Friday, December 20, 2013

Thoughts About the Dungeons and Dragons Next Launch Date

December 19, 2013 – Renton, WA – Wizards of the Coast today announced that the highly-anticipated new rules system for Dungeons & Dragons will release in summer 2014.  After nearly two years of an open public playtest and more than 175,000 playtest participants, the rules are complete. Players will be immersed in rich storytelling experiences across multiple gaming platforms as they face off against the most fearsome monster of all time.

“Just like a perfectly balanced party, Wizards has worked cohesively with fans, designers and partners to create the next generation of D&D,” said Nathan Stewart, Brand Director for Dungeons & Dragons. “We whole-heartedly thank all of the play test participants, whose feedback has proven instrumental in shaping the future of Dungeons & Dragons.”

More information about the exciting Dungeons & Dragons entertainment offerings will be available in early 2014. To learn more about D&D, visit dungeonsanddragons.com.  (from the Launch Announcement)
Last night it was announced that the next version of Dungeons and Dragons will launch this upcoming summer. The safe money has the official launch date coming in August at GEN CON 2014 as was the case with Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons; though it would not be that surprising if they released the Player's Handbook in June as both the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons editions released their Handbooks in that month.

I signed up to join the open playtest and was actually able to download it on the first day. I've really been digging a lot of what's been going on with the new system and the possibility that I can ethically talk about it soon has me just thrilled. But like so many of you out there, I have concerns about the new system and I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss them.

My Concerns

Price Point: While it isn't discussed in the official release, and the folks at Wizards proper have been way too closed mouthed about the subject for my liking, I'm really nervous about the price point for this product. I started playing with Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons and bought my books for $30.00 each. I have purchased a ridiculous amount of books for that system because the price was affordable whether I was working part-time and single, or full-time with a family to support. By contrast, Fourth Edition was on the cusp of being out of my price range at $40.00 a book; which is why I only own five books from that entire edition, and three of them were bought used for twenty dollars a piece. 

So for me, the price is going to determine how much of a financial commitment I can make to this system, and anything over $35.00 is going to find a very limited level of engagement on my end.

Third Party Licensing: I have no interest in publishing my own materials for the system, but I have a lot of companies that I trust when it comes to purchasing their third party products. So if I'm going to become committed to this edition I need to have people like Green Ronin and Mongoose Games able to crank out some top notch products for it. 

I was on the line with the core products, but these guys set the hook. 

An Introductory Box: I firmly believe that one of the biggest problems for Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons came when they attempted to drop the system flat on us without an introductory bridge. They attempted to rectify this with the Essentials line and with the "Red Box" but in many ways it was too little, too late. 

I want an Introductory Boxed Set for this edition of the game.

Dungeon and Dragon Magazine: I want these magazines back, and I want them back in a way that matters. 

I fully understand that if they come back it will be as a house organ and not as an industry wide magazine, that's all well and good. But when you bring them back make them something worth subscribing too again. I want short stories from authors that matter in the world and authors just starting out. I want to see articles from people who have a vested interest not only in Wizards of the Coast but in the hobby as a whole. And I don't want to see a magazine that has six articles and expects me to pay ten dollars for them.

The Name: I will hate this edition forever if the damned fools actually keep the "Next" in the title. Call it 5e or even better, Dungeons and Dragons, but not Next. That is the sort of name that you give to a character you have no interest in playing for longer than five minutes - and the same would hold true for an edition calling itself that.

Things that Aren't Bothering Me 
that Probably Should

I've seen quite a few people focusing on the lines: ". . . Players will be immersed in rich storytelling experiences across multiple gaming platforms as they face off against the most fearsome monster of all time . . ." (from the Launch Announcement). I have no problems with this statement as it seems to hold in line with what Greg Leeds said earlier this year (see Greg Leeds, C.E.O. of Wizards of the Coast, On the State of Everything) and with the Sundering Event that has been running since August of 2013. 

With the Sundering Event we've seen Wizards integrate their Encounters program with video games and books creating an immersive and engaging program that has me - traditionally a passionate anti-Forgotten Realms Dungeon Master - actually enjoying, and even loving, the Forgotten Realms. So let's say that comment has me cautiously optimistic, rather than worried.

Your thoughts?

13 comments:

  1. I am with you on price point. The prcie will determine if I get one book, three, or more.
    With 4th ed I bought the players handbook, that's it. I played it twice. I don't regret teh $40 dollars I spent because I'm one of those folks who just likes having the book, but if the book was $50? It would be like Numenara , which I think might be about the pretiest RPG book I have ever seen, I just can't justify dropping $60 bucks on it, at teh local brik and mortar. (at least not till after the holidays. ;) )

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    1. I've been coveting the Dark Heresy books from Fantasy Flight Games since they came out, but I can't justify spending $50.00 on a gaming book - no matter how nice it might be.

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  2. Price point is going to be important to me, too. I'm not a student with nothing to spend my money on except hobbies, like I was with 2nd & 3rd editions. I'm loyal to the brand and I liked what I saw in the playtest, but between the focus on Forgotten Realms and this mysterious talk of "multiple gaming platforms," they're leaving me a little cold before this critter is ever properly born.

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    1. I'm interested to see what they do with the Forgotten Realms. As I've said in the article, I usually hate the Forgotten Realms, but the way they've been doing it with the Sundering has made me really groove on it.

      Overall I think I'll just have to wait and see what they do with it all before I make a decision.

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  3. I agree with you on virtually every point except what concerns the FR since I'm a fan of that setting from about ... 30 years! ;)

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    1. Why do you like it?

      I can tell you what turned me off was that there were so many powerful hero npcs out there that it always left me feeling like there was no reason for me to be there. Am I completely out of my gourd here Giuseppe?

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  4. My $.02 is that they erred badly on the launch date. Should'a put it out at Christmas THIS year. A summer launch might gel with their convention schedule, but in terms of the way consumers shop, it's dumb as it can be.

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    1. I think that with the 40th anniversary coming up that they have to launch it this upcoming year.

      There's a lot of marketing opportunities that can be tied to such things. And that means money, money, money.

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  5. I disagree.

    2014 is the fortieth anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. This cannot be ignored by Wizards of the Coast and it has be celebrated in the fullest way possible. It is the perfect moment to launch a new edition. At any other time, the launch would be big, but in 2014 at GenCon? It will be huge.

    Gamers who will not be in attendance at GenCon will be making their purchases based on the releases at the convention. They are the core audience and must be catered to first. Afterwards, then the new game should be available at Christmas -- in fact, the introductory boxed set needs to be available at Christmas and should be priced as a gift. This is when the public will buy it (I know that if I have it stock, then I can sell it just as I am selling boardgames at the moment).

    Oh and that boxed set? It should allow characters to work up to third level and should include two adventures at the very least.

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    1. While I agree with most everything you said Pookie, I have to say that I disagree with the idea that gamers who do not attend GenCon make their purchases based on the releases at the convention. I've yet to know anyone in my daily life, who's involved in the hobby, and has been to GenCon or used anything coming out of it to decide their purchasing for the upcoming year.

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  6. Just wondering why you're talking about wanting a beginner box set first, and then speak about price point? Oh, I'm sure they'll come out with a box set of some kind on launch, which I will completely pass over, unless there's just something totally freaking awesome about it to make me want to buy it. But, being a man of very modest means, I just want the core books and that's pretty much it. I'm just finding it odd that a lot of experienced gamers are wanting introductory box sets, when all you need is your core books to be up and running. Box sets are awesome for new people interested in the hobby and it gives them good incentive to make the plunge, but by the same token, experienced gamers have zero need for it. Your thoughts Charles?

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    1. I like introductory boxed sets when it comes to learning new rule sets. It was very beneficial for me when I was learning third edition and I think that the lack of one at launch hurt Fourth Edition as a lot of gamers - experienced with pen and paper games and not - were not fully getting the game system. So that's why I talked about wanting one, and why I think that a lot of other gamers are wanting one as well.

      As for the price point I'm very concerned with what price the books will be. As I mentioned in the post the $40.00 price point severely limited how much I was willing to buy Fourth Edition books. So I want this edition to be at a reasonable price (say around $30.00).

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  7. I would definitely agree that not having the box set for 4th was a big mistake for them. The system was so radically different from 3.X, I think the box set launching with the books would have helped them tremendously. What I was driving at was my own personal preferences when it comes to box sets. Back when I first started, the box sets were great, and then lead to me moving on to AD&D when I saw how much more it had to offer. Since my gaming dollar is so precious to me, I guess I have complete indifference as to whether or not a box set is released for Next. I'm sure they probably will release one, but I don't see me being able to justify the extra $30 or $40 for it, when I'd be able to apply that to a core book instead. If I were new at this, then sure, I'd go nuts with it after getting the first taste with a box set. Since I'm pretty much a veteran at it though, I just can't see it being worth it.

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