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I can see this working really well, I mean the D&D community can't decide if a Sorcerer class gets an extra skill rank at 3rd level, or not, and will argue for years over the implications.

Asking for their input on 5E is like opening the fanboy Pandora's box, filled with all the vociferous pedantry of the world.

D&D 5E is going to end up like this:

Homer_Car.jpg

I wonder how this process will work, I hope we find out in the real announcement

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The news is up

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20120109

That is why we are excited to share with you that starting in Spring 2012, we will be taking this process one step further and conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it. With your feedback and involvement, we can make D&D better than ever. We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.

For that reason, we want your participation. The goals we have set for ourselves are by no means trivial or easy. By involving you in this process, we can build a set of D&D rules that incorporate the wants and desires of D&D gamers around the world. We want to create a flexible game, rich with options for players and DMs to embrace or reject as they see fit, a game that brings D&D fans together rather than serves as one more category to splinter us apart.

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Oh and En World's much more personal take on it, from a guy invited by Wizards to come and play the current beta version.

http://www.enworld.org/forum/news/316036-off-see-wizards-day-wizards-coast-showed-me-d-d-5th-edition.html

Nice read.

This bit jumped out at me

With the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast is seeking to "create a rule set that enables players of all types and styles to play a D&D game together by taking the best of each edition and getting at the soul of what D&D is." I did get an opportunity to playtest some of the materials and the above statement is not too far off; it felt, in many ways, very retro. The project has been given a code name inside WotC, but we have been asked not to reveal that code name at this time (it begins with an "I" though!) The new edition will be designed as a basic rules set which can be expanded upon with stack on rules to suit the tastes of mechanics complexity to suite the players and DMs.

That would be amazing if they could pull it off without it being a confusing mess. This thing is I can see this sort of thing happening:

"Well you see - I'm playing an advanced Ranger, not the basic one, and with the optional skill tree from the Darkcheese expansion, so actually I can shoot fireballs from my eyebrow (once per day, Fortitude Save vs Fire DC = level + 1/2 WIS)"

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The Escapist article on this is a good one, and set a few alarm bells ringing on how ambitious a project this is going to be mixed with some quite oddly lowly aspirations (in regards to not replacing 4E). It could be a mess

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/9329-The-New-Iteration-of-Dungeons-Dragons

"In some ways, that nagging desire to introduce a house rule or create a unique setting are what give the game its spark. With this new iteration of the game, we're focusing on the range of what D&D can support and has supported rather than picking one style of play and focusing on it."
"We hope to create a system that allows players to use much of their existing content, regardless of the edition. Our goal is to make sure we are on course for a game that hits the broad spectrum of D&D," Mearls said.
"We're also exploring ideas for conversion tools so that some of the 4th edition characters and content will be playable with the next edition." In other words, Wizards vows it's not replacing 4th edition, but merely adding another layer of rules that will cater to the people unhappy with the latest edition's changes.

Feels like they are trying to please everyone, and you know how that goes! It's obviously very early days, so it all remains to be see how this will work out. I'd much prefer another full system reboot, than a 4.5E style cludge

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Meh, I think Wizards are missing a trick really, it was never really that much about the rules as much as the game worlds for me. The rules were just a framework to let you run about in the worlds. And since they totally fucked the Forgotten Realms, and before that, Mystara, I have no interest in D&D at all.

EDIT: Its not just that really, the quality of the stuff they put out seemed to take a nosedive after 2nd edition/basic D&D went, with most of the 3rd edition output being very mixed from what I saw. The best stuff that has been put out for 3rd edition was all from other companies. The Paizo adventure paths point more towards what they should have been doing.

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Meh, I think Wizards are missing a trick really, it was never really that much about the rules as much as the game worlds for me.

I think this is partly what they are trying to recapture. Well they alude to it in that Escapist article

Story is going to be a focus of D&D going forward. Many of us fell in love with the game through the adventure modules released by TSR in the early days of the game. Gygax's Against the Giants modules are still regarded as a crowning achievement in how they planted plot details in the dungeon along with exciting combat, and Mearls said he wants to get back to that level of story-telling through new published adventures.

How you get back to that is anyone's guess, making it less crunchy and less about moving mini's round a grid is a big start. It soon becomes a rules fest and everyone loses sight of their character, where they are and why.

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The problem is that there's no real money in roleplaying. They always end up pushing a miniatures focus because otherwise they have a business model where only about one in six players ever have to be customers, and even they can get away with only buying a handful of books each edition. It's sustainable for tiny niche publishers like Paizo, Mongoose and Green Ronin, but I bet it's led to some tense meetings at the world's second biggest toy manufacturer.

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Yeah good point, they've always struggled with that aspect, so did TSR.

In terms of IP it's huge - or it should be. IMO it's up there with Star Wars or the whole of Marvel/DC universe in terms of modern cultural icons. When I'm trying to explain board gaming to a non-gamer the conversation usually goes like "What games like Monopoly and Risk?" - "No, erm..." - "Oh stuff like Dungeons & Dragons?".

Everyone has heard of it, even your mum

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That brand awareness works against them as well though. My impression of a typical D&D game is something incredibly stat heavy taking place in a basement alongside some very finickity nerds pretending to be mages using time I don't have to play it. And I see it in a favourable light.

They have no significant high street presence bar a small section in Waterstone's Sci-Fi and Fantasy section, have released nothing of any note that's impacted broader popular media in over a decade (including videogames) and even now the mass market has shied away from them after a brief flirtation with fantasy again courtesy of LOTR.

The move they're taking - to be potentially be more accessible and story driven - is a genius idea frankly. I'm relatively new to all this but house rules aren't the exception to this pastime, they're an integral part of proceedings. That may be as a result of shitty written rulesets or stupidly hard games, but they're there. By releasing a modular system you can make the base game far more accessible, and potentially to playrers of an younger age, and then you just layer on top of that as you want additional complexity.

It's always seemed a world that would be great to get into but wholly impenetratable, and this kind of approach could really work well. I mean, there must be a generation of players who would love to introduce their kids to this but can't because of the complexity of things. Imagine me or Strider seeing a new, age 8+ version in a shop. Bought in a second!

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The biggest problem with D&D--with all RPGs, in fact--is it's not something you can sell without potential players experiencing it for themselves. The only games I ever played were as a teenaged kid, and even then the idea of what we were supposed to be doing was so nebulous every GM had an entirely different idea of how games were run. Although D&D has incredible brand awareness I'm sure most people regard it in the same way Pelekophoros mentions: it's geeks pretending to be barbarians hitting make believe goblins with weird dice--and from the perspective of the people who jumped ship for Pathfinder, that's probably how Wizards marketed 4e. Never mind that the people who've been playing every week since the seventies see it as something meaningful, a collaborative story-telling experience in which they've scaled fantastical heights firmly off limits to ordinary human beings: it's nerdy stuff for friendless losers.

Meanwhile over on the video game front RPGs have never been more popular. The Dragon Age RPG system has been very popular by P&P RPG standards; I'd expect Mass Effect and Elder Scrolls/Skyrim RPGs would do similar business, selling to video gamers who want further adventures in familiar locations.

It's not something you can physically show someone, though, any more than you can sell a night shooting shit with your mates. Ongoing actual play podcasts do a decent enough job of showing what can be accomplished in an RPG, but the people on the shows aren't your friends, you don't have personal, emotional ties to them, and beyond the odd pop culture reference the things they do and the jokes they make don't have any bearing on your life. You're as far removed from the action as you would be watching someone play a video game, only in this case the TV the game plays out on would be invisible.

How do you sell a part in a theatre production that won't play to an audience, that won't have applause at the end of each performance? D&D's better known as a genre than a game, and it's going to be a hell of a problem breaking the perceptions associated with it.

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In terms of IP it's huge - or it should be. IMO it's up there with Star Wars or the whole of Marvel/DC universe in terms of modern cultural icons.

It really isn't. Batman, Wolverine, Luke Skywalker and Drizzt Do'whatever. Which ones would your mum recognise? Everyone knows the brand name, but for IP to be valuable you need distinctive characters and settings that will appeal to an audience beyond role-players when transferred to other media, and you need to present them with strong, memorable imagery.

D&D's most high profile attempt at strong, memorable imagery:

DnD-4-evil-villains.jpg

They've had something like 20 or 30 different official campaign settings over the years, most of which are utterly generic, and the whole point of the thing is that you make up your own characters. All they have to offer that a licensee couldn't do at least as well themselves is the name, and even that probably has as many negative connotations as positive.

What does "Dungeons & Dragons" conjure up for most people? Fat neckbeards nerding it up round a table, and "orcs and shit". And I bet the orcs they're picturing are the WarCraft or the Lord of the Rings or the Warhammer interpretations.

Also, they're American. Americans can't do fantasy. They always come up with names like 'Regis' and 'Elwood' without any apparent awareness that it sounds retarded.

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It's difficult to tell the impact of D&D on anything but video games as it's representative of fantasy as a generic whole. Without it there wouldn't be as much public awareness of various staples of fantasy as a genre but it's hard to tell where its influence begins and Lord of the Rings' ends, especially as there's so much crossover (well, one-way traffic) between the two.

Aside from all the video games influenced by it D&D's lasting legacy would probably be its classes, alignments, funny shaped dice and red dragons. And, as you said, fat neckbeards nerding it up around a table. It's sad, really. If it had the kind of makeover Lord of the Rings and fantasy fiction (courtesy of A Game of Thrones) has had instead of shitty films and even shittier animated features it could capture the public's imagination.

Maybe.

Probably not.

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Its influence was undeniably vast, and most of its problems are also its strength. It's easily valuable enough to generate a very comfortable living for several dozen writers and artists without ever considering licensing.

But by its very nature, it's a niche interest with few licensing opportunities, and that will never translate into the kind of profits a company like Hasbro demands. Every attempt to "fix" it will drive more and more of their core audience to companies like Paizo. They should really accept that all it's ever going to do is more or less break even most years and turn a decent profit around major launches, or sell it to somebody who gets that.

Game of Thrones […] capture the public's imagination.

"Roll a d100 and consult the Shagging table"


Shagging
--------------------------------------
1-100. | Take her roughly from behind

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Monty Cook talks a bit about 5E and where it's going

They really do seem to be going for the wholly modular game angle.

The goal here is to embrace all forms of the D&D experience and to not exclude anyone. Imagine a game where the core essence of D&D has been distilled down to a very simple but entirely playable-in-its-right game. Now imagine that the game offered you modular, optional add-ons that allow you to create the character you want to play while letting the Dungeon Master create the game he or she wants to run. Like simple rules for your story-driven game? You're good to go. Like tactical combats and complex encounters? You can have that too. Like ultra-customized character creation? It's all there.

How they can pull this off without fragmentation I really don't know.

- Want to play a published adventure "Grathnor's Caves of Ultimate Doom" - it needs your group to be using the Advanced Combat Module, Magic v2 & Optional rules for epic level sandals & other footwear

Don't get me wrong it'll be great if they can pull it off

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I totally agree. If people want to play a minis game there are plenty to choose from. D&D should be about roleplaying.

What is "roleplaying" and what stat do you need to make a successful check against? For me, the roleplaying comes out in my interactions with other PCs and GM characters; the collection of numbers on the sheet are a good guideline for how smart/strong/fast the character is - but the group should be adult enough to sort out social interaction without having to reach for the dice every few minutes.

There's absoluely nothing worse around the table than having one character roll (for instance) intimidate against another PC and claiming that that character must now be fearful of them - it strips out quality of interaction - I can understand rolling those dice if it's an unimportant goon on the recieving end, but I insist that any meaningful scene has to be dealt with as actual roleplay. If your character is intimidating, I'll take that into account as the GM in the responses of my characters - if I tell you that character you're dealing with is a fast-talking scoundrel, you need to acknowledge that in your responses.

To that end, D&D is excellent because it's a tabletop skirmish wargame - if you play it without the figures on the board (or pennies and buttons) then it loses a whole lot of impact really quickly. You play Levelling, feat stacking games to see your character improve and gain new abilities, but the impact of these is greatly diminished if the combat is reduced to a generalist vague meta-combat in your head; it's only when those figures hit the table that charing 30 feet and taking a 5 foot step between cleaves becomes in any way meaningful.

The system handles the mechanics, the players handle the Roleplay as far as I'm concerned.

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What is "roleplaying" and what stat do you need to make a successful check against? For me, the roleplaying comes out in my interactions with other PCs and GM characters; the collection of numbers on the sheet are a good guideline for how smart/strong/fast the character is - but the group should be adult enough to sort out social interaction without having to reach got the dice every few minutes.

There's absoluely nothing worse around the table than having one character roll (for instance) intimidate against another PC and claiming that that character must now be fearful of them - it strips out quality of interaction - I can understand rolling those dice if it's an unimportant goon on the recieving end, but I insist that any meaningful scene has to be dealt with as actual roleplay. If your character is intimidating, I'll take that into account as the GM in the responses of my characters - if I tell you that character you're dealing with is a fast-talking scoundrel, you need to acknowledge that in your responses.

To that end, D&D is excellent because it's a tabletop skirmish wargame - if you play it without the figures on the board (or pennies and buttons) then it loses a whole lot of impact really quickly. You play Levelling, feat stacking games to see your character improve and gain new abilities, but the impact of these is greatly diminished if the combat is reduced to a generalist vague meta-combat in your head; it's only when those figures hit the table that charing 30 feet and taking a 5 foot step between cleaves becomes in any way meaningful.

The system handles the mechanics, the players handle the Roleplay as far as I'm concerned.

Personally, I find minis on a table distracting. For me, half the fun of roleplaying is using my imagination to picture the scene, and its far too easy to start worrying if you are at short or long range or if you need to take a minus because the halfling is in the way etc when using minis.

Whatever works though, there is no right answer, its all about what.your group likes :)

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Well, it's horses for courses I guess - it's just that D&D has a huge wealth of information in regard to distances and LOS because the game hinges around it, and in my view unbalances without it all.

The new edition of WHFR went completely the other way reducing this sort information, dissolving combats into a non-specific array of different distance categories. I guess in many ways I have the mind of a tabletop war gamer and the use of models only enhances my imagining of the situation, and creates a more cohesive group experience, as people are all singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak. It also adds a lot more thinking, as wizards can 't just splash fireballs all over the shop.

Heh.

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Monty Cook talks a bit about 5E and where it's going

They really do seem to be going for the wholly modular game angle.

How they can pull this off without fragmentation I really don't know.

- Want to play a published adventure "Grathnor's Caves of Ultimate Doom" - it needs your group to be using the Advanced Combat Module, Magic v2 & Optional rules for epic level sandals & other footwear

Don't get me wrong it'll be great if they can pull it off

It's like 2nd edition (skills & powers etc period - commonly referred to as 2.5 edition these days) all over again.

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