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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's Official - Free 15% of Player's Handbook (and MM and DMG) is "Basic D&D"



The clues were there, and I wrote about some of them, such as the Free Player's Handbook covering the core four classes (check) and core four races (check) and levels 1-15 (actually 1-20). I also brought up the idea of free material form the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide rolling out to supplement the free 15% of the Player's Handbook. Link to What If the Freely Available 15% of the 5e Player's Handbook includes Core Advancement Thru 15 Levels? and http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2014/05/peering-into-taverns-scrying-pool-what.html

This morning, Mike rolled out the exciting details: WotC Basic D&D Announcement

"Basic D&D is a PDF that covers the core of the game. It’s the equivalent of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia, though it doesn’t have quite the same scope (for example, it won’t go into detail on a setting). It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options.

But the best part? Basic D&D is a free PDF. Anyone can download it from our website. We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that.

If Basic D&D is the equivalent of the classic Rules Cyclopedia, then the three core rulebooks are analogous to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Want more character options? Pick up a Player’s Handbook. Looking for more critters for your campaign? The Monster Manual has you covered. Want to sculpt a unique campaign? Pick up the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Still, Basic D&D is the true heart of the game and could easily provide a lifetime of gaming.

At the launch of the D&D Starter Set, Basic D&D will include the material needed to create characters and advance to 20th level. In August, with the release of the Player’s Handbook, Basic D&D will expand to include the essential monsters, magic items, and DM rules needed to run the game, along with the rules for wilderness, dungeon, and urban adventuring. (The Starter Set already covers the aspects of these rules that you need to run the included campaign.)

As we introduce new storylines like Tyranny of Dragons, we’ll also make available free PDFs that provide all the rules and stats missing from Basic D&D needed to run the adventures tied into the story. The adventures released as part of Tyranny of Dragons are playable without requiring any of the core rulebooks or the Starter Set. With just the Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules, you can play D&D for years.

Basic D&D makes it easier than ever for new players and DMs to jump into tabletop RPG play. We’re involved in the greatest gaming hobby ever invented. It’s time to bring that hobby to everyone who wants to take part."

This could very well be a game changer...

19 comments:

  1. How is this a game changer when they are doing the same thing as Paizo, Frog Gog Games, LotFP, Goblinoid Games, BFRPG, OSRIC, and more?

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    1. a game changer for WotC, not the industry.

      it also indicates an emphasis on adventures, not splat books. that's a huge shift on WotC's part

      I'll have a post later today about how WotC is always behind the market it wants to emulate - MMORPGs

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    2. I suppose it's a game changer for them, the company with the D&D brand has gone from founding and leading the industry to following along.

      If they are goign adventure heavy they have to design adventures for novices, veterans, and experts across character levels and not try to please everyone all the time with each adventure release (you can't).

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  2. Well, it's certainly a game-changer for WotC. At least they seem to "get it" for a change. And, honestly, I had no interest or intention of picking up or checking out D&D until now. But I am intrigued enough to see what they're trying to pull together. Will it be enough to get me to change systems? Doubtful, but at least I'm now willing to see what the hoopla's about at no cost.

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  3. Its going to force other game publishers to follow suit.

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    1. They have been doing that for a long time. Riddle of Steel, GURPS, Savage Worlds, all those games JDJarvis mentioned. WOTC are kind of late to the game but it's a pretty big deal because now "Dungeons and Dragons" is doing it. Pathfinder might be the current financial leader but I still say "Like dungeons and dragons" when I talk to a non gamer about role playing.

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  4. Good for them. And good for us. I'm glad to hear they're going to do this.

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  5. It's only free because who would pay for it? Pretty much anyone who wants D&D already has it in one form or another.

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  6. If its free, how does one get hold of it?

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  7. Well hot damn. D&D 5 now has my complete attention.

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  8. Rar! Basic D&D marketing coup of the century! Now all we need is a workable OGL or third party publishing licence and I'm in the Happy House :)

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  9. Sooooo....with the Starter Box on pre-order for roughly $13 at Amazon, and this free Basic D&D PDF . . . it definitely has my attention now. $13 is less than I spend on OSR zines every month or two!

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  10. It's a game changer for me. I just pre-ordered the starter set. I completely agree with +Newt Newport. Make the rules free (as in free speech) and I'll be in the Happy House with Newt.
    Well played, +Mike Mearls. Well played.

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  11. This is a game-changer in many ways: it means that there's a free version of the rules online and for those saying that WotC is late to the game on this, let's not forget that the OGL/SRD had free rules out in 2000-2001; most free rules versions out there now were in response to, inspired by, or made possible by the availability of the D20 system originally. Go back to 1999 and earlier and count how many free rule sets were floating around....I can count one (GURPS). So in short WotC has to do this: but because of their own precedent.

    So the free rules compete directly with the OSR side of things by offering a contemporary D&D brand for those who are interested in a streamlined edition but aren't set in their ways (or just like to remain current). It's a free set of rules I can point my players to who may want to try 5E without an initial investment to see if they like it. And it's a free set of rules that will effectively let anyone play D&D without having to worry about cost.

    In a way, it means that the prestige of affording a $50 rulebook means I am subsidizing gamers who refuse to pay such prices. But you know what....I'm okay with that.

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  12. WotC is getting smart. I wasn't even considering paying for the boxed set, but I'm sure I'll at least give this a look.

    I wonder if the game itself will be any good.

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  13. I am now interested in the Free PDF of Basic D&D - at least to look it over. I was interested in picking up the Starter set but now I'm not sure what will be in it that'd add value to the PDF.

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  14. "This is a game-changer in many ways: it means that there's a free version of the rules online and for those saying that WotC is late to the game on this, let's not forget that the OGL/SRD had free rules out in 2000-2001; most free rules versions out there now were in response to, inspired by, or made possible by the availability of the D20 system originally. Go back to 1999 and earlier and count how many free rule sets were floating around....I can count one (GURPS). So in short WotC has to do this: but because of their own precedent."

    That's a really good point.

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  15. The SRD didn't have advancement rules to my knowledge until much later. Pathfinder has them and the various retro-clones did. You didn't have a full game without the books.

    Castles and Crusades, though they put the OGL in their books, don't offer an SRD. They do have something of a free sample but it is far from enough to play the game.

    What is a game changer is that a company with WotC's marketing muscle is offering a free version. While Pathfinder is selling more, the name Dungeons and Dragons as a brand (eh geez I hate talking like this) reaches into more venues. With its other products like Magic, WotC has more reach still.

    While I don't see D&D achieving 80s level of success, I do wonder if D&D could become a viable choice to the people that play board games.

    While my best games are amongst long friends, many of those started as strangers across the gaming table. More players makes for more games.

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