D&D General On the Evolution of Fantasy and D&D

Mercurius

Legend
Fantasy literature, at least going back a century or so, has traditionally involved two polarities, what fantasy historian Jamie Williamson described as more "high" and "low" brow in his book The Evolution of Modern Fantasy, that were integrated in the late 60s and early 70s to form the spectrum that became the modern fantasy genre. Before that point, you had the more literary high fantasy of Cabell, Tolkien, and Eddison, and the pulp adventure low fantasy of Howard, Moore, and Leiber (as well as a third branch that was assigned under children's literature, from Wonderland to Oz to Narnia).

The modern fantasy genre was born out of late 60s and 70s--largely catalyzed by the popularity of The Lord of the Rings (which while published in the UK in the mid-50s, didn't catch on in the US until about a decade later - sort of like the Beatles). To some extent, fantasy was part of the larger zeitgeist of cultural revolution, with new ideas seeping into Western culture that were outside the boxes of tradition and modernism. Whether it was Buddhist philosophy, Hindu yoga, psychedelics, or fantasy, people were craving for, to use a term from Carlos Castaneda, "non-ordinary" experiences.

By the time Dungeons & Dragons was born in 1974, fantasy literature was beginning to thrive - if still ghetto-ized by the mainstream and, especially, the academic literary establishment. To get a sense of this, you can read Ursula K Le Guin's wonderful 1974 speech-turned-essay, "Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?" from her book The Language of the Night, which is essentially both a diagnosis of the lack of imagination of the American mainstream and an advocacy for fantasy literature and the use of the imagination, which Le Guin saw as a possible antidote for the American malaise.

Fast-forward almost 50 years, and the landscape has changed greatly. Not only has fantasy continued to explode and expand, it has received mainstream acceptance - largely due to the popularity of big franchises such as JK Rowling's Harry Potter books, the Lord of the Rings films, and Game of Thrones. It has also influenced a wide variety of genres and media forms, from video games to New Age philosophies.

Both fantasy literature and role-playing games have diversified immensely. For the latter, it started with TSR offering different genres, such as the Old West Boothill and scifi Star Frontiers, but then expanded to a cottage industry of companies and games that eventually filled out every nook and cranny of the RPG imagination. Today--but really going back to at least the 90s--you can find just about any game you can think of, from games in which you play rodents to games in which you play creator beings.

Science fiction historian John Clute has promoted the the term Fantastika as an umbrella for all fantastic literature, with three main branches: fantasy, science fiction, and horror. The three mix and match, creating hybrid variations such as steampunk, dark fantasy, supernatural horror, and countless others, but also incorporate elements from the mainstream and history, so that Fantastika can include just about anything outside of strict mimesis.

Through it's five decade journey, D&D has explored and experimented, yet still remained based in a relatively traditional model of adventure fantasy that, at it's root, is one part Tolkien's Middle-earth, one part Howard's Conan, and one part Gygaxian seasonings, be they his own or drawn from his eclectic interests. But as soon as others began to participate, it was no longer "Gary's game" - it was ours.

In truth, that is how Gygax wanted it: he wanted individual DMs to create their own worlds, to modify the game to their heart's content. TSR, and later WotC--as well as numerous other publishers--offered examples, templates that you could use as-is out of the box, or alter to your liking. But even as original D&D became so much more, it still was a game of adventure fantasy at heart - all the way up to recent years, with the "back to roots" approach of 5E.

D&D is also a multi-generational game. Born in 1938, Gary Gygax was actually part of the pre-Boomer Silent Generation, which depending upon which version of generational theory you prefer, was born either from 1928-45 (Mannheim) or 1925-42 (Strauss & Howe). The early designers were either of Gary's cohort or Boomers. Once we get to the late 80s, older Gen-Xers like Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen entered the fray, offering their own cultural sensibilities, which led to the "White Wolf Revolution" of the 90s, as well as the flowering of Indie games. And then by the time we get to the 21st century, Millenials joined in, with Zoomers just now beginning to make their mark.

Each generation shared certain traits, both in terms of references but also having grown up within a specific historic-cultural context. Yet also, of course, every individual within a generation is just that - an individual. So you might have Millenials creating Gen-X flavored offerings, as is the case with the Stranger Things TV series. Or you have older designers embracing newer sensibilities.

Within this context of generational exchange, you have the emergence of new forms and variations of fantasy and D&D more specifically, and the later (or more recently) within the evolutionary process, the more there is to draw from. Now, in 2022, we have 48 years of D&D, and twice that or more of fantasy literature, depending upon when you want to place the pin of it's inception date, be it the early 20th century fantasy of Lord Dunsany, or the 19th century fantasy of George MacDonald and William Morris, or Medieval epic romances, or even further back with the Iliad, Gilgamesh, or simply tales told by a fire passed on through oral narratives.

As a general rule, the fantasy genre--in terms of it's range of aesthetic offerings--expands and never contracts. New genres, styles, forms, and ideas emerge, but the old ones don't die away. Certain cultural traits change or die off, but the genres and idea-complexes themselves, the imaginative Lego pieces of fantasy tradition, remain for the employment and inspiration of all of us who follow.

There is the illusion that certain genres die away, or even that fantasy contracts, through the phenomena of various trends that emerge and seem to drown out old forms. For instance, in fantasy literature, for a time it seemed that everything was "Grimdark," but in retrospect it was more that Grimdark was trending, but only apparently drowning out other sub-genres and styles. Other fantasies were still being written, and eventually Grimdark settled into a plateau of continued popularity, but not as loudly as it was a few years ago. Meaning, fantasy expanded to include Grimdark (and truly, what we call "Grimdark" was part of a longer stream within fantasy that goes back a century or more, even to Gothic literature), but nothing was left behind through its inclusion.

All of which brings me to the current moment in D&D's evolution. If you scan the last couple years of official D&D books, it can seem like the game is changing towards a lighter and younger approach, one that emphasizes qualities such as whimsy, social interaction, and de-emphasizes darker tones, including violence. Furthermore, various cultural trends have influenced fantasy aesthetics, so that orcs-as-people has been emphasized over orcs-as-monsters.

This view can be supported by looking at the upcoming book Journeys through the Radiant Citadel, which almost seems like a whimsical fairyland compared to the very Gen-X, neo-gothic Sigil of Planescape fame (which is about as definitively Gen-X as you can find, even if it's primary creator, Zeb Cook, was a Boomer). Or we can see it with the popularity of Exandria and Critical Role, which emphasizes a more thespian and theatrical approach to D&D, over the tactical pulp action of Gygax's D&D. We have Strixhaven, The Wild Beyond Witchlight and Candlekeep Mysteries. We also have Monsters of the Multiverse revising elements of past offerings towards what WotC perceives to be the dominant sensibilities of its current base. Some claim (or complain) that even the Ravenloft book softened some of the darker elements that made it distinct.

While there is no strict line, the tonal shift seems to have come about in late 2020, with Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. Since then, there is a markedly different quality and feel to WotC's output. Where 5E seemed to be a direct appeal to long-time D&D players, many of whom had migrated to Pathfinder and other games, with a "back to classic" feel, now it seems that WotC has shifted again, and understandably so (at least from an economic perspective) as demographical explosion of the last half decade or so has largely been younger player: Millenials and Zoomers, with "Alpha" just around the corner.

One quality, among others, of this shift, is the idea that "violence isn't always the answer." I am not interested in litigating this issue as good or bad, problematic or not, but just pointing out that it is a marked tonal shift.

Yet to draw from earlier elements of this discussion, the question is whether D&D is now contracting around a new aesthetic and cultural ethos at the expense of older forms, or whether this is simply a gestalt of rising trends that will be incorporated within the larger tradition of D&D. Meaning, has D&D changed direction and configured into a new template of base assumptions of qualities, or has it merely expanded, and the newer elements will become part of a larger and more varied matrix?

History in other media forms would suggest the latter--that it is expanding, not contracting. When jazz musicians began incorporating fusion elements in the late 60s, older forms of jazz didn't evaporate, and in fact resurged later on. When dance music in the 70s shifted from funk to disco, funk didn't disappear - it branched off and re-surfaced in different ways, from the "punk-funk" of Primus to acid jazz in the 90s. Not to mention how fads and trends of the past continually resurface, even in a somewhat regular cycle.

The point being that within a tradition, no core elements every die or go away. The leading edge shifts and explores new territory, but the entire tradition still exists, and past elements both exist in their own right, but also evolve and adapt. Meaning, we'll always have the original Tomb of Horrors, as well as contemporary adaptations and products that were influenced by it.

As far as D&D is concerned, in the near future WotC will unveil a series of classic/legacy settings, as well as new settings shortly thereafter. How will they treat them? What tone between nostalgia and re-vamping will they hit, classic and innovative? And as we see new worlds created and explored, will these worlds be specifically designed under the newer aesthetic, or will we see some variation, perhaps one that embodies newer qualities and one with a more classic feel? Or will they somehow split the difference?

Regardless, I think the key is that tradition can and will be preserved and new forms and styles will emerge - these need not be antithetical to each other. The nature of "what is D&D" will continue to evolve, but generally towards greater expansion and diversity. It may seem that, at times, it is contracting, or that some are holding onto the past and fighting change, or that others are ushering in the new without any appreciation for past forms. Everything becomes so polarized, and there is immense pressure to choose one side or the other in just about any context in contemporary discourse. Yet let us not forget that oscillation is part of the process - that we move "forward" in more of a wave than a line, and that we need not see it as either "from bad to good" or "from good to bad," and more about an every-unfolding spiral of exploring new possibilities, new worlds, everything within a larger, organic matrix of imagination and play.

I'll end with a couple quotes from the great Le Guin:

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom.

So I believe that we should trust our children. Normal children do not confuse reality and fantasy—they confuse them much less often than we adults do (as a certain great fantasist pointed out in a story called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”). Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that’s more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults have denied half their knowledge, and are left with the sad, sterile little fact: “Unicorns aren’t real.” And that fact is one that never got anybody anywhere (except in the story “The Unicorn in the Garden,” by another great fantasist, in which it is shown that a devotion to the unreality of unicorns may get you straight into the loony bin). It is by such statements as, “Once upon a time there was a dragon,” or “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”—it is by such beautiful non-facts that we fantastic human beings may arrive, in our peculiar fashion, at the truth.
 

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I agree with this philosophy in principle, but I have two comments.

1. D&D is an interactive game, and in order to play it you need people who sufficiently share your fantasy preferences for all of you to be satisfied. If the leading edge swings away from your preferences, it get increasingly difficult to find these people.

2. Similarly, while I believe you are correct in that no aspect of fantasy jusy disappears entirely, it might be a while before the cycle comes back to something you like. What the leading edge is doing matters whether you like it or not.
 

Voadam

Legend
All of which brings me to the current moment in D&D's evolution. If you scan the last couple years of official D&D books, it can seem like the game is changing towards a lighter and younger approach, one that emphasizes qualities such as whimsy, social interaction, and de-emphasizes darker tones, including violence.
I agree.

Of course there have been tonal shifts in published D&D material before.

1e started as tactical strike team dungeon crawling in ridiculously dangerous situations with stuff like Against the Giants then shifted in late 1e into 2e to a more specific story and plot focused endeavor with Dragonlance and a lot of 2e modules. 3e then shifted with a slogan of back to the dungeon and 4e was focused on action movie fantasy.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well said and presented. I don't think I disagree with anything particularly here. Trends in genre will always shift back and forth. And, even though focus might change, it's always good to keep a broader perspective. I think that there is often a very zero sum way of thinking about things that tends to color any perception of change.

For example, people often look back at 2e as this golden age of settings for D&D. And, it's an understandable POV. Most of the iconic D&D settings (outside of Eberron) have their genesis and development in 2e. 3e and later D&D has not made such a big deal of developing official D&D settings - outside of Forgotten Realms and Eberron, it's not like any earlier setting is getting anywhere near the official support in 5e.

But, that's where the higher altitude POV is important. We shouldn't forget that "official" is no longer (and hasn't been for a long time) the only way to get material. I have no idea how many 5e settings have been published by other companies than WotC, other than a whole lot. There's been a constant stream of kickstarters, homebrewery and other sources for settings. There are easily more 5e settings, published by very professional, high production value sources with TONS of support, than ever before.

So, is 5e lacking in settings or not?
 

payn

Legend
I agree with this philosophy in principle, but I have two comments.

1. D&D is an interactive game, and in order to play it you need people who sufficiently share your fantasy preferences for all of you to be satisfied. If the leading edge swings away from your preferences, it get increasingly difficult to find these people.
I think this was yesterdays problem. The internets and VTT has really expanded the player pool. Also, you have many offshoot game systems to choose from to dial in that experience. Especially, if you dont think D&D can do it, which I think its fairly flexible in 5E.
2. Similarly, while I believe you are correct in that no aspect of fantasy jusy disappears entirely, it might be a while before the cycle comes back to something you like. What the leading edge is doing matters whether you like it or not.
See above.
 

Hussar

Legend
At the end of the day, it seems that having the “official” DnD stamp really, really matters. And when DnD doesn’t specifically cater to one preference then people get really put out about it.

Speaking as a fan of both the binder and the warlord. :)
 

payn

Legend
At the end of the day, it seems that having the “official” DnD stamp really, really matters. And when DnD doesn’t specifically cater to one preference then people get really put out about it.

Speaking as a fan of both the binder and the warlord. :)
Waning with yesterdays problem. The next gen will likely never know an E war.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I agree with this philosophy in principle, but I have two comments.

1. D&D is an interactive game, and in order to play it you need people who sufficiently share your fantasy preferences for all of you to be satisfied. If the leading edge swings away from your preferences, it get increasingly difficult to find these people.

2. Similarly, while I believe you are correct in that no aspect of fantasy jusy disappears entirely, it might be a while before the cycle comes back to something you like. What the leading edge is doing matters whether you like it or not.
I hear you, and actually my degree of proximity to the current D&D zeitgeist is probably somewhat similarly removed - although perhaps to a less concerning degree to me, in that my focus is mostly elsewhere. At this point, my interest in D&D is more academic and based on curiosity. Further, I've always tended to play sporadically and only been part of an extended campaign (3+ years) a few times, all with me as DM. So I'm used to long gaps between active play periods.

This is not to say that I won't play again, just that I don't feel like I have to. I still love the game and what it is at a fundamental level--a game of imagination--but I'm also content mostly following from afar, buying the occasional book, and maybe if the situation is right, running a game. Meaning, I'm in a place where I'll play if the situation is right, including the right players, my schedule allows for it, and am not in a position of "looking for the best available option, because I just have to play D&D."

But this does impact me in terms of what books are published, and whether I want to spend the money for reading pleasure and/or let them gather dust on the shelves. Aside from core rules and the occasional splat or adventure, I tend to mostly buy setting books and/or heavily lore-focused books, and I haven't purchased a new book since Ravenloft - mostly because I'm just not interested in most of the recent offerings, whether for reading pleasure or play.

So to some extent, I wrote the above as someone who has partially moved on from the game and/or from whom the game has moved on from. If I were more interested in playing, I'd either customize D&D to my own liking and run a homebrew, or possibly look for other options - maybe Hyperborea or one of the Fria Ligan games, or possibly try to get a Talislanta or Ars Magica game going.

I don't mean to undermine your concerns - I feel you, especially imagining into a place where I really wanted to play 5E and was looking around for a group to join. I'd really have little interest in joining an Exandria or Witchlight or Strixhaven campaign. But also as I said in the original post, I think "making your own fun" is an intrinsic aspect of D&D - and really, part of the fun.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Well said and presented. I don't think I disagree with anything particularly here. Trends in genre will always shift back and forth. And, even though focus might change, it's always good to keep a broader perspective. I think that there is often a very zero sum way of thinking about things that tends to color any perception of change.

For example, people often look back at 2e as this golden age of settings for D&D. And, it's an understandable POV. Most of the iconic D&D settings (outside of Eberron) have their genesis and development in 2e. 3e and later D&D has not made such a big deal of developing official D&D settings - outside of Forgotten Realms and Eberron, it's not like any earlier setting is getting anywhere near the official support in 5e.

But, that's where the higher altitude POV is important. We shouldn't forget that "official" is no longer (and hasn't been for a long time) the only way to get material. I have no idea how many 5e settings have been published by other companies than WotC, other than a whole lot. There's been a constant stream of kickstarters, homebrewery and other sources for settings. There are easily more 5e settings, published by very professional, high production value sources with TONS of support, than ever before.

So, is 5e lacking in settings or not?
Yeah, I hear you. My favorite new D&D setting of the last decade or so is probably Midgard published by Kobold, and my favorite new fantasy setting is probably Symbaroum by Fria Ligan.

One could argue that we are in a golden age, but one of kickstarters (aside from the fact that, as a buyer, I dislike the model because I don't like joining kickstarters and by the time I remember about one I was interested in, it is finished with books hard to come by...or I just forget, and only remember that I forgot about something interesting!).
 

Mercurius

Legend
At the end of the day, it seems that having the “official” DnD stamp really, really matters. And when DnD doesn’t specifically cater to one preference then people get really put out about it.

Speaking as a fan of both the binder and the warlord. :)
Yes, but this is also understandable - being put out. I mean, it isn't that different from loving a band and then being disappointed with a new album or shift in direction. But it is also part of life, and WotC can't cater to everyone.

That said, I'm not convinced that they're going to entirely say to the old fans, "Either get with the program, or go elsewhere." They've got two classic settings coming out, and presumably some future products will still be "classic D&D." Presumably they understand that 5E got popular playing it pretty close to classic form - by the time the so-called "shift" occurred around Tasha's, the player base had already exploded - and up until that point, it was still pretty "classic D&D."

That's kind of one of my points in the OP: there's no reason why they can't take an approach of building beyond classic D&D, but still nourishing the flame of classic D&D.

Of course if they come out with Dark Sun: Tales of Whimsical Woe, I'll be proven wrong.
 

Yes, but this is also understandable - being put out. I mean, it isn't that different from loving a band and then being disappointed with a new album or shift in direction. But it is also part of life, and WotC can't cater to everyone.

That said, I'm not convinced that they're going to entirely say to the old fans, "Either get with the program, or go elsewhere." They've got two classic settings coming out, and presumably some future products will still be "classic D&D." Presumably they understand that 5E got popular playing it pretty close to classic form - by the time the so-called "shift" occurred around Tasha's, the player base had already exploded - and up until that point, it was still pretty "classic D&D."

That's kind of one of my points in the OP: there's no reason why they can't take an approach of building beyond classic D&D, but still nourishing the flame of classic D&D.

Of course if they come out with Dark Sun: Tales of Whimsical Woe, I'll be proven wrong.
I'd really like to believe that. But lately I've seen no indication that WotC remembers why 5e became popular in the first place.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
When I started reading through this post, I expected that I'd disagree with a lot of it after finishing it . . . but I really don't. There's not much to say, actually. This is pretty accurate, from what I can tell. No "genre" of fantasy ever dies, even if certain genres trend more than others at certain times. There's enough fantasy writers out there that there's probably an author out there right now writing to your specific tastes, even if they're not super popular and other styles of fantasy/sci-fi/horror are trending more right now. This even applies to what D&D 5e books are being made right now.

Even if there is more of a general trend to emphasize "lighter" parts of the game in a few official books right now (solving problems without violence, more social interaction and in-depth NPCs, a slight focus on more whimsical elements of the Multiverse, like Fey), there are undoubtedly lots of 3rd-party publishers of 5e making more "gritty"/"old-school"-style D&D products out there. And even the official books that contain these "lighter" elements also have some pretty dark content in them (the overall plot of Netherdeep, the child kidnapping and slavery in Witchlight, some of Strixhaven's monsters, the adventure about racism that's apparently going to be in the Radiant Citadel, etc), not to mention the official books that are completely built off of dark themes (Rime of the Frostmaiden, Descent into Avernus, Ravenloft, etc).

There are definitely general trends towards including some "lighter" themes in recent books (the friendship system in Strixhaven, Witchlight's carnival and Netherdeep's festival, the utopic planar hub of the Radiant Citadel), but that definitely doesn't mean that the grittier stuff is dying. It's just one of the many trends that D&D happens to be emphasizing at the moment.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Yes, but this is also understandable - being put out. I mean, it isn't that different from loving a band and then being disappointed with a new album or shift in direction. But it is also part of life, and WotC can't cater to everyone.

That said, I'm not convinced that they're going to entirely say to the old fans, "Either get with the program, or go elsewhere." They've got two classic settings coming out, and presumably some future products will still be "classic D&D." Presumably they understand that 5E got popular playing it pretty close to classic form - by the time the so-called "shift" occurred around Tasha's, the player base had already exploded - and up until that point, it was still pretty "classic D&D."

That's kind of one of my points in the OP: there's no reason why they can't take an approach of building beyond classic D&D, but still nourishing the flame of classic D&D.

Of course if they come out with Dark Sun: Tales of Whimsical Woe, I'll be proven wrong.
I want to add something to this that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere; 5e's approach to adventures is changing right now. For a long time, D&D 5e only had big adventure paths meant to span an entire campaign (Tyranny of Dragons, Curse of Strahd, Princes of the Apocalypse, Storm King's Thunder, Out of the Abyss). Early D&D adventures were mostly just short modules that you could mix-and-match to add to your campaign. 5e didn't really have these until when Tales from the Yawning Portal was released in 2017, reprinting a lot of classic adventures from older editions of D&D (unless you count the Lost Mines of Phandelver).

But since Tales from the Yawning Portal we've gotten Ghosts of Saltmarsh (another classic adventure anthology book), Candlekeep Mysteries, and now Journeys Beyond the Radiant Citadel. While they're not "modules" (because they're all printed in the same book instead of smaller pamphlets that can be bought individually), they are similar in being smaller adventures that can be inserted into an ongoing D&D campaign. So while D&D 5e is transitioning away from some older trends, it is also embracing some of them more than it did at its start.

(Not to mention the fact that we literally only had the Forgotten Realms as an official supported setting for the longest time, and we're now getting more and more reprinted older settings. Or that a lot of older monsters keep reappearing in new monster books like Mordenkainen's and Fizbans. Or how they're bringing back the D&D Multiverse.)

tl;dr - While 5e is definitely transitioning away from some older trends/themes/content (even ones that it focused on more towards the start of the edition), it is also transitioning towards some older ones.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Any time we see the word "evolution" in this context, we ought to be aware of the meaning.

"Evolution" is not movement "forward". Direction is a thing game design can have, that evolution does not. Game designers make choices, while random changes in DNA do not. Evolution does not have will.

If evolution is movement at all, it is a drunkards walk that, if a line survives, turns out to have been, out of sheer luck, toward being more effectively adapted to a niche in an ecosystem. If the ecosystem changes, or if niches become available, the species available will, through random changes, either meet the new needs, or not.

Meanwhile, game design and fiction writing can be aimed at a niche. The author's vision of the viability of the niche may be hazy, but it
 

Any time we see the word "evolution" in this context, we ought to be aware of the meaning.

"Evolution" is not movement "forward". Direction is a thing game design can have, that evolution does not. Game designers make choices, while random changes in DNA do not. Evolution does not have will.

If evolution is movement at all, it is a drunkards walk that, if a line survives, turns out to have been, out of sheer luck, toward being more effectively adapted to a niche in an ecosystem. If the ecosystem changes, or if niches become available, the species available will, through random changes, either meet the new needs, or not.

Meanwhile, game design and fiction writing can be aimed at a niche. The author's vision of the viability of the niche may be hazy, but it
That's very important to remember. I think too many people use "evolution" to mean movement toward an inherently better form, when they really mean movement toward a form they prefer. Of course, neither is correct.
 

Hussar

Legend
@AcererakTriple6 - I think that's a very good point to remember too.

How much support does something need? Like you said, there are now three full anthology modules by WtoC with a fourth to come. That means we have about 30-40 small adventures for 5e, covering a range of play from straight up dungeon crawl to more hippy dippy pass the story stick types. :D

If WotC stops banging out books catering to a specific playstyle, that doesn't necessarily mean they are ignoring or abandoning that play style. It might simply be that that particular play style is pretty fully serviced and now is a time to shift focus towards including other play styles.

I guess my question becomes, how much support does a play style need? If you already have multiple products that cater to your particular tastes (and I mean this as a general "you"), is it reasonable to think that there will be more coming down the pipe?
 


Well, I expect it didn't become popular for one simple single reason.
Of course not, but they clearly designed it based on classic ideas suggested by folks in the public playtest, to help bring in fans of previous editions. Their actions and plans in recent years suggest that they are refocusing their efforts away from those fans. If they did this with a new edition, that would be one thing. But this time, they decided to make their changes midstream and retroactively alter the core books from 2014 to suit their current plans. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not a fan of rewriting history.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
If they did this with a new edition, that would be one thing. But this time, they decided to make their changes midstream and retroactively alter the core books from 2014 to suit their current plans.
If they did this with another edition, we would have another 4e Edition Wars on our hands. Doing a "soft edition change" like this one allows them to update the ruleset to a more modern audience and lets them fix mechanical quirks/problems with the base game without losing a huge chunk of their fanbase. "Revising history" would be if they used errata to get rid of the older versions of the Core Rulebooks. And since that's almost definitely not going to happen, this is not "revising history" anymore than the release of 3.5e was.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Of course not, but they clearly designed it based on classic ideas suggested by folks in the public playtest, to help bring in fans of previous editions. Their actions and plans in recent years suggest that they are refocusing their efforts away from those fans.

1) The current demographics do not say "fans of older editions". They say, "Broad age range".

2) Saying that going with the classic ideas was "to help bring in fans of previous editions" is likely an oversimplification.

2a) You seem a little vague on which "classic ideas" you think brought those supposed fans in, and are currently being violated.

In the end, the past will not sustain them forever - those fans of older editions will age out of the market, and must be replaced with new players if the game is to have a long future. Thus a focus on things relevant to a younger market is called for.
 

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