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D&D 5E WotC Takes Control of D&D Translations

WotC has just announced that it is taking direct control of French, Italian, German, and Spanish versions of its D&D books (which previously were licensed to third parties).

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They’ll also be looking for new printers outside the US and China, and pricing books more equally in non-US markets.

Localised social media accounts are being launched as well as localised pages on the D&D website.

The first products will be the Essentials Kit in September, along with the three core rulebooks.

The initial focus will be Europe and Latin America.

 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I bought a french version of the Player's Handbook a month ago to introduce some family members. I can't believe how bad the translation is.

Agreed. The french translation of 5e was a s**tshow nearly from the start when they had to switch companies a few times while the license changed hands frequently. I think they had the same problems with the Korean (?) localization too.

Better to do it in-house instead of licensing GF9 who then licenses the thing to an other, smaller 3rd party and so-on, so-forth.
 

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schneeland

Explorer
I concur with @Uta-napishti - D&D doesn't dominate the market in Germany in the same way it does in US, but it is a fairly popular system. DSA/TDE is probably equally popular or at least close, and Call of Cthulhu and Shadowrun form a solide second tier (Shadowrun 6e is seeing noticably less positive reviews than earlier editions, though). And there is a number of smaller systems like Dungeon Crawl Classics and Free League games, which are also well regarded and have a solid player base.

I disagree regarding the quality of the translations of the current editions, though. The first printing of the player's handbook had severe issues and it took Ulisses multiple printings to fix the issues. And even for newer titles the quality varies a lot (this doesn't only affect D&D, though).
Admittedly, some of the problems are WotC problems - with 5th edition they have chosen to abandon the long tradition of translation more or less all names and replaced some of them with English words (probably for branding reasons), which makes the texts a lot less pleasant to read than those of 2nd and 3rd edition (cannot speak for 1st edition as I only started mid 90s).

I don't expect the latter problem to go away, but we also neither have a German SRD nor a German version of D&D Beyond - maybe we will see improvements in this area.

In any case, unless Ulisses pivots their publishing strategy for DSA/TDE, I see D&D gaining more ground - IMO compared to the former it is has a noticably lower entry barrier and the popularity of D&D streaming and the massive D&D online presence put in a better position than most of its competitors.
 

Uta-napishti

Explorer
The first printing of the player's handbook had severe issues and it took Ulisses multiple printings to fix the issues.
The first German translation I had in my hands was in 2018, so maybe it was cleaned up somewhat by then. I have never seen the earlier edition stuff in German, but I was initially surprised how few terms were carried over from English. Maybe because Ulisses was attuned to German RPG terms, they had less urge to just import the English, but mapped them over?
Yes, and you heard that right, Ulisses Spiele, publisher of DSA, had been the translator for D&D books in Germany, talk about business incentives at cross purposes!
 
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Mercador

Explorer
all is good aside from jobs lost by the other companies.
I think they'll probably out-sourced the work to those who were in charge at first. It will just gave them the budget needed.

Edit: that being said, as other mentioned it, the French version was quite a mess so maybe there's a reason behind all this. They might want to keep the brand intact. But I just think WotC does a hell lot of money with the 5E so they can do the translation themselves. I just hope that they won't bot translating it, though it gets better every year.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Iyay illway ebay unimpressedyay untilyay eythay anslatetray allyay ofyay ethay orecay ooksbay intoyay igpay atinlay. Ouyay aventhay ivedlay untilyay ouveyay illedkay ayay ardbay inyay ethay eatestgray anguagelay ofyay emthay allyay.
 

Parmandur

Legend
That video is funny but also hyperbolic (as much comedy is). Maybe it comes from growing up in communities of Spanish speakers who are from many different places in Latin America but we work it out and differences like coche vs. carro are minor and easily overlooked. Now, that is not to say there cannot be bigger differences or that those differences aren't amplified in written text as opposed to the give and take of a conversation. But definitely, I have run into the problem of saying "bolsa" in a place where they say "funda" (which to me is a pillowcase and the former is to them, well. . .slang for a different kind of bag ;)).

But if I were gaming in Spanish I'd prefer a book in another dialect of it than my own over one in English.
Having it be in Castillian might give it a Medieval vibe, too, I guess?
 

Parmandur

Legend
I wonder if they know how much it will cost ... Speaking as a professional translator, rates in Europe vary from around 10 eurocents/word to 25 eurocents. Agencies charge higher rates (and don't necessarily deliver better quality or even consistency), individual freelancers would mostly charge less -- particularly if WotC is handling the proofreading/quality control.

So at probably around 1000 words per page, the translations will cost anywhere between €100 and €250 per page. Translation memory software won't help much, and I can't see machine translation with post-editing being all that useful considering all the terminology and phrasing that doesn't exist outside the world of D&D.

And for anyone who thinks this would be a sweet gig to get in on (after all, how hard can it be to translate, if you know the languages?), a professional translator does around 300 words an hour. So three hours per page. Long term, about 3000 words a day is the maximum unless you want to burn out. That's not including spending time research terminology or figure out ambiguous phrasing.
WotC already has full-time in-house localizers in these languages for Magic the Gathering, so that can help them in getting setup to some extent?
 

darjr

I crit!
One thing this won't do but should is put to bed the whole 6e anytime soon thing. They are hiring folks, several, a whole dedicated team. And there will be several year contracts with localized publishers that won't take to kindly to being punked by a 6e. Not to mention they probably are smart enough not to divide their customer base in that way (memories of TSR and all). Especially since their new endeavor, D&D Digitial weekends are increasingly international and a growing success.
 

One thing this won't do but should is put to bed the whole 6e anytime soon thing. They are hiring folks, several, a whole dedicated team. And there will be several year contracts with localized publishers that won't take to kindly to being punked by a 6e. Not to mention they probably are smart enough not to divide their customer base in that way (memories of TSR and all). Especially since their new endeavor, D&D Digitial weekends are increasingly international and a growing success.
OTOH, you can also view this as them gearing up for 6E, getting good relationships with the translators they will want to have involved earlier in the process next time around.
 

Mercador

Explorer
Iyay illway ebay unimpressedyay untilyay eythay anslatetray allyay ofyay ethay orecay ooksbay intoyay igpay atinlay. Ouyay aventhay ivedlay untilyay ouveyay illedkay ayay ardbay inyay ethay eatestgray anguagelay ofyay emthay allyay.
I hope that you made a search and replace for that one.
 


darjr

I crit!
OTOH, you can also view this as them gearing up for 6E, getting good relationships with the translators they will want to have involved earlier in the process next time around.

If the intent was to do a 6e soon why waste the time and why announce? They'd start with 6e out of the box and keep working on it in secret.

Also what publisher would want to sign up for such a short run of printing? Or try to dial in the "right" number of books to print that may be doomed?
 
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If the intent was to do a 6e soon why waste the time and why announce? They'd start with 6e out of the box and keep working on it in secret.
Because, theoretically, it won't be out for three years and there's money to make in the meantime.
Also what publisher would want to sign up for such a short run of printing? Or try to dial in the "right" number of books to print that may be doomed?
There are ways to address those concerns, starting with minimum guaranteed print runs between the two hypothetical editions.
 

darjr

I crit!
I think we are working from different time frames for the word soon.

I will say doing this work is worthwhile for all future products, that I agree with.

Also while I still don't think there will be a 6e in three years, I really have no idea.

edit: to make this seem less... pejorative? Cause I don't mean to be.
 

The new translations will be welcomed by a majority of my players that can barely read English without a dictionary.

On the other hand, I much prefer my books in the original language, so many mistakes in translations occurs...
 




Jaeger

That someone better.
Yes, and you heard that right, Ulisses Spiele, publisher of DSA, had been the translator for D&D books in Germany, talk about business incentives at cross purposes!

I'm sure USpiele thinks that there's plenty of room for everyone.

If anything I'd think that they'd be keen to see what aspects of 5e's design helps to attract new players, and apply those game design principles to the next edition of DSA.

But they won't.


Because, theoretically, it won't be out for three years and there's money to make in the meantime.

There are ways to address those concerns, starting with minimum guaranteed print runs between the two hypothetical editions.

I think that it would be safe to say that for most of us when we refer to a potential 6e, we are talking about at most a AD&D1e to AD&D2e style new edition.

Not the big paradigm shifts we saw with 3-4-5e D&D editions.

IMHO when we think of "New edition of D&D" we should start thinking more along the lines of the a model Chaosium followed for CoC with their 1st to 6th editions: More of a gradual update and cleanup once the errata of a particular edition got to be too much for the player base, and not a wholesale system redesign that has been the WOTC norm until now.

Or at least that's what WOTC would do if they were smart.
 

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