complain about it, although I don't blame people for complaining. But it's not a solution. The solution is to do what you want with the setting.
 
Look at the reactions to Curse of Strahd in this thread. Complaints about how they reworked the setting and then jammed it into Forgotten Realms.
I'm curious -outside a completely disposable and replaceable page or two from the opening, how was CoS "jammed" into the Forgotten Realms?
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Complaints about how they reworked the setting and then jammed it into Forgotten Realms. There's already quite a bit of grumbling about Acerak appearing in Forgotten Realms. So, the idea that "anyone that married to a different canonical take can adjust things as needed" is already problematic.
Notice.

There are quite a bit of DMs who find it ‘problematic’ to ‘adjust’ an official campaign setting.

They feel saddled with the rules-as-written and flavored, and sometimes even feel betrayed.

The DMs who feel this way, are always ones who care alot about the D&D game.



The rules-as-written must have a light touch. Each campaign setting should probably come with multiple ‘expansion’ products. This makes it easy for DMs to purchase expansion packs that they want to opt-in to, and to reject expansions that fail to interest them.

This way, DMs can easily keep unwanted assumptions 100% out of their rulebooks and their games.



In my own case, if the Great Wheel of Planescape and all of its polytheism was a separate expansion pack, while the Players Handbook made no mention to it, then I would be at peace and able to enjoy the game better.

Different DMs are sensitive to different things, but we can all benefit from compartmentalizing the options.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Druids were in Dark Sun all along, with the change that they gained their power from a pact with a particular Spirit of the Land, and their spell access was determined by the land they were guarding (they would have major access to the sphere of Cosmos as well as that of an element appropriate to their guarded land, and possibly minor access to a second appropriate element - a druid guarding an oasis would have major access to Water, but one guarding a volcanic hot spring would have major access to Water and minor to Fire).

The late-comer druid thing you're thinking of is probably a particular group of druids mentioned in Mindlords of the Last Sea, the surfing druids of the tiny beach village of Cuarsen. That was a horrible, horrible idea, and should be expunged in any reasonable rewrite (assuming they even describe the lands outside the Tyr region in a hypothetical 5th edition version).

That said, you do make a good point otherwise. To take Dark Sun as an example, it changed quite a lot over its run, particularly as a result of the Prism Pentad-fueled metaplot. My personal opinion is that some of those changes were good and brought some variety to the setting (which was kind of monotonous in the original version), but the means by which those changes came about were bad and heavy-handed.

For those interested who don't know much about Dark Sun, the original boxed set covered an area called the Tyr Region or the Tablelands, about the size of Spain. This region had seven city-states, all governed in much the same way: a mighty sorcerer-monarch (who was a dual-classed level 21+ wizard/psionicist, with the equivalent of a prestige class that gradually transformed them into a dragon) at the top, served by a hierarchy of templars (priests who received magical power from the sorcerer-monarch, and had a number of civic powers like being able to command/accuse/judge the citizens of their particular city-state), and with noble houses owning most of the city and its slaves. There were some differences - for example, Balic made pretenses of being a representative democracy (but if the people voted wrong, the sorcerer-king Andropinis had a tendency to become wroth), and Draj had some heavy Aztec overtones with human sacrifice and stuff, but by and large those differences were cosmetic.

The Prism Pentad was a pentalogy of novels that drove some heavy change in the setting, particularly in the first and fifth books. In the first book (the Verdant Passage), we follow a group of heroes who learn that Kalak, the sorcerer-king of Tyr, is going to attempt a ritual that will rapidly progress him through the stages of dragon-hood (in game terms, from 21st to 30th level) at the cost of draining the life of the whole city of Tyr. They manage to stop and kill him before he can complete this ritual, and proclaim Tyr to be a democracy and end slavery.

In the final book, the heroes manage to first kill another sorcerer-queen, and later to kill the actual Dragon of Tyr (the guy who Kalak wanted to be like). However, doing so meant the release of the ancient being who originally powered the Sorcerer-Kings in their genocidal wars that caused the world to become what it is. Before they manage to trap this being in new bonds, he slays/banishes an additional two sorcerer-monarchs.

The end result is that after the Prism Pentad, four out of seven sorcerer-monarchs are dead or missing, and their city-states are all dealing with this in different ways. This means that there's some additional variety between the different city-states - in my opinion, a good thing. But the way we got to that point was extremely ham-handed.
Yeah Darksun is a prime example of metaplot going to far. I still think Krynn is the poster child of way to far.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I'm curious -outside a completely disposable and replaceable page or two from the opening, how was CoS "jammed" into the Forgotten Realms?
By basically allowing any FR-based character to transfer over ad thus bring all their baggage?

Yes it can be dealt with, but I guess it just struck people as being careless.

Note: I've never played the original Ravenloft and even I thought it a bad decision :)
 

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