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

werecorpse

Explorer
I'm unsure what else they need to give us for *our* stories.

More class options don't help me tell a story. More monsters don't. The DMG already has more tools for me as a DM than all of 3.0 and 4e (and almost as much as 3.5e).
More campaign settings would if everyone who is a fan of a setting didn't already own the books.


I told years of adventures back in 2e with almost no sourcebooks. Well, I had the Complete Ninja's Handbook and the Complete Book of Humanoids. But my players never used those, so they were pretty much just casual reading.
I would like a few more class options for most classes. Specifically clerical domains that fit with 3e domains, a bunch more sorcerers, maybe 1 or 2 options for each other class. I would like another 2 monster manuals. I would like a bunch more traps and treasure. These would all help me tell more stories.
 

Rygar

Explorer
That's a bizarre interview. Fargo reached out to them for the rights to make Planescape Torment 2, a virtually guaranteed blockbuster title and they passed. How can they want great CRPG's when they refused to license it?

I'd also argue they're in trouble. They refused InXile, Obsidian is aligned with Pathfinder, they're out of quality RPG studios. All they have left is EA and Bethesda. EA makes console games, Baldur's Gate 3 isn't their "Style" (And they've been...upsetting...customers for years now) and Bethesda doesn't make games with story, doesn't make games that aren't Player Skill dependent, and doesn't make anything that isn't the Elder Scrolls formula they've been using over and over for 15 years or so. Where are they going to get a AAA CRPG from?

I am not terribly happy overall with all this. The main issue I have is settings. I want other settings besides freaking Forgotten Realms!!! I want out of the Realms. I want to play in Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Birthright, Greyhawk, etc!
I agree. I hate Forgotten Realms. If that's their only setting I'll continue to give Paizo hundreds a year and WOTC $0.
 

GSHamster

Villager
whereas pen and paper games have a much higher barrier to entry (familiarizing yourself with the rules, creating and balancing encounters, having everyone create characters).
That's not even the real barrier to entry. The true barrier is getting a group of people together on a regular basis. Even before we get to the game, we get to an often-insurmountable hurdle.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
How do you make a sustainable business model off of that? How do you know what stuff to make for people? They could make campaign settings, but if you already make your own that's useless. Not to mention they already have all of the campaign settings online in PDF format. Then what about a whole book about Magic Items and Traps, a DMG2? Well there are already tools to make your own traps and such, and where do you draw the line with making books like that? They're essentially infinite. I just don't see how such a model would work, especially with a player attitude of "I create all my own stuff anyway."
Well, as a DM I can certainly homebrew to my heart's content, but I will never get what I need as a player no matter how good my homebrews are. And frankly I feel better homebrewing for a system i already have mastery for (2e or 3.x).If I have to do everything myself I'd rather stick with what I know. And not all DM's are good or comfortable tinkering with rules, the lack of support for them set the bar too high for DM's wanting to create their own world, creating new rules and worlds require quite different skill sets.

I'm unsure what else they need to give us for *our* stories.

More class options don't help me tell a story. More monsters don't. The DMG already has more tools for me as a DM than all of 3.0 and 4e (and almost as much as 3.5e).
More campaign settings would if everyone who is a fan of a setting didn't already own the books.

I told years of adventures back in 2e with almost no sourcebooks. Well, I had the Complete Ninja's Handbook and the Complete Book of Humanoids. But my players never used those, so they were pretty much just casual reading.
Ready made dungeons, encounters, and new magic items for example. Or more rules modules for Bronze Age, modern age, more races and class options?
 

HobbitFan

Villager
One of the major problems with having stuff connected to 1-2 stories or even themes is that if you aren't interested in using/running those, WOTC isn't offering you anything.

And another concern. Why were both APs so far both set in the Sword Coast? Was it only so they could tie in to Neverwinter and the upcoming Sword Coast Legends?
Why use the Realms as the backdrop if you aren't going to utilize the breadth and depth of the setting?

And if its really about story, why were the first two adventure path hardbacks done with rehashed stories? Where's the creativity and innovation in their story-telling?

And if story is so important why not have short fiction on the website or publish new novels. Teh only 5E novels we know abotu so far are continuation of series already started.

Just saying story, story, story doesn't explain it.
 

Hussar

Legend
I'm curious, where are you getting your sales information from? I highly doubt Monte Cook games is doing anywhere in the realm of how well 5E is doing.
You have to realise that for some people, they judge how well a system is doing based on the number of books published for that system. It appears to be impossible for a game to be doing "well" unless it has a tail of several hundred books behind it and the corollary to that is any system without that tail must, by definition, be doing poorly.

Time will tell who's right.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Kind of meh about his answers. Nothing really offends me, but I don't find myself in agreement with it.

For my particular wants in D&D, I am looking for the GAME I am playing. I don't consume the novels and other tie-ins frequently, and if I do it's not because it's D&D but because it stands on it's own merit.

This means:
a) I don't want mechanics only coming out based on YOUR story, I want it coming out based on COMMUNITY NEEDS. If we want warforged, thri-kreen and psionics, sell us warforged, thri-kreen and psionics.
b) Forgotten Realms is one of my least liked WotC setting because of how overdeveloped it is. Yes, it is familiar, but that level of detail makes me LESS likely to run or play in it because I haven't mastered all of the detail. Trying to run a setting for people more familiar with it than I am is a nightmare.
c) D&D, in the way I am consuming it, is not only a game FIRST, it's ONLY the game. When you compromise that to change priorities to focus on other medias, I am not being served as a customer.

Those sound rather rant-y, but really it's more apathetic. 5e is a really good version of D&D and I'm happy to play it, and while I am a bit saddened that Wizard's priorities for D&D don't perfectly align with mine, that doesn't make 5e any less. It just means that if I want rapid evolution in the directions I want, WotC isn't likely the source so I'll widen my scope of 3rd party developers. I still hope they come out with things I want, with 5e they have rebuilt a level of trust in quality that has gone through cycles with them.
 
And frankly I feel better homebrewing for a system i already have mastery for (2e or 3.x).
I understand that feeling, it's why I stuck with AD&D for so long. But, 5e is a lot more amenable to homebrewing than 3.x - it's not just that it openly encourages it while 3.x has the whole RAW thing going, it's that the design of 5e is just 'lose,' and there's less to it. You change a bit, and every other bit doesn't explode in a hail of broken combos. I can't say that's a reason to learn 5e over 2e, if you're that comfortable with 2e, it shouldn't be that much harder to whip into whatever shape you want. But compared to hacking 3.x, learning 5e and then hacking it sounds easier.
JMHO.
 

Xantherion

Villager
Hmm this interests me.

I love the mechanics of 5e and look forward for expansions in the future. However, the 1 to 2 adventures a year does nothing for me. When they released Pota they gave the crunch away for free. This is good for me. I will not buy any of the adventure books, so they will not get any money from me on that end. I will just stick with my 3 core books, and print out the free material.

it is interesting. 5e got me away happily from Pathfinder. Now with WOTC marketing strategy and Pathfinder Unchained, I am starting to head back to Pathfinder.
 

Lidgar

Explorer
In regards to stories...

I read his response more broadly than STORIES = MEGA ADVENTURES.

Reading through PotA now, and it is much more than that. It is part adventure (including several mini adventures), part campaign setting (Red Larch is great, and portable), part new player content, part new DMG content, part MM content, all tied to central theme (Elements). So STORIES = THEMATIC ELEMENTS.

I am fine with these hybrid releases, but completely understand others that don't want to shell out $50 for the book, when all they really want is the non-adventure elements.

In any case, market demand will (or should) drive them in the end.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jester David

Adventurer
If those settings would not be out of date ingame. And an AP taking place in a subregion of a setting is actually targeting an even small niche of the customer base.
95% of a good campaign setting is fluff. Nations, Kings and queens, factions, NPCs, plots, trade, maps, etc. None of that was invalidated between 1e and now. Paying $60 for a dozen pages of crunch and 250-pages of fluff I already have needless.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
I would like a few more class options for most classes. Specifically clerical domains that fit with 3e domains, a bunch more sorcerers, maybe 1 or 2 options for each other class. I would like another 2 monster manuals. I would like a bunch more traps and treasure. These would all help me tell more stories.
More monsters are always good, and we do sorely need more traps (I should prioritize a traps blog for my website).
And I did find the absence of alternate magic item treasure tables to be an oversight of the DMG.

But more class features? While it's nice to have sorcerer x and sorcerer y to have different class features to differentiate them, you could have two or three dragon sorcerer's with very different stories. Roderic Faklstaff of the Dummocton Fallstaffs third in line for the Fallstaff fortune is going to potentially have a very different story that Clump the spellslinger of Dungy Marsh. Even if the two have identical spells and feats.
 
Sadly, I find this interview more discouraging than encouraging; he didn't say things that speak to my interest.

But then, he's the brand manager, and I'm not sure I'm his customer.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I would like to wish all of you who are still unhappy with WotCs output the best in your future endeavors. Be sure to return to the 5E boards in two weeks time so that you can discover that nothing has changed and you still aren't getting what you want. I look forward to reading your exact same post about your unhappiness the exact same way.
 
I fully agree. It's all about THEIR story, but they're not giving us the tools for OUR stories.
I really don't care what they want to publish or not publish. I am fine with just the core books from them . Its the blocking of others who are interested in producing tools by not releasing any type of open license information that is such a pain in the ass.

If they don't have the desire to do the stuff people want, let someone else do it. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem WOTC.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
You have to realise that for some people, they judge how well a system is doing based on the number of books published for that system. It appears to be impossible for a game to be doing "well" unless it has a tail of several hundred books behind it and the corollary to that is any system without that tail must, by definition, be doing poorly.

Time will tell who's right.
By the number-of-books metric, the most successful game system is RIFTS...
 

HobbitFan

Villager
I would like to wish all of you who are still unhappy with WotCs output the best in your future endeavors. Be sure to return to the 5E boards in two weeks time so that you can discover that nothing has changed and you still aren't getting what you want. I look forward to reading your exact same post about your unhappiness the exact same way.
You know....There's no call for that. That's just bad form.

DefCon please don't belittle other people's opinions like that. Makes you look like a troll.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
S

Sunseeker

Guest
This is the #1 question the RPG industry needs to figure out----how do we get more people to play our games?
Better product placement.

Can I buy the D&D books in a WalMart? No.
Can I buy D&D minis are Toys'R'Us? No.
Can I buy D&D video games at Best Buy? No.

Where can I buy D&D products? At your FLGS! Well this relies on two assumptions: One: that you like your FLGS, I've been to plenty, some are very bad places to game. Two: that your LGS supports board games, many do not. It is not uncommon to see the books for D&D, Pathfinder, Shadowrun and everything else sit on the shelves unless the store has a very specific crowd for it. My local store didn't even stock D&D until 5th and thanks to efforts on my part and others, now can barely keep them in stock.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
One of the major problems with having stuff connected to 1-2 stories or even themes is that if you aren't interested in using/running those, WOTC isn't offering you anything.
That could be said about any product.

And another concern. Why were both APs so far both set in the Sword Coast? Was it only so they could tie in to Neverwinter and the upcoming Sword Coast Legends?
Why use the Realms as the backdrop if you aren't going to utilize the breadth and depth of the setting?
Just speculation, but I imagine they're focusing on the one area so they can leave the rest of the Realms open for home games and groups to make their own.
That, and it makes it easier to segue from the Starter Set adventure into a storyline book if they're nearby.

And if story is so important why not have short fiction on the website or publish new novels. Teh only 5E novels we know abotu so far are continuation of series already started.
The absence of new authors is kind of a slight. I think we got some new characters/ storylines during the Sundering though. But I imagine there's just less of an audience for the fiction, especially when so many of the old books are still available.
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top