I actually have no idea about D&D next (done)

RyRy
edited July 2014 in Story Games
So at some point I tried to run some D&D next … and I've completely lost track of what it's trying to be. A close friend on this forum (veritascitor) has been trying to tell me but I just can't understand, and I think he knows that I can't understand because I have thought about D&D in general too much and too little and now I'm completely confused. But some other friends potentially want me to run it at a con so I really really want to know … what is it?
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Comments

  • At the risk of being a little disingenuous, I think running a game you're not down with because someone else wants you to is a bad idea. Life's too short.

    Of course, this advice is VERY much in the realm of do as I say, not as I do.
  • RyRy
    edited June 2014
    Well I have no idea whether I'm down with that or not. I've been down with lots of different kinds of D&D in the past although ... I did tinker…
  • Running a game at a con you're not familiar with is probably not tops either.

    I mean I knew a guy who ran Shadowrun at a con without knowing the system at all. He just told a good story and let the players roll dice whatever they wanted and interpreted it however he felt. But it sounds like they expect the D&D Next(TM) experience, whatever that is.
  • Now now, I haven't used the Veritascitor username on here in a long while.

    As for what D&D Next is, it's pretty much D&D, from what I've seen. Last I checked, it fit really well in the 2nd/3.x version of things, with a few innovations stolen from 4E (at-will spells, advantage/disadvantage being an extra die, etc.) The playtest didn't seem to have the crunchiness of 3.x or 4E, but the rules are a lot more modern than 2nd. It definitely eschews that superhero feel of 4E, but characters also aren't as helpless at earlier levels as they were in 2nd.

    I'd recommend taking a look at Mike Mearls' Legends and Lore column during the playtest period. He had some interesting thoughts. One of the ones that definitely stood out for me was the flattening of the math curve, so that lower level characters stand a chance against higher level enemies, and lower level enemies are still a threat to higher level characters.

    So what's it trying to be? I'd say it's trying to emulate the core what we all fondly remember D&D was like years ago (whichever edition that was for you) but with a clean ruleset that takes advantage of some modern ideas.
  • I'd say it's trying to emulate the core what we all fondly remember D&D was like years ago (whichever edition that was for you)....
    This is where I have a problem. I can easily list a dozen different official products that were "D&D" and in those there's at least 6 different playstyles and goals and methods. D&D Next simply can't be all those things at once, but it keeps telling me that it is, and I don't understand what that means.

    When I imagine D&D Next, I picture a formless beige cloud.

  • When I imagine D&D Next, I picture a formless beige cloud.
    I think that's basically the point. There's nothing about the ruleset that's too constraining to a specific playstyle, from what I can see. It's pretty much as "generic D&D" as it gets. The playtest seemed to leave a lot of room for players to choose exactly how much or how little they want to engage with the system.

    It's my understanding that the DMG is going to cover various playstyles, offering advice and optional rules for each so that DMs and players can tailor the system to their desires.

    Whether or not the system is going to succeed at what it sets out to do is the big question.
  • Everything that is out about it right now is marketing - in other words, everything you can read and experience about D&D Next at the present time is created explicitly to destroy your knowledge and make you a worse human being.

    Just wait until it's out, check it out, play a game or two and see if you like it.
  • edited June 2014
    Everything that is out about it right now is marketing - in other words, everything you can read and experience about [TOPIC] at the present time is created explicitly to destroy your knowledge and make you a worse human being.
    Can I quote this brilliant definition of marketing (and spam it around the Internet in, like, every discussion about any topic known to humans)? ^_^
  • I want to help you, Ryan, but I also have NO IDEA.
  • Last night something strange happened to my pal and me. He was trying to make a character using the Anima Beyond Fantasy corebook, and suffering with it. Finally he tossed away the sheets and started rambling about how stressful the system wants, that despite reading the whole manual he couldn't made a simple character the way he wanted, that the system was limiting as hell, making the character felt like a stressful chore and didn't had any fun while doing it.

    I had GMed a hack of this game for him and the rest of our group like ten years ago so, while I also found a good portion of the game un-efficient and unbalanced (which was why I ended up hacking it), I actually ended up trying to explain and defend the game. After a few moments ahead on a bit heated argument I realized we had been in that situation before, but in reverse positions.

    He GMed a Pathfinder game for us, which I found quite stressful because of the system. I still have a sort of post traumatic stress disorder from playing 3.5 D&D with a crappy railroading GM whose sessions were full of heated rule arguments and no character was playable unless it was minmaxed. Well, when my friend GMed Pathfinder he was actually doing his best to help me out of that playing style into a more relaxed one. And though he actually enjoyed the game and we had a lot of good scenes, I just couldn't fully enjoy the game, as I always felt the character wasn't fully optimized, that I was playing it wrong and he was just humoring me by letting it defeat any opponents he throwed at our group.

    And while I was creating the character, I just felt like he was feeling now.

    After we laugh at the situation, we finally realized what happened there. It wasn't exactly the system. I was fond of Anima because of the anime setting, the powers that went beyond limits and made grids useless, the lack of feats to be remembered to make combos and that once the character was made there was actually little need to check the rulebook for anything. All this made me able to want to understand the game (and later fix the math and simplify it's mechanics). My personal preferences are either low to no powered settings with simple systems or wild versatile overpowered anime games... with simple systems. Pathfinder and 3.5, standing in a sorta middleground with too many mechanics and rules to remember for my taste, just doesn't struck a chord for me anymore.

    For my pal it´s almost the opposite. Anime isn't his thing at all and he can actually get through the numbers to get the feel of the game. He can be watching a block os stats and actually see an organic entity with a personality, where I just can see a bunch of useless numbers.

    So yes, in the end anyone can actually play and enjoy any game, as long as they love the setting and embrace the game philosophy. Oh yes, you can hate parts of it and never use it, but you will forgive the designers as long as you love the core of the game for what it is.

    My advice is, take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and go find something new and shiny you can love about Next. Or just go play something you really really like. If you want help finding reasons to love it, the best one I can give you is that the core rules are what Pathfinder should be, it's 3.5 reborn with no crap in it. Advantage rules well, rules. I loved the book for it... until I readed about the classes. That crap sucks big time, or, well, it's just not my thing at all. If it were for me, I'd just play characters with no class features at all. Maybe I'd hack True 20 classes into it and that's it.

    Good luck finding your own reasons to love it.
  • The D&D 5th that is or was available for playtesting is pretty focused and simple, since the crunchy combat tactics of 4th and crunchy build tactics of 3rd/Pathfinder are presumably options which haven't been released (or even finished) yet. It reminds me a bit of Basic D&D in the relative simplicity and flexibility afforded to the DM. But it has some new and interesting things, perhaps the most intriguing is the way D&D 5th puts the characters into the context of the world and builds explicit and implicit relationships - certainly not new but it is refreshing to see that as more core than minature combat.

    I'm still holding out judgement for the proper release, but what I tell folks with a similar "story" bent is I expect D&D 5th to be better than 3rd and 4th editions, but probably not better than 13th Age.
  • edited June 2014
    Just wait until it's out, check it out, play a game or two and see if you like it.
    Yeah, I think this is your best bet. Everything else is merely speculation, and yes, marketing, but that's the case with pretty much every game release tbh.
  • I'm more or less with you Ry. It started with a LOT of potential, and I was a huge player/poster. By about the middle of the test I was split fearful/hopeful, mostly because of lack of focus/direction (or at least, lack of focus on what I saw as pre-3rd elements). By the end I had left, frustrated beyond all reason at what seemed to be 3.75 The Platitude Edition.

    I won't make a final judgement until I see a final product, but unless the game spins 180 from where it was at the end of the play testing I probably won't buy a single product or play the game.
  • Don't be with me, I don't even know where I am. If the system turns out to be like that time that I ran swords and wizardry really slapdash but it turned out to work really really really well, then maybe I love 3.75 the platitude edition. I don't even know.
  • But if the first six levels work by themselves really well then my saliva ducts will probably start opening. That's a subtle reference.
  • Well I missed it, but I too am pretty much with you folks. Let me put it this way:

    1. If I want a crunchy tactically-focused fantasy RPG focusing on kick-ass heroes that kick monsters in the face, I'll play 4th Edition D&D.

    2. If I want a wild, gritty, old-school slog through fantasy fucking Vietnam meets crazy sword-and-sorcery I'll play Dungeon Crawl Classics.

    3. If I want a rules-light narratively-focused game of kick-ass heroes that kick monsters in the face, I'll play Dungeon World.

    There is quite literally nothing in D&D Next that I can't get more easily, with less bellyaching than another fantasy roleplaying system. To me, to echo Phoneix it very much seems like this:

    "Uh...hey guys. We heard you liked Pathfinder, so um...we kinda made Pathfinder. Except with sorta-disguised mechanics from 4th edition, but made awkward and clunky and given names like "hit dice". Because we wouldn't want to call them At-Will powers or Healing Surges. Because of teh animes."

    I too once had hopes for this edition, when I heard about simple options for playing the game your group wants to play and plans to make the fighter more than a butt-monkey for the wizard to boss. I squeed like a 12 year old girl when I saw Mearls reference DCC's Mighty Feats of Arms in his fighter description. Then it got removed, deemed "optional" content for those folks that don't want their fighters to suck. Then I looked at the playtest document and saw spells like Gate and Wish still in there. Still saying "USE ME! INVALIDATE EVERY OTHER MEMBER OF THE PARTY!"

    Now I'll admit that I could be wrong. I could be that grumpy old man in the corner going "kids these days with their sex and rock and roll" but everything I've seen of this upcoming edition says otherwise. Especially the responses I've been seeing to criticisms of the system, which seem to break down to "well you don't have to use that material/just change it!"

    *Sigh*
  • So based on the above, I guess I really hope this isn't the "avoid criticism" edition.
  • There is quite literally nothing in D&D Next that I can't get more easily, with less bellyaching than another fantasy roleplaying system.
    I agree with you, mostly, believe me! And I've been disappointed with how confused the D&D Next development has felt, particularly when they seem to have unlearned some of the lessons of late 3.5 and late 4e.

    But one thing I love about D&D is its syncreticism. People's idea of "generic D&D" is an Arthurian knight, an 80s kung fu monk, a swords & sorcery barbarian and a Vancian wizard fighting an octopus-head alien and a Hammer Horror mummy.

    And maybe that syncreticism isn't just in its flavour. If a confused setting is the most fun D&D setting, could a confused ruleset be the most fun D&D ruleset? The Fate points of Spirit of the Century, a hyper-detailed domain management system, a wizard that stresses over spell components, some very specific classes and some very broad classes, etc., might boil down to the most fun game.

  • edited July 2014
    It seems to me that one of the major design goals of this edition is creating an accessible ruleset that plays much faster than 3rd or 4th edition. TIME seems to be the major design change here. Faster character creation, faster fights, quicker leveling etc. They noticed a phenomena that people who've never played D&D enjoyed playing the game, but they were turned away by the crazy up front time investment that recent editions of D&D require. From what I understand you can also go from levels 1-20 within a year of regular play (which is a massive difference from ANY previous edition).

    For me the time it was taking to do fights and level up is what killed me enthusiasm for 4th. It is an awesome skirmish game, but it isn't exactly what I'm looking for in a rpg. I'm not sure 5th edition IS what I'm looking for, but I'll certainly give it a try.
  • I read some early-to-mid playtest stuff too, and agree with much of what has been said here, both pro and con. Character gen is simpler and less subject to crazy min-maxing than 4th or (especially) 3rd, the overall mechanics are pretty strong, but... it lacks focus.

    One idea they were tossing around early on that they seem (?) to have jettisoned is the split between Combat, Interaction, and Exploration. The concept, IIRC, was that every character class would shine in a different way in each of those realms. So for example in a courtly scene the wizard might have weighty knowledge, the thief might gather secrets and rumors, the fighter would tell tales of battle, etc. It was a neat way to avoid one of the major pitfalls of... well, almost every other version of D&D, really, as well as things like the Shadowrun Hacker problem. I think the only thing that's still in the game that resembles that elegance is that skills are a little more open-ended or something?

    But anyway, here's what really got to me: they encourage GMs to fudge DCs. Womp womp. Game over.

    Matt
  • That last part doesn't make any gods be damned sense to me in the context of the dev team. Mearls was active in the early days of the forge, and his latest effort (13th Age) apparently doesn't have any illusionist bullshit in it, in addition to having relatively well-designed and elegant mechanics. What the hell happened? Did someone care so much about the ability of the to tell their pet story that they advocated for that "just fudge DCs/Rule 0" bullcrap to make it in?

    *confused*
  • Mearls was active in the early days of the forge, and his latest effort (13th Age) apparently doesn't have any illusionist bullshit in it, in addition to having relatively well-designed and elegant mechanics. What the hell happened?
    I don't think Mearls had anything to do with 13th Age. From memory, his last non-WOTC effort was Iron Heroes. But it does surprise me that a lot of the design principles he worked with on 4E haven't seemed to affect his 5E design.

  • Oh, my mistake. I thought it was Mearls for some reason...sorry. But still, what the hell Mearls? What. The. Actual. Hell?

    My personal theory is that he got drowned out whenever he suggested including some element of 4th edition in the game by either more conservative designers, or folks from Hasbro who don't want to offend people who didn't like 4th edition.

  • edited July 2014
    Did someone care so much about the ability of the to tell their pet story that they advocated for that "just fudge DCs/Rule 0" bullcrap to make it in?

    *confused*
    To offer the dedicated grognards view: I'd say it was pretty fundamental to the entire project.

    5th Edition was supposed to (and I'm paraphrasing here) "return to the games fundamental, common elements, and/or the parts of the game that made people first 'fall in love with it'". In a nutshell there was edition warring, which crippled sales beyond Hasbro's patience, and this one was SUPPOSED to be a game that could be played by those that only played White Box, BECMI, AD&D, 2nd, 3rd/Pathfinder, or 4th, as well as bringing new people in.

    Now, ignoring the impossibility of that for a moment, you have to ask 'what do people enjoy, or what is iconic, about D&D'? Part of that answer is going to be Rule 0, because it's fundamental to a certain playstyle which launched RPGs in the first place. Not everyone likes that style, but a large body of followers do. That means if you want a game that will attract those players, you must have that element.

    I would separate that from the fudging die rolls thing, which is different (and more readily arguable imo).

    As to the rest, 4th failed. Now we can argue about rather it was a design failure, a popularity failure, a marketing failure, an adherent failure, a business metric failure, etc...but if it hadn't failed there wouldn't be a 5th. You don't stop making things that are making you the money you want. That means any game which builds upon 4th (to any large degree) will meet the same failures (doesn't mean it wouldn't be wildly successful among its proponents, just not among those not interested). That's why the entire point of 5th was to look to the beginning. It was supposed to get back the players who wouldn't touch 4th (and possibly 3rd/Pathfinder) with their 10' poles.

    Now, the problem (imo) is that you can't serve multiple masters. The people (largely) who enjoyed 4th largely weren't people who enjoyed Pathfinder, and weren't those still playing pre-3rd. If those people enjoyed the same type of game, they'd all still be playing the same games. They're not. They're playing the games that provide the experience they want. One game is not going to be able to provide experiences which differ enough to please those three groups, so the project was doomed from the beginning. I hoped. I watched. They failed.

    I told them from the beginning: you need three game lines. Create each to serve ONLY that demographic, and abandon everything that doesn't work for those people. You'll get 3 games of ultimate popularity within their niches, and therefore 100% sales (just split between three groups/product lines). While I understand the practical reasons why they won't do this, it doesn't change the ignorant lunacy of their propaganda.

    Oh, and 13th Age was Jonathon Tweet, who left the 5th design team. There's rampant speculation about why, and the timing. Most focused either on his intent for 13th Age, or a fallout with Mearls and/or Hasbro over the shifting of the game design. His loss of input/control is CLEARLY noticeable in the playtest versions. Up until he left the game was looking one way. The moment he left it almost instantly became 3.75 TPE (not surprising, giving Mearls & Hasbro).

    Remember that none of what I've said is making a normative judgment. I'm not saying 4th was bad, or Rule 0 is awesome, or anything else even remotely similar. I'm offering my interpretation of why things went down the way they did with the design of 5th edition. Trying to avoid it going to edition warring or badwrongfun accusations, neither of which need to be involved to have this particular discussion.
  • Oh, my mistake. I thought it was Mearls for some reason...sorry. But still, what the hell Mearls? What. The. Actual. Hell?
    You probably remembered (on some level) that 13th Age came from major designers on 3rd and 4th Edition.
  • Part of that answer is going to be Rule 0, because it's fundamental to a certain playstyle which launched RPGs in the first place. Not everyone likes that style, but a large body of followers do. That means if you want a game that will attract those players, you must have that element.

    I would separate that from the fudging die rolls thing, which is different (and more readily arguable imo).
    But I'm talking about fudging DCs, *not* house-ruling (which I agree is less abominable).
  • edited July 2014
    One idea they were tossing around early on that they seem (?) to have jettisoned is the split between Combat, Interaction, and Exploration. The concept, IIRC, was that every character class would shine in a different way in each of those realms. So for example in a courtly scene the wizard might have weighty knowledge, the thief might gather secrets and rumors, the fighter would tell tales of battle, etc. It was a neat way to avoid one of the major pitfalls of... well, almost every other version of D&D, really, as well as things like the Shadowrun Hacker problem.
    Hey Matt, this is gold. I didn't follow the 5th development so closely but are there any chances that we could see here a few more of the things that should have been into the game but for some reason didn't make it? If I were to ever play 5th I'd put that right back in. Maybe these lost pieces can be used to give the game the focus it lacks now?

  • Thanks, WarriorMonk. I made a Google Doc. Would love help naming the classes! 64 is a lot!
  • edited July 2014
    As to the rest, 4th failed. Now we can argue about rather it was a design failure, a popularity failure, a marketing failure, an adherent failure, a business metric failure, etc...but if it hadn't failed there wouldn't be a 5th. You don't stop making things that are making you the money you want. [...] That's why the entire point of 5th was to look to the beginning.
    So isn't 5th destined for similar failure, since it is looking back to the beginning... a beginning which clearly failed, otherwise we would not have AD&D, whose failure led to AD&D2, which begat the failed 3, and so on? May as well just scrap the whole D&D line then, it's clearly been a fiasco from the jump.

  • As to the rest, 4th failed. Now we can argue about rather it was a design failure, a popularity failure, a marketing failure, an adherent failure, a business metric failure, etc...but if it hadn't failed there wouldn't be a 5th.
    This goes against both the history of D&D and the history of the hobby. You only get sequels if the previous version does really well.
  • Oh, and 13th Age was Jonathon Tweet, who left the 5th design team. There's rampant speculation about why, and the timing. Most focused either on his intent for 13th Age, or a fallout with Mearls and/or Hasbro over the shifting of the game design. His loss of input/control is CLEARLY noticeable in the playtest versions. Up until he left the game was looking one way. The moment he left it almost instantly became 3.75 TPE (not surprising, giving Mearls & Hasbro).
    No, I think that was Monte Cook you're thinking of. He left the D&D Next team mid-project.

    13th Age is Jonathan Tweet (D&D 3E) and Rob Heinsoo (D&D 4E).
  • As to the rest, 4th failed. Now we can argue about rather it was a design failure, a popularity failure, a marketing failure, an adherent failure, a business metric failure, etc...but if it hadn't failed there wouldn't be a 5th. You don't stop making things that are making you the money you want. [...] That's why the entire point of 5th was to look to the beginning.
    So isn't 5th destined for similar failure, since it is looking back to the beginning... a beginning which clearly failed, otherwise we would not have AD&D, whose failure led to AD&D2, which begat the failed 3, and so on? May as well just scrap the whole D&D line then, it's clearly been a fiasco from the jump.
    I'd say yes on several levels. Remember that it wasn't supposed to ONLY look to the beginning, but it was supposed to INCLUDE the beginning. Idea being to bring in each type of player to a single game. That's the real failure imo, and the earlier editions were every bit as big of a failure in that regard as the latter (just for different groups).

    If you serve any one group, it fails with the others. If you try to serve all 3 it almost certainly fails with all 3. Which is why I argue the only winning move is 3 separate lines.
  • You know when a crazed billionaire buys a sports team and everyone is happy because they spend a bunch of money and are even willing to lose money because they love the game?

    But when a pension fund buys a sports team everyone is sad because they run it like a business and make a tidy, sustainable profit even if they miss the playoffs?
  • edited July 2014

    As to the rest, 4th failed. Now we can argue about rather it was a design failure, a popularity failure, a marketing failure, an adherent failure, a business metric failure, etc...but if it hadn't failed there wouldn't be a 5th.
    This goes against both the history of D&D and the history of the hobby. You only get sequels if the previous version does really well.
    Yet they only put them out to do better (sales wise). While certainly the individual designers want to refine their babies it's almost never the designers footing the bill. The company looks at profit issues and decides when sales are low enough to merit a new edition for an influx of cash (and hopefully broader consumer base). When a game is merely a refinement you can argue it's less about sales, but when the game system changes significantly it's almost certainly about attracting new players, and that boils down to $$$.

    If you look at the time between editions (and what the company was doing during the runs) you get a pretty clear picture:

    White Box - 3 Years - Barely enough time to write the edition after seeing that the game could sell.
    1st - 11 Years - An enormously long run in product terms.
    Basic - 23 Years (albeit over a few different editions) - HOLY FREAKING ULTIMATE PRODUCT LINE BATMAN!!!
    2nd - 11 Years - And again.
    3rd - 8 Years, split 3 & 5 - Respectable overall.
    4th - 4 Years to start 5th design, 6 Years total run (with no new products in the last 1-2) - *cough, cough*

    Now, obviously there's other issues that play in. The change of company hands, fluctuations of interest in rpgs, increasing corporate earning expectations, increased competition in the market, etc. But the bottom line is that 4th wasn't doing what they wanted, and I have yet to see indications that any large portion of that was system failures. It was reception/sales failures. Given the numerous 'leaked' statements by various insiders over the years (not to mention the overwhelming public butthurt) I think this is as close to fact as anything in the industry gets. The initial hoopla over 5th and its explicit goals is the nail in the coffin of such a debate. They all but said - "too many people don't like 4th and went to Pathfinder so we're making an edition to bring players back".

    Now again, it's not that 4th is necessarily a bad game (even though I don't like it I can acknowledge its accomplishments and merits). However it IS a game that many D&D players didn't like, and won't play. That part isn't opinion, and I'm sure we can agree with that. Of course it brought in new players, but obviously not enough to satisfy company metrics.

    The truth is that it's a DIFFERENT kind of game that appeals to a DIFFERENT kind of player (just like 3rd was)...which is fine, but supports my statements and suggestions.
  • Oh, and 13th Age was Jonathon Tweet, who left the 5th design team. There's rampant speculation about why, and the timing. Most focused either on his intent for 13th Age, or a fallout with Mearls and/or Hasbro over the shifting of the game design. His loss of input/control is CLEARLY noticeable in the playtest versions. Up until he left the game was looking one way. The moment he left it almost instantly became 3.75 TPE (not surprising, giving Mearls & Hasbro).
    No, I think that was Monte Cook you're thinking of. He left the D&D Next team mid-project.

    13th Age is Jonathan Tweet (D&D 3E) and Rob Heinsoo (D&D 4E).
    OMG YES, you're right. I'm so sorry, I totally mixed my people. Sorry, they merged in my brain because they were happening concurrently.
  • edited July 2014

    If you look at the time between editions (and what the company was doing during the runs) you get a pretty clear picture:

    White Box - 3 Years - Barely enough time to write the edition after seeing that the game could sell.
    1st - 11 Years - An enormously long run in product terms.
    Basic - 23 Years (albeit over a few different editions) - HOLY FREAKING ULTIMATE PRODUCT LINE BATMAN!!!
    But we're talking about different editions. This is my whole point. When a D&D edition does really well, it gets a new edition relatively quickly. By your logic, the height of the success of the D&D line was in the mid 1990s. After all, no new editions were coming out during that time! But in reality, that was when the company creating it was going bankrupt and chasing a dwindling number of players.

    Heck, look at White Wolf. 1-2 years between editions for the whole of their most successful period.

    If D&D4 was a failure, then there would be no D&D5. It wasn't, so there will be.
  • edited July 2014

    If you look at the time between editions (and what the company was doing during the runs) you get a pretty clear picture:

    White Box - 3 Years - Barely enough time to write the edition after seeing that the game could sell.
    1st - 11 Years - An enormously long run in product terms.
    Basic - 23 Years (albeit over a few different editions) - HOLY FREAKING ULTIMATE PRODUCT LINE BATMAN!!!
    But we're talking about different editions. This is my whole point. When a D&D edition does really well, it gets a new edition relatively quickly. By your logic, the height of the success of the D&D line was in the mid 1990s. After all, no new editions were coming out during that time! But in reality, that was when the company creating it was going bankrupt and chasing a dwindling number of players.

    Heck, look at White Wolf. 1-2 years between editions for the whole of their most successful period.

    If D&D4 was a failure, then there would be no D&D5. It wasn't, so there will be.
    That is so illogical I don't even know where to begin.

    "Hey Tom, our new product is selling off the shelves. Everyone loves it and wants one. It'll take 20 years to make enough to let everyone buy one."

    "Great Dave, immediately stop manufacture of it and lets invest all our revenue into a new product that may be loved or hated."

    So long as a product is selling 'well' (ie meeting company goals) it stays in production. That's business 101. It's the exact opposite of what you're claiming. When a product stops meeting goals, you end the product line, or the company. You don't keep making something that isn't selling (unless you want the company, and your house/car, to go bye-bye). Monopoly would not have shelf space in stores if people weren't regularly buying the game (enough to meet company expectations of it at least). It's very likely that 2nd/basic editions exceeded their sustainable shelf life, contributing to the company decline. However lets also notice that the products released during that time are some of the most popular in the entire product line (Rules Cyclopedia continually ranks among the top products of the history of D&D, and remains in high demand). Further, the company was more than one product line, and had MAJOR internal struggles during that time.

    The product name is a success overall, and thereby rates continued investment. Hasbro is gambling that D&D has name brand draw, and that all that's needed to bring players back is to change the edition to something they want more (and properly advertise/market for a change). It's no different than Harley in the 80s (or 70s or 90s, whenever the exact timeline was)...it was crap, and no one wanted the specific products they were putting out. Junk piles are full of the unsold ones. The company teetered on the edge, but they came out with new products that actually worked and that people wanted, thereby saving the company. It only worked because of brand recognition/loyalty, despite a total lemon product. However if they'd kept the same faulty products they'd have gone under.

    Once they trust it, people will give a product a chance based on name, but they won't keep buying a bad product or one they don't want just because of the name on it. It's the product, not the name, that succeeds or fails in the end. The more popular a product is, the longer it stays on the shelves. The faster a product is ended, the worse it did (generally, though there are fervor exceptions). Chess - invented 6th century, over 3 million sets sold in the US last year (at least, not including artistic sets). Pretty damned popular. E.T. Atari 2600 - sold for ~6 months, $100 million in loss to company which failed immediately and sparked an industry-wide slump/crash. Not very popular.

    Actually I think WoD is a good example. 1 year between initial release and 2nd (just like the short white box trial of D&D). 6 years til Revised. 13 year run overall. However, what's important is that it's all largely the same game core, just with revisions. It's like 3rd to 3.5. It's NOT like 2nd to 3rd, or 3rd to 4th. So it matches or exceeds the run of 3rd/3.5, but was half the length of basic (in all its incarnations). That matches the popularity of it that I witnessed.
  • The so called "failure" can't be measured in terms of design nor in terms of the market, for in the first case there's an edition for everyone, for every kind of player. And for the later, that's the mistake the company is making: Making another edition because people are complaining, and making it on the basis of pleasing everyone, while completely losing sight of one of the most important lessons that D&D has taught us along the years with it's many editions: There's too many different ways of playing RPGs that a single product can't appeal to all the players out there.

    The result is that this is an edition for hipsters. Hipsters as in "young people who love the feeling of old stuff with new technology based on plug and play products", which is what the text and publicity have been telling me so far. And yet something tells me that hipsters would hardly play this at all. Or perhaps they'll do. Since the D&D episode of Big Bang Theory, my 12 year old niece got interested in tabletop RPGs and begun to ask about them to both his teacher and lately to me. If she could get a hand on a 5th D&D manual perhaps she would be playing it right now.

    Yet her teacher told her that D&D was too complex and reccomended other games (though she couldn't remember which) and I agreed. I didn't thought at all to get her into 5th. Actually my first reaction was to tell her "all you need is a dice, characters and the beginning of a story." And since in the end all she wanted was to play in the Sword Art Online setting, I told her to search their wiki for all the data she wanted. Now I'm making a game for her based on all we talked that day.
  • @WarriorMonk - right, and like I said I'm not talking about 4th (or anything) being a 'failure' as in a failure of a game...I'm talking about it failing to continue to meet sales expectations. 1st eventually failed to meet expectations, as did 2nd, 3rd, Shadowrun, etc. Almost all games do eventually. Doesn't mean they're bad games. It means they're not able to sustain the company with their current actively buying player base.

    Just happens that 4th started 'failing' in this regard MUCH quicker than any other edition of the game, concurrent to one of the biggest product outcries in industry memory, and some of the most venomous and deeply felt angst I've ever witnessed...leading to a product designed specifically to correct that exact problem (in theory).

    I just don't see where there's any room for doubt on those points, given the overwhelming evidence.
  • Blame the internet. I'd bet there was this same level of discontent when AD&D came out, then when 3.0 came out, then when 3.5 came out, but it just happened that there wasn't a common place where people could express their discontent, eco each other and amplify the effect until it forced the company to change its politics and edit a new product. I'd say that's the main reason 4th ed lasted so little compared to other editions. That and the fact that the public it was addessed to already had MMOs, and no time to keep playing too long combats, when the reason they got out of MMOs was to roleplay more. Had 4th come out in Gygax times, it would have lasted 23 years.
  • I was around when 3.x was new and the internet newsgroups were literally exploding with people hating its metaphorical guts for a number of reasons (chief among them not being ADnD 2nd edition).

    3.5 was much worse, because people felt ripped off by an edition that changed just enough to not be compatible, so soon after they had to buy all their books again for 3.x
  • "Hey Tom, our new product is selling off the shelves. Everyone loves it and wants one. It'll take 20 years to make enough to let everyone buy one."

    "Great Dave, immediately stop manufacture of it and lets invest all our revenue into a new product that may be loved or hated."
    I don't know, man. I cannot think of a time, ever, when I was able to walk into any kind of store that sold RPG books and be told, "Sorry, all of our D&D rulebooks are out of stock and back-ordered. They didn't print enough of them! Who knows when they'll be able to catch up with the demand?!" (Or be told that for any of White Wolf's games during their heyday, for that matter.) If you were anywhere near a reasonably-sized city, you could find a D&D manual and buy it. And you probably did, because it sure seemed like everyone you played with had one.

    Running out of copies to sell might be a problem for small press/indie games (the kind of problem most wouldn't mind having, I'd wager), but for the 800-pound gorilla of the RPG scene? Doubtful. Very, very doubtful. It definitely wouldn't take them twenty years (or two years, or a year) to print enough copies to saturate the market, because saturating the market is basically their thing.


    It's seemed pretty obvious for a while now that the main advantage of releasing a new edition for D&D is the upsell. If a million people bought X edition, then two years from now you can sell those same people X+1 edition, and now you've sold them two primary rulebooks instead of one. As a bonus, if they bought six supplements for X edition, now they've got incentive to buy six updated supplements for X+1 edition. If it brings lapsed D&D players back to the fold (even if it's just to look at it), so much the better, but the fact is, it really doesn't matter if the previous edition was "successful" when their market penetration is that high. They'd do a new edition anyway, because they're not a scrappy underdog company with oodles of potential customers who haven't heard of their game: the best way for them to keep their yearly sales numbers high is to produce new product for their existing customers to buy, and it doesn't seem to take that long before a new edition is guaranteed to sell better than a supplement for the old edition.
  • The thing is that this industry is so different from others that usual business models don't work on it. Somebody probably said this a million times to Hasbro, but they just don't get it. Why? because big companies don't think, they just see numbers go up an down and panic. Their answer when somebody complains about old products is "make new ones", not "make better ones for the same audience and get another team to make something different to attract a new audience"
  • With 4th, it seems like a biiiiig part of the reason they lost a lot of the market share they felt they "deserved" was because of Pathfinder as an obvious and more familiar-feeling alternative.

    But, anecdotally, it seems to me that there's also a great deal more market penetration of a *lot* of different games, from indie systems that hit it relatively big like BW and FATE and the AW family to other corporate games like WW and Fantasy Flight's Star Wars game, than there was even in the mid-2000's. Hasbro is like a rock producer who wants to find the next Beatles and doesn't understand that there will never be another Beatles, not because there's no one out there equally talented, but simply because of the Internet and fragmentation and diversity.
  • Game companies put out new editions when they feel that they can make money on the new edition, and that they can make more money on it that by continuing to print the old edition. The idea that there is only one possible reason for this is, um, curious.

    ...and that's only talking about game companies that are well-run businesses.
  • You put yourself in stupid places
    Yes I think you know it's true
    Situations where it's easy
    to look down on you

    I think you like to be the victim
    I think you like o be in pain
    I think you make yourself a victim
    almost every single day

    You do what you do
    You say what you say
    You try to be
    everything to everyone

    You know all the right people
    You play all the right games
    You always try to be
    everything to everyone

    Yeah you do it again
    You always do it again
  • edited July 2014
    Now, if Hasbro could just find a way to monetize the Edition Wars...


    (A cross-edition Fight Club, where you send your 4th Edition Tiefling against your friend's B/X Elf? Hmmmm.)
  • No, I think that was Monte Cook you're thinking of.
    I think you're thinking of Rich Burlew, but it's an easy mistake to make since he so often goes by Keith "Vincent" Baker.
  • Remember when Third Edition came out and everyone said how it was the worst edition ever and that only jerks and assholes would ever play it, and that real roleplayers would continue playing AD&D? Yeah, me too.
  • So, the 5th Edition basic rules have been officially released. Covers levels 1-20 of the four core classes, with limited character options at the moment: http://media.wizards.com/downloads/dnd/DnDBasicRules.pdf
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