D&D 5E Monte Cook Leaves WotC - No Longer working on D&D Next [updated]


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Yes, but Tactics also had a great (if badly 'transrated") story, and this is the same old assumption I see being made in regards to 4e that simply isn't true - that because it is tactically strong, that it doesn't serve storytelling or roleplaying well. That's simply false.

It doesn't matter if it does or doesn't serve storytelling or role playing well - many people can make it do so regardless of its own resources (which I do think were underdeveloped and underemphasized in the first 3 core rulebooks - I didn't bother pursuing any after that). The nature of what it does may not be to a lot of people's taste or be too far a departure from the previous edition that people don't want to transition their gaming to a new groove. And 4e has been called a major departure by more than just me and more than just critics. Even some fans have called it that - I suspect it's one reason they happen to have become fans.

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Didn't Monte say at one time that 3.5 was planned almost as soon as 3 was released (or before)? This makes me nervous that something like that Bs is planned again.

Sort of. IIRC, He said something like a 3.1 update was planned 6-8 years after 3.0 came out. He implied that 3.5 changed things in 3.0 that weren't intended for that 3.1 release and thus was far more different from 3.0 than anticipated and released too soon after 3.0 came out.


First Post
Another day, another 7 pages :)

1. EnWorld doesn't even come close to representing the entire number of people who play D&D or who have played D&D.

I'm pretty old school. Started in 1st Ed. AD&D, but dropped out for a while. Wandered back into gaming around 2000. I was in two separate groups and heavily involved in some online play [at different times]. Finally, one day I was at a backyard party with some fellow gamers, and two of them were in intense conversation about some site called "Ian's World". I went home that night an looked it up, but couldn't find it. Some weeks later, I recalled this and got the correct spelling, and thus found ENWorld.

I've played with dozens of gamers in my time, upwards of several dozen. Of those, maybe six have ever been a member here. Of those maybe three were active. Of those three, only I am still active.



Eternal Optimist
Sort of. IIRC, He said something like a 3.1 update was planned 6-8 years after 3.0 came out. He implied that 3.5 changed things in 3.0 that weren't intended for that 3.1 release and thus was far more different from 3.0 than anticipated and released too soon after 3.0 came out.

Actually 4-5 years: 2004 or 2005.

"Even before 3.0 went to the printer, the business team overseeing D&D was talking about 3.5. Not surprisingly, most of the designers -- particularly the actual 3.0 team (Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams, and I) thought this was a poor idea. Also not surprisingly, our concerns were not enough to affect the plan. The idea, they assured us, was to make a revised edition that was nothing but a cleanup of any errata that might have been found after the book's release, a clarification of issues that seemed to confuse large numbers of players, and, most likely, all new art. It was slated to come out in 2004 or 2005, to give a boost to sales at a point where -- judging historically from the sales trends of previous editions -- they probably would be slumping a bit. It wasn't to replace everyone's books, and it wouldn't raise any compatibility or conversion issues." - Monte Cook, Review of 3.5e


Well, hold on a second. You've got a product that you don't think you can make enough on to satisfy your own business needs. You should then sell it to a competitor, or else you're being anti-competitive?

I can imagine that as a critique for "I just bought movie rights, but it turns out I can't make the business end work out, so I sit on it." But not for a property that your own people have put a lot into. If you've built up the brand and IP yourself?

No. I don't buy the logic. If I've built the IP up, I'm under no ethical obligation to hand that off if I don't want to use it right now. That'd be like telling J.K. Rowling, "Well, if *you* aren't going to write any more Harry Potter, you are being anti-competitive if you don't sell the rights to someone who will!"
I see your point, but there are three reasons I don't think it nullifies what I was trying to say:

1) The main thing I was railing against (and will continue to rail against) is not the creation of new material but the availability of old material. This is less akin to saying to JKR "Well, if *you* aren't going to write any more Harry Potter, you are being anti-competitive if you don't sell the rights to someone who will!" and more like saying to Bloomsbury "Well, if *you* aren't going to publish any more Harry Potter or keep the previous books in print, you are being anti-competitive if you won't sell the rights to someone who will!"

2) A corporation does not create IP - people (the designers and developers, in this case) do. Where a corporation decides not to pursue the further development or even maintenance of a piece of IP, the actual IP creators are seldom prime movers in the decision, and they are often losers because of it. As a result, my sympathies are really not engaged by corporate "owners" of IP.

3) A roleplaying game is not really at all like a novel or similar work of fiction (well, some might be, but I don't account them good roleplaying games on that account!). A roleplaying game is meant to be used, modified, expanded and developed by its customer base. The developers and designers do not hold a monopoly on extending or modifying the game system or support materials. As a result, I don't think the "game" (as opposed to specific expressions of game systems and expansions) can be held up as "IP" in the same sense that a novel or written story can. To tie back to the analogy, JKR may have rights to the stories she has written and to certain of the characters and settings she uses, but writing a book about a "school for wizards" is not illegal for anyone.

1. I apologize if anything I wrote came off as if I was standing on a soapbox or speaking down to anyone. I have a generally strong writing voice and it comes off the wrong way at times.
No problems for me - I can do that too (unintentionally), but what you said didn't strike me that way.

2. Wasting IP can be a competitive advantage to a firm if they believe the property would do more damage to their firm in the hands of another firm. Case in point would be TSR buying DJ: Mythus or if (god forbid) Hasbro ever tried to buy Paizo outright to control the PF property.
Yes - I would include all of that in the same basket as "legal but anti-competitive".

3. You're never going to see a game company get hit with any kind of anti-competition lawsuit because of the ease of entry to the business. Competition is everywhere. (I know you didn't go as far as mentioning a lawsuit but I'm writing it in this context because businesses look at what's appropriate business through the lens of "will we be sued".)
Not all corporations work this way - a few do consider deeper business ethics, if only as a means to build and maintain good will.

Last, I do believe the D&D property has more value to the fan base than it does to the company that owns it and a lot of that value is intangible or goodwill value. The company that would do it best at the moment is Paizo, but they have no reason to do so as their own brand is doing quite well.
Right - and this is the nub, I think. The fanbase is the "invisible stakeholder" that stands to get shafted if Hasbro take the "legal but anti-competitive" road.

Oddly (and off topic), I find I enjoy each product/edition more when I've spent a bunch of time playing the other one. It's like they're both flawed but you only appreciate one when you've been exposed to the flaws in the other.
I don't so much find that with D&D, but with roleplaying games in general, sure! I do think some are better than others, but even so there are several "best" ones because they cater to different styles of play, and after playing one style for a while I often feel the need for a hit of a different one!

Kobold Boots

Within context of D&D though, we only have a basis for the legal but anti-competitive argument if you fail to associate any personal responsibility to the consumer.

1. Did D&D have many versions and were they all in print at some point? - Yes
2. Did WotC or TSR burn all copies of previous editions? - No
3. Are copies of previous editions still available in collectors' channels - Yes
4. Are most editions still widely available? - Yes
5. Are there tons of first ed and second ed clones - Yes.

So if you don't have the edition you want to play, it's not really WoTC's fault, is it? But if we assume the consumer is fundamentally challenged and needs to blame someone, then sure.

Lord Pendragon

First Post
So folks have mentioned that 5e will need to be spectacular to draw gamers away from their currently preferred editions, but it does have one thing going for it that I think hasn't been emphasized much...it'll be new. As someone who has played a lot of systems over the years, this is not insignficant to me.

A new D&D that does a lot of what I want would interest me, even if it weren't the perfect system. And if I'm honest with myself, my preferred system was never perfect either.

A lot of what I was hearing about 5e before Monte left intrigued me. A part of what I love about my preferred D&D has always been the complexity. I enjoy delving into the mechanics of a system and building my character over levels. So the re-inclusion of Vancian magic appeals to me.

On the flipside there is a member of my gaming group who is...not playing with a full deck, let's say. :p The idea that he could take a more straightforward version of a class instead and be good to go appeals to me greatly.

I have never been a fan of all classes playing the same, and all powers built the same. But at the same time the inclusion of some at-will abilities seems like a net positive. I can't recall ever being overjoyed about the wizard using a crossbow for the first three levels of his career. Usually he just sucked it up and bought a wand. Why not just let him shoot magic missiles?

The re-emphasis on ability scores intrigues me. I'd done a lot of that ad hoc in my own games for a while, but I like the way it's more central to the design, and I like the way there are now bonuses to skills without actually having to micromanage skills.

I am interested in the idea of Backgrounds and Themes, which both feel very 2e to me. But they add a neat twist to customization that I think adds to the game. I have occasionally given my PCs a free "bonus level" in an NPC class to denote their backgrounds, and Backgrounds and Themes seem like a more elegant way of doing the same, with a bit of 2e kits thrown in.

So looking at what I know of 5e so far, it definitely feels like there are elements of several editions they're drawing on. I don't love all of them, but many of them have me intrigued, including those from editions other than my favorite.

How much of that was due to Monte's influence? I imagine a lot, though certainly not all. I have a feeling that he may have championed the return of Vancian Magic to be sure, but all the rest of it? Who knows.

I am sad to see Monte leave. I respect him as a designer even though I've never bought his stuff (I've never been much of a 3rd party product purchaser,) outside of D&D. He was why I read through all the 5e documentation to begin with.

But if the remaining designers don't simply wash out the intriguing ideas I've already read, 5e could still capture me.

At the end of the day I anticipate it will have elements of all the previous editions of D&D. I hope it will be--and to capture me as a customer it will need to be--innovative and create it's own identity that is more than merely a collection of bits and pieces that came before.

Good luck Monte Cook! Good luck D&D!

Keefe the Thief



First Post
I bet he left because he was furious they are not going to include Ravenloft in the initial release. That is something worth leaving over.


First Post
I loved DnD with Monte Cook, and also loved it without him.

I will probably love Next, but I sure hope he had the time to put his two cents before leaving. Old news, I know, but I wish the man the best of luck.

I haven't had the pleasure of trying Ptolus and his new setting, maybe one day, who knows?

Epic Threats

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