Today, with very little surprise, Wizards of the Coast announced that they were working on the 5th edition of the venerable game Dungeons & Dragons. Rumours of the announcement have been swirling through the Internet for a while now, particularly after it was revealed that veteran D&D game designer Monte Cook had rejoined the R&D Team.
First of all, a brief summary of the facts as we know them:
They are very aware of the contentious nature of DnD4e and are attempting to create a version of DnD that will please everyone. They have said as much, and I wish them all the best as they attempt the impossible. The last thing I would want from them is a game designed by committee which is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Having said that, I have loved the work done by Monte Cook in the past, and at this stage I am confident that he and Mike Mearls will shepherd the process effectively.
From the announcement:
[…] we are excited to share with you that starting in Spring 2012, we will be taking this process one step further and conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it. With your feedback and involvement, we can make D&D better than ever. We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.
Noble and lofty goals indeed and we genuinely hope that they pull it off. From reading through the hundreds of comments on twitter, the announcement page, and all over the web, it really does appear as if almost everyone has a different idea about what DnD should be going forward, what was ‘wrong’ with the last edition and how to ‘fix it’. It is going to be quite challenging for them to take on so much feedback (assuming that this is something that they are genuinely intending to do) and turn it into something that everyone wants to play.
Encouragingly, the playtesting process looks like it is going to be a pretty open affair. They have stated that they will be after as much input as they can get throughout the process, so you will have a good chance to be involved. You can sign up to be on the mailing list for announcements here. I encourage you to do so – have your say!
The important thing to remember is that they are very passionate about the game and want to see it continue for future generations to experience. I am convinced that, for the majority of the developers of the game, it is much more than ‘just a job’ and they have every desire to turn out the best possible product for us to enjoy. There will be a temptation for some to be immediately critical of their efforts, but this won’t be helpful in the long term. Nobody wants to see a future where there is no version of D&D being worked on, developed and published.
Finally, a quote from The Angry DM which I thought was poignant at this time:
So, you can bitch and piss and moan and start edition wars and talk about why you hate WotC or D&D or 4E or 3E or whatever. And all that does is piss away the chance you have to constructively help make a new edition you want to play. If you do the bitchy pissy moany thing instead of the honest constructive thing, you’re saying you care more about hating D&D than D&D.