D&D Next

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IceBear
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D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:53 am

Well, WotC just announced they are working on the next edition of D&D and since most people didn't like 4E they are taking input from the community on the design of the next edition....and Monte Cook is back...yay!!!

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx ... l/20120109

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Re: D&D Next

Post by hepcat » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:04 am

was 4e that unpopular? I thought it was fairly well received by most? :?

granted, i'm not an rpg'er, so my knowledge is based almost entirely on what hentzau and zarathud thought of it.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:06 am

Well, there was a probably a 50/50 split (at best) when 4E came out for new adopters to those that stayed with 3.x and/or moved to Pathfinder. That coupled with the low sales in the PnP RPG industry as a whole, I guess Hasbro is trying to drum up some more revenue.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by NickAragua » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:46 am

I'm mildly curious to see what happens with this new version, but probably not "shell out $90 for a new set of books which I'm unlikely to use" curious.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:53 am

Yeah, I learned my lesson there. Picked up all the 4E books and they're currently collecting dust. Though to be honest, I'm not really sure what they could do for the next edition that would suddenly motivate me to be able to play (or convince others). I think we've had a successful gaming night because all we're doing is board and card gaming - very little in the way of preparation and we can quickly adjust what we're playing based on who's coming.

I'm totally curious to see where they're going though.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by hentzau » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:07 pm

I still love 4E, and play it every chance I get. It's the game that got me back into D&D. There was just something about it that just made it fun, as compared to my previous experience with 3.5. (Disclamer: I left D&D for other systems after AD&D, and jumped into 3.5 about a year before it was replaced with 4E. I didn't play it a lot, but I played it enough to know that it was WAY too complex for me to enjoy, and still had all of the things in it that made me leave AD&D for other RPG pastures.)

I've been following Monte Cook's columns over at the D&D website ever since he came on board, and I can't say that I'm overly impressed with the stuff he's posted so far. It all seems so...well, obvious, and in 4E already if you read the rules. But I'll withhold judgement until I see it.

I'm going to be at D&D Experience in Ft. Wayne again this year (see? Told you I love 4E. I'm going to a convention where that's all we do, is play 4E all weekend!) at the end of January and one of the events is a 5E playtest. I was already signed up for it even before they made this announcemnt about the new edition, assuming that their "Secret WotC Event" had to be a 5E playtest. I'll be under an NDA for the game, but I'll try and post general feelings about it.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:14 pm

I agree that most of what Monte has been mentioning already exists in the rules; sounds like they are trying to make a ruleset that can be modified to be as complex or as simple as the group wants. As some of the commenters mentioned...when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, so while I've signed up for information and playtesting, I'm not holding my breath

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Blackhawk » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:59 pm

Given that (last I heard) Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition was being soundly outsold by Pathfinder (a third party polishing of the 3.5 rules), I'm not surprised.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:05 pm

That could be true, but given that WotC doesn't release sales figures it's hard to say....I'd imagine that in a given area a gaming store might notice they are selling Pathfinder more than 4E which is where those comments probably come from (I know my local gaming store 4E outsells Pathfinder). Personally, I like 4E and I like Pathfinder, but I'd imagine more people stuck with Pathfinder rather than replace all their 3.x books, especially since 4E was such a big change from 3E.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zurai » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:17 pm

IceBear wrote:That could be true, but given that WotC doesn't release sales figures it's hard to say....I'd imagine that in a given area a gaming store might notice they are selling Pathfinder more than 4E which is where those comments probably come from (I know my local gaming store 4E outsells Pathfinder).


Paizo doesn't release sales figures, either. The sales comparisons come from two main sources that I'm aware of: Amazon sales rankings and an industry publication that polls stores and distributors nation-wide (I forget the name of the publication, unfortunately).

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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:21 pm

Yeah, like I said, I didn't doubt it was true....thanks for the source information. Since my store is a WotC affiliate they tend to get the 4E stuff a week or so before Amazon gets it so I buy it from them when I used to get it from Amazon. Personally, what I suspect will happen is that there will be such a huge fallout from 5E, that WotC will give up the D&D licence and Pazio will take it over and either rebrand Pathfinder D&D or it will disappear for awhile (I guess it'll never disappear completely, someone will always want the IP, but as a long time D&D player, I wouldn't be surprised if it's done within the next few years)

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zurai » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:08 pm

Yeah, I can't see Hasbro continuing to pour money into D&D if 5E can't reclaim the crown in a dramatic fashion. Someone is going to want the brand, though. The IP is just too valuable and too well-known to die in obscurity.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Blackhawk » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:38 pm

Paizo has earned quite a name with Pathfinder. They're not likely to rebrand it. They've not only got the game, which has swept the Ennies the last few years, they've got whole ranges of novels, accessories, an indie game in development, and they just announced a comic series. They're going to stick with that.

I can't see Hasbro giving it up, either, not when they've got video games, board games, novels, comics and so on tied up with it. It is more likely they'd license the PnP rights out the way they license the video games now.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:57 pm

I agree. I was thinking that Paizo would be a natural fit for the D&D license given their past history, but then they are so successful with Pathfinder that it wouldn't make sense to rebrand it (and they really don't need to have Pathfinder and D&D). So, I'm left with the thought that Hasbro will keep it and run it into the ground.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zarathud » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:59 pm

I would think Piazo would like the D&D rights for the additional exposure and legitimacy. They might balk at the price if Hasbro got greedy.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:39 pm

Has D&D ever been in the New York Times?

Edition wars have also wounded the game. Various rules systems have been released over Dungeons & Dragons’ 38-year history: Basic, Advanced, Advanced 2nd edition, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0. Devotion to particular rules can be fanatical. Hostilities about how to best play the game — for example, how a sorcerer casts spells — flare up among the core fan base.


It's strange -- I knew this -- but it wasn't until reading the next paragraph that I realized how it related to what's going on in PC and console gaming right now, particularly with the Call of Duty series. When they release they new MP games each year, they continue to fracture the player base. Probably not by much, but I doubt there's a 100% conversion rate when the new iterations are released. On top of that, each time they release those $15 map packs the player base fractures again. It's been mentioned here before (well, in the PC gaming section) but it never really occurred to me that's what might also be happening with the D&D franchise.

It's a HUGE problem knowing that I have stacks of AD&D (1st and 2nd edition) material, campaign books, adventures, etc... that are completely useless. If the next D&D product could somehow bring new life to all that old stuff (including my stack of 80s and 90s Dungeon magazines that I refuse to get rid of) as well as give them the ability to launch all sorts of new products maybe they can entice more people back into the fold.

Maybe that's THE definition of trying to be everything to everyone but maybe it will light a fire under those of us that haven't touched the D&D pen and paper system since the early 1990s. I dunno.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by YellowKing » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:45 pm

I liked 4th Edition only because the more streamlined rules made it quicker to play. With my time for entertainment dwindling rapidly, it was fun for a bit and scratched my D&D itch. However, I'm now to the point that my pencil-paper gaming days are over. It's hard enough just getting a boardgame night together for a couple of hours, much less extended D&D campaigns.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by killbot737 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:12 pm

My group tried 4e for a while but we all decided it was all too homoginized. Every class had the same variations on a basic attack, an attack that froze someone, an attack that pushed someone, etc. Too samey and you all ended up doing the same thing 10000 times (which you always do) but there never seemed to be opportunities for those off-the-wall things that players come up with that totally change a battle. The spells were all the same as the fighter "special attacks", really every class was nearly the same as every other class with different flavor text.

We played some of the prepubs and my god the one in the evil pyramid was just an endless stream of "the room attacks you, and I guess there are some monsters here too". I think that one burned us out too. It wasn't all bad of course, but it got a little tedious after a while.

I don't know if WotC can refresh DnD anymore, but there is always another crop of 9-13 year old nerds to influence :). We've been playing Pathfinder and have been doing well with it. At least in Pathfinder fighters are fighters and aren't doing ranged AoE bursts!
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:12 pm

Smoove_B wrote:Has D&D ever been in the New York Times?

Edition wars have also wounded the game. Various rules systems have been released over Dungeons & Dragons’ 38-year history: Basic, Advanced, Advanced 2nd edition, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0. Devotion to particular rules can be fanatical. Hostilities about how to best play the game — for example, how a sorcerer casts spells — flare up among the core fan base.


It's strange -- I knew this -- but it wasn't until reading the next paragraph that I realized how it related to what's going on in PC and console gaming right now, particularly with the Call of Duty series. When they release they new MP games each year, they continue to fracture the player base. Probably not by much, but I doubt there's a 100% conversion rate when the new iterations are released. On top of that, each time they release those $15 map packs the player base fractures again. It's been mentioned here before (well, in the PC gaming section) but it never really occurred to me that's what might also be happening with the D&D franchise.

It's a HUGE problem knowing that I have stacks of AD&D (1st and 2nd edition) material, campaign books, adventures, etc... that are completely useless. If the next D&D product could somehow bring new life to all that old stuff (including my stack of 80s and 90s Dungeon magazines that I refuse to get rid of) as well as give them the ability to launch all sorts of new products maybe they can entice more people back into the fold.

Maybe that's THE definition of trying to be everything to everyone but maybe it will light a fire under those of us that haven't touched the D&D pen and paper system since the early 1990s. I dunno.

Those books aren't useless - lots of people (including some of the designers at WotC) still play 1st edition. But, as YK points out, it's more of an issue of finding the time (and with multiple players, finding the compatible time) to get together to play consistently. When you fracture your group more with Edition preferences (one of the guys in my group will not play anything other than 2nd Edition) it's a wonder the pen and paper hobby still exists

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:20 pm

Well, I guess I mean useless in that they're an anachronism. If there was someway to design a 5th edition rule set that would allow players to "snap in" various elements that differentiated the various editions and easily convert those old adventures to this new "Frankenstein" 5th edition, they might be able to convince people to pick it up again.

I'm totally ignorant here, but all my 2nd edition campaign handbooks ("Book of Elves", "Book of Dwarves", "Thief's Handbook", "Psionics Handbook", etc...) -- was those rules slapped into the 3.X edition, which then morphed into the 4th?

Regardless, I do agree the time is an issue - particularly as the person that would most likely be the DM.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Isgrimnur » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:03 am

Smoove_B wrote:Has D&D ever been in the New York Times?


Lots of times

Court Upholds Prison Ban on Dungeons & Dragons (27 Jan 2010)

Putnam's High School Drops Dungeons and Dragons Game (10 Oct 1985)

The fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons will be dropped at Putnam High School after a six-month controversy, according to the school. About 500 people signed a petition to ban the game after the suicide in April of 13-year-old Roland Cartier, who was known to have played it.


Murder Jury Rejects Fantasy-Game Claim (30 Jun 1988)

A jury yesterday convicted a man of murdering his parents, rejecting a defense contention that he believed he was under the spell of a character in the game of Dungeons and Dragons.

The jury found Daniel Kasten, 20 years old, guilty of shooting his parents in May 1987 as they were sleeping at home in Lake Ronkonkoma.

The panel began deliberating Tuesday and continued this morning. In closing arguments Tuesday, Mr. Kasten's lawyer, William Nash, said that the case was not about Dungeons and Dragons, but that Mr. Kasten believed he was under the control of the Mind Flyer character when he shot his parents, Edith and Joseph.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Blackhawk » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:08 am

I ran a few of the old classics in Pathfinder as on-the-fly dungeon crawls (lesse, Keep on the Borderlands was in there, maybe Against the Giants. The pyramid one, too.) It isn't that hard to convert material when the bestiaries have all the creatures already designed, and the odd one can usually be tweaked from an existed beasty.

The sheer number of ideas, the tables, the backgrounds, plots, DMing advice, all that stuff still works.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zarathud » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:18 am

Bonus points if you know the name of the Mind Flayer possessing David Kasten:

Spoiler:
Lord Derelith the Mind Flayer

A friend adopted this nickname after an all-night session of Magic: The Gathering where we consumed significant amounts of alcohol and I had free, unlimited access to LEXIS while in law school to look up interesting criminal defense strategies.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Odin » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:08 am

I bought the 4th Ed books with the intention of using them to start up a game with my kids. I couldn't do it - my read of the PHB/DMG left me totally cold. The quality of the physical materials is quite good, but the ruleset constantly felt to me like they were trying to convert WoW to pen-and-paper. And I can honestly say that I came to that conclusion all by myself, before reading it 10,000 times from others on the web.

Tanking was the biggest issue for me. In my old AD&D games, we never had a "tank." The idea that one guy would deliberately get all the bad guys to focus their attacks on him was unthinkable. You chose your opponents and the DM decided who they would attack, based on initiative and other factors. If your mage was lucky, he got to hang back and receive few or no attacks. If not, then then the fighter had to bust his ass to finish off his own guys so he could run over and help. Codifying "tanking" into the rules just... I dunno... disgusted me. I can't really put my finger on why, but it seemed so foreign to the AD&D game I'd so enjoyed and so similar to a MMORPG that it felt wrong to me.

There were other things I didn't care for as well, but that was the one that stuck with me. I can't say I'm optimistic that they'll get it right with 5th Ed, but I'm sure I won't be buying the books sight-unseen this time.

As it turned out, I pulled out my old 2nd Ed materials and they still work just fine. I played for a few months with my kids, but we found it tough to make time and my daughter was really hot and cold on it. I also remembered how much time it takes me to prep and run a campaign. Egads.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by TiLT » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:41 am

IceBear wrote:Well, WotC just announced they are working on the next edition of D&D and since most people didn't like 4E


That's one hell of a claim. Got anything to back it up with? If you're judging by message board comments, then I'll counter and say that most people didn't like 3E and most people didn't like 3.5 (and the same would be true with AD&D, though that was before the time of modern message boards).

What most of you seem to forget is that with 4E WotC moved the focus away from books and over into the digital space. People like me have subscribed since the beginning but only bought a few books (yet I use material from tons of them), and this seems to be by design. This also means that you can't use numbers from retailers to judge the popularity of 4E. Subscriber numbers from D&D Insider would be more useful, but I doubt we'll see any of those. By moving customers over to a subscription model WotC has a reasonably predictable and stable source of income compared to the typical RPG income slope. The 5th edition is very likely to follow in the same footsteps, with frustrated retailers but subscribers with access to materials they don't have the books for.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:51 am

Odin wrote:Tanking was the biggest issue for me. In my old AD&D games, we never had a "tank." The idea that one guy would deliberately get all the bad guys to focus their attacks on him was unthinkable. You chose your opponents and the DM decided who they would attack, based on initiative and other factors. If your mage was lucky, he got to hang back and receive few or no attacks. If not, then then the fighter had to bust his ass to finish off his own guys so he could run over and help. Codifying "tanking" into the rules just... I dunno... disgusted me. I can't really put my finger on why, but it seemed so foreign to the AD&D game I'd so enjoyed and so similar to a MMORPG that it felt wrong to me.


And in all honesty, that's how it works in our 4E games...the DM decides who the monster attacks. The problem was, the fighter, even back in 1st Edition days was supposed to be the meat shield and protect the mage from attacks (read the fluff of the character classes) but he really didn't have the ability to do that. Attacks of Opportunity were added in 3E, partly, to give the fighter rule capabilities that allowed him to position himself to protect weaker targets from attacks, but they didn't really work that well and added a lot of complexity with the amount of ways they could be triggered, so 4E simplified them and added marking to again give fighters abilities within the rules to act like their class description. Now the fighter marks a target and the DM decides what the monster attacks based on roleplaying the monster. Sure, attacking the mage instead of the fighter might mean the fighter gets a free attack against the monster and the monster might have a harder time of hitting the mage, but it's not like the monsters don't do what they want just like the old days. When I'm DMing, I usually have the monsters act according to their intelligence, just like I used to in past editions. Sometimes that means the smarter monsters will attack the fighter that marked them to avoid the penalties, but sometimes that means they attack the wizard or priest that's doing more to turn the tide of the battle than the fighter. I was really put off with the idea of marking when I read the 4E rules, but in play it's not nearly as obnoxious as I thought. I guess I wasn't as shocked about the WoW comparison as I had been following the development and since WoW was the biggest "poacher" of D&D players they did say they were going to try to make the rules more appealing to that player base, but our games still feel like old time D&D games and not WoW. That might be because my group are players from 1st Edition times so we run and play our games like we always did...maybe brand new players wouldn't get that from the current rules...dunno

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zarathud » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:03 pm

I thought the 4E mechanics were gimmicky and restricting. You chose a particular path of abilities and effects (like marking a target) with pre-set conditions rather than a series of general feats with pre-set bonuses. My characters had more personality when I could chose Cleave for use in the right tactical conditions instead of the equivalent daily ability. I'd usuaaly choose to play Wrath of Ashbardalon over 4E.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zurai » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:13 am

TiLT wrote:What most of you seem to forget is that with 4E WotC moved the focus away from books and over into the digital space. People like me have subscribed since the beginning but only bought a few books (yet I use material from tons of them), and this seems to be by design. This also means that you can't use numbers from retailers to judge the popularity of 4E. Subscriber numbers from D&D Insider would be more useful, but I doubt we'll see any of those. By moving customers over to a subscription model WotC has a reasonably predictable and stable source of income compared to the typical RPG income slope. The 5th edition is very likely to follow in the same footsteps, with frustrated retailers but subscribers with access to materials they don't have the books for.


And what you seem to forget is that WotC isn't the only one with a digital presence. Paizo gives away every one of their core rulebooks for free via their online reference document (with which you get everything but the art), and offers PDF downloads for $10 each. Neither of those show up on either Amazon or any other poll-based index, either. I own zero hard copies of any Pathfinder rulebooks (although our group does have two copies of the Core Rulebook and one copy each of the others), but I own every core rulebook (except Bestiary 3, which I havn't gotten around to ordering yet) in PDF form.

As for 4E's "hidden sales", with the fact that they made "revised" (ie Essentials) rules 2 years into the product life cycle, and will have an entirely new edition exactly 5 years after the release of 4E, I'd say there's quite a bit of evidence to support the conclusion that 4E was not well-received-- or at least, didn't sell as well as Hasbro wanted, regardless of the marketplace.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by TiLT » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:38 am

You can't compare an online document to the tools that DDI offers. It's a completely different thing, particularly in that the former requires a lot more effort from users and will always be the "cheap way" to play the game compared to owning the books. Using DDI requires next to no effort, or even awareness of new material, nor does it feel cheapened compared to the full products. My D&D campaign, which has lasted since 4E was first released, uses all the source materials that have been released, and I haven't had to do anything to support this. My players use the character builder on my computer, which presents them with a full and ever-expanding list of game features they can make full use of.

Online documents isn't a new thing. 3E and 3.5 both did that. 4E is in a completely different ballpark entirely with its unique approach. Is it the future or a big misstep? I have no idea, though I hope it's the former. What I do know is that DDI is a significant and central part of D&D 4E, to the point where playing the game without it becomes way more work. DDI is integral to 4E and it's clear that WotC created a strategy where the books, apart from the core books, were completely optional.

By the way, the 5-year life cycle has been WotC's modus operandi since the release of 3.5 and is well known among the customers. Nobody is surprised to see a new edition come out, and it's certainly not something you can use to judge the success of 4E. 5E would have come out next year no matter what, with the sole exception being if WotC suddenly stopped producing D&D altogether. I still think it's too early, but this is what WotC wants to do and they've clearly communicated this fact before.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zurai » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:40 pm

TiLT wrote:You can't compare an online document to the tools that DDI offers. It's a completely different thing, particularly in that the former requires a lot more effort from users and will always be the "cheap way" to play the game compared to owning the books. Using DDI requires next to no effort, or even awareness of new material, nor does it feel cheapened compared to the full products. My D&D campaign, which has lasted since 4E was first released, uses all the source materials that have been released, and I haven't had to do anything to support this. My players use the character builder on my computer, which presents them with a full and ever-expanding list of game features they can make full use of.


The only thing that DDI offers (for a monthly subscription) that isn't available for free from Paizo is a character generator. Yes, the character builder is nice, as long as you aren't using any house rules (and the more your house rules differ from just adding a bonus feat, the more irritating the generator becomes). It's a convenience thing, though, not a major feature that Paizo is losing sales for not having -- especially since, if you want a Paizo character generator, you can get an official one from Lone Wolf, the same people who make Army Builder for the various miniature combat games. Or, if you don't care for Lone Wolf and want an unofficial generator, one of quite a few others, some of which are also free.

But to get access to all the material provided in the core rulebooks (the CRB itself, GMG, APG, UM, UC, and the Bestiaries so far), you don't have to do anything except click on a link. And it's free.

Online documents isn't a new thing. 3E and 3.5 both did that.


3.0 and 3.5 only provided parts of the PHB and parts of the MM1. 4E doesn't provide anything. The PRD contains the entire Core Rulebook minus the names of the deities in the default campaign world, the entire Advanced Player's Guide, the entire Gamemastery Guide, the entire Ultimate Magic, the entire Ultimate Combat, and the entire Bestiary 1-3.

By the way, the 5-year life cycle has been WotC's modus operandi since the release of 3.5 and is well known among the customers. Nobody is surprised to see a new edition come out, and it's certainly not something you can use to judge the success of 4E. 5E would have come out next year no matter what, with the sole exception being if WotC suddenly stopped producing D&D altogether. I still think it's too early, but this is what WotC wants to do and they've clearly communicated this fact before.


... and this is TiLT sailing up a river in Egypt. 4th Edition was a surprise when it was announced 4 years after 3.5. No one really expected it. The surprise of it put people out of business because they ordered a bunch of just-released 3.5 material that wouldn't sell because why buy 3.5 stuff when 4E is just around the corner? Further, 3rd edition had an 8 year lifespan, not a 5 year one. Further, until just this last couple of days, there was absolutely no word from WotC on a new edition being in development, and 4.E had only been out for about a year and a half. In fact, WotC has been actively denying that they had plans for a new edition.

Finally, let me put it this way: in 2000-2008, D&D was by far the #1 tabletop RPG on the market. White Wolf's stuff was a very, very distant second. No one else came even remotely close to D&D's dust trail. Now, in early 2012, D&D is no longer the top tabletop RPG according to any national source you care to ask. That is indisputable fact. Yeah, DDI isn't reported to national sources, but neither are people who only buy Paizo PDFs or use the PRD, so that's a wash.

By any standard you care to use, 3rd edition was a smashing success. By those same standards, 4E is a major letdown. Any time you go from Windows-level market dominance to #2 in the market, there's going to be a reason for it, and that reason is almost certain to be "the customers didn't like the product as much as the competitor's". Either that or "we priced ourselves out of the competition" which probably doesn't really apply here. 4E is more expensive than Pathfinder, even ignoring the PRD, but I doubt that tabletop RPGs are that sensitive to that degree of price difference.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by hentzau » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:57 pm

This blog post really sums up my feelings on the subject quite nicely.

I look forward to my D&DNext taste at the end of the month, and to see where this brings us.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by TiLT » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:13 am

Zurai wrote:... and this is TiLT sailing up a river in Egypt.


Was that really a necessary comment?

4th Edition was a surprise when it was announced 4 years after 3.5. No one really expected it.


Not on places like ENWorld and RPG.net, forums that contain a large degree of knowledge about the industry. When 4th Edition was announced, the reaction was more of the "just like we expected" type. As I said above, the 5-year lifecycle is not a secret. WotC has been pretty open about it. Of course, if they should ever release an edition that remained consistently popular and sold consistently well (which is never going to happen with any RPG), that might change.

The surprise of it put people out of business because they ordered a bunch of just-released 3.5 material that wouldn't sell because why buy 3.5 stuff when 4E is just around the corner?


3.5 never sold particularly well after a short while. It was pretty early in its lifecycle (I think. It may have been already with 3E, but I don't think so) that retailers really started complaining about a lack of sales and tons of products in their shelves that nobody seemed to want. This had nothing to do with edition announcements, but was a consequence of market saturation from multiple companies that moved their entire focus away from first-party systems and into 3.5. It was a very real problem and one of the main reasons why 4E doesn't have an SRD. The 3.5 SRD almost singlehandedly destroyed the pen & paper roleplaying industry. 4E's announcement probably made bad worse and quite likely ticked off retailers further, but there was no way around it.

Further, 3rd edition had an 8 year lifespan, not a 5 year one.


No, 3rd Edition had a 3-year lifespan. 3.5 had a 5-year lifespan. Those two editions are not the same, no matter how much WotC has tried to convince everybody otherwise. It was with 3.5 that WotC started talking about the 5-year focus too, probably in order to calm down those who though they'd keep up with 3-year versions like 3E turned out to be.

Further, until just this last couple of days, there was absolutely no word from WotC on a new edition being in development, and 4.E had only been out for about a year and a half. In fact, WotC has been actively denying that they had plans for a new edition.


That's the standard way of doing business in all industries. If you show your hand too early you risk having people stop buying your current product while waiting for the new one. They warned us about the 5-year cycle.

Also, about a year and a half? As of right now, 4E has been out for 3 1/2 years. 5E is very unlikely to be out before the 5-year mark.

Finally, let me put it this way: in 2000-2008, D&D was by far the #1 tabletop RPG on the market. White Wolf's stuff was a very, very distant second. No one else came even remotely close to D&D's dust trail. Now, in early 2012, D&D is no longer the top tabletop RPG according to any national source you care to ask. That is indisputable fact. Yeah, DDI isn't reported to national sources, but neither are people who only buy Paizo PDFs or use the PRD, so that's a wash.


D&D was the top pen & paper RPG because of the genius of the SRD, a brilliant marketing move that turned around and bit everyone in the ass soon after as described above. Most RPGs have one company producing material for it. Because of the SRD D&D had dozens! You'd have to have one of the crappiest RPGs in existence not to become the top seller under such conditions, yet even large sales don't count much when they're divided across such a large amount of products. Most books sold very poorly, especially the ones not sold by WotC. With 4E there's no longer a public version of the rules, so other companies no longer figure into the sales statistics (even with the SRD you still needed the main books if you wanted some of the basic rules like leveling and character creation). It would be very hard for WotC to keep up the massive sales from 3.5 in this situation, and they didn't.

By any standard you care to use, 3rd edition was a smashing success. By those same standards, 4E is a major letdown.


I can't put forth any convincing arguments that 4E isn't a major letdown for WotC. I simply don't know since I don't have access to their sales data and DDI subscriber numbers. I suspect your theory is off the mark however, but that's just my personal view of the market as it exists today.

Any time you go from Windows-level market dominance to #2 in the market, there's going to be a reason for it, and that reason is almost certain to be "the customers didn't like the product as much as the competitor's". Either that or "we priced ourselves out of the competition" which probably doesn't really apply here. 4E is more expensive than Pathfinder, even ignoring the PRD, but I doubt that tabletop RPGs are that sensitive to that degree of price difference.


As pointed out above, D&D dropped in dominance because WotC stopped publishing the documents that lead to their dominance in the first place. Whether that's a good or a bad thing remains to be seen, but I suspect most retailers should be infinitely grateful as having gone through the last 3 and a half years with more of D&D 3.5 could have put most of them out of business. I remember when my FLGS had rows upon rows of RPGs. By the end of the 3.5 era that was reduced to a single shelf and a box filled to the brim with heavily discounted 3.5 books nobody wanted to buy. After 4E was released the shelves have started to grow back in size, not with 4E-material but with larger variety of stuff. Variety that 3.5 unwillingly smothered with a pillow during its existence.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by Odin » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:53 am

Nerd fight!!
:pop:

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Peacedog » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:48 am

4e was an interesting failure, I think. But a failure. Too much homogenity in the classes. Also, while there is a lot about 3e I like, there were many design failures there that 4e ultimately built on.

3e leveraged a lot of ideas Cook was using in homebrew campaigns. He put forth quite a few of them in the Book of Experimental Might. Fascinatingly, that book addresses one of my biggest criticisms with 3e, in that it puts much more interesting choices back into the hands of players with respect to character building.

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Re: D&D Next

Post by hepcat » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:05 am

Odin wrote:Nerd fight!!
:pop:


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Re: D&D Next

Post by TiLT » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:26 am

Peacedog wrote:4e was an interesting failure, I think. But a failure. Too much homogenity in the classes. Also, while there is a lot about 3e I like, there were many design failures there that 4e ultimately built on.

3e leveraged a lot of ideas Cook was using in homebrew campaigns. He put forth quite a few of them in the Book of Experimental Might. Fascinatingly, that book addresses one of my biggest criticisms with 3e, in that it puts much more interesting choices back into the hands of players with respect to character building.


I'm a bit curious what you mean. My experience with 4E is that individual character classes have never felt more different in any other edition of the game. The session I ran yesterday with an Invoker, Rogue, Cleric and Monk against a Stoneborn Dracolich showed that pretty clearly, but it's something I've seen as this edition's strength since the beginning. The powers each class gets makes them all feel very different. Sure, their hit points and defenses are pretty close to each other and none of the classes will ever outperform any others (a good thing!), but that makes no real difference in actual play.

There's never been more choices for a player to make when leveling their characters either (which is basically what you're saying above, I guess). There are so many vastly different powers for them to choose from that you can have several characters of the same class lined up next to each other who play nothing alike. In 3E and 3.5 the biggest choices you had were which feats to purchase, which only had a minor effect on gameplay. In editions before that there weren't many significant choices at all. The biggest differences happened at character creation and were often down to the luck of the dice.

To expand upon my experiences with the classes mentioned above, here's what each of them (ie. the specific characters my players made) typically does in a battle:
- The Invoker: Attacks from a distance. Does medium damage but slides, pulls, pushes and teleports both enemies and allies almost every round. Sucks in melee.
- The Rogue: Runs enormous distances in a single round without provoking opportunity attacks, does massive damage in melee, then withdraws before the enemy can retaliate. Has limited ranged capabilities and is vulnerable if attacked.
- The Cleric: Doesn't do much damage at all in any way, shape or form, but is an excellent healer. Most attacks are ranged as his melee capabilities are severely limited. Since the group lacks a proper defender, his role is absolutely vital to the rest of the group. Can take a lot of punishment when attacked. Is able to make powerful enemies less intimidating with carefully selected debuffs.
- The Monk: Tends to stick close to groups of enemies, dishing out huge damage to several of them quickly. Is hard to hit, but folds fast once someone penetrates his defenses. Is useless at range.

The cool thing is that different builds of those classes wouldn't read anything like what I just wrote above. The Invoker could be a debuffer, the rogue could be a sniper, the cleric could be a melee tank, and the monk could be a lightning fast battlefield-controller.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:45 am

I think that's why they came out with the Esssentials line - some people didn't want to make the choices, so they really made classes like the fighter very simple like the 1st and 2nd edition fighter and then people could play the wizard if they wanted more choices, or just a normal 4E class if they wanted all the choices

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Re: D&D Next

Post by Zarathud » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:06 pm

That's my problem with 4E. The special effects and role-based classes are fine for superheroes but not what I'm looking for in a fantasy RPG. I often ran multiclass characters so the 4E build paths were stifling to me.
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Re: D&D Next

Post by TiLT » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:35 pm

Zarathud wrote:That's my problem with 4E. The special effects and role-based classes are fine for superheroes but not what I'm looking for in a fantasy RPG.


That I can definitely understand and agree with. I normally wouldn't even touch superhero games or other games where the players are supposed to be awesome, but D&D is a big part of my gaming history and it's easier to give it a chance. Turns out it's actually very fun when you want a game about monster slaying and finding treasure. If I want roleplaying however, I'll play something else such as Warhammer Fantasy (2nd Edition) or Rogue Trader (where the player characters are also awesome, but in a way that makes sense).
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Re: D&D Next

Post by IceBear » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:45 pm

They went crazy with the balance stick in 4E. A lot of what made 3.x great was the mutliclassing, which made balancing difficult, so they ended up going too far the other way for sake of balance. I know they took the choke hold off a bit after it was out awhile (they say they did that on purpose...wanted everyone to get a feel for the balance first) when they released the hybrid class rules, but in all honesty no one in my group tried making a hybrid so no idea how well it worked.

As for the superhero thing, D&D has always had that feel (that's why it's labelled heroic fantasy as opposed to gritty). The only time you were really weak in the past was at low levels and all that really did was make it annoying to keep rolling up new characters until one lived long enough. They said they did surveys and most people had the most fun in D&D from levels 5 to 7 so they wanted that power level through out the game. Sure, you might be a superhero at level 1 compared to previous editions, but after a few levels that difference was less noticeable...and they did release rules for level 0 characters if you really wanted to feel weak.

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