Today's official announcement about the Elemental Evil storyline mentioned Princes of the Apocalypse, a new DM screen, miniatures, video games... but not the Adventurer's Handbook! This could mean nothing, of course. The book was first announced last year, back in August; but the below screenshot from Edelweiss shows it as cancelled. The mystery deepens!

UPDATE: WotC's Mike Mearls answers "We can't cancel a book we never announced!" So that sounds like the Adventurer's Handbook will definitely not be appearing. WotC certainly wrote ad copy and designed a cover for the book (see below). Mike added "we've played things close to the vest is that it's a huge, open question on what support for the RPG should look like... we do a lot of stuff that may or may not end up as a released product. For instance, we now know that the high volume release schedule for 3e and 4e turned out to be bad for D&D. It wasn't too many settings that hurt TSR, but too many D&D books of any kind. lots of experiments ahead..."

Here's the cancellation screenshot. Now, that could mean a number of things - maybe it's been pushed back, maybe it's been renamed, or maybe it's just an admin error. Princes of the Apolocaypse has been pushed back from March 17 to April 7.


What do we know about the book? We have a description from August 2014 and a more recent cover image. Right now, anything could be true; I haven't heard anything about a cancellation or a pushed back release date. If I do, I'll be sure to report it.


Adventurer's Handbook (March 17, 2015; hardcover; $39.95) -- A Dungeons & Dragons Accessory.

Create Heroic Characters to Conquer the Elements in this Accessory for the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game​

Not inherently evil, elemental power can be mastered by those with both malevolent and benign intentions. The Elemental Evil Adventurer’s Handbook provides everything that players need to build a character that is tied directly into the Elemental Evil story arc, with skills, abilities, and spells meant to augment their play experience throughout the campaign. Additionally, valuable background and story information provides greater depth and immersion.

An accessory that expands the number of options available for character creation for the Elemental Evil story arc, providing expanded backgrounds, class builds, and races meant specifically for this campaign.

Provides background and setting information critical to having the greatest chance of success.

Accessory design and development by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC.​

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New Publisher
Per Mearls. ....we should remember nothing is real until announced. And, I don't care about video games, or board games. I am interested in RPG products, but I know others care, so cool for them.

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I'm not convinced by Mearls' assertion that "a lot of products hurt D&D". Unless perhaps the plan is to build community and brand loyalty by starving everyone of alternatives to the One Campaign to Rule Them All ...

Hoard of the Dragon Queen actually isn't the adventure which "will rule them all".

However, i agree with you...and i am very sceptical with Wizard's moves

Jeff Carlsen

Personally, I'm not very keen on the Adventurer's Handbook path. The price to content ratio just doesn't feel like a value. Including the core player material with the adventure itself is best.

An online supplement has advantages too. They don't need to fill an entire book with content. Instead, they can focus on a handful of the best elements. It also leaves them the option to reprint the material later as part of a compendium of player options that offers a better value proposition and takes up less space on the shelf.


Slumbering in Tsar
The interesting thing to me is that mearls indicates that support for the RPG *is still an open question*.


How times have changed.

Only 1 D&D tabletop RPG product for February, March, and April as far as we know. The last time something like this happened, there was a "problem with the printer". ;)


I'm cool with one or two supplements a year.

There's enough stuff in the three core books to play a campaign for years.

Why do I need any supplements? Well, I would like to see their take on psionics (2/3rds done with mine), and I could use some elemental love.

Other than that, I'm doing it myself or converting from older editions. (Rune Magic, Bloodmagic, martial arts, etc.)


First Post
Can't say I was surprised. The announcement not coming from them was never a good sign.

I'm surprised they let it hang out there so long as a possibility. Honestly I think the "leaked" info on the what was going to be two books was just a trial balloon from WotC to test the waters. If the majority of people seemed interested in two books we would probably be getting two books, but my impression id that a more condensed release was the favorite opinion on the forums, so that's what we are getting instead.


First Post
I'm surprised they let it hang out there so long as a possibility. Honestly I think the "leaked" info on the what was going to be two books was just a trial balloon from WotC to test the waters. If the majority of people seemed interested in two books we would probably be getting two books, but my impression id that a more condensed release was the favorite opinion on the forums, so that's what we are getting instead.

After running a 2 year playtest with couple hundred thousand people and talking over and over about how much they learned that most dnd fans opinions do not match up with forums, I doubt they'd base they're plans on forum reactions.

I'm surprised they let it hang out there so long as a possibility. Honestly I think the "leaked" info on the what was going to be two books was just a trial balloon from WotC to test the waters. If the majority of people seemed interested in two books we would probably be getting two books, but my impression id that a more condensed release was the favorite opinion on the forums, so that's what we are getting instead.

Or they were trying to identify the person behind the leaks and gave everyone different bits of false information to see what got leaked.


What I don't get is this: If all the Elemental Evil-themed player content is going to be available for free come mid-March, while the adventure isn't coming out until mid-April, why bother putting any player content in the adventure at all? Everyone will have all that content for free already? Why pay to have only *some* of it in hardcopy form?

Joe Liker

First Post
You mean both of them? There is only 6 products; three core books, two modules, and a dm screen. And both middle were made by the same company while the rules were being finalized. I can't blame KP for having some weak slots there.
You forgot spellbook cards (also by gf9), which completely ignored concentration and omitted at least one spell that I'm aware of.

I'm thinking it'll be like a Pathfinder adventure path; the crunch in the free book will just be what you need to make starter characters, with additional stuff coming in the actual releases.


Well puts me in a real spot. I like splat books, I like having new content. I miss Dragon Magazine BADLY!!!!! I agree with slowing down but this is crazy slow, way too slow for my tastes. I want an active updating game, and pathfinder doesn't capture me.

I would love to see a revival of Dungeon and Dragon. I think back to all of the old issues of Dragon I read from the 1e/2e days, a lot of the articles were talking about things like unusual magic items, small optional rules modules (arctic weather, fleshing out art objects and gems, random encounter tables, seafaring gear, etc.), class variants, ecology articles, and the like, all things that seem like they would be good fits for the touted "modular" aspect of 5e. I also loved the articles of advice on how to run games and build campaigns.

And the modules in Dungeon, I loved seeing 3-5 adventures a month for a variety of levels and tastes. Even the ones I didn't run could usually be mined for ideas or maps or NPCs, and it was a great resource when I needed something quick to fill in a session or two between major events or to help the party get an extra level before moving on to the next big thing. I also liked the disconnected nature of the modules, I find with the APs that if I didn't want to use the first adventure of the AP, the remaining 11-12 adventures were a lot less useful because of the amount of work necessary to disconnect them from the overall AP, but with the stand-alone adventures they were much easier to grab and run on the fly.


Reading the wording of the release, I am not certain that ALL of the crunch will be in the free download.

"In addition, a free download will be available in mid-March that includes more new races plus the player content available in Princes of the Apocalypse".

That reads as being all-inclusive to me.

EDIT: Mike just answered my question on Twitter:

pukunui81: Why put player content in the new adventure if you're going to give it out for free before the adventure is even released?
mikemearls: DM reference - most (all, I think) of that material is also used by NPCs in the adventure
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I would like a little more support for the game than this, but not by a whole lot. I think my ideal release schedule for a year would have a total of twelve releases, one per month, distributed as follows:
  • Two big adventure/campaign books (a la Princes of the Apocalypse).
  • One rule-focused book, with a bit of everything. Think 3.5e's PHB2 or Rolemaster's Compendiums.
  • A big "special" book. For the first year, this should probably be a campaign setting overview. Maybe do those every 2-3 years. Next year, maybe something about rulership, or whatever.
  • 4 smaller adventures covering varying levels. I'd probably go with one apprentice-tier, two heroic-tier, and alternate between paragon and epic tier each year.
  • 4 smaller setting sourcebooks (e.g. "Silver Marches", "Breland", "City of Greyhawk", "Dune Traders").

I think the thing that hurt 3e in the long run wasn't too much stuff as a whole, but too much player-focused stuff. At the end, 3.5e had over 40 base classes (11 in the PHB, 4 in PHB2, 4 in the XPH, 5x3 from the Complete books, 3 in Tome of Magic, 3 in Tome of Battle, 3 in Magic of Incarnum, 2 in Heroes of Horror, 1 in Eberron, 1 in Dragon Magic, and I'm probably forgetting something), who knows how many prestige classes, and thousands of feats. Even ostensibly setting-focused stuff had a bunch of player stuff in them. For example, the FR sourcebook Unapproachable East spends 50 pages (out of 192) on races, prestige classes, regions & feats, spells, and magic items, and an additional 23 on monsters. That's something like 25% spent on player-accessible rules and 15% on monsters. I believe the thinking at the time was "there are five times as many players as DMs, so let's focus our books on them instead!" That gave us a lot of cool stuff real fast, but was problematic in the long run, and they were scraping the bottom of the barrel inspiration-wise pretty quickly (how many really played a Lurker?)


Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I think part of the reason 5e has sold so well is that it's, for being a D&D game, quite complete. I don't think there has been a previous edition that has included so many options as 5e did..

YMMV on this one, overall 5e feels somewhat complete to me in comparison with the core 4e, but not exactly the most complete version ever. Particularly I feel like I cannot truly convert certain characters made entirely on core 3e or core 3.5, I still miss out a lot of domains and I feel I need more non-blasty options for sorcerers -and more thematic diversity beyond monster sorcerer and homage sorcerer-. Having warlocks and tieflings in core is nice though, but I've come to appreciate and miss warlords too. I was pretty excited about adventurer's handbook for this reason, more options is always nice.


Naked and living in a barrel
"We can't cancel a book we never announced!"
Whelp, that is a bit pedentic. Not very respectful to fans. Especially considering the cover for the book was shown to us not too long ago. We expected a splat book coming out with the adventure. There is nothing wrong with telling is that the 3PP bite more than it could chew. WotC has some problems with 5ereleases. DMG being pushed back and Morningstar also being cancelled are indicators of this. Maybe it will stabilize with time.

I do not buy (pun intended) the whole too many books are bad for the brand. Well, I understand and believe releasing too many books is not good for their bottomline, but they still need to release some books to make money.

There has been some backlash with the adventure being set in the Forgotten Realms and not everyone buys adventures. Not sure this is good for business.

For me, ditching the Adventurer's Handbook and giving away most of its material for free actually makes me more likely to buy Princes of the Apocalypse--and I don't even buy adventures.

Had they put the expansion content into another book I had to buy to go along with the adventure, I may or may not have bought the expansion, depending on what content it had. I certainly would not have wasted my money on the adventure. By giving me the material I want most (genasi and whatever other classics are coming back) for free, they both increases my desire to support the company, and free up my financial resources to potentially buy the adventure.

So in my case, they might just end up making more money from me for less cost on their end. If this is a common phenomenon, then it's a great marketing decision for them.

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