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Friday, January 30, 2015

And Then There Were Eight - The D&D 5e Team Loses Two Editors

The Dragon giveth, The Dragon taketh away

I saw the news yesterday via Twitter and ENWorld, but now even ICv2 has an article about WotC letting go two editors for the Dungeons & Dragon line - Chris Sims and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes.

WotC used to do a Christmas purge on a yearly basis, although I think they mostly skipped 2013 and it looked like 2014 was another pass. Guess they were just a month late this time.

The ICv2 article goes on to mention there are just 8 members left of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop team. How large a staff does Paizo have working on Pathfinder?

I guess WotC could always freelance their future releases, but I'm beginning to suspect those releases will be few and far between

23 comments:

  1. Yep. Last I heard Paizo has 21 active designers on staff for Pathfinder. Quite a contrast.

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    1. Interesting. .had no idea of the staffing differences

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  2. The fact the 5E is the current official verison of D&D cut's little ice these days. The market has moved on, or as we all now in many cases, never moved away from what it was happy with in the 1st place.

    Touching on what Erik mentioned earlier in the week, I didn't even buy 5E as a collector, I just didn't have the spare cash to drop on yet another book case filler. I'd probably like 5E, almost certainly more than 4E, which I did buy, but I've discovered the OSR in the meantime and split my attention between B/X, AD&D, LotFP and Call of Cthulhu.

    Maybe it's Traveller's fault, T5 was fucking awful.

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  3. I have plenty of D&D books of countless editions and variants. For my ongoing campaign I just grabbed Castles & Crusades and House-Ruled the hell out of it, grabbing stuff I liked from all over the OSR. (The the point where I can't really properly call it Castles & Crusades anymore, but I used it as a basis because it differentiates races and classes, doesn't have level limits and the spellcaster's spell levels go up to 9, unlike with Basic Fantasy Roleplaying.) I have Pathfinder for when I want crunchier (and let's face it, longer) combat. What role would 5E fill that I can't already fill with what I have on my shelves or can find in one of the MANY amazing blogs online? The only way I see for Wizards of the Coast to fix this is to stop changing editions every few years for a quick buck and work on building trust again. Stick to an edition that is proper D&D (Because while I'll defend 4E as a game, it's hard for me to defend it as D&D) and let players know it's 'safe' to invest in it, that you won't replace it five years from now. Paizo has proven that you can do QUALITY material for years and years without having to push the 'reset' button. So has the OSR.

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    1. *unlike with Basic Fantasy Role-Playing which I would have probably used otherwise.)

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  4. I don't mind Basic Fantasy's limits. It's so open, it's everything we need. Big fan of that system.

    And Erik, if you see this, my browser on my iPad wouldn't allow me to post at the Brain Storm podcast but, the Circus episode was fantastic. Definitely one of your best so far and I have gotten great stuff from just about every episode.

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    1. Well, most D&D stuff out there assumes Magic-Users go up to 9 spell levels and I wanted something that would be as compatible with the rest as possible.

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    2. James, I thought it was one of our best too.

      Would you believe I was driving home from work when we recorded that one?

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    3. I can! I do some of my best thinking while driving.

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  5. It seems like 5e was a hail-mary.

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    1. True, but I also think it was the right move. If I didn't have many D&D books already I would have probably gone with that one, as it is legit D&D and the most recent version. I'm still open to buying their stuff later on, depending on what they have to offer. I haven't checked how D&D 5E converts to OSR (as if OSR was a single system, but you know what I mean.) but I wouldn't be against purchasing some sourcebooks from them.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Whatever your opinion of the company is, we ARE talking about actual people having lost their jobs here. :-/

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    2. OK, that was in poor taste. Duly chastised.

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  7. It's pretty clear that their current strategy is slow releases, outsourcing lots of the work, and trying to leverage the IP in other media. I guess we'll see if it works.

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    1. Straight up- WotC can't leverage the IP. The mainstream world doesn't give a shit about D&D, and why should it? Bad (as in shit) movies, brain-candy fiction (well, most of it) and continual failures in electronic media. Bundle all of this with the bad mojo of years past concerning lawsuits, nerd rage, satanic panic nonsense and general gamer bougy-ness ( I know, I know...anyone can play at your table) and you end up with some seriously damaged stuff. It's really time to stop trying to make D&D more than what it is if it's to have any hope of getting out of hospice. OSR Forever.

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    2. "...and general gamer bougy-ness ( I know, I know...anyone can play at your table) "

      What does this mean?

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  8. I think there is a bit of a wire crossing going on here that is assuming two things that are not mutually exclusive. 5th Edition could be selling fine and doing exactly what WOTC wanted it to do, and they could still be deciding that they want a smaller staff.

    Given that they have put out the core rules and they are outsourcing the adventures to third parties, they might really be wanting to cut the profit margins as thin as possible. I know that even though they were making money on their novels, they still cut in house editors and the book department, so that only three or so authors are working at any given time.

    WOTC has someone different in charge this time than they did during 4th Edition, and I think they may honestly have a mandate to keep D&D on the shelves, and at a profit, and a skeleton crew with fewer releases is the plan, and may have been the plan from the start.

    (Part of me wants to go off on a tangent about how Paizo's subscription model means they probably have a few books a year sell better than they would on the open market, if only because people don't want to cancel a subscription and then reup again in a few months, and that pads their bottom line, but I'll leave off for now)

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    1. Well said Jared.. No offense to most of the posts here but did you even look at 5e sales before putting the nail in the D&D coffin? My guess is keep the rules simple and outsource the adventures..

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    2. Agreed. WotC has reduced its staff after every major edition release (hence the comment about Christmas layoffs). This happened under 3.x and 4e. Once your core books are out the door, fewer editors are required, so you maximize profit by cutting staff.

      I'd prefer if they kept the staff in and had a busier in-house schedule over 2015 - 2016, but as we all have seen, their current release schedule is few and far between.

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  9. Interesting. Chris Sims took part in an official WotC live stream of an excerpt from Rise of Tiamat but then was notably absent. Sick days were alluded to, but something about the weirdness of a "corporate" D&D game made me genuinely wonder what it would be like if someone was fired between episodes. Well... That's awkward.

    With the exception of Rodney Thompson (who seems an exceptionally confident individual and DM), everyone involved seems vaguely nervous, as if they'd been summoned to Conference B by Human Resources, only to find out it was to participate in a live stream. The mood in the room is one part RPG session between friends, one part annual employee review.

    To make matters worse, there are WoTC staffers present in the room (live stream producers? "brand managers"?) who are unseen but whose presence can nonetheless be felt. You can hear the clack of laptop keyboards and occasional whispering. The on-screen participants even occasionally defer to some sort of off-screen cue, as if being directed to "pick up the pace" or "stay on-brand" by someone who is in turn under orders to "continuously integrate core brand philosophy through social engagement with live stream technologies" or something. What can I say, it's cultists all the way up.

    Whatever you think, remember WoTC is not the only toxic workplace the hobby has ever seen, and not even the first time for D&D (Ambush at Sheridan Springs-era TSR, anyone?) Not sure I'd like to work at Games Workshop, for that matter.

    The D&D 5th edition books are beautiful, thoughtful, and a credit to the hobby. They're also a credit to Sims and Clarke Wilkes, whatever role they played in their production. D&D is actually in a pretty good place right now. D&D is doing something to tackle issues of representation in a way that the hashtag generation, I think, wouldn't even dare to consider in their blockbuster FPS console games. There are a lot of cool D&D podcasts and other things going on. I'm also getting a good vibe about the number of women in D&D these days, but it's admittedly anecdotal.

    RPG gaming community needs D&D, and I'd rather it be 5th edition than any previous edition that is leading the charge for our hobby.

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  10. What of it? Are they different or better than the rest of us who have been laid off?

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