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Monte Leaves, Playtesting Begins


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Call me paranoid, but it seems highly unlikely that both of these things should just happen to occur on the same day. I'm glad to hear that we get to playtest the new game soon - but I can't help but wonder if this is a reaction to help smooth over any fanbase trepidation caused by Monte's departure.

EDIT: Anyway, I figured both of these pieces of news needed their own thread so as not to hijack other civil and stimulating 4E-related discussions, so here it is.


I don't think this is particularly dramatic. Monte was probably primarily hired to design the new edition (rather than to playtest and develop it), and since playtesting has begun the design-work is likely finished.


According the article in The Examiner, he terminated his contract with Wizards over differences with Wizards itself, not the design team.

Sorry, don't have time to linkify it:

http://www.examiner.com/article/why-did-monte-cook-leave-the-dungeons-drago ns-5th-edition-design-team?CID=examiner_alerts_article


Rather than go to a newspaper article, even if it quotes the same thing, here is the link to Monte's blog.

And here is the link to the public playtest announcement.

I just wonder if his differences were with Mike Mearls, since when he mentioned his issues were not with the other designers, he did not list Mike's name. Is Mike even one of the designers or is he the head of the project and thus the official WotC person the designers have to go through for approval?

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Are wrote:

I don't think this is particularly dramatic. Monte was probably primarily hired to design the new edition (rather than to playtest and develop it), and since playtesting has begun the design-work is likely finished.

Insofar as anything can be considered "dramatic", this almost certainly qualifies. The Lead Designer leaves in a critical stage of development and, more importantly, PR woodshedding (Monte's name would have gone a long way toward establishing cred with the old-school crowd)? No, this is significant. Who knows how significant, but... fairly significant. He didn't just leave because his stage of the gig was up, he left because he disagreed with one or more things they were doing, ostensibly to the point where he no longer wanted his name associated with it. That's... a big deal.

Edit: I really don't think I'm sensationalizing, either. Read the blog entry. I'm inferring a little bit, sure, but hardly sensationalizing.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Jeremiziah wrote:
Are wrote:

I don't think this is particularly dramatic. Monte was probably primarily hired to design the new edition (rather than to playtest and develop it), and since playtesting has begun the design-work is likely finished.

Insofar as anything can be considered "dramatic", this almost certainly qualifies. The Lead Designer leaves in a critical stage of development and, more importantly, PR woodshedding (Monte's name would have gone a long way toward establishing cred with the old-school crowd)? No, this is significant. Who knows how significant, but... fairly significant. He didn't just leave because his stage of the gig was up, he left because he disagreed with one or more things they were doing, ostensibly to the point where he no longer wanted his name associated with it. That's... a big deal.

Edit: I really don't think I'm sensationalizing, either. Read the blog entry. I'm inferring a little bit, sure, but hardly sensationalizing.

I kinda read it the same way. I'm wondering why he would leave at such critical juncture. That is some serious disagreement.

Taldor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

"As for what I'll be turning to next, I hope you'll stay tuned. I plan on having an interesting announcement in that regard in the near future."

This is what I am interested to find out about Monte.

While I think its great that Mearls announced the playtest I think its kind of crappy he chose to do it in the same post as his so long Monte, will miss ya letter.

Andoran

Agreed, Pan, agreed. I have a lot of respect for Monte, and this has only heightened that respect. Gotta admire a guy standing up for what he believes in, if nothing else.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My bet is that Monte wanted a older-style OGL and Wizards didn't want to re-open that can of worms. Monte seems to me like he's very much pro 3PP and Wizards seems like they don't like the idea of their hard-earned product used against them as competition. Just a guess, mind you.

Osirion

It's funny, if you read through the comments posted below the public playtest announcement on WotC's blog, it doesn't take long at all for the conversation to deteriorate into a battle between the pro-4E's and the anti-4E's. Traditionalists want to see a return to the 3E days, or even the 2E days. Newer players like to insist the game isn't a paper MMO and want 5E to be like 4E but without the junk leftover from 3.5. The only thing I see clearly in all of those comments is that there is a gulf in the RPG community that one game system cannot fill.


Diffan wrote:
My bet is that Monte wanted a older-style OGL and Wizards didn't want to re-open that can of worms.

At any rate, I suspect he thought he would have more say on what the final product might look like. Of course, that's just a guess.


The curious thing is that his differences weren't with the design folks...so as to who exactly he had his problem with, that's whats interesting.

Corporate number crunchers/marketing types exerting to much control over the project perhaps? I dunno it certainly seems to indicate a certain ammount of interference from somewhere, and that doesn't bode well at all.

Also I can't imagine it was over OGL, you gotta figure as a writer/publisher/designer 99.9% of the stuff you do won't be open license just cause thats the way the industry usually works.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
CorvidMP wrote:

The curious thing is that his differences weren't with the design folks...so as to who exactly he had his problem with, that's whats interesting.

Corporate number crunchers/marketing types exerting to much control over the project perhaps? I dunno it certainly seems to indicate a certain ammount of interference from somewhere, and that doesn't bode well at all.

Also I can't imagine it was over OGL, you gotta figure as a writer/publisher/designer 99.9% of the stuff you do won't be open license just cause thats the way the industry usually works.

It could have been as simple as a disagreement over pay.

Many RPG professionals seem enamored with the OGL. I wouldn't know, of course, but it doesn't seem that unlikely to me that the OGL was an issue. It seems exactly the kind of decision which might be imposed on the design/development team by the WoTC executive, to me.

Grand Lodge

Is it me. Or is this news (or speculation) really not that surprising? You wouldn't quit before the playtest unless there was a good reason.

Wizards of the Coast going in a different direction and alienating their creative designers? Yeah, cos there's no precedent for that...

Well WotC's loss is the industries gain. Wonder what Monte's gonna work on next?


I guess it could've been pay, but what in the RPG world pays more than DnD? I mean seriously, its one of maybe two? three? companies that can offer a table top designer a serious salary.


The speculation and eventual emerging of details will make for an interesting read. For now, this is not an auspicious omen for 5th ed.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
CorvidMP wrote:
I guess it could've been pay, but what in the RPG world pays more than DnD? I mean seriously, its one of maybe two? three? companies that can offer a table top designer a serious salary.

Well, I didnt think he was full time, so it may have just been a difference of opinion as to what his contribution was worth. I wasn't making a guess, but merely suggesting that the simplest, most mundane explanations shouldnt be ruled out.

FWIW, I actually think disagreements over the OGLishness of D&D are one of the most likely issues WoTC and Monte Cook might have parted company over.


Didn't he move to Seattle for the gig with WoTC?


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
CorvidMP wrote:
Didn't he move to Seattle for the gig with WoTC?

I wouldnt know, really (I didnt think so, but am not really up on that kind of thing). As I understood it he was "working with R&D" but continuing to do other stuff too.

As I say though - I'd hardly consider myself in the know.


Obirandiath wrote:
It's funny, if you read through the comments posted below the public playtest announcement on WotC's blog, it doesn't take long at all for the conversation to deteriorate into a battle between the pro-4E's and the anti-4E's. Traditionalists want to see a return to the 3E days, or even the 2E days. Newer players like to insist the game isn't a paper MMO and want 5E to be like 4E but without the junk leftover from 3.5. The only thing I see clearly in all of those comments is that there is a gulf in the RPG community that one game system cannot fill.

Traditionalists and 3e supporters as the same people? That's an interesting concept. As for a gulf in the RPG community that one game can't fill, there's been that since the 1970s. Or do you think I am mistaken in remembering plenty of games that weren't D&D existing by 1980?

Andoran

CorvidMP wrote:
Didn't he move to Seattle for the gig with WoTC?

Yeah, he did. I remember following the saga of the move on FB (kind of like watching Daigle's check ins across the nation).

That was actually the first thing that struck me when I saw his blog post: "Damn, that was a waste of a move halfway across the country".

Andoran

Bluenose wrote:
Obirandiath wrote:
It's funny, if you read through the comments posted below the public playtest announcement on WotC's blog, it doesn't take long at all for the conversation to deteriorate into a battle between the pro-4E's and the anti-4E's. Traditionalists want to see a return to the 3E days, or even the 2E days. Newer players like to insist the game isn't a paper MMO and want 5E to be like 4E but without the junk leftover from 3.5. The only thing I see clearly in all of those comments is that there is a gulf in the RPG community that one game system cannot fill.
Traditionalists and 3e supporters as the same people? That's an interesting concept. As for a gulf in the RPG community that one game can't fill, there's been that since the 1970s. Or do you think I am mistaken in remembering plenty of games that weren't D&D existing by 1980?

One thing to remember: 3e brought a lot of people that had stopped playing D&D all together back into the hobby. A bunch of us skipped 2e because it was "D&D: Disney Edition" and seemed to sanitized after the grittiness of AD&D 1e. So, there is quite a bit of crossover with really old school dudes and 3x.

There were a ton of games that were around by 1980, but most were pretty niche, really. Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, 007, the WEG products (Star Wars d6, Paranoia, etc) and some others were solid and had followings, but AD&D and BECMI dwarfed them in popularity.

But, to agree with your point, there were two actively supported versions of D&D going at the same time, so, yeah, having one game fill everyone's needs isn't something that existed beyond, say, 1975 anyway.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well if Monte is out in Washington state already...

At least he could freelance for the FAQs :)


houstonderek wrote:
There were a ton of games that were around by 1980, but most were pretty niche, really. Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, 007, the WEG products (Star Wars d6, Paranoia, etc) and some others were solid and had followings, but AD&D and BECMI dwarfed them in popularity.

That list is really more like 1987 than 1980, for what it's worth.

Andoran

houstonderek wrote:
CorvidMP wrote:
Didn't he move to Seattle for the gig with WoTC?

Yeah, he did. I remember following the saga of the move on FB (kind of like watching Daigle's check ins across the nation).

That was actually the first thing that struck me when I saw his blog post: "Damn, that was a waste of a move halfway across the country".

Not at all - now he is much closer to Paizo ... maybe he will be more likely to start working more closely with them!

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

And my interest about DDN just went down the drain...


houstonderek wrote:
CorvidMP wrote:
Didn't he move to Seattle for the gig with WoTC?

Yeah, he did. I remember following the saga of the move on FB (kind of like watching Daigle's check ins across the nation).

That was actually the first thing that struck me when I saw his blog post: "Damn, that was a waste of a move halfway across the country".

Yeah...when a man says screw it, and gives up working on the premier RPG imprint, after moving his family halfway across the damn country no less....this speaks of problems, big problems.

Crap. I had high hopes for 5e, this really does not bode well what ever it means.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't think working for WotC was the only reason he moved out of Milwaukee again. He said he has lots of friends out there and really liked it when he lived there.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

golem101 wrote:
And my interest about DDN just went down the drain...

'just'?

Seriously, I've had a 'professional' curiousity of what 5e will look like, but I wasn't following that closely or planning to get it. I was more interested in seeing how WotBro was going to use their marketing might to roll it out.

In any event, I wish Monte the best of luck in whatever his project is.

Cheliax

Yup, "just".
Each time I heard something about the next edition, a fraction of enthusiasm and curiosity withered away.

DM modules = Fantasycraft campaign qualities
PC themes = Pathfinder archetypes
One dice roll folding skill and ability checks = DragonAGE system
AC and HPs = what? again these catch-it-all values? In a combat focused game? Is it a joke?
Monte leaving over differences with WotC/Hasbro overall direction = kthnxbye

Qadira

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It's hard to say what happened there. Interestingly he mentions he was on a contract - i.e. he wasn't a permanent member of staff anyway, and was likely to be dispensed with once WotC got what they wanted out of him (not necessaily sinister - he quite probably wanted the freedom of a contract too). Clearly there was some sort of disagreement but it doesn't at this stage seem to be about the game much. Personally not fussed - like a lot of people who like 4e, I found some of Monte's comments to be not what I really wanted in 5e. That said, I can't imagine that at this stage he wouldn't have been very influential on the final product anyway.


Jeremiziah wrote:
Are wrote:

I don't think this is particularly dramatic. Monte was probably primarily hired to design the new edition (rather than to playtest and develop it), and since playtesting has begun the design-work is likely finished.

Insofar as anything can be considered "dramatic", this almost certainly qualifies. The Lead Designer leaves in a critical stage of development and, more importantly, PR woodshedding (Monte's name would have gone a long way toward establishing cred with the old-school crowd)? No, this is significant. Who knows how significant, but... fairly significant. He didn't just leave because his stage of the gig was up, he left because he disagreed with one or more things they were doing, ostensibly to the point where he no longer wanted his name associated with it. That's... a big deal.

Edit: I really don't think I'm sensationalizing, either. Read the blog entry. I'm inferring a little bit, sure, but hardly sensationalizing.

I'm convinced. Apologies for my earlier post; I wasn't aware of the background information.

Since his issues seem to be with WotC and not with the other designers, I can only assume it's either OGL or possibly that they wouldn't let him work on or publish other projects while associated with them.


This is a blow to DDN for sure. The whole reason why Monte was brought on was to smooth over public relations with disgruntled D&D players from 4Es release. Him leaving will now become a persistent thorn in the side of DDN.

It seems very odd to announce both the playtest and Montes departure on the same day. The playtest could have been a nice bridge in acceptance of DDN but now with Montes abrupt and obviously disgruntled departure it takes a back seat. I wonder why Monte just didn't do the "Moving on to greener pastures, I love DDN and WoTC, good luck all." Instead he deliberately stated he had "differences of opinion with the company", now the discussion will be focused around exactly what that was. The re-release of the WoTC 3.5 books is also a curious move, I wonder if it's related to his departure.

Next up for Monte is his Kickstarter project I would guess.

Andoran

Not that sad to see him go. Fro mwhat I saw of what he wanted to implement in 5E it was not what I was looking for in a new version of D&D. As for working for Paizo they really don't need him imo. They seem to be doing well enough without him. At mist it may give them some added PR value. Not to mention if he left Wotc because of creative differwenaces with upper managmeent what makes you think that same issue may not come up under working with Paizo. Let monte cook doe his own thing and keep him away from 5E or Pathfinder.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Obirandiath wrote:
It's funny, if you read through the comments posted below the public playtest announcement on WotC's blog, it doesn't take long at all for the conversation to deteriorate into a battle between the pro-4E's and the anti-4E's. Traditionalists want to see a return to the 3E days, or even the 2E days. Newer players like to insist the game isn't a paper MMO and want 5E to be like 4E but without the junk leftover from 3.5. The only thing I see clearly in all of those comments is that there is a gulf in the RPG community that one game system cannot fill.

This isn't a new thing. It's been decades since D&D was the sole definition of roleplaying games. The major difference was that for good or ill, WOTC made a change between editions that really created a new game that could not be mapped that readily to the old one. Gamers are simply more polarized these days because the Internet encourages such behavior.

Andoran

DungeonmasterCal wrote:

According the article in The Examiner, he terminated his contract with Wizards over differences with Wizards itself, not the design team.

Sorry, don't have time to linkify it:

http://www.examiner.com/article/why-did-monte-cook-leave-the-dungeons-drago ns-5th-edition-design-team?CID=examiner_alerts_article

FYI ... this link does not seem to go to an actual article ...

Taldor

Hmm... I think this will draw away a lot of the crowd who enjoyed 3.5 so much and had some small curiosity to D&D Next that could have led to buying it (I include myself in this demographic). How much of the market share that is, I am not sure, but I suspect its a sizeable chunk.

Andoran

I also find it interesting that Monte said:

"However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell."

Notice that he did not include Mearls in his list of fellow designers he had no differences with. Not sure if that means anything, but it was certainly ... interesting ...

Mearls was considered a designer too, wasn't he?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Marc Radle wrote:

I also find it interesting that Monte said:

"However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell."

Notice that he did not include Mearls in his list of fellow designers he had no differences with. Not sure if that means anything, but it was certainly ... interesting ...

Mearls was considered a designer too, wasn't he?

Not a fellow designer or in other words, Mearls isn't just work crew, he's a boss man.

Cheliax

Perhaps WoTC intends to charge a fee to participate in the "public" playtest?


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
cibet44 wrote:
The re-release of the WoTC 3.5 books is also a curious move, I wonder if it's related to his departure.

What books are they rereleasing? Is it print or just PDFs?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Marc Radle wrote:

I also find it interesting that Monte said:

"However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell."

Notice that he did not include Mearls in his list of fellow designers he had no differences with. Not sure if that means anything, but it was certainly ... interesting ...

Mearls was considered a designer too, wasn't he?

Cook has already responded to such speculation on his blog.

Monte Cook's blog wrote:


Praise for one person is not criticism for another. Singling out one does not automatically imply exclusion of another.

To be certain, I enjoyed much of my time working with everyone who's been involved with the new edition of D&D: Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Bruce Cordell, Rob Schwalb, Miranda Horner, Tom LaPille, Rodney Thomson, Greg Bilsland, Matt Sernett, Rich Baker, James Wyatt, and everyone else. The WotC RPG R&D department is full of talent.

Bruce and Rob were the guys I spent each and every day with, though. They were my team. I'll miss the daily doses of their creativity and friendship.


Steve Geddes wrote:
cibet44 wrote:
The re-release of the WoTC 3.5 books is also a curious move, I wonder if it's related to his departure.

What boo

ks are they rereleasing? Is it print or just PDFs?

The books with erratta applied.

Details: http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/2012/04/more-wotc-reprints-35-this-tim e-wtf.html?m=1


Marc Radle wrote:


FYI ... this link does not seem to go to an actual article ...

Try this.


He said he was leaving his contractual position at WotC, but "I may provide occasional consultation in the future".

That implies that his differences have nothing to do with design. Given the "use 'em and drop 'em" nature of WotC's relations with personnel, I suspect it had a lot more to do with the renewal of his contract than with design disputes.

And if he really does have a project of his own that he's itching to get to, he may have had to sever his relations with them because it isn't contractually possible to work on his own stuff while being in WotC's employ.


@Jerry Wright 307

I think that you spot on! After reading Monte's blog and Mike's news item, I also think it is more about contractual issues with WOTC than design issues with D&D Next. Mike's surprise could be simply be that Monte exercised his option to be released from his contract early.

@anybody

Also, on the re-release of the 3.5e core set. I have the 2006 reprinting in black leather. Was there any additional errata past this reprinting that might be included in the re-release?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

True WotC Fan on Monte joining:

"Yay, Monte Cook, the legend, is on the team! This bodes so well for the game! Shows how open to new ideas WotC is!"

True WotC Fan on Monte leaving:

"Meh, 3ed was a mess, Monte's kind of cranky, so glad to see him go!"


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My understanding is that he finally felt it was time to abandon the D&D 5e developement when he could not convince the Hasbro corporation office that it was a bad idea to include a "pop-o-matic" with each boxed Dungeons & Dragons adventure.

Andoran

Actually, he is leaving because the Diamond Throne setting novels are being developed as a midseason replacement for A Game of Thrones.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
cibet44 wrote:
It seems very odd to announce both the playtest and Montes departure on the same day.

The fact that these two things happened so close together makes me wonder if Monte had been fighting a losing battle with "corporate" over going to a public playtest with a product that he isn't comfortable with or doesn't think is going the right direction or whatever. If that were the case, he voluntarily canceled his contract with WOTC just before they go to playtest as a way of silently saying that he's not involved with this decision.

-Skeld

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