WotC's Nathan Stewart: "Story, Story, Story"; and IS D&D a Tabletop Game?

Forbes spoke to WotC's Brand Director & Executive Producer for Dungeons & Dragons, who talked about the 5th Edition launch and his vision for D&D's future. The interview is fairly interesting - it confirms or repeats some information we already know, and also delves a little into the topic of D&D as a wider brand, rather than as a tabletop roleplaying game.

In the interview, he reiterates previous statements that this is the biggest D&D launch ever, in terms of both money and units sold.

[lq]We are story, story, story. The story drives everything.[/lq]

He repeats WoTC's emphasis on storylines, confirming the 1-2 stories per year philosphy. "We are story, story, story. The story drives everything. The need for new rules, the new races, new classes is just based on what’s going to really make this adventure, this story, this kind kind of theme happen." He goes on to say that "We’re not interested in putting out more books for books’ sake... there’s zero plans for a Player’s Handbook 2 any time on the horizon."

As for settings, he confirms that "we’re going to stay in the Forgotten Realms for the foreseeable future." That'll disappoint some folks, I'm sure, but it is their biggest setting, commercially.

Stewart is not "a hundred percent comfortable" with the status of digital tools because he felt like "we took a great step backwards."

[lq]Dungeons and Dragons stopped being a tabletop game years or decades ago. [/lq]

His thoughts on D&D's identity are interesting, too. He mentions that "Dungeons and Dragons stopped being a tabletop game years or decades ago". I'm not sure what that means. His view for the future of the brand includes video games, movies, action figures, and more: "This is no secret for anyone here, but the big thing I want to see is just a triple-A RPG video game. I want to see Baldur’s Gate 3, I want to see a huge open-world RPG. I would love movies about Dungeons and Dragons, or better yet, serialized entertainment where we’re doing seasons of D&D stories and things like Forgotten Realms action figures… of course I’d love that, I’m the biggest geek there is. But at the end of the day, the game’s what we’re missing in the portfolio."

You can read the full interview here.
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Halivar

Villager
I like what I'm reading, with one caveat: There does need to be a psionics product, if only for the support of previous edition campaign conversions. But yeah, I agree that splat needs to have purpose. 75% of all the prestige classes in 3.x were gimmicky, silly, and contrived. There were a few gems, but these were highly thematic and probably best belonged in a campaign book or adventure path.
 

Chimpy

Villager
I'm pretty pleased with the direction D&D is going at the moment. I would like to see some shorter adventures published though, preferably tying into the bigger story arcs.
 
I like what I'm reading, with one caveat: There does need to be a psionics product, if only for the support of previous edition campaign conversions.

Like he said, that would be released to support one of their per year stories (Squid-Head Terror, or what-have-you), but he did mention books maybe being released outside of the stories deal, if there was demand.
 

Osgood

Explorer
I really hope they alternate between big stories, smaller adventures, and campaign settings, but it doesn't look hopeful. It seems to me that's the best way to keep fans of multiple styles of D&D happy, rather than focusing solely on Realms-flavored monolithic-campaign-style D&D.
 
I am thrilled on the story story story idea with not just doing another phb, just cuz.
That will make some people unhappy. If we get more UA's helping on how to create things that will work for me. I am the few not happy on FR setting focus, as I want official eberrron. Oh well just gotta do it myself, which is fun too but time consuming.
 

DongMaster

Villager
Staying in the Forgotten Realms...

Thank God!

My dream of regional books in one form or another is still alive.

ALIVE!
 
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Zaran

Villager
I don't understand why this is making everyone cheer. They basically said that we aren't getting anything to use in MY stories. Just stuff I have to steal from theirs. I don't want their stories. I want tools for making my own.

It's great that they want to give us video games but it doesn't do anything for my home game.
 

Mistwell

Hero
Sounds like the are considering one-shots in addition to APs, "I wouldn’t be surprised if we do some books here and there that pick up things that the fanbase wants in between stories, because of the feedback we’re hearing. But by and large everything we’re delivering is supporting that annual story"
 
I don't mean to be a downer here, but are D&D stories really any good? I have only limited experience, but all the pre-made stories I've seen come out of WotC, including lost mine of Phandelver, are cheesy as hell.
 

ZeshinX

Explorer
Well, that's it for me and 5e/WotC then. Pity, I found 5e as a system to be excellent (still do), but if this is their idea of supporting a new edition, then count me out. 4e shoved me into Pathfinder's arms, WotC direction with 5e has ensured I'll stay there.

At least WotC made it an easy decision for me. :)
 

Pauper

Villager
I'm always left cold when I hear folks at WotC talking about 'the brand', because as a gamer, I'm not really interacting with 'the brand'. I'm playing the D&D game that is available to me. Right now, that is (despite the brand dude's assertion to the contrary) the tabletop game, which seems to be going great gangbusters locally as far as Organized Play stuff is concerned (I'm planning to hit yet another new store offering Adventurers League tonight), but a while back it was the weird D&D: Arena of War iPhone game, and before that it was the Lords of Waterdeep board game which I played to reassure myself the 'brand' wasn't dying as local groups running Living Forgotten Realms kept disappearing.

Listening to WotC brand guys is like listening to LucasFilm brand guys prior to the Disney buy-out; they realize they're sitting on a mountain of IP that other people are more than willing to pay rent to be able to make some trifling amount of money on, and they live in mortal fear that somebody is going to mess up badly enough to convince the really big IP tenants that this particular well has run dry.

Basically I get the feeling that the WotC brand guys want to be the Marvel brand guys when they grow up.
 

ehren37

Villager
Well, that's it for me and 5e/WotC then. Pity, I found 5e as a system to be excellent (still do), but if this is their idea of supporting a new edition, then count me out. 4e shoved me into Pathfinder's arms, WotC direction with 5e has ensured I'll stay there.

At least WotC made it an easy decision for me. :)
Psst... just run Pathfinder modules in 5E. Even with the work of converting its simpler than dealing with the bloat and slog of the rules.
 
I like what I'm reading, with one caveat: There does need to be a psionics product, if only for the support of previous edition campaign conversions. But yeah, I agree that splat needs to have purpose.
Yes. Psionics was a glaring omission. So was the Warlord.

There'd be lots of purpose in adding psionics and expanding martial options (which are currently high-single target DPR). Two splats that might be well received.

75% of all the prestige classes in 3.x were gimmicky, silly, and contrived. There were a few gems, but these were highly thematic and probably best belonged in a campaign book or adventure path.
I don't know about the exact percentage, but some of 'em were essentially ways to kludge MCing or other rules issues. "Well you can't do this concept because this rule..." "Here's a PrC for it." (Which is better than: "too bad, pick another concept.")
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I don't understand why this is making everyone cheer. They basically said that we aren't getting anything to use in MY stories. Just stuff I have to steal from theirs. I don't want their stories. I want tools for making my own.
I agree. I started to post the same thing earlier and stopped. I have only one friend that is running their adventures. Nobody else I know wants their stories. We want more tools for creating our own settings and stories and were holding off on purchasing 5e to see what WOTC releases before laying out the money. This is not promising ( and I was about to break and go to B&N tonight and tomorrow to purchase the PHB and DMG. Now, I considering going back to holding out).

Don't get me wrong, I had a strong dislike for 95%+ of the PrC's in 3e books. I found them worthless tripe (I had a similar dislike for Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies in 4e). However, their current plan will not appear to provide the support that I want in a timely manner
 
Yes. Psionics was a glaring omission. So was the Warlord.

Well, obviously not, psionics are only in one PH, and as an optional appendix, no psionic races or classes, and warlord is a controversial class (Henisoo's pet) that has only been in one PHB.

So, yeah, not even close to glaring or a real omission.
 

TerraDave

5ever
Of course this is my favorite part:

I think if you would have told us –or anyone– that before launch, they would’ve said, “Really? You’re gonna do bigger than third edition or 3.5?” and the answer is, undoubtedly, yes.

Everything exceeded our forecast. ...we forecasted pretty high. And we re-printed everything, so when everything exceeded our forecast, in most cases we re-printed within weeks of the official launch, if not months.
And right now D&D on Amazon still has the top four products in fantasy gaming and the PHB is still in the top 200 overall nine months after launch, which is really unprecedented for an RPG book.

Sorry, had to do that.

One funny bit is that he doesn't talk up new player acquisition. He talks up everything else (well, besides the digital fail) but not that. Clearly it has to be a major focus of his. Maybe that's why he wants the big video game?
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I am a little puzzled by the tabletop game remark. Not sure what he is saying there.
I'm guessing he left out a word. At least I'm hoping that's the case. I'm guessing he meant to say, "Dungeons and Dragons stopped being only a tabletop game years or decades ago."

Because that I'd agree with. But it very much is a tabletop RPG. If you base your focus on digital only and don't care about the TT part of it? You shouldn't be working on D&D, in my opinion.
 

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