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D&D Next a sign of distress at WotC?


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Tequila Sunrise wrote:


Rockheimr wrote:


People used to say those of us stating 4e seemed to be failing were making 'huge assumptions' and relying on 'anecdotal evidence' ... and yet here we are, 4e's quickly seeming deader than corduroy, and 5e's on it's way. Sometimes personal anecdotes and opinions seem to be correct.

Again, there was always going to be a 5e. To think otherwise is naive.

Of course there was, but not so quickly. Even WOTC in their press statements have made no bones that 5e has been rushed forward because of the dip in sales of 4e. This isn't some kind of grand secret.

Tequila Sunrise wrote:


Tacticslion wrote:
But yes, these are very bold opinions. People do make those kinds of things from time to time. Me too!

Fair enough; and here's mine. 5e will be followed by another radical edition change after about five years, thus adding to the mound of evidence that radical edition changes every five-ish years is WotC's MO. And yes, WotC will still be in the D&D business.

At approximately the same time, Paizo will switch to PF 2e. There will be gnashing of teeth by some fans, and joyous shouts from other fans; thus will PF will 'split its fanbase' as every other lasting rpg has done. Some PF fans will think "The fanbase is split, has PF begun an inexorable downward spiral?!" But those of who've seen a few edition changes will just grunt "Welcome to the edition treadmill."

And lastly, some D&Der with a chip on his shoulder will click on a thread entitled "PF 2e: a Sign of Paizo's Distress?" and comment that "PF 1e must be that bad to be running Paizo into the ground." But that won't be me, because I'll have finally learned to not get involved with petty edition BS.

Good gaming,
I'm outta here.

Here's a bit of personal opinion; I don't think gamers LIKE games having new editions every 3 or 4 years. They don't like it because they have to pay money for new rule books, new monster manuals, and so on, and they have to actually learn a new rules set.

If your business model is based upon expecting people not to notice a 3 to 4 year life span of the present edition ... then I personally think you're setting yourself up to fail.

It's interesting to me that it always seems to be the pro-4e people chuntering on about 'new editions' of PF. As far as I can see no one at Paizo has made any noises whatsoever about a new edition of PF being even planned. The Paizo guys seem smart enough to know they've created a damn good version of D&D and are supporting it in earnest. Why risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?


Rockheimr wrote:
Here's a bit of personal opinion; I don't think gamers LIKE games having new editions every 3 or 4 years. They don't like it because they have to pay money for new rule books, new monster manuals, and so on, and they have to actually learn a new rules set.

Very true. For instance, the only reason I bought the Pathfinder rulebooks was because I wanted to continue playing their APs without needing to perform any conversions. If it wasn't for the quality of the APs, I would likely never have bought any Pathfinder books, as I would have been perfectly content with my library of 3.X material :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DigitalMage wrote:


I really would like to peek into the alternative universe where WotC created a 4e that was just an overhaul to 3.5 (like 3.5 was to 3.0) and reissued new PHB, DMG & MMs and setting books.

I really think WotC would have got slammed for trying to screw the fans out of rebuying the same material with only a few changes.

I believe if WotC released the same content as in Pathfinder they would have got grief for it from a fair size groups of fans (maybe not as much as gave them grief over 4e though). I think Paizo only "got away with it" because fans were railing against WotC and wanted a "saviour" and also because Paizo were perhaps seen as the underdogs and even victims of WotC (withdrawing the magazine licences).

I think WotC would have received some grief, but if they released it on the right schedule and spun it right, I think they could have come out just fine. The 3.5 release was too soon for the extent of the changes. Had they stuck to fixing up the ranger and bard, fixing a few spells that needed work (haste, harm, others without named bonuses), and billed it as a few revisions and reorganization (like with the DMG), 3.5 would have gotten a lot less criticism. But the project ultimately looks pretty feature-creepy to me.

A more substantial revision every 5 years, I think people might respect, particularly if the core game play is highly compatible like between 1e/2e and 3.0/3.5. I even suspect a PF-like 3.75 in 2008, as an add-on to 3.5, could have even pushed the fix envelope farther than PF ended up being able to.

Whether you can pull this sort of thing off or not depends a lot on setting expectations. If you want to revisit the rules to adjust them as years of play expose limitations, set a fairly consistent schedule for it. You'll probably bring more gamers along with you than you lose.


Are wrote:
Rockheimr wrote:
Here's a bit of personal opinion; I don't think gamers LIKE games having new editions every 3 or 4 years. They don't like it because they have to pay money for new rule books, new monster manuals, and so on, and they have to actually learn a new rules set.

Very true. For instance, the only reason I bought the Pathfinder rulebooks was because I wanted to continue playing their APs without needing to perform any conversions. If it wasn't for the quality of the APs, I would likely never have bought any Pathfinder books, as I would have been perfectly content with my library of 3.X material :)

I am guessing that they would start looking at a new edition around the 9 year mark. Even then I think it would be more of a refresh then a radical change.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:
And that is what sieylianna (copy/paste! ... why didn't I do that before) is talking and complaining about. 4E was not being asked for by D&D's fans.

Well, the stuff they changed in 4e was what lots of people were saying was wrong with 3e (save or dies, grappling, wizards being overpowerful, and so on). I think what bothered lots of people were the radical nature of the fixes, especially overturning the magic system used more or less intact from editions 1-3, which felt like nerfs.

Taldor

Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
And that is what sieylianna (copy/paste! ... why didn't I do that before) is talking and complaining about. 4E was not being asked for by D&D's fans.
Well, the stuff they changed in 4e was what lots of people were saying was wrong with 3e (save or dies, grappling, wizards being overpowerful, and so on). I think what bothered lots of people were the radical nature of the fixes, especially overturning the magic system used more or less intact from editions 1-3, which felt like nerfs.

I was looking forward to 4e back in the day. I had played a lot of high level and epic 3.5, knew the 3.5 system pretty well and thought there were some flaws. Liked what I saw in the Book of 9 Swords (even if it was a bit unpolished / unedited). I followed the 4e roll out and previews, checked enworld daily for news, preordered the books etc...

Essentially I was the perfect potential customer but something about 4e's execution just didn't do it for me though, and I went pathfinder.

When they released their Essentials red box starter set, I tried it again, and was disappointed again. I can't put my finger on it, but something with the system just rubs me the wrong way.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We played 4e for over two years. We immersed ourself fully in the new system. We like some of the changes and didn't like others. In the end as the party reached higher levels, combat took longer and longer to play out. Role playing took a back seat because we simply didn't have the time. The modules weren't as interesting. The world was just wrong in so many ways. When we decided to give Pathfinder a try, it was like putting on a comfortable pair of old shoes after wearing new ones that pinched.

If I had used my own world and created my own adventures, it would have been better. But the time to resolve encounters would still have been an issue. And plus I like running other peoples modules these days. Not only for the time savings, but it is fun to me to play out these stories. And stories like RotR is simply a cut above.

Any new system WotC comes up with will need to be much better than Pathfinder to really be successful. For the sake of the D&D brand I hope they succeed. But with a huge corporate entity like Hasbro over it, I am not optimistic.

Cheers,

Mazra


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mazra wrote:


Any new system WotC comes up with will need to be much better than Pathfinder to really be successful. For the sake of the D&D brand I hope they succeed. But with a huge corporate entity like Hasbro over it, I am not optimistic.

Cheers,

Mazra

It's not just that the system will have to be better - so will the quality of the support products (adventures, accessories, etc.). I don't think WotC is capable of doing so *because* of the corporate environment.

Qadira

QXL99 wrote:
Then again, most PF products are 32, 64 or 96 page softcovers, whereas 3.5 and 4E were mostly hardbacks. It seems the market can no longer bear a new hardcover every month or two...

We knew that in 1989 when almost the entire rules set for D&D was combined in the Rules Cyclopedia and yet they left out the Sections on Immortals that had been in the Boxed Set. How to make Artefacts and Immortal rank PCs/NPCs were gone along with the vastness of important content like how to build a whole D&D Universe...

I was Disappointed they had decided to separate immortals from the RUles Cyclopedia. I didn't bother getting wrath of Immortals Boxed set.


QXL99 wrote:
Then again, most PF products are 32, 64 or 96 page softcovers, whereas 3.5 and 4E were mostly hardbacks. It seems the market can no longer bear a new hardcover every month or two...

I, for one, vastly prefer hardcovers.

The fact that PF products were almost exclusively softcovers was the main reason I only bought their APs and hardcovers until about 2 years ago. Instead, I chose to spend my money on WotC's hardcover 4E books.

The only reason that changed is because I wanted all of Paizo's awesome flavor material, and I realized that Paizo wasn't going to hardcover-ify those books.

By now, I'm just about caught up on the campaign setting and player companion lines. But had they been hardcovers, I would have been buying them from day 1.


Kthulhu wrote:
Mazra wrote:
I still don't get why WotC stopped supporting 3.5.
One of the reasons that TSR went out of business was that they split their audience into segments, both with the glut of campaign settings, and with their simultaneous support of both the Basic and Advanced lines.

Link to support this?

Basic and Advanced (IMHO) was the high point of D&D. The B and X series along with the AD&D stuff is what attracted alot of people to the game.
I will agree that the eleventy campaign settings during second edition added to their downfall, but that was 2nd edition, not during the Basic and Advanced yumminess.

Grand Lodge

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Sunderstone wrote:
Link to support this?
Lisa Stevens wrote:

It may have been at it's most popular, but the splitting of the customer base is the #1 reason why TSR went out of business. It would take me a couple of hours to explain why this was the case, but as the person responsible at WotC for taking the old TSR data and analyzing it to see why they went belly up, the biggest cause that I found was splitting the customer base into segments. Whether it was D&D vs. AD&D. Or Forgotten Realms vs. Ravenloft vs. Greyhawk vs. Dragonlance vs. Birthright vs. Dark Sun vs. Planescape vs. Mystara vs. Al-Qadim vs. Spelljammer vs. Lanhkmar vs. any other setting book that they produced. Splitting the customer base means lower sales on any particular product which means lower profit margins which eventually means going belly up.

-Lisa


2E was the 2nd edition of Advanced. Basic continued throughout 2E, in the form of the Rules Cyclopedia. It was dropped with the release of 3E.

I don't know if that had anything to do with TSR's downfall, but it certainly was going on.


I am not surprised. WotC will continue to do strong due to the Magic TCG, but the D&D market isn't going to have much luck. If they were talking about making a 4.1 Edition, with rules updates and reballancing issues being issued than I'd be "meh, good for you Wizards."

When D&D Next/5th was announced, I was "Oh, cool. Still not going to play it. I'm happy with Pathfinder and the Golarion setting."

In the end, I just don't find this sudden reversal very settling. It'll be one thing if they're keeping some sembelence (sp?) of 4th Ed, but if the only relation is the use of dice and attributes, then I see 6th Ed coming out in 2017/2018.

Again, this is just from my perspective and the response I'm feeling about this.


Random thought:

What if WoTC has the idea of making 4e/Essentials into say: "Dungeons and Dragons Tactics" and also carrying D&D Next/5.0 as the more "traditional D&D RPG" (looking at this from what video games did for Final Fantasy/Final Fantasy Tactics)?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Digitalelf wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:
Link to support this?
Lisa Stevens wrote:

It may have been at it's most popular, but the splitting of the customer base is the #1 reason why TSR went out of business. It would take me a couple of hours to explain why this was the case, but as the person responsible at WotC for taking the old TSR data and analyzing it to see why they went belly up, the biggest cause that I found was splitting the customer base into segments. Whether it was D&D vs. AD&D. Or Forgotten Realms vs. Ravenloft vs. Greyhawk vs. Dragonlance vs. Birthright vs. Dark Sun vs. Planescape vs. Mystara vs. Al-Qadim vs. Spelljammer vs. Lanhkmar vs. any other setting book that they produced. Splitting the customer base means lower sales on any particular product which means lower profit margins which eventually means going belly up.

-Lisa

And WotC coming up with a whole new system, split the customer base eventually in favor of Paizo. WotC did OK going from 3.0 to 3.5. Paizo did OK going from 3.5 to Pathfinder. The lesson learned is taking small steps to improve the system seems to be the way to go. WotC gambled on a reboot and lost. TSR just kept making new campaign settings and lost. The more I think about it, I don't see how WotC coming up with yet another reboot will work. I sincerely hope I am wrong.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
2E was the 2nd edition of Advanced. Basic continued throughout 2E, in the form of the Rules Cyclopedia. It was dropped with the release of 3E.

Technically, BECMI D&D (of which the Rules Cyclopedia was a compilation/reprint of the BECM portion) was the "4th edition of D&D." As it states on the inside of my Expert Rulebook: "The Dungeons & Dragons game, first created in 1974, has changed as more and more people have played it. You may find three earlier versions--the Original Set, in small brown or white boxes (now collectors items), the 'blue book' edition of 1978, and the 'red book' edition of 1981."

D&D 3.0/3.5 owed much more to AD&D when it came to how things worked than to BECMI. In contrast, 4e/Essentials seemed to try to move things closer to BECMI while keeping some things from 3.0/3.5. Unfortunately, there were too many radical changes (both to the "crunch" and the "fluff") to suit the traditionalists and not enough new blood was brought in to sustain profits at the desired levels.


I think one of the primary problems for 4E was in making so wide-ranging changes that it was near-impossible for a customer to continue using their 3.X purchases alongside the 4E rules.

Several players in my area had hoped 4E would be a revision to fix the issues of 3.X, while still allowing for a minimal amount of conversion work to continue using their many books (the same way 3.5 was a revision to 3.0). Instead, 4E was a completely new system. Those players didn't relish the idea of having to buy all-new books for use with 4E, and instead went back to using 3.5 as their system of choice.

Another big problem (which was my own main issue with 4E) was the lackluster adventure support. The late-era 3.5 adventures and the 4E adventures both shared the same flawed approach; the delve style simply doesn't work for me (one room being detailed in two separate sections far apart in the book is just silly), and the adventures don't have the flow of Paizo's offerings (as seen both in Dungeon and in Pathfinder APs). Adventures more closely resembling the Paizo style would have served to make me give the system much more of a chance than I did. As it was, it was simply far more appealing to run 3.5/PF games with Paizo's APs than to run 4E games with WotC's adventures.

D&D Next probably won't fix the first issue, but I definitely hope they take steps to fix the second issue :)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Theyve been moving further away from the delve format in their latest offerings. In my opinion, they still dont read as nicely as Paizo adventures - I like the fact I can basically read a PF adventure almost as a story, just glossing over the game statistics. On the other hand, I guess the WoTC format is easier to just pick up and run without needing to be fully on top of the material.

Qadira

Steve Geddes wrote:
Theyve been moving further away from the delve format in their latest offerings. In my opinion, they still dont read as nicely as Paizo adventures - I like the fact I can basically read a PF adventure almost as a story, just glossing over the game statistics. On the other hand, I guess the WoTC format is easier to just pick up and run without needing to be fully on top of the material.

I haven't played any of WotC's recent modules, so I can't comment on them, but personally I don't like the story-based adventure in the Paizo style all that much. To me, the perfect module is simply a large sprawling and organic adventure environment where there's things to kill and stuff to steal, as well as a lot of fiddly magical weirdness for the players to mess around with. The plot of the game should emerge from the actions taken by the players, not from the whims of the module's designers who wanted to use their D&D adventure to tell an awesome story.

It's the difference between most modern-day first-person shooters and action games, which are mainly linear tunnel-runs interspersed with story-based cut-scenes, and more open-world games like Skyrim and Saints Row, which just give you a large world to play in, with the plot of the game being on hold should you wish to ever pursue it. I prefer the latter not only in video games, but also on tabletop.

Now, as far as the topic goes: yeah, D&D Next is clearly a sign of distress from WotC. Even 4e was already a sign of distress from WotC. 4e was made only because 3.5 wasn't making them enough money to meet Hasbro's unrealistic demands, so launching a new edition with full digital support as part of the business plan was their panic-button solution. Unfortunately, said new edition, while attracting lots of new players and making, in RPG industry terms, loads of cash, also managed to alienate a number of old players. So, while WotC is still raking in the cash with 4e, they're not making nearly enough to appease Hasbro. Thus, we're getting another edition in such a short space of time.

It's important to remember that 4e was released as a reaction to a policy change at Hasbro which pretty much demanded that all of Hasbro's "core brands" had to make a certain amount of overhead to be even considered worth supporting. The problem with this, as far as D&D goes, is that there simply isn't enough money in the RPG hobby these days to consider that sort of overhead realistic, even for the leading brand. The one time it might've worked was in the 80s, when every kid wanted a D&D Red Box for Christmas. Said Red Box is still the most commercially successful edition of D&D, largely due to the fact that it was an amazing introductory game, but also because it didn't have to compete with modern video games.

So, yeah, as much as I hope that WotC makes a good game that is successful, I don't see Next making nearly enough money to justify its existence for any great amount of time. I hope I'm proven wrong, because the D&D brand is just too awesome not to exist.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Ratpick wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Theyve been moving further away from the delve format in their latest offerings. In my opinion, they still dont read as nicely as Paizo adventures - I like the fact I can basically read a PF adventure almost as a story, just glossing over the game statistics. On the other hand, I guess the WoTC format is easier to just pick up and run without needing to be fully on top of the material.
I haven't played any of WotC's recent modules, so I can't comment on them, but personally I don't like the story-based adventure in the Paizo style all that much. To me, the perfect module is simply a large sprawling and organic adventure environment where there's things to kill and stuff to steal, as well as a lot of fiddly magical weirdness for the players to mess around with. The plot of the game should emerge from the actions taken by the players, not from the whims of the module's designers who wanted to use their D&D adventure to tell an awesome story.

I like those too, but they're not as much fun to read. Most of the modules I buy will never be used at the table - I get way too little time for that. Being easy to read is of value to me too.

By the way, you should get Rappan Athuk - at least if you like dungeons. It's just what you described as "the perfect module".

Qadira

Steve Geddes wrote:
I like those too, but they're not as much fun to read. Most of the modules I buy will never be used at the table - I get way too little time for that. Being easy to read is of value to me too.

Yeah, I admit that most location-based adventures aren't all that good reading, but some of the best ones just scream to be played and run because they have so much fun and fiddly stuff in them.

Steve Geddes wrote:
By the way, you should get Rappan Athuk - at least if you like dungeons. It's just what you described as "the perfect module".

I've heard a lot of good things about Rappan Athuk and really like what I'm hearing, but I've been putting off buying it due to the rather high cost. I'm pretty sure I will get it at some point, but as of now I'd rather buy a few cheaper mega-dungeon modules than one expensive mega-mega-dungeon. Incidentally, I'm waiting for Dwimmermount and Barrowmaze 2 with bated breath at the moment.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I can appreciate the hesitation. I pledged to the kickstarter, which was a lot of money but a bargain. There's something I really like about big, thick books. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

On the whole 3.X vs. 4th edition stuff; I was DMing a 2nd ed Planescape game when WotC started publishing previews of 3rd edition, and it really caught my gaming group. We started looking at things like how the 18/% strength was going away and how to convert that number to a 3rd ed. number (our fighter was very happy because she went from an 18/73 strength to something like a 24), or how wizards were going to get bonus spells. They did a great job (I feel) in making people excited about the next edition and printed information for a year before hand on how to convert your characters. Roll ahead a few years and WotC starts talking 4th edition and basically says there's no conversion, just start a new campaign. That didn't set will with me, (not to mention how they "killed" the Dungeon and Dragon magazines) and when it was published and we did play it felt so meh it wasn't even funny.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The fact that 4th edition didn't help you convert characters was yet another big thing at the time that I'd forgotten about. I remember looking at (and asking) how to convert stuff, and nothing really ever came out for or about that.

That just added to the general sense of "we don't care" that I got as a customer from trying to engage with them.

Still, I do hope that they'll have conversion materials to move from 4E to 5E. That would, I think, aid immensely in gamers trying to go from 4 to 5.

(Also, they seriously need better pre-published adventures. Keep on Shadowfell. KEEP ON SHADOWFELL. This was your big "let's show what 4E can do!", WotC? Really? And the worst of it was: it never got better! Thunderspire Labyrinth, Pyramid of Shadows, Trollhaunt Warrens, every single thing was always "The power of plot compels: COMBAT!" and almost all of it very boring. There were a few nifty ideas there, though... that they never did anything with. Step up your game, WotC! Make stuff worth supporting!)


Ratpick wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Theyve been moving further away from the delve format in their latest offerings. In my opinion, they still dont read as nicely as Paizo adventures - I like the fact I can basically read a PF adventure almost as a story, just glossing over the game statistics. On the other hand, I guess the WoTC format is easier to just pick up and run without needing to be fully on top of the material.

I haven't played any of WotC's recent modules, so I can't comment on them, but personally I don't like the story-based adventure in the Paizo style all that much. To me, the perfect module is simply a large sprawling and organic adventure environment where there's things to kill and stuff to steal, as well as a lot of fiddly magical weirdness for the players to mess around with. The plot of the game should emerge from the actions taken by the players, not from the whims of the module's designers who wanted to use their D&D adventure to tell an awesome story.

It's the difference between most modern-day first-person shooters and action games, which are mainly linear tunnel-runs interspersed with story-based cut-scenes, and more open-world games like Skyrim and Saints Row, which just give you a large world to play in, with the plot of the game being on hold should you wish to ever pursue it. I prefer the latter not only in video games, but also on tabletop.

I don't know. Module designers can certainly go overboard with story and railroads piss me off, but I need something kick down the door, kill the monster, take the treasure. Playing characters motivated solely by greed doesn't interest me. I like there to be better reasons to do things than that. I want the creatures we fight to have plans and motives and need to stopped for some reason beyond we want their stuff.

If there isn't threat to deal with, why am I not just sitting back at the bar drinking and wenching?

And the "putting the plot on hold" thing in videogames drives me crazy. You go and spend three weeks doing side quests then come back and the villian's still standing in the same spot waiting for you. Why go after him at all? His evil plans won't go anywhere unless I interact with him. I know why videogames work that way, of course, but it's one of the things I much prefer about actual RPGs. The GM makes the world react to what you do.


There is what looks like a actual new adventure "Reclaiming Blingdenstone" in the update to the latest playtest packet. I haven't had a chance to look through it yet, but it might give an idea of what type of adventures they're thinking of.

Unlike the Caves of Chaos in the first playtest packet which was just a quick convert of the classic 1E module.

Shadow Lodge

Well, I read somewhere that WotC has announced a greater emphasis on adventures and settings in 5E. Admittedly, there's almost nowhere to go but up in that regards, but that announcement does make me far more optimistic for 5E's future than anything else they possibly could have said.

Admittedly, it does seem to be somewhat at odds with the whole "modular" conecpt...but maybe they've abandoned that idea. I never thought it was that great anyway...sounded more like an excuse to release a deluge of rules sourcebooks than anything else. I think modularity in RPGs, and I think of something like GURPS, where there's a sourcebook for every ridiculously narrow concept imaginable.


any indication of a street release date? late 2013?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
wicked cool wrote:
any indication of a street release date? late 2013?

Considering that playtest period is supposedly to take 2 years and that such stuff gets released on GenCon or else... I'll hazard a guess for GenCon 2014.

Perfect moment for Pathfinder Revised to go head to head against 5E, don't you all think? :P


Digitalelf wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:
Link to support this?
Lisa Stevens wrote:

It may have been at it's most popular, but the splitting of the customer base is the #1 reason why TSR went out of business. It would take me a couple of hours to explain why this was the case, but as the person responsible at WotC for taking the old TSR data and analyzing it to see why they went belly up, the biggest cause that I found was splitting the customer base into segments. Whether it was D&D vs. AD&D. Or Forgotten Realms vs. Ravenloft vs. Greyhawk vs. Dragonlance vs. Birthright vs. Dark Sun vs. Planescape vs. Mystara vs. Al-Qadim vs. Spelljammer vs. Lanhkmar vs. any other setting book that they produced. Splitting the customer base means lower sales on any particular product which means lower profit margins which eventually means going belly up.

-Lisa

IMHO, from an armchair perspective, I agree with the split fanbase assessment due to the bazillion campaign settings more than the Basic/AD&D split. Both editions were pretty popular with decent sized module support in the B, X, and AD&D lines. Most of which were wildly popular back then. 2E seemed to kill the game with all the campaign settings like FR, RL, Greyhawk, Planescape, Dark Sun, Birthright, Al-Qadim, Mystara, Spelljammer, Dragonlance, etc. I could see those eating into sales more by fan base fracturing. I stopped buying FR stuff when Planescape was released for example.

5E promising a focus on adventures is a good thing, more campaign settings ... Not so much (didn't they learn anything from 2E?). WotC needs to get a clue from Paizo, the Padawan must guide the senile Jedi here. The new edition needs one well supported setting and lots of adventures (for the people that may not have the time to home brew). It seems to have worked for Paizo, and some other publishers like Goodman, and Necromancer (in Necro's module pumping golden age).
Again, these are just armchair opinions from a 30+ year player/DM.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sunderstone, one of the things they talked about in this interveiw, is the fact that they're going to basically be selling PDF-versions of the older stuff (which will help reduce that kind of overhead for them), and for campaign settings, they're going to take the time to support each one fully... but individually.

So, for example, for the next while they're planning on starting with Forgotten Realms. After they've supported the daylights out of that for a while, they'll support Eberron. After they've supported the daylights out of that for a bit, they'll support whatever the next one is. (NOTE: I don't actually know the order after Forgotten Realms).

While I don't know how this will work out for them (it might result in a cycle of fans purchase only when their particular setting is supported instead of constantly), I also don't know how, exactly, they're planning on doing this. They could handle it well, or not.

(Also: watch that video. It's pretty great!)

EDIT: and to clarify, Gorbacz, I thought that your post was funny, not terribly likly. :)


Tacticslion wrote:
So, for example, for the next while they're planning on starting with Forgotten Realms. After they've supported the daylights out of that for a while, they'll support Eberron. After they've supported the daylights out of that for a bit, they'll support whatever the next one is. (NOTE: I don't actually know the order after Forgotten Realms).

That sounds like the same thing they did for 4E (FR one year, Eberron the next, then Dark Sun), except hopefully they'll produce more than 2 books for each setting.


Gorbacz wrote:
Perfect moment for Pathfinder Revised to go head to head against 5E, don't you all think? :P

I'd be all for that, but I think Pathfinder "only" lasting five years might piss a lot of people off...

As for D&D, I really don't see how they're going to last another two years with an essentially dead product line. I've often read that once a new edition or version of a product is announced, current edition sales tank.

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
bugleyman wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Perfect moment for Pathfinder Revised to go head to head against 5E, don't you all think? :P

I'd be all for that, but I think Pathfinder "only" lasting five years might piss a lot of people off...

As for D&D, I really don't see how they're going to last another two years with an essentially dead product line. I've often read that once a new edition or version of a product is announced, current edition sales tank.

I am guessing they are hoping for good word of mouth to stay relevant and in the public eye. Also I wouldn't be remotely surprised if they try and use their encounters community to try and run playtest games in game stories and other events. They also could sell the playtest rules once they get far enough along say at Gencon next year.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
I am guessing they are hoping for good word of mouth to stay relevant and in the public eye. Also I wouldn't be remotely surprised if they try and use their encounters community to try and run playtest games in game stories and other events. They also could sell the playtest rules once they get far enough along say at Gencon next year.

This is just about the only thing that would get me back to the Encounters table again at this point. The vicious cycle of hitting level 2, maybe level 3 if I came to every game, and then starting over from scratch again really started to drag after a few seasons.


Tacticslion wrote:

(Also: watch that video. It's pretty great!)

Just watched it, thx for the link. It just confirms some of my opinions about WotC leading the brand back into crap.

Apologies for what comes next...

Kevin Kulp was beating around the bush about the effects of RSEs, and didnt seem to want to ask the question directly. The only thing I got out of it is that the novelists (RA Salvatore & co.) will be making another RSE via six novels to "reset" the world yet again, and this time will be almost the same exact problem.
Instead of the novelists changing canon... WotC will write adventures and depending on how we play them, that will change canon. It sounds almost like they will be surveying player groups and if the majority destroys sembia for example, then Sembia will remain destroyed in future products. It still will invalidate the pre-sembian destruction sourcebooks etc.
So...
1) There will be more of these RSEs.
2) They still cant just leave the canon altering events up to us in our home games without changing the setting in future official products.

Utter crap, IMHO.

Mechanically, I'll have to wait and see. Mike Mearls was a pretty bad salesperson just repeating alot of the same words over and over in an effort to have some impact on the Gen Con audience. Weak as usual.
Greenwood looks to be hanging on to whatever he can make by his past reputation alone, I still remember his article about roofing on the WotC website during 3E. I'm less than enthusiastic from the video.

Disclaimer*** As usual, just my opinions. YMMV and all that. Apologies once again if my post pisses someone off. We are all entitled to an opinion.

Qadira

thejeff wrote:
Ratpick wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Theyve been moving further away from the delve format in their latest offerings. In my opinion, they still dont read as nicely as Paizo adventures - I like the fact I can basically read a PF adventure almost as a story, just glossing over the game statistics. On the other hand, I guess the WoTC format is easier to just pick up and run without needing to be fully on top of the material.

I haven't played any of WotC's recent modules, so I can't comment on them, but personally I don't like the story-based adventure in the Paizo style all that much. To me, the perfect module is simply a large sprawling and organic adventure environment where there's things to kill and stuff to steal, as well as a lot of fiddly magical weirdness for the players to mess around with. The plot of the game should emerge from the actions taken by the players, not from the whims of the module's designers who wanted to use their D&D adventure to tell an awesome story.

It's the difference between most modern-day first-person shooters and action games, which are mainly linear tunnel-runs interspersed with story-based cut-scenes, and more open-world games like Skyrim and Saints Row, which just give you a large world to play in, with the plot of the game being on hold should you wish to ever pursue it. I prefer the latter not only in video games, but also on tabletop.

I don't know. Module designers can certainly go overboard with story and railroads piss me off, but I need something kick down the door, kill the monster, take the treasure. Playing characters motivated solely by greed doesn't interest me. I like there to be better reasons to do things than that. I want the creatures we fight to have plans and motives and need to stopped for some reason beyond we want their stuff.

If there isn't threat to deal with, why am I not just sitting back at the bar drinking and wenching?

And the "putting the plot on hold" thing in videogames drives me crazy. You go and spend three weeks...

Yeah, I understand that it's different strokes for different folks, but try to bear with me:

I think there's enough story inherent in the old formula of "Here's a dungeon, there's some treasure, go kill the monsters and steal their treasure!" provided that
1) the players are motivated enough to pursue that sort of thing (and if they're not, get the f~&$ out, this is D&D we're playing, not some artsy fartsy storygame)
2) the adventure location has interesting possibilities for an emergent plot.

Admittedly, a purely random dungeon isn't any good at all for the sake of telling any kind of a story, but a well-crafted location-based adventure can tell a number of stories. For an example, assume that the first level of your hypothetical dungeon is inhabited by one tribe of kobolds and one tribe of goblins fighting over an ancient magical artifact (this may or may not be the meta-plot of a mega-dungeon I'm writing at the moment), the dungeon itself has many openings for potential stories. Do the PCs help the kobolds or the goblins, do the PCs steal the artifact (and thus provoke the ire of both the goblins and the kobolds) or do they just ignore that entire potential plot entirely and just focus on going down towards the lower levels of the dungeon?

As far as my videogame comparison goes, I admit that it was flawed. I know that "putting the story on hold" as I put it isn't very realistic, but at the same time I love any game that allows me to do that, simply because it allows me to explore the world and see what sorts of stories will emerge from my gameplay. Skyrim is especially good about emergent narrative, because I can see almost every single character defining choice of mine somehow being reflected by the narrative of the game itself (all the way from the fact that if I'm the leader of the Thieves Guild all the random thieves I encounter will prostate themselves before me to give me the respect that I deserve to the idea that if I develop my magic skills enough I will find myself challenged by upstart Mages wanting to prove their lot in the world).

Related to your point of characters without a motivation beyond selfishness: I admit, when I got into RPGs I really thought about each of my characters' motivations very deeply. These days, I play it fast and loose. If my DM wants to run a story-based campaign, I won't be a dick and say "No, my character wouldn't follow that story." If my DM wants to run an old-school campaign, I'll say "F~!% yeah, I'll play my character like Conan and Cugel and Mouser and all the other characters who informed the old-school playstyle, let's go out there and kill their stuff!"

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the assumptions of the game have changed a lot. Back in the days your character didn't need a real motivation for going down into dungeons and ridding monsters of their well-earned treasures, you just did it because it was there and you needed the money to level up. These days the game is less about the loot and more about the story, so obviously people will want their adventures to come with plot-hooks to lure in their characters. Personally though? I prefer the former, simply because I crave nothing more from a game called Dungeons & Dragons (and its various simulacra with different names) than going down into a dungeon to kill a dragon so I may steal their stuff.

(Do take all of this with a grain of salt. I'm no scholar on the old-school philosophy, being a relatively recent convert. My personal tastes just drive me towards retro-clones like Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry over Pathfinder and 4e, even though I'd play the other two in a heartbeat provided someone was running them.)

EDIT: Haha, I just noticed a hilarious typo in my post, but I won't correct it because it's too amazing. "I'll go out there and kill their stuff" indeed!


What are RSEs?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Realms-Shattering Events, iirc. Basically, campaign setting resets, where the nations and powers and gods get all shaken up and rearranged and you have to buy new books.

Shadow Lodge

bugleyman wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Perfect moment for Pathfinder Revised to go head to head against 5E, don't you all think? :P
I'd be all for that, but I think Pathfinder "only" lasting five years might piss a lot of people off...

I dunno, it might be funny to watch how quickly some people would backpedal in order to support the messiah of all gaming, Paizo, against the insidiously evil WotC.


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


As for D&D, I really don't see how they're going to last another two years with an essentially dead product line. I've often read that once a new edition or version of a product is announced, current edition sales tank.

This is something I'm finding baffling, at the moment. Their production schedule has slowed so dramatically and theyve ceded so much market share. I guess they're aiming to come back with a bang as "the next big thing". I'll be very curious to see if they can maintain that momentum.

Gorbacz - where did you read that the playtest would be two years? I thought they were aiming for a gen con 2013 release.

Qadira

Kthulhu wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Perfect moment for Pathfinder Revised to go head to head against 5E, don't you all think? :P
I'd be all for that, but I think Pathfinder "only" lasting five years might piss a lot of people off...
I dunno, it might be funny to watch how quickly some people would backpedal in order to support the messiah of all gaming, Paizo, against the insidiously evil WotC.

Well, history shows that pretty much any game line will eventually run out of gas. When that happens to Pathfinder, Paizo may be faced with the choice of making a new Pathfinder or making an entirely new game. I personally would hope for the latter, because with Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Adventurer Conqueror King, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Pathfinder, Dungeon World and D&D 4e I've got enough Dungeons & Dragons to keep me playing until the day that I die, so another version of fantasy "kill things and take their stuff" would be unnecessary.


As a 37 year old who has played 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 3.5. I can say that the company was seriously trying to tap into the MMORG(for game play) and Anime/Manga(for background info) crowd with 4th ed.(The Book of Nine Swords was so anime I think they tried to test that market with that book) They must have learned quick that eventhough MMORG's dominated PC gaming and Anime has had a stranglehold on animation, D&D players don't all fit into that niche.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Source re: playtest length. Since playtest began in early 2012, it will be over in 2014 just before GenCon release. I'm curious how much of this is because Monte decided that he's better off going solo.

WotC will live the next two years on previous edition reprints and dumping all PDFs into DDI (except, of course, you won't be able to use them offline else somebody at Hasbro board of directors will get a stroke. Again.)

Meanwhile, The Messiah Of Gaming That We So Blindly Venerate (sometimes known as Paizo) will likely be ready for that, to much rejoicing of Blind Rabid Fanboys such as myself.

:-)


Ratpick wrote:

Yeah, I understand that it's different strokes for different folks, but try to bear with me:

I think there's enough story inherent in the old formula of "Here's a dungeon, there's some treasure, go kill the monsters and steal their treasure!" provided that
1) the players are motivated enough to pursue that sort of thing (and if they're not, get the f++# out, this is D&D we're playing, not some artsy fartsy storygame)
2) the adventure location has interesting possibilities for an emergent plot.

Admittedly, a purely random dungeon isn't any good at all for the sake of telling any kind of a story, but a well-crafted location-based adventure can tell a number of stories. For an example, assume that the first level of your hypothetical dungeon is inhabited by one tribe of kobolds and one tribe of goblins fighting over an ancient magical artifact (this may or may not be the meta-plot of a mega-dungeon I'm writing at the moment), the dungeon itself has many openings for potential stories. Do the PCs help the kobolds or the goblins, do the PCs steal the artifact (and thus provoke the ire of both the goblins and the kobolds) or do they just ignore that entire potential plot entirely and just focus on going down towards the lower levels of the dungeon?

As far as my videogame comparison goes, I admit that it was flawed. I know that "putting the story on hold" as I put it isn't very realistic, but at the same time I love any game that allows me to do that, simply because it allows me to explore the world and see what sorts of stories will emerge from my gameplay. Skyrim is especially good about emergent narrative, because I can see almost every single character defining choice of mine somehow being reflected by the narrative of the game itself (all the way from the fact that if I'm the leader of the Thieves Guild all the random thieves I encounter will prostate themselves before me to give me the respect that I deserve to the idea that if I develop my magic skills enough I will find myself challenged by upstart Mages wanting to prove their lot in the world).

Related to your point of characters without a motivation beyond selfishness: I admit, when I got into RPGs I really thought about each of my characters' motivations very deeply. These days, I play it fast and loose. If my DM wants to run a story-based campaign, I won't be a dick and say "No, my character wouldn't follow that story." If my DM wants to run an old-school campaign, I'll say "F%@+ yeah, I'll play my character like Conan and Cugel and Mouser and all the other characters who informed the old-school playstyle, let's go out there and kill their stuff!"

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the assumptions of the game have changed a lot. Back in the days your character didn't need a real motivation for going down into dungeons and ridding monsters of their well-earned treasures, you just did it because it was there and you needed the money to level up. These days the game is less about the loot and more about the story, so obviously people will want their adventures to come with plot-hooks to lure in their characters. Personally though? I prefer the former, simply because I crave nothing more from a game called Dungeons & Dragons (and its various simulacra with different names) than going down into a dungeon to kill a dragon so I may steal their stuff.

(Do take all of this with a grain of salt. I'm no scholar on the old-school philosophy, being a relatively recent convert. My personal tastes just drive me towards retro-clones like Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry over Pathfinder and 4e, even though I'd play the other two in a heartbeat provided someone was running them.)

EDIT: Haha, I just noticed a hilarious typo in my post, but I won't correct it because it's too amazing. "I'll go out there and kill their stuff" indeed!

I suspect the "old-school" is over blown, in this sense at least. Yeah, it seems like Gary played that way, but even a lot of the original modules had a bit more motivation than "There's loot there." And a lot of the new ones don't have much more. Some are "There's loot there." Many are "You've been hired to." Of course, it's hard to do much else in a module.

I've been playing (on and off) since AD&D came out and we've never really played "old-school". Nor what I'd consider heavily railroaded. The story was there. There was a threat to deal with and that provides the motivation to go into the dungeons and all the other fun stuff.

As for Conan and all the others, even most of those stories involved more motivation than just the loot and the thrill, though there was a lot of that too. Conan also tended to start each story dead broke, having drunk away the fortune he'd found in the last. That's hard to do in D&D. Hard to pull off when you're walking around with the price of a small city in magic items. Playing a loot motivated adventurer might suit me better if you didn't have to just pump it all back into getting better at seeking loot, either paying for training to level or magic gear.

I have had the idea for a campaign structured like the Conan stories. Each adventure ends with triumph and small fortune. Each new one begins a few weeks/months later with you broke and maybe fleeing for your lives: from the enemy army or the guards or something into the next adventure.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Source re: playtest length. Since playtest began in early 2012, it will be over in 2014 just before GenCon release.

Cheers. I'm still surprised that they plan on being out of the race for so long. I guess it's a mild form of the "shelving a brand for a while and then relaunch it" strategy. The PDF focus isn't out of the blue. It still wouldnt surprise me if D&D:Next is PDF only (or predominantly).

Having said that, it seems pretty clear they're aiming at the pre 3.5 crowd, so maybe there'll be a focus on actual books.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

They haven't said anything about PDFs yet, have they? They've only mentioned "electronic distribution" as far as I've seen.

I don't see PDFs as part of their strategy, otherwise, they'd have outright said it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Kthulu, you might want to tone down the "Paizo ain't so hot" stuff.

I mean, yes, Paizo is made of entirely fallible mortal people. But every time I see you mention just about anything about them, lately, it seems only to say, "I don't like Paizo as much as most people on the boards." which, when you get down it, is kind of a strange position to hold on the Paizo forums. I mean, you're entirely entitled to your own opinion, but the amount that you keep bringing it up is kind of strange to me and might be somewhat off-putting, especially if you're trying, at all, to engage in conversation.

If you'd like to talk about actual points of contention, I'm all for hearing it, but at current, it just sounds like you're putting those who like and prefer Pathfinder down just for the sake of putting them down.

Are wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
So, for example, for the next while they're planning on starting with Forgotten Realms. After they've supported the daylights out of that for a while, they'll support Eberron. After they've supported the daylights out of that for a bit, they'll support whatever the next one is. (NOTE: I don't actually know the order after Forgotten Realms).
That sounds like the same thing they did for 4E (FR one year, Eberron the next, then Dark Sun), except hopefully they'll produce more than 2 books for each setting.

In the video, they pretty much straight-up admitted that they hadn't supported the lines enough in 4E, and that they'll do better this time.

And Sunderstone, I don't know:

1) Yes, it will be a Realms Shaking Event... but this is the Realms. They happen all the time.

2) It's very clearly not something akin to the Spellplague (Ed was pretty strong on that), and it seems less like even a Time of Troubles-type thing, based on the way they're talking about it (speculation has it that they're taking Aebir entirely out of Toril, and that Mystra/other gods is/are coming back).

3) Making the result of a living world the results of what the players do? That sounds... pretty great! ... with the noted caveat that it sounds pretty great, if they can pull it off. Now, this may alienate some players, reference their home campaigns, but they do that anyway with any sort of metaplot they have, and for those who play the living world stuff? That makes it theirs. And whether or not authors can translate that into a book, that's a powerful incentive for people to play the "official" games - which translates to more revenue for WotC. I think it's a really savvy move on the part of WotC... but they could screw it up badly and I acknowledge that.

4) Home games that don't purchase more of their stuff translates into poor revenue for WotC.

5) I've managed to run (and play in) several long-term campaigns in FR stretching back to 2E that have more or less been able to roll with the official canon, despite the world-shaking events. Has everything lined up? Nope. But it mostly does, and what little doesn't takes the most minor of ret-cons to work; that's pretty neat to me.

So anyway, it's not a problem, but I just wanted to talk to you about that a bit, to have more of a conversation. :)

Ratpick: Ugh! Ack! Story-less dungeons are story-less! (You and I clearly have very different tastes in games. Which is fine! Just definitely not how I like my RPGs. :D)

EDIT: ninja'd by Gorbacz, and thejeff


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Brian E. Harris wrote:

They haven't said anything about PDFs yet, have they? They've only mentioned "electronic distribution" as far as I've seen.

I don't see PDFs as part of their strategy, otherwise, they'd have outright said it.

Most of their 4E adventures are PDF products. You need a DDI subscription to access them (and they wont store them for you the way paizo do - you can only redownload them if you have an active subscription). Nonetheless, most of their material is released via PDF which you are allowed to download. They generally focus on bite-sized PDFs - the largest are around 40 pages or so. They also dont put out a print copy with an electronic copy of the same book, which seems to be what people think of when they think of "PDFs".

.
I wouldnt see them proclaiming it as such if that's how D&D:Next is to be distributed - it's pretty much how they've delivered the bulk (by page count) of their material for the last couple of years.

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