Tuesday, May 14, 2013

D&D Next to Bring Demon Princes and ArchDevils Back to the Forefront - Somebody Wake up Jack!

I started gaming with the AD&D 1e books back in 80/81 or so. I'm fairly sure that the official word was that the DMG had an Effetti on the cover, but to the eyes of most, that sucker was a kick ass demon.

Hey, that's what I thought it was, and my great aunt, Sister Camilla certainly saw it that way (it was a long summer of playing Traveller and Paranoia when she was visiting).

Then 2e came out, and the devils and demons were replaced with their simulacrum that lacked the names but certainly kept much of the imagery - because it was the time of religious backlash.

I'm going to skip 3e, as my gaming ended in 96 and didnt restart until I found Castles & Crusades. Sure, I had a lot of 3e book but I wasn't actually playing them and often wasn't even reading them.

4e was a blip on my radar.

Next is generally a frustrating mishmash of various D&D editions, cut up into chunks and blended. I really haven't liked much of what I've seen, but as I'm neck deep in the OSR that really isn't all that surprising. Heck, I even stopped showing Grumpy the latest DnD Next articles, as they really didn't interest me enough to even get worked up.

So this is kinda surprising.

From James Wyatt's latest article on the WotC site:
One of the things we want to accomplish in D&D Next is to develop the groups that serve the various demon princes and archdevils. We want to flesh them out into groups that are distinct from each other, each with its own look, agenda, and membership. So this week’s column is basically a stab at that—looking at the ways that mortals worship three different demon princes.
It then goes on to describe the cults of Demogorgon (sorta a Cthulhu Cult for DnD), Baphomet
(Mr Hyde?) and Graz’zt (the worst of the Salem Witches).

I'm left asking "why"?

Why bother? The are never going to show "true evil" without hitting "Book of Vile Darkness" "Carcosa" levels and I'm pretty sure they don't want to do that, so why add demons and devils as a prominent part of the Core Next? It's not going to be enough to entice the OSR gamers who are already playing the games they want to play and it certainly won't be kid friendly.

I'm not sure what the overall aim is, but I can't see it helping. I'm sure it's fun as hell (pun intended) for the designers to write, I'm just not sure how DnD Next will benefit from it.

Unless they are going for a Midnite type of default setting. I'd play that if they could pull it off. But they won't, as Forgotten Realms is where it's at for Wizards.


  1. I thought Aboleth were the Cthulhu of D&D or did Pathfinder steal their thunder on that front (or maybe they borrowed it from Pathfinder, don't recall). They should go back to Illithids or Beholders for that niche.

    I don't think the article says they're bringing demons to the forefront. Just that they're developing the followers and cults around these Demon Princes, which is nothing they haven't done in all the previous editions. Even 2E, which often faces criticism for being watered down. It was much the same way as the Efreet on the cover of the 1E DMG, everyone knew what Baatezu, Tanar'ri, and Yugoloth were.

    You're right, unless they're willing to take some risks, they're not going to match the lore and atmosphere of other companies or third parties covering the same topics. The descriptions of the cults in the linked article read like a clinical cursory overview, in a "let's not dirty the hands" sort of way.

    Forgotten Realms has its own emphasized demons princes and devil dukes, or other prominent fiendish figures: Orcus, Eltab, Soneillon, the Trio Nefarious, Gaugauth, Bazim-Gorag, Malkizid, etc. Lolth and Tiamat could as well.

  2. I dunno.. I guess I'll be the ayesayer here but I've been liking D&D Next so far.. I've been asked to run D&D Encounters at our local FLGS this summer and I am definitely looking at running it with Next instead of 4E.

  3. I suspect the target audience for 5E will be the people who played D&D in the 80's and 90's and then grew up and left the hobby altogether. That 5E be instantly recognizable and familiar to these people when they see it on the shelves of Toys R Us seems to be a design requirement.

    Hence, the demons.

  4. This, unlike most of what they're doing with Next (IMO), doesn't strike me as a hollow appeal to pre-WotC gamers. Through the end of 4E (at least Essentials and on), they've been focusing on Asmodeus-worshiping cultists. (Asmodeus is a "evil god" not an "arch devil" but he commanding devils is kind of his schtick.)

    So this, at least, seems like a legit attempt to add some variety as opposed to something more cynical.

  5. I'm okay with them bringing in cults and demons. There's nothing preventing people from GMing games that go as far as BoVD.

    The thing that really bothers me is the fact that Forgotten Realms hasn't died in a fire yet. Bring back Planescape, Mystara, or Spelljammer dammit!


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