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D&D 5E Revisiting revised core rulebooks

Mercurius

Legend
A couple months ago I posted a poll about hypothetical 50th anniversary core rulebooks, and where on the spectrum of revision they might be. With the hullabaloo of the last months and upcoming changes in the works, it could be that the likelihood of revised core rulebooks has increased, and possibly before 2024.

In recent weeks, I have noticed a shift in conversation towards more mechanical changes. Maybe it is just aberrant noise, but it does bring to light that to whatever degree cosmetic changes occur, there may also be significant mechanical changes as well. If the changes are enough, new rulebooks would seem in order...and if WotC is going that route anyway, it may be that we'll see a more significant revision than it looked like in that poll, where the center of gravity seemed around "5.15" - or a bit more than "almost entirely cosmetic, maybe with a few minor tweaks."

All we really know is that WotC is revising some of the 5E line, has placed a disclaimer on older products, and has promised to "do better" going forward, clearly with the guidance of whomever they hire for their new positon. We also know that an upcoming book provides new rules for player options around ability scores, and probably more.

But how does this impact the likelihood of revised core rulebooks, even--dare I say--a new edition? Do you feel that:

A) It is now more likely that we see revised core rulebooks within the next few years?
B) Substantial revision is now more likely?
C) We may even see a new edition sooner than later?

My answers to A, B, and C are "Yes, Somewhat, No." My sense is that we'll see micro changes over the next few years, mostly reflected in new products, as WotC tries to figure out the best direction that supports the widest swath of the community, and that we'll see revised core rulebooks in 2024 that reflect all of those changes. In the poll I posted I voted for 5.1/5.2 (you could vote for two), but now would probably adjust it to a solid 5.3. That would bring it to the edge of easy backward compatibility, but still involve noticeable changes.

What do you think? I'm hoping to keep this thread more focused on speculation than argumentation, if at all possible.
 

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A couple months ago I posted a poll about hypothetical 50th anniversary core rulebooks, and where on the spectrum of revision they might be. With the hullabaloo of the last months and upcoming changes in the works, it could be that the likelihood of revised core rulebooks has increased, and possibly before 2024.

In recent weeks, I have noticed a shift in conversation towards more mechanical changes. Maybe it is just aberrant noise, but it does bring to light that to whatever degree cosmetic changes occur, there may also be significant mechanical changes as well. If the changes are enough, new rulebooks would seem in order...and if WotC is going that route anyway, it may be that we'll see a more significant revision than it looked like in that poll, where the center of gravity seemed around "5.15" - or a bit more than "almost entirely cosmetic, maybe with a few minor tweaks."

All we really know is that WotC is revising some of the 5E line, has placed a disclaimer on older products, and has promised to "do better" going forward, clearly with the guidance of whomever they hire for their new positon. We also know that an upcoming book provides new rules for player options around ability scores, and probably more.

But how does this impact the likelihood of revised core rulebooks, even--dare I say--a new edition? Do you feel that:

A) It is now more likely that we see revised core rulebooks within the next few years?
B) Substantial revision is now more likely?
C) We may even see a new edition sooner than later?

My answers to A, B, and C are "Yes, Somewhat, No." My sense is that we'll see micro changes over the next few years, mostly reflected in new products, as WotC tries to figure out the best direction that supports the widest swath of the community, and that we'll see revised core rulebooks in 2024 that reflect all of those changes. In the poll I posted I voted for 5.1/5.2 (you could vote for two), but now would probably adjust it to a solid 5.3. That would bring it to the edge of easy backward compatibility, but still involve noticeable changes.

What do you think? I'm hoping to keep this thread more focused on speculation than argumentation, if at all possible.
The upcoming character customization options are to make D&D more inclusive, it may well become core.

The anniversary printings of the 5e core books, PH, DMG, and MM, might update to include these mechanics.
 


The upcoming character customization options are to make D&D more inclusive, it may well become core.

The anniversary printings of the 5e core books, PH, DMG, and MM, might update to include these mechanics.
Inclusivity has to be part of the core of the game.

I hope they bump the PHB up the next set of page count.
 


"Races" are a core game element WotC is likely feeling pretty unhappy about now, and have the incentive to try to radically rework. There is a minimal amount they can do without rewriting the PHB. I think they're best bet is to rework the PHB to have some sort of modular, somewhat expanded racial choices with the existing PHB options as "quick build suggestions" like they have for classes. But whether or not they do that they need to just drop the alignment entries for every race, because there was really no good reason for it to be there in the first place other than so that one more thing on the character sheet is linked to race, background, or class. Personally I never had a political issue with them, but I also never found them terribly helpful, inspiring, or important.

I think at least goblins and orcs are such staples of fantasy and that they should get PHB racial option entries, given that first time player's pop culture expectations when told they can pick a fantasy race are likely to be that they can play these races. Having half-orcs makes the absence of full ones particularly weird and pregnant with tacit meaning.

In any case, I think the seeds of 5.5 edition or 6th edition are being sown, either because they are going to end up immediately creating such a thing, or because whatever they create to ameliorate the "racial issues" as well as any way they may publish the UA variant class features is going to interact a bit awkwardly with existing player option materials in the PHB, Volo's, Xanathar's, etc. and thereby increase the perceived need to rewrite things from the ground up. There also seem to be a few new design ideas working their way through UA, like increased use of being able to do something a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, features that add a d4 instead of giving advantage (also big in Eberron), and having feats that give spells let you recast the spell with spell slots after you use up your free casting, that I can imagine them wanting to write into core materials if given the opportunity.
 


ccs

41st lv DM
A) It is now more likely that we see revised core rulebooks within the next few years?
No. What we'll see is more revisions than were already in the works.

B) Substantial revision is now more likely?
No, see above. We were already getting a revision. Mechanically it'll be fully 5e compatible, just improved enough to encourage you to switch.

C) We may even see a new edition sooner than later?
I don't think so. I think the target is still 2024. The 50th anniversary is the ideal time to drop the next evolution of our favorite RPG on us. And it allows ample time to perfect both mechanics & wording.
2021 - through then? You'll see changes to wording/approach in the new products.
I could be wrong on this though on changing some of the wording. Afterall, they did re-edit the core books once already to incorporate some errata. But I really don't see it as terribly vital to go through all the current stuff & change out the word race for ?.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I think the lure of the 50th anniversary is way too strong, they will certainly publish something for that. It might end up being simply a "premium boxed set", for example the 3 core books in a box with alternate covers, with or without accessories e.g. dice, maps, minis... Or it might a full revision.

I doubt it will be a whole new edition "designed from the ground up". It would be insane, because the game does NOT need to be redesigned as it has no inherent flaws, and their coffins do NOT need it either (although it might change in the future). The 3.5e and 4e reset were pushed by WotC's need to keep up with the sales after running short of ideas, while 5e still has plenty of room. It's supposed they also learned their lesson on fracturing the players base.

Inclusivity issues however are urgent, they cannot wait until 2024. We will see a shift in language, artwork and treatment of races in all supplements from now on. I think that PHB treatment of races will be revolutionized* but this takes more time and may after all be delayed until 2024, while perhaps for the moment they will only make language changes and incorporate them into PHB/DMG/MM/else errata in the continuous reprints, while directing gamers to alternate racial abilities in the upcoming book (with the possibility to add them also to the free online Basic rules, to avoid the need for early major changes to the PHB).

*one possibility for this is that they would completely replace the traditional Races mechanics with a cherrypicking system of racial abilities (with no restrictions on ability scores bonuses) where traditional races only have a "suggested list" of features. Rearranging the whole Races chapter around this is a major work, that's why I doubt they will do it as errata.

Then, about a 2024 revision... Back-compatibility will be highly considered. I believe WotC is financially confident enough to finally aim at an "evergreen" edition of the game, where the core mechanics and material don't need to be changed again, at least not as a whole.

But contrary to what others say, I believe that also MINOR changes like 3.5 are the worst thing they can do, e.g. adjusting a bunch of spells or feats, or buffing classes up, or merging skills, or changing combat actions. This kind of revision does break back-compatibility for minimal and debatable improvements. Players are forced into buy again all the books to stay onboard with the community at large.

Instead what I think they'll do is TARGETTED changes. They won't change the game mechanics. They won't buff classes up as a marketing ploy (this was a main trick of 3.5 as in "yes you need to buy again all the books, but your character will be more powerful!"). They won't make micro-adjustments. They will instead pick a very small number of specific areas and redesign those, and I think those will be the Sorcerer core class, the Ranger core class and the Beastmaster archetype.

By doing this, there will be a 5.0 Sorcerer/Ranger and a 5.1 Sorcerer/Ranger, but it will be a confined change, nobody else will be affected. If they avoid making the 5.1 versions look like straight boosts of the originals, they can claim that the 5.0 versions are still valid choices, even though overall the 5.1 might be effectively better. In fact, perhaps the work is already almost done, if the alternate Sorcerer/Ranger class features prove popular, all they might have to do is simply incorporate those into the 2024 PHB. And I think they'll stay there beyond whatever "premium" version of the book.

There is only one big mechanical change that has been talked about by WotC (Mearls) and that is getting rid of bonus actions. Unfortunately this requires massive changes to every books, as there are literally hundreds of characters and monsters abilities based on bonus actions. I don't think it's worth making a new edition for this purpose, and it will certainly have its own drawbacks.
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
There is only one big mechanical change that has been talked about by WotC (Mearls) and that is getting rid of bonus actions. Unfortunately this requires massive changes to every books, as there are literally hundreds of characters and monsters abilities based on bonus actions. I don't think it's worth making a new edition for this purpose, and it will certainly have its own drawbacks.

I came here to say this.

I think TWFing, though, is the only problematic outlier of the Bonus Action. Change how TWFing works to be balanced against the others (I've already done it in my games) and it doesn't need the Bonus Action. Then you don't have as many bonus actions competing (unless the beast-master is going to use bonus actions, which gets in the way of a lot of ranger spells).

I can see them not wanting to errata change PHB stuff, but defacto errata is worse in my opinion. If a new version of the Ranger and Sorcerer were to come out, or heck new better subclasses that invalidate old subclasses (I'm looking at you Berserker), it will be perceived as a rules change regardless.
 

dave2008

Legend
There is only one big mechanical change that has been talked about by WotC (Mearls) and that is getting rid of bonus actions. Unfortunately this requires massive changes to every books, as there are literally hundreds of characters and monsters abilities based on bonus actions. I don't think it's worth making a new edition for this purpose, and it will certainly have its own drawbacks.
I had the same thought fairly recently, but it was pointed out to me that Mike no longer believes bonus action need to be removed. A change to another rule solved his issue more effectively than eliminating bonus actions. There was a post about it, but i'm not going to go and try yo find it.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I had the same thought fairly recently, but it was pointed out to me that Mike no longer believes bonus action need to be removed. A change to another rule solved his issue more effectively than eliminating bonus actions. There was a post about it, but i'm not going to go and try yo find it.

Interesting, thanks! If you eventually remember which was the other rule changed (I wonder how... errata?) then I would be interested in hearing about it :)
 


ZeshinX

Adventurer
Interesting, thanks! If you eventually remember which was the other rule changed (I wonder how... errata?) then I would be interested in hearing about it :)

Pretty sure this isn't the reason, but it is a pretty nice houserule on how to handle bonus actions.

 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
But how does this impact the likelihood of revised core rulebooks, even--dare I say--a new edition? Do you feel that:

A) It is now more likely that we see revised core rulebooks within the next few years?
B) Substantial revision is now more likely?
C) We may even see a new edition sooner than later?

I don't think they'll be changing much with the core rulebooks beyond including errata as they have been with certain printings. Doubtless the temptation to make significant changes to the problematic language therein exists, and along with those some mechanical changes as well while they're at it, but it would very much create a situation akin to the 3.0/3.5 changes. I get the feeling they very much wish to avoid that kind of situation, since they've done it with the previous two editions (3.0 -> 3.5 and 4e -> Essentials). If anything, they might simply reword where necessary, but mechanically things function otherwise identically as is.

I suspect the next major XGtE-type release will be the book to really offer some new ways of doing things, use of non-problematic language along with a large number of new mechanics and player options (I pray we finally see the ranger get its exceedingly long overdue revised options in official print).

I think a new edition is still a ways off. 2024 seems likely, if not later.
 

delericho

Legend
I think a new edition soon is somewhat more likely than it was previously - if WotC are serious about some of the lore changes, they probably need to be baked into the core, and they probably also need to break backwards-compatibility enough to 'force' people to update.

That said, a new edition right now is probably the last thing they want to do, given that 5e continues to sell so well. And when you factor in the problem that even-numbered editions have a tendency to almost kill the game, that suggests they should probably avoid it.

So... maybe. My gut feeling is that we won't see a new edition for several years yet. For the Anniversary, I think I'd instead expect to see some sort of deluxe re-issue of the books, maybe with new artwork but with no rule changes, but probably some greater emphasis on other premium products. Though I'm not sure what those might be.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Pretty sure this isn't the reason, but it is a pretty nice houserule on how to handle bonus actions.

This certainly makes the elven hexblade PAM samurai paladin sorcerer far stronger.

Round 1: Fighting Spirit, Hexblade Curse, Shaft attack, Quickened booming blade, action surge, 6x triple-advantage attacks each with 27% crit chance and +10+stat+prof to damage, two sources of smite (warlock and paladin) on any crit.

Round 2: No need, everything dead.

Bonus actions used:
1. Spell (quickened booming blade)
2. PAM
3. Fighting Spirit
4. Hexblade curse
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
This certainly makes the elven hexblade PAM samurai paladin sorcerer far stronger.

Round 1: Fighting Spirit, Hexblade Curse, Shaft attack, Quickened booming blade, action surge, 6x triple-advantage attacks each with 27% crit chance and +10+stat+prof to damage, two sources of smite (warlock and paladin) on any crit.

Round 2: No need, everything dead.

Bonus actions used:
1. Spell (quickened booming blade)
2. PAM
3. Fighting Spirit
4. Hexblade curse

Most definitely...which is why I don't play with people that favour "builds" over "characters".
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Most definitely...which is why I don't play with people that favour "builds" over "characters".
Sure, but you could have a rule that level 10 wizards get unlimited wishes, and it wouldn't break 99.8% of games where people built characters randomly.

Because the odds of 10 wizard levels is a bit low.

You could also just not includes feats and multiclassing and I think unlimited bonus actions is also fine (no more than one per feature).

I mean, hexblade is probably too strong.
 
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