Friday, 11 April 2014
D&D Next - how to make it a winner
Dungeons and Dragons is a bit like a village. Residents come and go, some never to return. The village also inevitably changes over time, partly due to a succession of mayors or builders, and partly through the activities of its residents. While the original settlers might still recognise the settlement they founded, much has changed as well. A new edition has to recognise this.
The game itself, if it is to be successful, has to be able to speak to the old school crowd that has reverted to playing the simpler game of their youth, those who joined in the 1990s or 2000s and are now probably playing Pathfinder, and also the more recent recruits who have come aboard with 4e or have been converted to it.
This is no easy task, but it could be achieved by starting with a simpler structure that resembles the old school clones like Labyrinth Lord, and then grafting on to it optional feats and a skill system, and finally some kind of more advanced system of combat powers. Groups can then pick and choose which components they would like. Basic style game but with skills? Check. Feats but no prestige classes? Check. Wizards could then expand different aspects of the game with new supplements, like a book of feats, a book of dungeoneering equipment, a book advanced player character races, etc.
One of the things that irritated me about 3e was the way feats and prestige classes were littered across numerous books. Luckily the online SRD has fixed much of this, but still, having everything you need in one volume has its advantages.
Secondly, the other big selling point should be the resurrection of many of the game's more successful commercial properties. While the choice of the Forgotten Realms as the default setting was obvious, money could be made by re-launching many of the best-loved worlds the game has brought to life, including Eberron, Athas, Ravenloft and Sigil. Heck, even Greyhawk can get the old school treatment! Each of these properties has thousands of fans who would be looking to catch up on and game in the worlds they use to delve into in earlier days.
Heck, I've not played any Dark Sun or Planescape, but I'd be interested in giving them a go at some point, just because I've heard so many good things about them.
And let's not forget the opportunities for additional spin-off merchandising, like miniatures, board games, war games, video games, etc. Wizards should really be seeking to utilise the re-launch of the game as a multi-platform effort, embracing a range of different delivery mechanisms.
Of course, they may already have plans for all of the above, which would be GREAT! Then at least the game would stand a good chance of success. If not, heck, I'll go write my own.