D&D 5E Where We've Been and Where We Might Be Going (or, What I Think WotC Is Doing)


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Staffan

Legend
Just to add onto this a bit, the question would be why. It made sense why Paizo created Starfinder; first of all, they're a smaller company, so smaller gains mean more. Secondly, Starfinder came out in 2017, although probably has roots going back to Distant Worlds in 2012, but it all fits within the paradigm of "We've made it big partially because of 4E's issues, but we need to keep growing."
A big reason why Paizo made Starfinder was that they were also planning Pathfinder 2, and they wanted a second source of income both in the year leading up to PF2 (announcing a new edition generally doesn't help sales of the old one) and in case PF2 failed.

5e uses the same OGL licence as 3e.
The license is the same, but the SRD is significantly more hampered. Notably, classes and races only have one sub-version each that's open content. Similarly, there's only one background and one feat in the SRD. Basically, they wanted to make sure it was impossible to Pathfinderize 5e (though we'll see how well Level Up does it).
 

Mercurius

Legend
I think not starting the discussion with 3rd edition misses critical parts of the picture. 3rd edition was remarkably successful and spurred a renaissance in the tabletop gaming community. A key part of this was the license that allowed other publishers to add to the 3rd edition ecosystem, something never before allowed in D&D. And then Paizo and Pathfinder happened, because of that license. That 4th edition was remarkably restrictive by comparison was no surprise. It also contributed to 4th edition's ultimate failure given the volume of 3rd edition content versus the paucity of 4th edition content. Now we have 5th edition with a somewhat more open license even if it's not quite as open as that of 3rd. And again the 3rd party publishers have come forth to add major content to the game and again the edition is a hit. Heck, the people who run this very site just put out a massively successful Kickstarter campaign for a set of 5th edition compatible books just yesterday.

Bottom line: The availability of content is a huge driver in the success of any edition of D&D.
Sorry, missed this one at first.

To some degree, not starting at the beginning (1974, or before) misses key elements, but that would make this more than I intended it to be, which was focusing on D&D going forward. Thus, the important part is the context of 5E itself, how and why it arose, so I think 4E was enough for the purposes of the goal of the OP: to speculate on what WotC is doing, and how they might be approaching the future.

But yes, I agree to an extent that 4E "failed" partially because it was, at least from a game license sense, more restrictive than 3E. Not so sure that I agree as much on your bottom line, or at least I think it was a secondary factor. That extra content is probably more relevant to making long-term/serious fans happy than it is to bringing in new fans.

But as I said to someone else, I was less focused on speculating on all the reasons why 5E is so popular, and more on the phenomena itself and, more centrally, how that might impact WotC going forward, and how they (might) approach 5E.
 



Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
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Borrowing your table, it looks like Spelljammer is certainly making an appearance.

Is it filling a Classic Setting spot? Could be. I am assuming however that the alternative cover with Boo and a Beholder on it is this Spelljammer book, and seems more fitting for an adventure. And that this is also the "Scary, Wonderful, New" setting Perkins hinted at. So I think this book is an adventure, or at least a hybrid of setting and adventure (Strixhaven is a lot like this).

This could also mean that we are getting two big adventures per year (this is a way earlier announcement than normal), or that they're moving the big adventure releases from the Fall to the Spring.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Given today's UA, I'm thinking 2022 is shaping up to be the Year of the Multiverse. Going off your speculation, here's what I'd guess.

Splat - Monsters of the Multiverse
Story Arc - Spelljammer
Classic Setting - Planescape
Story Anthology - Tales of the Multiverse (Planescape and Spelljammer adventures)
Classic Setting Anthology - A guide to a dozen (classic) worlds of the Multiverse (tie in with Spelljammer)
 


guachi

Hero
I am wondering if we will see more "official" 5e products on DMs Guild. I think it would be a great way to support settings. So instead of release a ravenloft, eberron, theros, etc. book each year, they can release them POD on DMsGuild. That would allow them to support settings with out having the cost of printing them. I actually hope this is what they do.

I'm all for this. It gives the market more "official" products without flooding the main market. Like a movie having comic book or novel tie-ins.
 


View attachment 145031

Borrowing your table, it looks like Spelljammer is certainly making an appearance.

Is it filling a Classic Setting spot? Could be. I am assuming however that the alternative cover with Boo and a Beholder on it is this Spelljammer book, and seems more fitting for an adventure. And that this is also the "Scary, Wonderful, New" setting Perkins hinted at. So I think this book is an adventure, or at least a hybrid of setting and adventure (Strixhaven is a lot like this).

This could also mean that we are getting two big adventures per year (this is a way earlier announcement than normal), or that they're moving the big adventure releases from the Fall to the Spring.

I'm not so sure it's for an Spelljammer adventure anymore, 6 races is alot for a minor player segment of an adventure and if it was the adventure it'd get the Summer slot, this looks like it will be for something sooner. If it was for an adventure they'd also have to figure out how these races fit into the Forgotten Realms (some like the Thrikreen are well established at least).
 

Mercurius

Legend
View attachment 145031

Borrowing your table, it looks like Spelljammer is certainly making an appearance.

Is it filling a Classic Setting spot? Could be. I am assuming however that the alternative cover with Boo and a Beholder on it is this Spelljammer book, and seems more fitting for an adventure. And that this is also the "Scary, Wonderful, New" setting Perkins hinted at. So I think this book is an adventure, or at least a hybrid of setting and adventure (Strixhaven is a lot like this).

This could also mean that we are getting two big adventures per year (this is a way earlier announcement than normal), or that they're moving the big adventure releases from the Fall to the Spring.
I'll quote myself from AcererakTriple6's thread:

I'm basing this off my prediction in the thread about the impending announcement. I'm not sure if this is exactly what I want, but I think it makes sense, and I'd be very happy if they follow this route.

Adventure book: The PCs find a spelljammer in the Realms somewhere, possibly Lantan. The adventure is made up of loosely connected episodes of locations beyond Toril that the PCs visit while on the spelljammer. How about this premise: They explore the ship and it "turns on," and starts going to random locations outside of Toril. It could even be a kind of random thing, like the Deck of Many Things, but the "Panel of Many Places," with the PCs pressing a button on the spelljammer's dashboard, and off they go, sailing the Astral Sea. Perhaps the spelljammer is sentient and trying to remember what it is, and visiting places it had been to previously. The PCs gradually put together the mystery, and learn how to pilot it over the course of the campaign. The final destination is none other than...the city of Sigil. Which leads me to the second book:

Shemeska's Manual of the Multiverse: This is a combination of Manual of the Planes and Planescape, with flavors of Spelljammer and Magic's planeswalking. It includes a gazetteer of Sigil and the Outlands, and an overview of the planes, along with rules for different approaches to exploring the multiverse--the doors of Sigil, spelljamming on the Astral Sea, and planeswalking. It would also discuss different cosmologies, emphasizing that there is no correct, singular one, just a wide variety of lenses to view and explore the multiverse from.

This opens up the door to as many planar adventures as WotC wants to publish, and the connective paradigmatic tissue for other worlds.

Again, I'm not sure exactly which direction they're taking, but I could see it being something like this: no discreet Spelljammer setting book, but it taking a prominent place in adventures and a wider "multiverse" cap-setting.

I just think the three-pronged planar approach--Sigil's doors/traditional planar travel, spelljamming (on the Astral Sea), and planeswalking--is just too fertile and rich in possibilities to pass up, or to overly differentiate into discreet settings that separate them.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'll quote myself from AcererakTriple6's thread:



Again, I'm not sure exactly which direction they're taking, but I could see it being something like this: no discreet Spelljammer setting book, but it taking a prominent place in adventures and a wider "multiverse" cap-setting.

I just think the three-pronged planar approach--Sigil's doors/traditional planar travel, spelljamming (on the Astral Sea), and planeswalking--is just too fertile and rich in possibilities to pass up, or to overly differentiate into discreet settings that separate them.
Alternatively, they could have Spelljamming as a Setting for physical travel between parts of the Prime Material, and then Planescape as a separate Settiing for Planar travel.
 

Alternatively, they could have Spelljamming as a Setting for physical travel between parts of the Prime Material, and then Planescape as a separate Settiing for Planar travel.

That depends entirely on how they handle Spelljamming, if it replace the Phligon or whatever that bloody word is with the Astral Plane, then their is no point in them being seperate settings anymore, or at least not completely seperate. But we will see.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
That depends entirely on how they handle Spelljamming, if it replace the Phligon or whatever that bloody word is with the Astral Plane, then their is no point in them being seperate settings anymore, or at least not completely seperate. But we will see.
Phlogiston. They're probably keeping it, guys, seriously,based on the principles that Perkins laid out in the "Canon" discussion.
 

teitan

Legend
Well thought out but a little, probably unintentional, revisionist history. 4e wasn't eclipsed by Pathfinder, it only outsold 4e during the wind down period when WOTC canceled a bunch of products. 4e's failure was more about WOTC not delivering the expected monetary levels for a "core brand" such as My Little Pony and Transformers while being kneecapped unlike those brands. They couldn't include novel sales, video games and other licensing while also not having accompanying media support like animation. Just a bad movie. The closest they got was Acquisitions Inc.

They came incredibly close to that 50m level that Hasbro wanted but not in the timeframe that was required. You can tell by the sudden reduction and cancellations that their budget got suddenly slashed by Hasbro. Like any other toy line. It wasn't handled like an RPG because Hasbro didn't understand what an RPG is or the business model for one. The GSL was a disaster as the OGL was 3.x bread and butter. Still is an important part of most of the RPG industry! I am of the opinion it was the GSL that hampered 4e the most because it, more than 4e, was what led to Pathfinder and other games like DCC, 13th Age etc. Without it what would the support from 3PP have looked like?

4e did split the market but what was amazing about its success was that it brought in new players that did cover the loss of 3.5 players. Mearls said that 4e outsold 3.5. Outsold. Not as well as, Outsold. I think if Essentials were what we got instead, had they waited those 3-4 years I mentioned, it would have been a runaway success like 5e became.

They had no media, no royalties being collected toward their bottom line. They weren't trying to sell the brand to make it to that 50m, it was just the game that was used to measure. I wonder what the bottom line was with the novels, video games, licensing fees from GF9, Wizkids, etc would have made that number look like.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
"We decide, based on our understanding of the game’s history and audience, what artwork or lore to pull forward, what artwork or lore needs to change, and what artwork or lore should be buried so deep that it never again sees the light of day. We have a couple guiding principles:"

" - If the artwork holds up or the lore has been true in every past edition of the game, we think twice about changing it.

" - If the artwork or lore hasn’t withstood the test of time, we can update or discard it."

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