Friday, April 27, 2012

On WotC reprints and 5E

No posts on the Weird Opera world this week, because I'm very busy with stocking Castle Verge. I'll post the completed castle levels here when I'm done.

So instead, I decided to do a post on 5E. Grognardia has a post on "D&D Next" here, in which James writes:

Here's the thing, though. I still don't understand the purpose behind "D&D Next" or whatever the heck it's going to be called. I think, at this stage, WotC (and D&D itself) would be better served by keeping several versions in print or at least available via print-on-demand, with some portion of each version's support materials also available.

I agree with him 100%. I think WotC's goal of uniting all D&D players is a good one, and necessary for the D&D brand to survive. I don't think trying to rally existing players around a new edition of the game is the way to go, however. In the comments on Grognardia I wrote:

I think the D&D audience isn't really split up that much as people say. It's split up, but basically, there's only 3 groups: Old School, 3.x, and 4E. You could argue the "old school" is split up in 0E, B/X, BECMI, etc, but I think all TSR versions of the games are compatible enough.

If WotC reprint 3.5, they have product for all three groups. I think it's a smart move on their part; they provide the rules that can be used to play 3rd party products, and it shows they're serious about supporting all versions of the game. Hopefully, Wizards will follow up by offering their backcatalog in pdf or print-on-demand. If they leave the DDI available for the 4E people, they will have their bases covered.

I think the success of 5E will largely be depended on ease of use with other editions. If 5E products are easily converted to Pathfinder or Labyrinth Lord, and vice versa, so players can use everything that's published, that would (re)gain them a lot of customers. However, ruleswise, I don't see how that's possible. Especially 4E is mechanically too different from the rest.

To be clear, with "easiliy converted" I mean conversion on the fly. In my experience, because TSR editions of the game don't care about balance that much, 3E-adventures are relatively easy to convert to older editions, because you can convert most monsters by name (that is, if there's 4 orcs in the room, that's still 4 orcs in the conversion). New monsters require some more work, but not that much.

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