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


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overgeeked

B/X Known World
"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."

"The number of eyes on a stock beholder has been consistent throughout D&D’s history. No need to meddle with perfection, I say. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with old maps of Waterdeep, you might recall that one of its seedier avenues was named Slut Street. When we updated the map for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, we gave that street a new name. The old name was never good to begin with and does not withstand the test of time."


So how does that inform the Spelljammer setting? It was basically a one and done in that it only really existed in 2E. They mentioned it in other editions, but it never really was updated...before...hopefully...now. I could easily see them flatly saying "Crystal Spheres and the Phlogiston hasn't withstood the test of time, so we're changing it".

In the 3X magazine update, they dropped the phlo and crystal spheres, hard.

In 4E they used spalljammers as ships that sailed the astral sea and could travel the planes. Nary a mention of the phlo or crystal spheres.

In 5E they've mentioned spelljammers a few times. And flying through space. But never once the phlo or crystal spheres.

So in the four editions that have even mentioned Spelljammer, only one has used the phlo and crystal spheres, so far, and three have not. Two of them have relegated spelljammers to sailing the astral and being planar vessels. That doesn't give me hope for a return of the phlo or crystal spheres. It actually makes me more convinced that ever that it will be astral sailing ships with planar gates.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
So how does that inform the Spelljammer setting? It was basically a one and done in that it only really existed in 2E. They mentioned it in other editions, but it never really was updated...before...hopefully...now. I could easily see them flatly saying "Crystal Spheres and the Phlogiston hasn't withstood the test of time, so we're changing it".

In the 3X magazine update, they dropped the phlo and crystal spheres, hard.

In 4E they used spalljammers as ships that sailed the astral sea and could travel the planes. Nary a mention of the phlo or crystal spheres.

In 5E they've mentioned spelljammers a few times. And flying through space. But never once the phlo or crystal spheres.

So in the four editions that have even mentioned Spelljammer, only one has used the phlo and crystal spheres, so far, and three have not. Two of them have relegated spelljammers to sailing the astral and being planar vessels. That doesn't give me hope for a return of the phlo or crystal spheres. It actually makes me more convinced that ever that it will be astral sailing ships with planar gates.
They have mentioned the Crystal Spheres, at least, in 5E.
 





S'mon

Legend
One could make the argument that phlogiston is largely derivative to the Astral, and should be discarded. I do not interpreted this line as specifically tied to the example of "Slut Street" and other awful naming.

It sounds exactly the kind of thing that happens IRL. London used to have a c*nt street for the exact same reason.
 

teitan

Legend
My humble predictions for 2022:

Monsters of the Multiverse (a given)
Spelljammer
Dark Sun
Far Realms/aberrant-inspired adventure arc
Anthology of Critical Role adventures

I think Dragonlance will be coming in 2023, but I hope it’s sooner.
Critical Role will be publishing their own material as with the already announced update of the Tal'Dorei book. WOTC won't be doing it now that they've established Derington Press.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
One could make the argument that phlogiston is largely derivative to the Astral, and should be discarded. I do not interpreted this line as specifically tied to the example of "Slut Street" and other awful naming.

The phlogiston has nothing to do with the Astral apart from being a "transition plane", just as the Astral has nothing to do with the Ethereal. The description is completely different and so are the mechanics, as the Astral is really a spiritual plane, contrary to the Ethereal and phlogiston, which are very material (for the ethereal, not in itself but in the fact that it connects to the elemental planes that provide the matter of the prime). Of course, you can try to mix things for simplicity, but you also decrease the richness of the setting. What the heck, why do you need other planes for, just call them planets. :mad:
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
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.

4e was extremely divisive, it rejected as many people as it included, and went through 2 editions in less time than 5e has existed, trying to market the same players with a somewhat revised version of the same game just like 3.5 did to 3 (which is one of the reason for them having about the same sales, which come absolutely nowhere near 5e sales by one order of magnitude, with the same edition and not needing a revision). Enough said about wild speculations and trying to beat a dead horse.
 

teitan

Legend
4e was extremely divisive, it rejected as many people as it included, and went through 2 editions in less time than 5e has existed, trying to market the same players with a somewhat revised version of the same game just like 3.5 did to 3 (which is one of the reason for them having about the same sales, which come absolutely nowhere near 5e sales by one order of magnitude, with the same edition and not needing a revision). Enough said about wild speculations and trying to beat a dead horse.
If you say so but my argument is based on the advent of streaming at that particular time and how it exploded in popularity and brought D&D with it. Thanks for being dismissive instead of having a discussion.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
If you say so but my argument is based on the advent of streaming at that particular time and how it exploded in popularity and brought D&D with it. Thanks for being dismissive instead of having a discussion.

You presented your perspective in such a biased fashion that it invited a response setting things right. Moreover, there is a reason streaming does not work with geeky complex games like 3.5/PF/4e (see, I'm not targeting 4e specifically here), they are very technical and resolution (in particular of combat) takes hours, way longer than a streaming session. Only hardcore people would ever have followed endless hours of technical combat resolution (and not only of combat, 4e has technical resolution out of combat too), which would have prevented the explosion anyway. Honestly, if it was that easy, PF2 (amongst others) would have exploded at the same time as 5e, but it did not.

5e's "genius"(although it is certainly not perfection) is in its streamlining and simplicity, which allows casual games where storytelling again (like before 3e) takes over from geeky/expert games where you need to study rules for hours to play the game and where you are always interrupted by expert ruleslawyers arguing (usually in their favour) that you are making mistakes in technical resolution. 5e's simplicity (and it takes real skill to create something simple, much more than something complex) and handing back the reins fully to the DM (and shutting down experts) allows streaming to work on shows without boring viewers to death.

Of course, it requires "better" DMs in the sense that they must maintain the story moving forward to keep the audience interested (and of course it biases the game towards a show rather than a game), but even these "better"(I'm using quotation marks here because although they certainly are better at gaming a show, which does not mean they are the best at running real games amongst friends although Matt for example seemed to be able to do both really well) DMs need real skill and the audience (as usual these days) know what they are looking for, something not technically boring to watch...
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
The phlogiston has nothing to do with the Astral apart from being a "transition plane", just as the Astral has nothing to do with the Ethereal. The description is completely different and so are the mechanics, as the Astral is really a spiritual plane, contrary to the Ethereal and phlogiston, which are very material (for the ethereal, not in itself but in the fact that it connects to the elemental planes that provide the matter of the prime). Of course, you can try to mix things for simplicity, but you also decrease the richness of the setting. What the heck, why do you need other planes for, just call them planets. :mad:

Sorry mate, I just disagree. I find it strange that the "space" in-between crystal spheres should be considered part of the Material Plane, when it is filled with totally unreal monstrosities like beholders and mind flayers. The phlogiston to me is a clunky mess, and its important pieces are derivative to the Astral to me.

The biggest lore point I find that makes me want to ditch the phlogiston, is the Githyanki. They are perhaps the most iconic planar travelers, with a history of invading/raiding multiple worlds on the Material Plane. But their home is on the Astral Plane. So the idea that the Astral is this really spiritual place doesn't hold up when a very NOT spiritual and instead very influential on the Material and beyond use it as their base of operations.

Just my opinion of course, and I doubt I've convinced you. But I don't think removing phlogiston really decreases the richness when you can integrate its best bits to the Astral while ditching the clunky stuff... it makes it all more cohesive to me, and more likely for folks to actually use and integrate into their games.

I mean, the number of posters I've seen here that did ditch the phlogiston for exactly this reason seems to prove at least part of the community feels it's an unnecessary part of the lore.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Sorry mate, I just disagree. I find it strange that the "space" in-between crystal spheres should be considered part of the Material Plane, when it is filled with totally unreal monstrosities like beholders and mind flayers.

Uh no, it's not. Mind Flayers and Beholders are there, but using spelljamming ships, not as random encounters.

The phlogiston to me is a clunky mess, and its important pieces are derivative to the Astral to me.

Which important pieces ? How is it a mess ?

The biggest lore point I find that makes me want to ditch the phlogiston, is the Githyanki. They are perhaps the most iconic planar travelers, with a history of invading/raiding multiple worlds on the Material Plane. But their home is on the Astral Plane. So the idea that the Astral is this really spiritual place doesn't hold up when a very NOT spiritual and instead very influential on the Material and beyond use it as their base of operations.

Actually it's good because it makes them very scary. Not only can they raid any place at any time without coming in physically, but they have special powers in the astral plane, totally different from anything that you can find in normal space, in particular their movement speed there and the silver swords. Putting them as other pirates is a bit sad and once more reduces possibilities. There are enough other races that can come in to raid from the void if you want, why would you want to steal the Githyankis for this, when their lore in the Astral plane is well established and works very well ?

Just my opinion of course, and I doubt I've convinced you. But I don't think removing phlogiston really decreases the richness when you can integrate its best bits to the Astral while ditching the clunky stuff... it makes it all more cohesive to me, and more likely for folks to actually use and integrate into their games.

The Astral Plane and the Phlogiston have totally different functions, and actually one of the interesting thing about the Astral Plane that you will not find in Spelljammer is that duality of spiritual and physical that makes it very interesting in itself, and that the GIthyankis use to good effect.

I mean, the number of posters I've seen here that did ditch the phlogiston for exactly this reason seems to prove at least part of the community feels it's an unnecessary part of the lore.

I am very certain that you have no statistical information about this, and most of the ideas that I've seen in that directions are as misinformed as yours. 4e simplified the whole multiverse, but for a lot of people it's over simplification and the loss of possibilities.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Uh no, it's not. Mind Flayers and Beholders are there, but using spelljamming ships, not as random encounters.



Which important pieces ? How is it a mess ?



Actually it's good because it makes them very scary. Not only can they raid any place at any time without coming in physically, but they have special powers in the astral plane, totally different from anything that you can find in normal space, in particular their movement speed there and the silver swords. Putting them as other pirates is a bit sad and once more reduces possibilities. There are enough other races that can come in to raid from the void if you want, why would you want to steal the Githyankis for this, when their lore in the Astral plane is well established and works very well ?



The Astral Plane and the Phlogiston have totally different functions, and actually one of the interesting thing about the Astral Plane that you will not find in Spelljammer is that duality of spiritual and physical that makes it very interesting in itself, and that the GIthyankis use to good effect.



I am very certain that you have no statistical information about this, and most of the ideas that I've seen in that directions are as misinformed as yours. 4e simplified the whole multiverse, but for a lot of people it's over simplification and the loss of possibilities.

I could debate you point by point... but I've decided I generally don't like your attitude (calling me misinformed), so instead I'm just going to say "Sorry, I disagree!"
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
I could debate you point by point... but I've decided I generally don't like your attitude (calling me misinformed), so instead I'm just going to say "Sorry, I disagree!"

Yes, it's obviously easier than actually providing justification and reasons for previous misinformed posts. especially when I was simply asking questions like "Which important pieces ? How is it a mess ?"...
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Yes, it's obviously easier than actually providing justification and reasons for previous misinformed posts. especially when I was simply asking questions like "Which important pieces ? How is it a mess ?"...

Well for one thing, you weren't arguing in good faith by calling me names and by arguing against points I wasn't making... for example, I said I don't like that Beholders/Flayers having such a significant role on a region that is supposedly part of the Material Plane. You countered by saying that they aren't random encounters, which is not what I said at all.

I think the most important pieces of the phlogiston is that it is relatively safe routes of travel from sphere to sphere. I think you can take that same concept, there being "safer" routes of travel, and put it in the Astral Sea. It is after all called the "sea" makes more sense to sail there eh? And you can remove the messy bits of why phlogiston being flammable, an awful mechanic as it kind of ruins a lot of the fun of Spelljammer v. Spelljammer combat (no fireballs! No cannons!) And like I said before, doesn't make a ton of sense that the Githyanki have a huge presence on the Astral Sea and are prolific invaders of other realms, but are not the dominant force on the Phlogiston.

But like I said before, I'm clearly not going to convince you and your not going to convince me, so I'm tiring of this talk.
 

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