Dungeons & Dragons 2024 - New core books, new evolution

Basically, think about it as a massive amount of Unearthed Arcana being made official. You’ll almost certainly want to use the updated classes and features over the old ones, but everything is still 5E-compatible in that the underlying core system is still the same. It’s walking a fine line, but they’re trying to upset as few people as possible (wise move since their fiasco) and yet still encourage everyone to buy new books (both digital and physical).

I still have my original AD&D Players Handbook (covered in ‘Whacky Packs’ stickers). I haven’t bought one in the 40-odd years since. This one looks cool, though! I may pick it up just out of curiosity.

It’s debatable how much of the next D&D is going to be backwards compatible with the current core rulebooks. The stated goal is that these new books will be completely and seamlessly compatible, but TTRPG publishers say that all the time because they don’t want to scare people off. The reality is that they have to be different enough for you to want to buy them, or what’s the point?

Currently, there are rules changes that have been previewed that make backwards compatibility problematic. It could all be adjudicated in a group with a comprehensive conversion guide, but AFAIK there isn’t one yet since the changes aren’t done and frankly may never be since WotC has said the project is meant to be a living set of rules that will get updated and fixed for years.

And that’s really the rub. WotC doesn’t really want you to just buy the books and settle on using those for the next decade. They want you to buy a subscription to the service and get live updates, the VTT, and character storage through a monthly fee. The books are just meant to be a collector’s thing and a gateway to getting casuals to buy a sub.

This kind of sweeping layoff strategy and belt-tightening is bound to impact WotC/D&D.

https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/11/business/hasbro-layoffs/index.html

Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks announced layoffs for 1,100 workers in a Monday memo to employees, cuts which come in addition to the roughly 800 jobs eliminated earlier this year.

“We anticipated the first three quarters to be challenging, particularly in toys, where the market is coming off historic, pandemic-driven highs,” Cocks said. “While we have made some important progress across our organization, the headwinds we saw through the first nine months of the year have continued into Holiday and are likely to persist into 2024.”

Some Hasbro employees will find out whether their job has been eliminated this week, while the rest of the layoffs will happen over the next six months, Cocks said in the memo.

Sunday Night, I picked up the Warriors of Krynn for under 8 dollars. MSRP (which is a joke) according to Ollie’s is 99.99.

If that isn’t the sign of the time…

The also had a few other things at ridiculously low prices from WotC.

As a DM for a live group, I’ve very much moved fully electronic. The ability to quick-search on DnD Beyond and/or the internet just makes the game flow so much faster.

I have everything on a browser on my tablet, using a cheapo bluetooth keyboard. So much better than thumbing through books IMO.

Confirmed. WotC/D&D got hit with layoffs. People posting for jobs already.

I didn’t know they had 1100 jobs to lose at Hasbro! The (5e) D&D group within Wizards of the Coast was pretty lean to start with, like fewer than fifty people?

They are closing the office here in Providence too.

Oh wow. Mike Mearls, senior designer on 5e, was one of the layoffs.

Mearls has been off the team since pre-Covid, admittedly. Got embroiled in a minor scandal by “accidentally” forwarding a list of people who had expressed concerns about workplace abuse by another staff member within WotC. . . to the person accused of the bad behaviors. He basically dropped out of the public eye entirely after that after being a major face for 5E for years and years. Sounds like he bounced around internally at WotC after that but never had a major public-facing role again.

Yeah i think they popped him over to the Magic side recently. Still for naming toy sales as the reason they sure are hitting D&D and Magic hard in these layoffs.

This recent video by Matt Colville (made a few days before the lay offs) on the “edition wars” is quite relevant right now and a fun watch to boot.

2 important points he does cover is:

  • No matter how big D&D looks, book printing is not a money maker. Not anywhere close to the Magic leagues. He talks about how Habro evaluates its divisions and why D&D is definitely not a sacred cow. But no worries, we will have loot boxes soon in the VTT to improve profits.

  • Also, contrary to some who go on about how uncertain and troublesome the compatibility and conversion of existing content with the “new edition” will be, he sees it as no big deal. And as someone who plays and follows D&D, it looks that way to me. It’s basically similar to including Tasha rules into older character creations and tweaking some gameplay rules. No big deal and you will be fine running old and new, picking and choosing what you like even. That part of the discussion is the last 5’ (starting at 53") and that’s pretty much what I have seen so far.

“I also want to thank [Wizards of the Coast], and specifically the Dungeons & Dragons team, for giving us carte blanche,” Vincke said. “I’m really sorry to hear so many of you were let go. It’s a sad thing to realize that of the people who were in the original meeting room, there’s almost nobody left. I hope you all end up well.”

I know some folks love it but I do not like the combat mechanic MCDM is using where you cannot miss in combat. You only roll damage. There’s no to-hit roll.

Not a fan of having no roll at all myself, but I do think D&D has far too many all-or-nothing cases in it. It could really use the concept of ‘nicks’ that still deal a little damage and a lot of CC or utility effects could do with minor impacts on save so you can’t so easily waste a turn and a limited resource doing absolutely nothing.

Yeah, no. The 4e homage with no rolls to hit which also happens to be quite pricey is not going to challenge D&D any time soon. It’s doing extremely well for a TTRPG, mind you. But Colville’s audience is a niche within a niche.

I’ve never played it, but I assume some of these D&D gamers who get into it for primarily roleplay and are not us old-school dice nerds who need to pray at the altar of RNGesus.

Oh, I absolutely agree that people interested in MCDM or Critical Role’s TTRPG are not the folks that actually want a game with prescriptive crunchy rules. They want storytelling engines that facilitate superhero fantasy improv. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not my bag.

That said, I don’t think the majority of people buying MCDM or Critical Role’s products are actually going to be using them to play live games with other people. I think most of those sales are from fans of the producers that would buy whatever they push regardless of the intended use. I would bet some groups will try them, a smaller percentage will run them more than once, a tinier portion will run a full campaign using them, etc. The market of non-D&D TTRPGs is very small. Even Pathfinder’s best (publicly available) sales numbers are a fraction of D&D.

Edit: For example - $4 million raised for the MCDM TTRPG sounds impressive, but it’s only 26K backers. Hasbro would put WotC on the chopping block if their next iteration of D&D only sold 26K.