D&D 5E Why is WoTc still pushing AP's when the majority of gamers want something else?

Tony Vargas

Legend
I see the AL as a way to get existing gamers who are not roleplayers up to speed on what roleplaying actually is.
Sure, it could happen. ;) Like Encounters, it's suitable for 'casual play' which an include new gamers, related gamers testing the RPG waters, or long-time players enjoying their hobby with less time commitment than a serious campaign... among other things, I'm sure.

I know the stores in my area all prefer having a handful of books that are evergreen over having a large number of smaller adventures that cycle in and out.
That was the theory behind Essentials.

Any discussion about what Wizards should be producing that doesn't take into account what modern gamestores are able to stock is somewhat pointless - getting retailers to give your product space when they could be using that space to sell another boardgame is crucial.
Nod. The boardgame market is stronger than the RPG market, right now (OK, always, outside the height of the 80s fad, but particularly right now as boardgames are experiencing a resurgence), so getting into the store with them is good for exposure, claiming acres of shelfspace to crowd out the competition may have been a good tactic in the 90s (or not) but it wouldn't seem to be, now.

I've thought of this before and I don't think that it actually would work well. The overlap between boardgames and RPGs is not actually that great and I don't really think that something like Wrath of Ashardalon (as much as I love it) gives a player a good idea of what a role playing experience is like.
For that same reason, I think it would work better than it did before. Wrath of Ashardalon was an actual boardgame, not an RPG, and boardgames are popular right now, it's a lot more likely someone would try a D&D-derived boardgame than actual D&D, even if D&D is being played in the store they go to when they buy/play boardgames. That wouldn't necessarily be the first hit of RPG crack for them, but it would expose them to the 'story'/genre/setting (IP) of D&D, so they might be more likely to try the real thing later...

...or buy a ticket to a D&D movie.
 

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I see the AL as a way to get existing gamers who are not roleplayers up to speed on what roleplaying actually is. They can see it at their local gamestore and even if they're there for the Pokemon tournament they can see there's this other Organized Play thing going on and hey it's once a week like Pokemon nights and it looks like a fun thing to try.

The APs are for the next level after that. *snip*

I've thought of this before and I don't think that it actually would work well. The overlap between boardgames and RPGs is not actually that great and I don't really think that something like Wrath of Ashardalon (as much as I love it) gives a player a good idea of what a role playing experience is like. I personally like the idea of having more starter sets - along the lines of the "How to Host a Mystery" games. You might need to strip down the rules a bit more, but there's a lot of merit in having a game that maybe doesn't have a lot of replayability BUT is cheap enough that it doesn't matter and is easy enough to pull off the shelf and run on a whim. They could lead into a larger campaign, but they wouldn't have to.

I don't know Wrath of Ashardalon but I did look up a playthrough, and it doesn't seem to be what I'm suggesting at all. It doesn't seem to be using D&D rules for one thing.

What I'm suggesting is that casual gamers could benefit from novel, small-scale game structures building a casual game out of D&D rules. (The Alexandrian has a primer on the subject here: http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/15126/roleplaying-games/game-structures--read the first five or six posts, it's quick--and here http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress...e-structures-part-11-complete-game-structures.)

You've observed that the APs are the next level of a certain kind of game after Lost Mines of Phandelver. Let's call this kind of game "RPG storytelling." You've got a certain quest that you're on and an intended plot structure, and within that plot structure you have a certain group of people you're expected to stick with the whole time and help out so that you can have a collective victory. During play, the DM will typically describe situations to you and then ask, "What do you do?", and then tell you the result. The actions you declare ("What do you do?") are typically expected to be pretty granular, on the order of minutes instead of hours. (E.g. "I go on an adventure, kill every goblin I can find, get lots of treasure and spend it all on candy" is typically going to result in your DM asking you for a different declaration instead of narrating a result.) You're allowed to go off the rails to a certain extent in how you engage with obstacles in your path, but it's part of the social contract that you have to keep chasing the main storyline until it resolves itself, possibly many months later. Notice that nothing in this paragraph relates to D&D rules (how the characters do things). It's strictly about the metagame (how the players do things).

That's one kind of game you can play with D&D rules, but it's not the only one. You could change the game structure by introducing some parallelism (multiple groups of players playing at once, a la Head of Vecna). You could change the expected scope of action declarations (introduce sections of play where players declare actions with larger scope, like, "I spend a week interviewing all the suspects" vs. "I spend a week researching a new spell to detect blood types"). You could relax the expectation that parties be static--especially in a game with larger scope, there's absolutely nothing wrong with letting the guy who's interviewing suspects have experiences (someone swallows a poison capsule before you can interview them!) independent of the guy who's doing spell research (late one night, a Shadow Demon tries to assassinate you!). There's also nothing wrong with engineering competitive instead of cooperative play (only one person can claim the reward--and the Shadow Demon was sent by another PC!), a la Mafia. You could drop the "plot" expectation and just have a game of random discovery, like a dungeon crawl except instead of being rewarded by treasure from monsters killed, you're rewarded by memorable and weird experiences like getting to say you once beat Death Himself at the game of Twister. (And Battleship.) You could flip things around and play a game of Dungeon Keeper where the players have to stock a dungeon and keep it safe against a invading heroes--either pregens run by the DM/GM, or heroes run by other players while the DM acts as a neutral ref. (You could even have no DM at all and just adjudicate rulings by group consensus.)

And you could do a different one of these games every game night, sometimes with a PC that you've played before.

Any one of these games could have a "next level up", e.g. murder mysteries can get more and more sophisticated, but APs are only the "next level up" for a specific kind of game structure. And I think there's a lot of empty design space for creating other types of D&D-oriented games. Just imagine if Wrath of Ashardalon were rewritten to actually use D&D rules and become a form of solo-oriented 5E random play. It's still D&D, but it's now very, very different from an AP, both in the time it takes to play and the experience it creates.

This kind of stuff is on my mind right now because, obviously, I'm trying to create some of these experiences for some friends of mine. Perhaps nothing will ever come of it.
 

It's like a slush pile, that way, yes.
...
And, if you do start combing through the slush pile, you're very likely to be disappointed, anyway - just also with very slightly fewer $$s & more eye-strain. ;P
It really is the replacement for Dragon in that way. Man, subscribing to the magazines could be totally hit-and-miss. Some months were just bad.
There's some great stuff on the Guild though. But you'll never find it if you don't even start looking.

Seems like a low enough bar.
100k? Not really.
The best selling product on DMs Guild is lucky to sell 2000 to 3000 copies. Just 1000 is platinum. Count how many hit that.

Then consider something like Tome of Beasts by Kobold Press. Wolfgang Bauer was on the official podcast talking about it. At least two former WotC/TSR staff worked on it. Huge hit for Kobold Press. Popular enough to be sold in stores and on Amazon. It raised over $190,000 on Kickstarter.
Still only had 2300 backers.

100,000 copies sold is pretty hard for the hobby. Even Pathfinder accessories might not move that many.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It really is the replacement for Dragon in that way.

I'd argue that EN5ider is the closest analogy to Dragon/Dungeon. DMsG is a rather cynical grab at monetising a decades old tradition of fan content at exhorbitant (50%!) rates while doing nothing.
 

I wonder what WotC could do to make DmsGuild stuff more trustworthy at tables.

And, people do realize that there is a LOT of WotC material on DM'sGuild right? Thirty or forty short modules worth no? Exactly what @Corspetaker seems to be asking for.
Likely nothing.
Many tables are unlikely to even use official accessories. Possibly even a small majority...
Even giving them an editing pass or seal of approval is unlikely to make a real difference.
 

Corpsetaker

First Post
I feel so sorry for you man, that really sucks. To not be challenged in your formative years really sucks. I had a similar issue with school and college (mostly - architecture school has certain demands that cannot simply be glossed over), but I was luckily able to be to engaged through sports, art, my parents, and of course D&D.
Why does that suck? Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm flying along in life. Please save your sorry for all those disadvantaged people out there.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
100,000 copies sold is pretty hard for the hobby. Even Pathfinder accessories might not move that many.
'Even' PF, sure, I can believe it. But D&D stands head & shoulders (in not knees & ankles) above the rest of the hobby. ;)

Still, I slipped and thought in terms of conventional publishing there for a second. (If everyone who bought The Hobbit bought 'that nerd game based on it,' that'd be 100 million, not 100k copies of D&D sold.) Thanks for the reminder.
Even in the grip of a dramatic come-back, we're still a tiny hobby, and 100k is ambitious.
 

I'd argue that EN5ider is the closest analogy to Dragon/Dungeon. DMsG is a rather cynical grab at monetising a decades old tradition of fan content at exhorbitant (50%!) rates while doing nothing.
I'd disagree with that.

Regular rates for DriveThru are 65%, and that's only a single party getting money (OneBookShelf). Paizo is pretty comparable IIRC. If you want to, you can choose to publish under the OGL for regular rates.
You're basically losing 15% for the benefit of a more focused audience and the ability to use Ravenloft and the Realms, and not having to worry about the legalities of publishing under the OGL (which can be tricky, and lawyers be expensive). The DMsGuild doesn't take the OGL option away, it just adds another venue.

Given most people are unlikely to sell more than two dozen copies of their $1 product, 15% is a difference of $3-4.

Having done both, En5ider is likely a more reliable source of money. I have DMsGuild products that have made me far more, and ones that have made me far less. So it's really a gamble.
 

'Even' PF, sure, I can believe it. But D&D stands head & shoulders (in not knees & ankles) above the rest of the hobby. ;)

Still, I slipped and thought in terms of conventional publishing there for a second. (If everyone who bought The Hobbit bought 'that nerd game based on it,' that'd be 100 million, not 100k copies of D&D sold.) Thanks for the reminder.
Even in the grip of a dramatic come-back, we're still a tiny hobby, and 100k is ambitious.

D&D *currently* stands head & shoulders above the rest of the hobby. It wasn't that long ago it was #2 (just prior and immediately after Essentials). D&D apparently can sell <100,000 copies.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'd disagree with that.

Regular rates for DriveThru are 65%, and that's only a single party getting money (OneBookShelf). Paizo is pretty comparable IIRC. If you want to, you can choose to publish under the OGL for regular rates.
You're basically losing 15% for the benefit of a more focused audience and the ability to use Ravenloft and the Realms, and not having to worry about the legalities of publishing under the OGL (which can be tricky, and lawyers be expensive). The DMsGuild doesn't take the OGL option away, it just adds another venue.

Given most people are unlikely to sell more than two dozen copies of their $1 product, 15% is a difference of $3-4.

Which was the bit you disagreed with? "Exorbitant", "cynical", or "closest analogy"? Three different statements you quoted there. I'm guessing from the context, it was the word "exorbitant" you disagree with?

I don't think that's the comparison. It's not one OBS store with another OBS store. It's 50% vs. 0% if you sold it yourself via the OGL. Now, I'd agree that whether 50% with fairly draconian terms (exclusivity, full rights granting) is worth it compared to the expected audience is a decision for a given publisher to make. It's a value choice.

That doesn't make it not a cynical move, though! :)
 
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