The Half-Edition Shuffle

The next edition of Dungeons & Dragons is finally on the horizon, but it's not here just yet. So when do publishers makes the shift?

thehalfeditionshuffle.png

A Historical Model​

D&D has been through several editions in recent memory, but few match the recent transition between two compatible editions. Although backwards compatibility is often promised, it's rarely delivered. And there's also the consideration of the thousands of small press publishers created through the Open Game License movement, which didn't exist before Third Edition. Of all the edition shifts, the 3.0 to 3.5 transition seems closest to what D&D is going through right now, so it's a good place to start this thought experiment.

Compatible, Sort Of​

Fifth Edition's transition to Sixth involves tweaks to the game. Those tweaks seemed largely cosmetic, at first. With the release of Mordenkainen's Monsters of the Multiverse, it's clear that the spellcasting section of monsters is going to be significantly changed. In short, while players may find their characters compatible with the latest edition of D&D, DMs may find their monsters aren't. And that's a problem for publishers. But mechanically, all of these issues can be addressed. What really matters is what customers think. And that's often shaped by branding.

What a Half-Edition Means​

The transition between Third Edition and 3.5 was more significant than many publishers were expecting. You can see a list on RPG Stack Exchange, which shows just how much the new edition changed the game.

This did not go unnoticed by consumers. The OGL movement was still developing but it caught many publishers by surprise, including the company I wrote for at the time, Monkeygod Publishing (they're no longer in business). When we released my hardcover book Frost & Fur, the only identifier was the D20 System logo. Little did we know that it was imperative to identify the book as 3.5-compatible (which it was), because stores wouldn't carry it and consumers wouldn't buy it if it wasn't.

There wasn't nearly as much communication from WIzards of the Coast back then as to how to prepare for the edition change, much less columns from the company explaining their strategy. More communication about the upcoming edition may mitigate its impact on third-party publishers.

Between the DM's Guild and DriveThruRPG, there is now an ecosystem that can more readily update itself without taking up shelf space or clogging up inventory. Digital products can be changed, covers can be rebranded, and newsletters can announce the update. Wizards of the Coast has also given considerable lead time on the coming changes by announcing the edition well in advance and updating books piecemeal so developers can see what changed. But there's still one important piece of the puzzle.

What Do Consumers Think?​

One of the ongoing concerns for supporting publishers of Third Edition was how the Open Game License would be updated and, at least as important, how to identify that compatibility.

Updating the OGL enables publishers to ensure their products are compatible. The OGL doesn't specify stat block structure, so it may not even be necessary to update the license much if at all.

Identifying compatibility will be even more critical. At some point, publishers will start identifying their products as Sixth Edition compatible. And that will happen when consumers shift their spending habits.

The Changeover​

But first, WOTC has to declare that Sixth Edition has officially arrived. Wizards was hesitant to put a number on Fifth Edition, preferring instead to indicate it was simply D&D to potentially head off edition controversy. Failure to do that in a timely fashion (or worse, failure to recognize a new edition at all and continue calling it Fifth Edition) will cause potential confusion in the marketplace, with both consumers and publishers.

At some point the tide will turn and consumers will expect compatibility with the new edition. That change is complicated by the fact that Sixth Edition should be largely compatible with Fifth Edition. But only consumers can decide that for sure; if they don't feel it is, there will be a sharp drop off in Fifth Edition buying habits. For smaller publishers, they'll stay close to the market to determine when that shift is happening and how to transition smoothly without harming their business model.

Getting it right can be lucrative. Getting it wrong can sink a company. The market convulsed massively when 3.5 came out, wiping out publishers and game store stock that were unprepared for the change. Here's hoping with enough foresight and planning, we don't have a repeat of the 3.0 transition.
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca


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HammerMan

Legend
Seems to me some people are agreeing, but either way I'm not sure that is strong evidence of anything..
I just wish people would keep it at like/dislike

"I diliked 4e" is cool
"I think 4e is a failure becuse I and lots of people didn't like it" is a bit problematic
-BUT-
"4e failed, and I know it and can prove it with X Y and Z" is the MAJOR problem.
However, while I don't think I specifically made such a claim, I'm sure it is true that many people did dislike 4e's presentation and some of them would have liked it if it had been different. Other people certainly did have genuine issues that went beyond presentation. And still others had no genuine issues, because they never even meaningfully engaged with the game; they were merely picking up on a dumb meme that 4e was somehow not an RPG or not D&D.
yup... again there is a youtube channel called cinema sins and it makes joke (also points out real things) about flaws in movies... but it's hard to seperate REAL CRITISIM from JOKES... and people that don't watch cinema sins hear from friends (online or when things are more normal in person) that do watch... then the person who didn't watch it repeats it to people who ALSO don't watch it. Then it goes on and on... and sometimes it then goes back to a person who did watch it from someone who didn't know that it came from that channel...and that reinforces it "see it isn't just the channel lots of people are talking about it"

in a MUCH smaller circle (like all rpgers might be only double the subscribers of that channel thaat is huge) tthe same thing happens.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
Getting back on topic, I'd like to see the next edition properly support tactical exploration and combat, which thanks to online gaming is now easier than it ever was in 4e's day.
I'd have no issue with "Tactical Module" like that was being bandied about as a possible thing during 5e's development. But as a core part of the combat engine? I think Wizard's will likely stay away from things that make the game significantly less accessible.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Fighter could easily be three classes:

Battlemaster: the skilled warrior (as opposed to the barbarian's passionate warrior or the champion's talented warrior) - superiority dice as a core mechanic, ways to make training sub out for ability scores, and archetypes based on skilled warriors in history and fiction: the samurai, the gladiator, the warlord, the cavalier, the exotic weapons master, the swashbuckler.

Champion; the talented (and simple-to-play) warrior: really strong basic attacks, good defenses (including saves so they're forgiving to play), a few cool ways to use skills, lots of ASIs. I'm not even sure they need subclasses beyond fighting style, although I'd want to avoid even that if possible.

Eldritch Knight: the much-discussed arcane gish class.

Then add a simple blaster caster, possibly stealing some sorcerer lore to get there: you're pyromancer, you burn things. Or a cryomancer or whatever. Warlock comes close but invocations are too much.
that sounds amazing... and maybe what I really want so I will now add that and say 3 Simple/Complex/Gish
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I’ve no idea what’s gotten you so enamored with proficiency bonus being important in balancing short rest and long rest abilities. It’s a terrible design choice as at high level the bonus becomes too high compared to the current system math. That’s true whether it’s prof bonus uses per day or prof bonus short rests per day. It’s just not backwards compatible design.

I could see a change giving you double or triple the number of short rest uses per long rest. But not proficiency bonus. More than likely that would not be a change but a variant rule.
It depends. Yes it won't work if they just keep all of the existing short rest abilities as they are when they convert them but it's possible to correct that while making room to fix the class. Take the warlock having more slots than wizard thing that came up earlier, it's not just slots because they also have almost the same number of spells known (level+1known vrs level+int mod prepped) & and upgrade their pact slots to 3/4/5th slots at 5/7/9when the wizard gains access to those slots. The spells known/prepped is a big problem because they both have a small pool of must take spells & more niche (non)shared spells like earthbind & such get forced onto the wizard preparingbecause it can change prepped easier than known to very much consume most all or more of the extra prep slots it has to eat into the must take "iconic" spells

If warlock slots progressed more like artificer & got them at 9/13/17 it wouldn't matter if they knew almost as many spells as the wizard or that they had more spell slots up until level 7 9 & 11 when the progressive slowing of spell slot growth slows to a crawl.
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That's a big problem because artificer scaling would give warlock 8 or 12 fireballs at 9 when the wizard is really building up arrows in the knee from the slot growth slowing. Under those circumstances it's not so much lots of low level slots as a ton of basically the same slots minus what is almost a rounding error of slightly better slots so all of the normal slot based casters would need some tweaking to address an existing scaling problem that would be made into an obvious problem that glows like the sun. Making changes like that are not impossible
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You’ve removed action surges extra use and ignored that you naturally get more superiority dice.
I did neither.

I included the extra surge at 17th level. That makes 2 + 4 for 2 short rests = 6. I included the extra 2 superiority dice as well in the math, which is how it got to 24 dice.
that’s precisely what I was talking about with further modifying the class features. You can’t just substitute prof bonus times uses for every use of a short rest ability. It takes more than that to balance out as you just demonstrates.
No. As I showed it's in the same ballpark. Fighter A gets roughly the same number of surges and superiority dice by getting some back during the short rests, and fighter B gets none back on short rests, but works on a long rest proficiency bonus timer.

There will be times where the short rest fighter gets extra short rests and is superior to the long rest fighter, and times where he gets fewer and the long rest fighter is superior. It will equal out though, and that's what is important.
 

ctorus

Explorer
I'd have no issue with "Tactical Module" like that was being bandied about as a possible thing during 5e's development. But as a core part of the combat engine? I think Wizard's will likely stay away from things that make the game significantly less accessible.
By less accessible do you mean e.g. for visually impaired people? Or is it that tactical combat supposedly makes the game harder. I'd probably disagree with the latter - lots of people are quite familiar with board games and might well find that more accessible than theatre-of-the-mind combat.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
What. I never suggested you pick up a feat. Try reading more carefully.
I didn't say you did. This is what you said.

"No. That is a minor upgrade. As I said, there are already feats to add at level 1. So just telling everyone, they can chose an appropriate feat(ure) like militia training when taking an old background would work and be compatible enough."

So if the NEW characters have feats that come with backgrounds, and the OLD characters don't, that's not minor. And it's not backwards compatible. To be roughly equal, the old PCs would have to be updated. It's like I've said that multiple times now and you didn't read it carefully.
 






Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Maybe you quoted the wrong post of me then?
So you read carefully, but then quoted the post where i did not suggest taking a feat?
Um, that's the point. Go back and re-read what I said more carefully. My words are about you NOT suggesting the old characters take a feat. ;)

Not that the issue would have change had you suggested it. I just didn't attribute such a suggestion to you in my responses.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
By less accessible do you mean e.g. for visually impaired people? Or is it that tactical combat supposedly makes the game harder. I'd probably disagree with the latter - lots of people are quite familiar with board games and might well find that more accessible than theatre-of-the-mind combat.
I'm simply saying that going from the way to it is now, which is, not requiting a grid and miniatures, while still supporting that style of play to going to a tactical design that requires a grid and minis turns alot of people off straight away. Why would they do that?
 

Um, that's the point. Go back and re-read what I said more carefully. My words are about you NOT suggesting the old characters take a feat. ;)

Not that the issue would have change had you suggested it. I just didn't attribute such a suggestion to you in my responses.

That was the post you quoted:

And they probably are.
And still if you can say: just take x from the old edition and divide it by 2 to get the value y for the next version, it is backwards compatible, because the function is easily applied even on the fly
(At least for most 4th graders... ).
If you played played a 3.0 adventure and they told you that 3/4 cover gives +7 AC now only gives +5 AC you deduct 2 and go on. Or if you are told to make a pick pocket check, you know that you now have to make a sleight of hand check. Or when you take your character that had chosen tough and skill focus, you can keep that character but now have to add level - 2 hp and 1 to the relevant skill check. Or if you have improved critical and a magic weapon that improves the critical range, you don't add it anymore.
You could also say, leave your character as is, it is roughly the same.
If that is not compatible for you, that is a pretty narrow definition. My opinion strongly differs from yours.

And this was your answer:
Feats are not minor and do not leave the characters roughly the same. If the new PCs have to pick up a feat and convert to the new version in order to be on par with new PCs, that's not backwards compatible.

So I thought your post was an answer to the post you quoted. I now understood that you meant my suggestion from an earlier post. So I apologize if that was not obvious to me.

And maybe my comprehension fails me today.
 



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