Monday, January 16, 2012

Someone Took a Dump in the Taverns D&D 5E Scrying Pool

Joe the Lawyer (and occasional shite stirrer - he says so himself) brought to my attention Monte Cook's latest column over at the WotC website. No links, as the iPad sucks for linking, but they are easy enough to find on your own.

In summary, D&D 5E is going to be modular, so you can add or subtract to it, and even players in the same campaign don't need to be playing with the same rules. My 0e fighter, your 3e cleric and her 4e wizzie can all play in my 5e game. Or something to that effect.

I can see players using less modules (or an earlier edition) then the GM, but I suspect whatever the default system the GM is using / emulating / has modules for is the maximum generation the PCs can use.

Still, all that's not the point. The point is this. In my 5e campaign, you could bring your Pathfinder character intact.

Well played WotC. Well played.

One game to rule them all, and in the basement bind them ;)

(the actual article from the WotC website)

Looking at the Past and the Future
Legends and Lore
Monte Cook

If you haven't already done so, please read this announcement from Mike Mearls.
So, now you have a little better idea what I've been working on. For many of you, what you already suspected has simply been confirmed. In any event, I can't tell you how exciting and challenging it’s been getting this project off the ground—and how thrilling it will continue to be as we move forward.

Of course, I'm not doing this alone. While I am working with a lot of great people at Wizards of the Coast in this endeavor, at this point in the process, I spend most of my time with two excellent designers, Bruce Cordell and Rob Schwalb. It's a team effort to be sure, and we’ll be including more talented designers, developers, and editors as things progress.
In the weeks and months ahead, I want to elaborate on some of the goals that Mike put forth in his announcement. This week, however, I just want to hit the highlights of what I think is particularly exciting about the development of the next iteration of the game.

First and foremost, as Mike said, this isn't another salvo in the so-called edition wars. This isn't an attempt to get you to playDungeons & Dragons in a new way. This is the game you've already been playing, no matter what edition or version you prefer. The goal here is to embrace all forms of the D&D experience and to not exclude anyone. Imagine a game where the core essence of D&D has been distilled down to a very simple but entirely playable-in-its-right game. Now imagine that the game offered you modular, optional add-ons that allow you to create the character you want to play while letting the Dungeon Master create the game he or she wants to run. Like simple rules for your story-driven game? You're good to go. Like tactical combats and complex encounters? You can have that too. Like ultra-customized character creation? It's all there.

In this game, you play what you want to play. It’s our goal to give you the tools to do so.
This new approach comes out of a single idea. At its heart, D&D isn't about rules. It's about participating in an exciting fantasy adventure. The rules are just the means to enable that to happen. They're not an end unto themselves. The reason most of us play is for the story that arises out of our games. We talk about the green devil mouth in the Tomb of Horrors. The diabolical plans of Strahd in Ravenloft. The cowardly kobold Meepo in Sunless Citadel. These stories bring us together. As D&D players, we shouldn't allow rule preferences to separate us. In the end, we have a lot more in common than we have differences, even if some of us prefer the simple-yet-wahoo style of old school Basic D&D and others the carefully balanced elegance of 4th Edition—or anything in between.

So if this new endeavor is just like your favorite prior version of the game, why play this one? First, we hope you're going to enjoy the distillation of the things that make D&D the game we all love into a single, unified package, with the ability to pick and choose other options as you desire.

Second—and this sounds so crazy that you probably won't believe it right now—we're designing the game so that not every player has to choose from the same set of options. Again, imagine a game where one player has a simple character sheet that has just a few things noted on it, and the player next to him has all sorts of skills, feats, and special abilities. And yet they can still play the game together and everything remains relatively balanced. Your 1E-loving friend can play in your 3E-style game and not have to deal with all the options he or she doesn't want or need. Or vice versa. It's all up to you to decide.

Finally, we're seeking your feedback to help guide us as we move ahead. You can play a part in shaping the direction of D&D. I can't stress this enough. We're going to be doing extensive playtesting and engaging in open discussion about our ideas for this iteration of D&D. We want real feedback from our players, because if the goal is to make a game that all D&D players want to play, it's not going to work unless we actually hear from a wide variety of D&D players. So tell your friends. Tell the guy down the street who still plays OD&D. Tell the girl at the game store who left D&D to play other systems. We want to hear from them too. Spread the word!


  1. If they were able to accomplish such a merging of the editions, I believe there would be a resulting tear in the space-time continuum.

  2. 'Tis the plan lad. 'Tis the plan ;)

    Time will tell if they suceed or not. I suspect failure is NOT an option this time around for the D&D brand.

  3. ...but it is inevitable.

  4. Maybe I'm lacking in imagination but I'm not seeing how that's possible without some immense beating to the GMs power to veto things. If I don't like feats or at will powers, what are the 3rd and 4th ed players sitting at my table supposed to do? There needs to be a lot more talk about the social contracts players and GMs have before we even get to game mechanics. Some base assumptions need to be laid out here.

  5. Yeah, I don't buy it. I'm hearing a lot marketing speak, hints of lots of splat books, and little to be excited about (once I tame the lizard/fanboy side of my brain). In short I'm seeing nothing but corporate business as usual. Of course, I'm open to being surprised.

  6. I'm open to being surprised.

    With Monte involved, I think they can pull it off. Maybe. Hopefully.

    I suspect it will work better if the DM is running a later edition, and the players are using the same or an earlier edition for their PCs.

  7. I'm seeing a few people - including Joe the Lawyer - make the statement that 5E's claim to be open to characters of all previous versions somehow stomps on the GM's ability to say what goes on at his table.

    I don't see it.

    I mean, I hate halflings and I tell my players there are no halflings in my world. WOTC can make 512 books on halflings, not a single page of which forces me to allow halflings in my world.

    Making something possible does not make it mandatory.

  8. @stevenwarble - agreed.

    Which is why I say it's easier to conceive of players using less modules (earlier edtion rules) then the DM, but I can't see how it would work if they were trying to play with more.

  9. John Lennon's Imagine is one of my favorites, but I'm a serious skeptic of this whole D&D Utopia Edition thing. If it does actually happen, I think too much will have to be sacrificed to achieve the Grail. (Clarity, depth, and balance to name a few that come to mind.)

  10. This is just my experience. If you as a GM have an excess of players, youre ability to say no is much higher than someone whose scrapping players out of the barrel or worse, playing with friends who assume that whatever is in the core rules is a-okay. Maybe those are just my experiences, but looking at things like Conventions, I can't imagine how that would roll.

  11. Man, that's one of the more... evocative... blog post titles I've seen in a long time.

    I don't read that Monte Cook piece as claiming actual backwards compatibility. I suspect that there will be modules that will simulate the play experience of the other editions; actual interoperability will be limited.

  12. brenden, I'm going to copy the article to the obove post and highlight what i think is important.

    it may be marketing speak, but its telling

  13. Hey Erik, I see where you're coming from, but to me the "1E-loving" and "3E-style" parts make me think that they're really going for feel rather than interoperability. They could, after all, just come out and say that it will be compatible with Type 3 if they wanted to.

  14. That they could, but that wouldn't bring everyone in. They want to be The One Ring, er, I mean Game.

    I suspect they want you to be able to break out your AD&D Tomb of Horrors and play it in 5e - I'm sure they'll be a conversion formula or such (and APP) to bring it up to a certain version.

    Whatever they bring to the table, it has to encompass the Pathfinder play base. If you fail to bring them back into the fold, you fail in the market.

    The OSR corner is an afterthought.

    So, I expect pretty full 3X and 4E compatibility, along with pathfinder. Less so with 2e and before, but who knows.

  15. It is meaningless unless my company may successfully publish for it. I know Monte Cook argued for the success of the OGL in the past. I will be watching for how this rolls out for third party publishers.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition