D&D 5th Edition

Indeed, I can understand this complaint, though I think they’ve done a better job at designing the powers that separate “classes” more than people give them credit for. The way to play a Cleric is certainly much different than a Barbarian in 4E, but the homogeneity does show itself if I were to compare my Cleric to, say, our Wizard (though I guess they’re not really called that anymore, we’re both Leaders or something like that).


Is the problem the ruleset, or is the problem a lack of content? What made D&D and AD&D 1st Ed. last so long were all the beautiful, well-written modules one could buy. You could construct a campaign if you had to, or just do a quick one-off. While I hear about all the rulebooks you can buy, I hear almost nothing about good modules. And that’s been true for a few editions, now.

Seems to me that the modules are the fuel that should keep the publisher’s bank accounts full, rather than using TSR’s bogus strategy of “Let’s change the rules and sell rulebooks instead.”

Agreed. Well, I don’t know if I’d say it’s their biggest problem, but it is indeed a major issue.

I really enjoyed the 4e campaign I played in. As someone who also enjoys table top wargames the combat was just plain fun. Especially with my warrior, marking, shifting, pushing and sliding enemies, each encounter was a wonderful puzzle of how best to insert myself between the critters and my party. When I DM’d second edition I had used mini’s and a battlemat, so 4e was easy to step into.

I’m interested in seeing what direction they go with 5e, but not so thrilled to have to buy a new set of books. This time I’ll definitely be waiting till I have an actual group to play with on a regular basis (if that’s even the system that’s chosen to use). For as much as I know I’d enjoy playing over a fantasy grounds type system, nothing really beats playing with a good group in person.

I agree with the sentiment that they need to move D&D to the digital age. I had the best online D&D like experience with Bioware’s NWN offering. DMing a group of online adventurers in a framework like that, with tools to put together your own story lines is where I’d put my development dollars. I’d make the combat a bit better, but… yeah. Hell, make the combat turn bases roleplay again, but give a DM online tools to make a setting and tell a story. and make it easy to do.

Sidelining D&D classic adventures as prefabs would rock.

That’s right, they promised an online character generator. I kept looking for a few months, but eventually lost interest and forgot all about it.

Stickin’ with Pathfinder, I think. Does sound like they aren’t really sure what they need to do to revitalize the brand. About the only thing that’d make me go back is if they went full-on retro. Then again, others are doing retro well now so maybe that isn’t even a wise move.

I just meant minor in the sense the while DDO is profitable and has a nice core user base, it’s not one of the higher profile MMO’s and never has been. LOTRO is bigger, for example.

I don’t think Drizzt is the key to wider success, but rather they need to embrace the Forgotten Realms and use that as a setting rather then continually try and launch other stuff. The upcoming Neverwinter is a step in the right direction in that regard. People still want to see more of that world in gaming terms, and there is a lot of stuff that hasn’t been visited in decades in video game terms. Get an RPG studio like Obsidan to do a run of D&D RPGs for all platforms and you’ll increase interest in 5.0 or whatever. That’s what happened in the past. Its not WOTC’s fault (it was Hasbros) but the way to sell D&D now is through a variety of cross promoting products that pull people into different aspects no matter how they first get interested.

No They need to embrace Planescape and Eberron, obviously! :)

Poor WotC. I can smell the doom.

Not surprising, but my DnD group grew up and moved away. We’d play online but the virtual online options are pretty poor, relatively spendy, and I am not paying a monthly fee to get access to those kinds of things. I don’t mind buying physical game books, still love that, but… i am not going to go all out when getting online games is such a pain. Still miss Core Rules kind of set-up.

And obviously Dragonlance is the way to go ;-).

I’m a fan of both Monte Cook and Mike Mearls, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I wasn’t a fan of 4E, or more specifically I should say it seemed like an interesting fantasy RPG, but a bit too different from D&D to still be D&D. So I hope Monte and Mike take 5E back in the direction of 3E or a completely new edition that is similarly as true to the root of the game as the 3E/3.5E/Pathfinder branch of the family.

But at the same time I’m pretty happy with Pathfinder so if that doesn’t happen, I’m not too worried.

Also, I’m in violent agreement that the best thing for the game needs to be a coherent digital strategy and toolset that enables game groups to play over the internet asynchronously or in real time. Rather than a modern NWN running me or facilitating me in running players through preset and scripted scenarios, I’m looking more for the ultimate digital tabletop that empowers me as a DM to easily run a tabletop game over the internet. But since WotC seems to have difficulty with their digital direction I’m not optimistic this will happen.

I am not sure why so many people are saying they need to do a internet-based tabletop experience, to solve problems like schedules and meetings. That’s asynchronous roleplaying, and it already exists, people play by email or in message boards. Centralized tools like dice rolls and collaborative maps would be nice, but in the end they are auxiliary tools.

Asynchronous roleplaying have the problem of having the speed of a snail. Hell, on of the problems of tabletop roleplaying is being slow by nature (it can be 3-4 long sessions for a story, more prep time), and by internet is even several times slower. Apart from that, the ‘virtual’ social experience is not as good as playing with people in front of you, and that’s one of the of the best points of p&p rpgs over crpgs/mmos.

I don’t think its so much an issue of the rules, lack of online programs or the like that has caused the decline of the genre.

I think time has simply passed it by, like it happens with things that get outmoded /outdated due to technology.

There’s a reason the Pong machines doesn’t sell anymore, or that arcade halls arent around anymore like they used to. Its just not interesting anymore to the general public, and thats the same thing with PnP rpgs.

Hey, I played them like crazy back in the 80’s, and early 90’s, D&D (Red,blue, green and black sets I have still), Frontier, Traveller, MERP, Shadowrun and what have we, and it was fun, but I’d much rather do something else with my time these days, and I don’t see my kids nor their friends playing it either. The boys play computer games and soccer nowadays instead. We didn’t have that choice in most cases, when PnP rpgs where all the rage.

The problem with P&P is that entertainment is only as good as the session. The people you play with, even if you can manage to coordinate regular sessions, don’t provide a stable and assured level of entertainment.

At least, not in my experience.

If I knew exactly what I was getting when I committed to a regular D&D campaign, I’d be more likely to do that.

But I find that most of the time is spent just waiting for things to happen. Waiting for that golden conversation with an NPC, for that interesting party conflict, or that amazing puzzle to solve and so on. Things you used to have time for as a teenager.

My current D&D party members are good friends of mine, but they simply don’t satisfy my need for interesting dynamic sessions. My level of investment reflects that - and it’s not like I blame them. It’s just that I can’t invest much when I don’t get much in return.

Obviously, with more like-minded party members - it would be better, and it has been in the past. But even with the most exciting and interesting dynamic party, the wait between great sessions is often long.

In a computer game, you’re generally assured a certain level of entertainment - with a minimal “waste” of time.

So, in a way, it’s exactly the same evolution as we’ve seen in the MMO genre. People want much more and much easier content. Minimal “travelling time” - minimal “community building features - because you need Dungeon Finder to minimise queues” and so on.

Tabletop is declining overall. D&D hit the rocks hard with 4.0 splitting their base three ways into 3.5 hardcores, Pathfinder fans and 4.0 players. Not to mention the retroclone folks who are playing 3rd party versions of yet older D&D. White Wolf did the same thing to themselves with New World of Darkness. Split up an already shrinking base.

The energy is in independent RPGs these days. Online sales of .pdfs and print on demand books. Even larger publishers are going that way. Keeps overhead down and reaches more potential users directly rather than having to hope there’s a FLGS or chain book store around that will carry your product.

It’s been said before but I think D&D’s goose is pretty well cooked now. If you want easy, fun to play with out much prep, classic DIY D&D there’s, well, classic D&D (Rules Cyclopedia, OD&D, 1E, 2E) and the retroclones. If you want maps and minis and tons of customizable options there’s 3.5/Pathfinder and the ocean of content that’s already out there for them (I don’t even like D&D and I’ve got a shelf of books that are just amazing in overall utility and quality here). If you like, relatively, quick prep but more focus on the tactical game at the expense of reams of customization, D&D as boardgame, there’s 4.0.

Obviously they’re going to try to sell supplements, canned settings, quests and miniatures. They’re not going back to good old “play it in your imagination” times while encouraging players to create their own settings.

I don’t see where they really go. But maybe they’re smart to be reaching out the the players. Maybe that will generate some goodwill, interest and excitement. White Wolf jumpstarted, rather unintentionally, Old World of Darkness by bringing in the community to help design the Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition. That was going to be a one off, maybe something to get people oriented to the setting before the MMO came out (plenty of time for that now), and a love letter to long time fans and the LARP community. It sold so well, despite being insanely pricy, that a companion volume is in the works as well as Werewolf 20th.

D&D 5 needs to be not D&D 4, not 3.5 and different enough from Pathfinder to make it worth looking into. That’s going to be difficult to do, given that Pathfinder is essentially the continuation of the better* rule set for D&D and 4.0 is the video game version for quicker play. Regardless of which you prefer, both avenues are available already.

From a player’s perspective I think a better rulebook in general is where I’d like to see change. Paizo got it wrong just like WotC did, in that rules are spread throughout the book and generally not as clear as they could be. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the pain involving Druid shapeshifting, the grapple rules and non-obvious skill usage.
I’d also like to see rule summary sheets that provide quick look-up of common rules and items, to save flicking through the book. You can get some already but they’re often not ideal, or require some rejigging to get the tables/lists where you want them.

From a DM’s perspective, give me easy methods to generate spontaneous content. That’s the number one issue I personally have with adventures - the location and items are all fun to explain or generate, but the monsters are a pain in the arse - especially bosses or notables, where you need to go into spell lists, skills and personality. I want to click a button or two and generate a suitable encounter for the party level, with perhaps a leader or random factor that affects the situation. Bundled software (CD in the back cover? URL leaflet with account key?) could provide this, assuming it was better than the various offerings available from the community (most of which suck massive balls if I’m honest).

*yeah you know it’s true!

I haven’t looked at Pathfinder yet, but does it encourage the cheestastic multiclassing of D&D 3.5?

It does but it also offers more rewards for sticking with a single class. Though off the top of my head I can’t remember how it does that exactly.

My favorite take on 3.5 is the Conan RPG (Though Star Wars SAGA is very cool too). Very gritty and, for the system, realistic feeling combat with heroic maneuvers/feats that carry just the right flavor. Magic even isn’t just candylike fun and unicorns anymore. It’s something inherently dangerous and corrupting which requires active pursuit rather than passive accrual of abilities. But this all works as well as it does because the setting is also handled so intelligently and is an integral part of the design.

D&D’s got to appeal to a broader age and taste range though. McRoleplaying.

I have to agree with much of the above - I have every version of the game, but I’m honestly thinking that PnP D&D may have seen the last of my dollars unless 5th Ed is remarkably better.

I wouldn’t count out D&D just yet, Brian - pound-for-pound, it’s got the highest brand recognition of any RPG on the face of the planet. I was a supporter of 4e and I’m sad to see WotC throw in the towel to Paizo over what amounts to a diminishing, aging fan base whining that their game evolved past them. Do I want to play the D&D I remember from my younger days? Sure - but I also want the hobby to thrive, and for that to happen D&D has to secure future generations of tabletop gamers. If that means bringing the game more in line with MMO’s, or whatever the kids are into these days - so be it.

Roleplaying is at the bottom of a very steep and steady decline, but I’m not sure I’d say the well is irrevocably poisoned yet. A lot hinges on what WotC does with 5e, and I’m sure they’re aware of this.