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D&D 5E What's your ideal product release schedule over the next few years?

Mercurius

Legend
Lots of speculation as to what might be coming down the pike, with bits of hopes and dreams sprinkled in. But I thought I'd tease out the latter: What's your ideal product release schedule, both in terms of quantity and specific books? Dream biggish, but with some semblance of what-actually-good-be-ism. Meaning, what would be your ideal reasonable scenario?

Feel free to go as far into the future as you'd like, but I'd suggest the next five years. You could break it into three parts:
  1. What would you like to see WotC do over the next two and a half years (2021-23) leading up to the anniversary? In other words, how do you want to see them flesh out the first decade of 5E?
  2. What do you want to see for the anniversary (2024)?
  3. What direction do you want to see them take after the anniversary (2025+)?
Speaking for myself, I could see a number of different directions, but what comes to mind is something like this:

Product quantity: Five hardcovers is fine, but I'd also be happy to see them go up to six (although no more, due to glut/overwhelm issues) - or one every two months. Plus 2-3 extras such as special box sets, media tie-ins, luxury products, pocket compilations of themes for handy table reference (e.g. monsters, rules reference, spells, equipment, etc), and maybe a stray short module every so often.

Product type distribution: It could change yearly, but something like this would be ideal (which is about what it seems they're doing): At least two settings a year; two adventures, one story arc and one anthology; one (and only one) splat, with no more than one new players options expansion (e.g. Xanathar and Tasha) every two or even three years. Plus the extras mentioned above.

Also, more general theme books not tied to specific settings, but guidelines or "micro-settings" within them (see "Sylvan Adventures" in 2021 below for an example). I kind of like the approach of introducing new thematic rules in specific setting books, but I also miss books like the 1st edition Survival Guides and Manual of the Planes.

Year-by-Year:


2021: Extrapolating on What We "Know." With (at least) one more setting this year, I'd be happy with either a Magic, second classic, or new setting, perhaps the hypothetical fey sylvan setting with dragon overlords that I mentioned in another thread. Or maybe a Sylvan Adventures, with rules, new creatures, and several examples of different sylvan settings with starting adventures. Alternately (or in addition), a Ruins of Myth Drannor story arc to expand the Realms into the Dalelands and involving Anauroch, Cormanthyr, etc. Either this year or the next (or across both) I'd like to see a Dragonlance conversion, although have a hard time seeing it done in one product - ideally it would be either two hardcovers (world and adventure path) or a huge box set with bookets for Ansalon, Taladas, Rules, and Adventures - that would be pretty massive (see 2024: Greyhawk Deluxe).

2022: Year of the Planes. It is (past) time, WotC. I'd like to see a big Manual of the Planes that covers planar rules, an overview of the planes, monsters, and variant cosmologies and means of planar travel (including Spelljammer!). Then I'd like to see an adventure that starts in Sigil, with setting material on Sigil and the Outlands - perhaps strongly githyanki related. If Sigil is integrated in an adventure, they could slot in Dragonlance as the classic setting of the year. For Magic, I'd like to see one of the more unique/gonzo planes - perhaps Zendikar, Alara, New Phyrexia, or Ikoria.

2023: Completing the (Sub-Edition) Cycle. Round off the first ten years of 5E with a true Faerun setting guide, using the 3E FRCS as a model. Also, Dark Sun (with a new take on psionics) and a second "Dark Sun adventures" book. Another Magic (or new) setting. I'm indifferent on Exandria, but this would be a likely slot for an expansion. Also, either in 2022 or, to go with the desert them, a revival of Desert of Desolation.

2024: The 50th Anniversary Extravaganza! Go big. Revised core rulebooks akin to a 5.5 (or so). Backwards compatible, but ironing out some of the tricky parts and with new art. Emphasize changes to lore as flexibility, maintaining options for traditional style D&D (e.g. orcs as monsters) but also a wider range of options for a customizable game (e.g. orcs as a PC race). A Deluxe Greyhawk box set for the classic setting, with four booklets: World, City, Castle Greyhawk adventure, and Rules, as well as a cloth reprint of the Darlene map, the City of Greyhawk map from the old box set, and a new map by Anna B Meyer. Also, a commemorative Worlds of D&D big book with overviews, art, map, and behind-the-scenes for every D&D world published by TSR or WotC for D&D.

2025 and Beyond: Expanding the D&D Multiverse. An sf or science fiction setting, perhaps Gamma World for the 21st century D&D player. More settings and adventures, perhaps expanding the Realms (would love to see Anchorome, Katashaka, and Osse), and more Magic planes converted. I'd also love to see them do a conversion for Malazan and maybe other fictional worlds.

Any time: Surprises! I like it when WotC does comes out with something completely unexpected (like Ravnica...at least to many). Follow the tried-and-tried template of 2 settings, 2 adventures, and 1 splat, but every once in awhile mix in something different. For example, I'd love to see the Iomadra setting, perhaps with Council of Wyrms elements. How about "cosmic D&D," bringing back something akin to Everway? And so on.
 

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Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I'm not going to lie... 6 seems like too many books. I could see maybe 5 books and one box set, but 6 books seems like more than any reasonable person would ever buy.

To get to 6... you would do I assume 2 settings, 2 adventure books, 1 monster book, 1 rules book? Seems like honestly too much material. Now, if it was 5 books and a box set, that makes a bit more sense to me.
 


Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
6e is 2024. That anniversary is too big to pass up.

I doubt they're even considering 6E. Why kill the golden goose when they clearly have plenty of runway (plenty of both classic and MTG settings to make, and there's always more adventures to make or remake).

They're certainly not going to make 6E just because it happens to be an anniversary.
 

ART!

Hero
It's weird, because I'm likely to buy only one - maybe 2 - hardback 5E books per year. The rest I might buy piecemeal bits of on D&D Beyond, or someone in our group is bound to buy it on DDB and then use the Content Sharing feature.

The one I keep thinking of buying in hardback is Theros, which is a setting book based on a MtG setting, but also inspired by a real-world historical culture, mythology, etc. I'm a big fan of the latter, and the most likely way we'll see more of those is if they're based on MtG design "blocks", so I'm all for more 5E books of that sort - one per year would be fine.

I'm guessing we get a revised starter boxed set on the anniversary, and...revised core rulebooks? Those run the risk of reducing sales on existing books that have content that would most likely be included in revised core books, but maybe it's worth it? Hard to say - publishing is a risky game.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I'm not going to lie... 6 seems like too many books. I could see maybe 5 books and one box set, but 6 books seems like more than any reasonable person would ever buy.

To get to 6... you would do I assume 2 settings, 2 adventure books, 1 monster book, 1 rules book? Seems like honestly too much material. Now, if it was 5 books and a box set, that makes a bit more sense to me.
Yeah, when I was writing that I was thinking "six major products" - so five hardcovers and one box set. That sounds ideal. Six books only if there's no box set, and I'd rather there be a box set.

2 books a year, but they have to match whatever I happen to think I want at the given time. (Or, more sensibly, a few books a year, 2 of which appeal to me.)

6e is 2024. That anniversary is too big to pass up.
Out of curiosity, why not the 5-6 major products, 2 of which appeal to you? Why only 3? ("a few") What's the difference?
 

delericho

Legend
Out of curiosity, why not the 5-6 major products, 2 of which appeal to you? Why only 3? ("a few") What's the difference?
"A few" as in "more than 2, but not many". Though, in all honesty, it's the "2 of which appeal" which is the important bit - I don't really care how many excess books (that don't appeal) there are above that.
 

I don't think I can go year by year or anything, but here are some of the things I'd love to see.

1) Planesjammer - Taking the most fun stuff from PS and Spelljammer so Sigil is still the hub of the universe, but the Factions have spelljammers now and so do the Neogi and the Giff and so and use them as well as (rarer) portals to get around and glorious chaos ensues.

2) Mechanics book including a full Psionic class. Stars Without Number may have a good model, just fantasy it up. No need for huge subsystems.

3) Dark Sun, either close to the 2E original or a real reboot refocusing on the ever more relevant themes of environmental destruction and autocracies and oligarchies and people being used up to further the ends of uncaring powerful beings. I don't think WotC have the stones for the latter so I'll take the former.

4) A big-ass sandboxy campaign like The Night Below, I mean, could be a remake, doesn't have to be.

5) Experimental/risky mechanics book in 2022 or 2023 before 6E to try stuff out.

6) 6E in 2024. Rebuild all the classes and player-side mechanics but retain broad compatibility with 5E adventures. Re-envision a lot of stuff and include Psionics from either the get go or an early book.

7) A setting book specifically for 6E, new, and preferably from younger (I. E. 30s or under, like the ages of everyone when the great settings were made) and with a strong vision, which isn't bound to the past of D&D though obviously takes the best from it.

I'd loved to have seen one for 5E, every other edition got original settings, even if Nentir Vale/World Axis neve got an actual book, but alas I unless there's no 6E in 2024 I think we are too late in history for that.
 

I don't think I can go year by year or anything, but here are some of the things I'd love to see.

1) Planesjammer - Taking the most fun stuff from PS and Spelljammer so Sigil is still the hub of the universe, but the Factions have spelljammers now and so do the Neogi and the Giff and so and use them as well as (rarer) portals to get around and glorious chaos ensues.

This is actually pretty good.

Planescape's difficulty is figuring out what to do because it feels so static. There's a billion factions, especially if you use the ones everyone actually remembers, and they're all built on embodiment of a philosophy so they don't really have goals. Portals just then make the setting confusing because who knows what's going on? It's like taking the World Serpent Inn and expanding it to a city. It's an idea, but in play it feels chaotic and like it's impossible to go backwards.

Spelljammer's difficulty is having this mode of transportation and then... kind of not really having a well-defined place to go. Spelljamming through the Astral Sea to reach other planes could be really interesting. Making planar travel require a special vehicle is a really interesting concept.

2) Mechanics book including a full Psionic class. Stars Without Number may have a good model, just fantasy it up. No need for huge subsystems.

3) Dark Sun, either close to the 2E original or a real reboot refocusing on the ever more relevant themes of environmental destruction and autocracies and oligarchies and people being used up to further the ends of uncaring powerful beings. I don't think WotC have the stones for the latter so I'll take the former.

Honestly, I just want Psionics for Dark Sun. It's integral for that setting. I just want a set of rules to make psionics work for Dark Sun. That means I want something like a psionic background so that every character can start with a minor psionic power, a full psionicist class, a gladiator class, thri-kreen and muls. Oh, and half-giants need to not be just reskinned goliaths. I want DS to limit itself to the classes that were available in the 2e books, too. Indeed, I'd be happy if they dropped clerics entirely, too. The only reason they existed in 2e was because that game falls apart without certain divine magics, but they're not restricted to clerics anymore. However, I'm perfectly willing to just take the races and classes I want and make DS the way I want to run it.

7) A setting book specifically for 6E, new, and preferably from younger (I. E. 30s or under, like the ages of everyone when the great settings were made) and with a strong vision, which isn't bound to the past of D&D though obviously takes the best from it.

I'd loved to have seen one for 5E, every other edition got original settings, even if Nentir Vale/World Axis neve got an actual book, but alas I unless there's no 6E in 2024 I think we are too late in history for that.

I don't think they're going to go for 6e any time soon. Unless Hasbro pushes for higher D&D revenue -- which seems like a ridiculous idea since I believe 2020 has been the best year for D&D since the early 80s -- I don't imagine it will happen. I just don't think there's a business reason to do it, and new editions have always been created for business reasons.

I'd like to see:

1. I'd like to see a campaign setting nuts-and-bolts type of book that talks about how to design your own setting, what you really need, why points of light is an important style for classic D&D and the basic rules for that setting (#1 Post apocalyptic, #2 Vast untamed wilderness, #3 Weak NPC authorities), etc.

2. A races book that re-designs all the races from the PHB to bring them in line with the new designs. I'm half convinced that's the book the Feywild and Draconic races from UA are for.

3. Two adventures a year, not designed primarily for the AL space. Current adventures seem to be designed with the idea that you'll get magic items from the AL rules... so they don't put them into the adventure. And then the adventure itself doesn't tell DMs about that. The game is not fun without rewards, and I'm really dissatisfied with this "you don't need magic items" thing that the younger community has run with. Like if AL wants to take a existing modules and shape them for their market, they can do that themselves. The books need to be complete adventures, and that includes proper player rewards.

4. Here's what I want in 2024 for an anniversary: A compendium book with the custom monsters and magic items from the first 10 years of adventures. There's a lot of content there that's difficult to find unless you bought all those things on D&D Beyond. They could even have new content in it, too.
 


I would like the metaplot of Dark Sun to be continued, the return of the martial adepts (Tome of Battle: Book of the Nine Swords) but a simple game mechanic to reload maneuvers, the heroes of Dragonlance as skins in Fortnite (I was kidding!), and mainly I wish the translation of the sourcebooks to be continued. I miss the monster classes, more the dragons as PCs.

Dragonlance and Planescape could be come back like a compilation of modules. I suggest to recover the Gate-Towns if now Sigil is "neutral zone for the factions".

Eldraine will be in D&D, and maybe later Kaldheim. I have read rumors about a cyberpunk version of Kamikawa. We don't know the cultural impact of planewalkers from high-tech civilitation visiting a pre-industrial revolution D&D world.

images


We will see more videogames based in D&D, and maybe Birthright is the best option for a strategy game. Some possible project would be a no-fantasy d20 CRPG, for example based in Gamma World.

The crystal spheres from Spelljammer could suffer a retcon-redesign.

Other theory by me is Council of Wyrms will be updated based in Cris Perkins' homebred world "Iomandra". My suggestion is to allow enough space to can add later the rest of all dragons species, even those only appeared in a number of Dragon Magazine.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I don't think I can go year by year or anything, but here are some of the things I'd love to see.

1) Planesjammer - Taking the most fun stuff from PS and Spelljammer so Sigil is still the hub of the universe, but the Factions have spelljammers now and so do the Neogi and the Giff and so and use them as well as (rarer) portals to get around and glorious chaos ensues.

2) Mechanics book including a full Psionic class. Stars Without Number may have a good model, just fantasy it up. No need for huge subsystems.

3) Dark Sun, either close to the 2E original or a real reboot refocusing on the ever more relevant themes of environmental destruction and autocracies and oligarchies and people being used up to further the ends of uncaring powerful beings. I don't think WotC have the stones for the latter so I'll take the former.

4) A big-ass sandboxy campaign like The Night Below, I mean, could be a remake, doesn't have to be.

5) Experimental/risky mechanics book in 2022 or 2023 before 6E to try stuff out.

6) 6E in 2024. Rebuild all the classes and player-side mechanics but retain broad compatibility with 5E adventures. Re-envision a lot of stuff and include Psionics from either the get go or an early book.

7) A setting book specifically for 6E, new, and preferably from younger (I. E. 30s or under, like the ages of everyone when the great settings were made) and with a strong vision, which isn't bound to the past of D&D though obviously takes the best from it.

I'd loved to have seen one for 5E, every other edition got original settings, even if Nentir Vale/World Axis neve got an actual book, but alas I unless there's no 6E in 2024 I think we are too late in history for that.
Great post. I want me some of all of that.
 

I don't think they're going to go for 6e any time soon. Unless Hasbro pushes for higher D&D revenue -- which seems like a ridiculous idea since I believe 2020 has been the best year for D&D since the early 80s -- I don't imagine it will happen. I just don't think there's a business reason to do it, and new editions have always been created for business reasons.
The business case will be the same by 2024 as it was in 1989, to reinvigorate the playerbase, and most importantly, to be able to sell a whole lot of new books without having to sell increasingly niche books that fewer and fewer people will buy. It's not complicated. 5E will have been out for a decade in 2024. As long as 2E was. Longer than 3E or 4E. By 2024 WotC will inevitably be seeing reduced book sales in D&D because they'll be needing to plumb more niche arenas, and they've actually actively sped that process up by deciding to release more books per year. Releasing a 6E (which might be seen as a 5.5E or 5.75E or whatever) with significant revisions to player-side rules, but few enough revisions that old adventures etc. will remain broadly compatible will let them re-sell the core-three books and then to start selling books for 6E, all of which will likely severely outsell the 5E books of 2023.
 

Mercurius

Legend
They're going to do new core rulebooks at some point whether or not they call it 6E, or what sort of changes it involves - even if it is "5.2." 2024 is the obvious time. At some point sales will plateau, at least in the English-speaking world (it remains to be seen whether there's real potential in the non-English world, namely China, Japan, and India, but I have no idea--and they're probably not counting on it--so I'll leave that aside). Whether or not it is a high plateau or a decline to a lower plateau, they'll want the economic burst that only core books can give. I mean, if they can, why not? But there are also good reasons to update the rules within the context of the game itself. 10 years is a lot of time, and I'm sure there are many tweaks and even more moderate changes that they want to incorporate.

The trick is finding the sweet-spot that is different enough that it will make people want to buy them vs. so different that it makes people angry that they "have to" buy them (and different in the "wrong way"). I would think a 5.5 would be ideal, in that regard.

We also don't know how the new crop of players will embrace a new edition (or sub-edition), as many of them have never experienced it. For old-timers, we're used to (and generally embrace) a new version of the game. I remember positive build-up towards 2E, but had a lapse in playing in the mid-90s and didn't buy the revised books so can't really comment. But 3E was very positive and almost everyone loved it. 3.5 was more problematic for many, mainly due to backwards compatibility ("You know all those books you've bought the last three years? Yeah, they're now almost worthless"). 4E was, as we all know, very controversial and led to the edition being dead-in-the-water just three years later.

5E harkened back to 3E in terms of positivity, although it was more cautious ("We've been burned before!"). But again, here's the thing: A large percentage (majority, I take it) of current D&D players came on board with 5E. Many never went through any previous edition changes, so don't have reason to think "here we go again?!" Furthermore, as generally younger players, they're used to new versions of video games, so may be more receptive to a new edition. Add to the that the fact that it will be 10 years in 2024, and I think a new edition--be it 5.5 or even 6E--would be generally well received, assuming it is appealing in tone and mechanics.

But I do think we'll see something more akin to 1E-to-2E or 3E-to-3.5. We'll never see a huge change as we did with 2E-to-3E or 3.5-to-4E. IMO.

But at this point, I'd be rather surprised if we don't see it in 2024. I mean, why wouldn't we?

(All of the above is meant to represent general reception, not necessarily that of any individual, including myself; I personally have embraced every edition, and always welcomed the change, if only for the new-and-shiny novelty effect).
 

I would like 1 new setting per year. Then 2 more books that are 1 campaign and either one adventure or one rules expansion (options, etc). Though in general I would prefer any expansions to be included and integral to a settings. IMO, we don't need any more kitchen sink options, that leads to the way of decline. Then I would like to see ~ mini adventures each year. Like the modules of yor that could be played through in a few sessions and were just for a level or two of play.

DarkSun is top of my list. Then another completely new setting, perhaps something like Shanara that is a magic realm that is post technology apocalypses.

From a business perspective, WotC is at a challenging point. They need to prevent bloat and splintering their customer base. And I'm not sure how they can successfully do that.
 

Mercurius

Legend
From a business perspective, WotC is at a challenging point. They need to prevent bloat and splintering their customer base. And I'm not sure how they can successfully do that.
I think Fear of the Bloat is overstated with regards to 5E. Bloat is mostly the result of too many supplements, with 2E "complete" series and the many 3E and 4E hardcovers being the obvious culprits. WotC has done a good and measured job releasing only one new splat book a year, and even those have a mixture of material. Further, they've included a lot of stuff as setting or adventure specific.

The other thing that occurs with bloat is running out of material. But again, this shouldn't be a problem as most of their new books are settings and adventures (4 of 5), and there's no reason why they'd ever run out of possibilities.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
2 books a year, but they have to match whatever I happen to think I want at the given time. (Or, more sensibly, a few books a year, 2 of which appeal to me.)

6e is 2024. That anniversary is too big to pass up.
I will gladly make a bet right now for $5 USD that what I describe below will be as close to a new edition that we will see in 2024. We may well see something more tame, instead.

Basically, revised core books. That's it, in short. To get into detail on what I think will be in them, they will not have an edition number on them, and anywhere in official material or press going forward new stuff will still be spoken of as part of 5e, without any qualifiers or addendums. Not 5e Revised, not 5.5e, just 5e.

Further, the new core books will actually be just revisions. The PHB ranger will be compatible with new PHB ranger archetypes, and vise versa. Same for every class. Variant versions of lineages will be presented as optional variants, and will be wholly compatible with things like race feats from before the revised core books.

It will be a special edition core book set that takes advantage of the opportunity to make more deep errata than they're comfortable with now. Not "basically backward compatible", but genuinely the same game, with a suite of patch fixes.

The most daring thing I can see them doing to the game would be to revise the two weapon fighting rules, TWF fighting style, and the Dual Wielder feat, to make dual wielding not use your bonus action, and they might do something stupid like rewriting the ranger's abilities without keeping Natural Explorer and Favored Enemy intact, instead of rewriting those abilities to be more broadly useful while not representing an I win button when traveling. But even then, you'll still be able to play a Horizon Walker Ranger from Xanathar's using the Revised Core Ranger.

My only caveat is, if they start publishing multiple big books of player options a year, getting weirder and wierder rather than revisiting things people aren't satisfied with or feel is missing, and just generally flood the market with books, yeah, we might see an announcement for a new edition by then, but even then there just isn't enough time.


So, I will secondarily bet $20 dollors that if we haven't had an announcement of playtesting for a new edition by 2022, we will not see one in 2024, even if the game is tanking by then.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Slow to 2 books a year. An adventure path/story every year then the second one changes. Campaign type like dragonlance, spelljamer, etc. The next year PHB/DM combo book. And any new class \ feat released in the campaign book can not be rerelease in the PHB/DM book.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
As for my timeline, since this is about ideal release schedule not what I actually expect:

One or more of their increased schedule products per year will ideally be a small thing, or things that many of us will ignore, like more variety of boxed sets. Hopefully they don't increase output anymore than they've announced.

This year will see something from magic, and an adventure I won't really care about.

Next year will see Dragonlance, an a new setting that leans heavily into some of the stuff that is more new to DnD. I'd hope for Nentir Vale, but I doubt it. So, more fey, solid place for newer races and races that haven't always been playable, a more "romantic fantasy" world where the good guys respect queer identities and the hobgoblins and orcs are fully realized people. Dragonlance will be the focus of the year's adventures, though. I'm guessing a revised reprint of the War of The Lance story, rather than the old modules as such, if that makes sense, and a new adventure set in a different time in the setting.

2023 will be planar, and bring new magic crossovers.

2024 will have classic adventure reprints, and Revised Core Books that collect the most popular options of 5e, errata the warts out, adjust for feedback, but won't break compatibility with original PHB options. It will be optional, in other words. There will be at least 1 Beadle and Grimm set that comes with the core book material, plus iconic minis, reprints of classic dnd sourcebooks, and a really epic anniversary live event. Maybe an OSR/5e hybrid called something like DnD Basic, or something, that they don't really expect to take off, but is just a cool collector's box thing.

Strewn throughout all that, we may get lucky and see setting box sets, more setting minis lines, and certainly some video games and products that tie into them.

In the next 5 years or so, I expect to see a shift to settings as guides to play a specific type of campaign that differs from the assumed standard dnd game. Rules for taking Oaths that sit outside your class and for belonging to a mystical order of wizards, as well as some tactical options, in a Dragonlance book, for instance. Rules for monsters as enviroments for an Ikoria book. Rules for group rituals and other variants of magic, etc.

I also think we will see a new class, either in the form of a Psion or something like a Scholar or Warlord, possibly both.

Lastly, probably in the revised core books, we will see more rules for modifying the core classes, more optional variant features, more variant races, and more ways to expand and modify the game to suite your table, and possibly less distinct new player options, as such.
 


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