Monday, February 2, 2015

Them Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Blues

I like Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.

It has a bit of simplicity that harkens back to previous editions that as a Game Master, make it easier to run things on the fly for me than they were when I first started 3rd or 4th edition. Mind you, at the end of 3rd edition I was able to cobble things together off the cuff with the best of them but that was almost a decade of system mastery.

I do not like the support around 5th edition.

The two hardcover adventurers weren't my style and they were expensive. When you talk about inflation, the old hardcovers were 160 pages for $29.95. The two adventurers were $29.95 and were 96 pages each. That's a BIT of a price increase.

The Dungeon Master screen was a wash. Almost useless in the information it provides, it has a great piece of cover art and is very inexpensive.

The meta support for the game? So awful.

In an era where people binge watch some of the greatest media ever created and don't look back, WoTC support strategy seems to be "me'h".

Dragon and Dungeon Magazine, which could easily have acted as a gateway to the game? Not even supported electronically anymore.

Online support? Things to get people coming back to the WoTC site? Minimal. Here's the bad thing. I thing PvP and its creator, Scott R. Kurzt, have brought more attention to Dungeons and Dragons than the official Dungeons and Dragons site. Their comic Table Titans is a great example of using the web to provide small amounts of new material on a regular basis to get readers eyes on the site. WoTC needs something like that of their own, in-house, updated on a regular basis to bring eyes to the site.

Actual support? Wizards of the Coast just released something called "Unearthed Arcana". A few pages with no illustrations and no page design to them. It looks like something that fell off of some designer's desk that WoTC said, "Yeah, put that up online."

This is terrible. People, well, me, I expect some professionalism from WoTC. With all of the stock art they have, with all of the templates for designed books they have, with all of the trade dress they have, the best they could do is this? This half-baked mess? Well, you get what you pay for here.

Here's how I judge it. Have any of my players immediately bugged me to use any of the races or other bits? No.

But what about other aspects?

How about the electronic support? You know, the tools to replace the DDI?

Not happening. Either WoTC didn't know what they were doing when they teamed up with the company they were using or they decided it was going to cost too much money or a squirrel ran by with a bit of shiny because it's been dropped and there has been no tool to replace it.

What about a gaming license so that other companies can make products? Well, companies are making products, but they are all unofficial products so whatever 'skaff' effect WoTC might have gained, have been lost. What would the meme be here? "Bro, do you even OGL?"

My opinion hasn't changed much from my earlier musings on the subject. Unless WoTC somehow surprises me, 5th edition will be the last print edition of the game.

1. Firings continue. The staff was small to begin with.

2. Competition is not going away. Paizo may be producing too much material as its floating around in Half-Price books now in pretty hefty volumes indicating it's not some one off customer dropping these books off, but they're still number one.

3. People have short attention spans. With Kickstarter acting as a marketing machine, role playing companies are using it to effectively engage with their consumer base on levels that WoTC never has.

4. The books aren't legally available electronically.  Remember when WoTC took their ball (aka all legal PDF documents) off of DriveThru? Well, all of the OLD material is back but if you want to legally have a copy of the 5th edition Player's Handbook? Sucks to be you.

I enjoy a lot of the art in the new books.

I enjoy the mechanics.

I enjoy the 'official' feel of playing a game that's "Dungeons and Dragons" and not "Pathfinder".

I also enjoy games with psionics.

I also enjoy some monthly support.

I also enjoy seeing what companies do with a license. The gaming community wouldn't have Green Ronin Games, Malhavok Press, or any number of other former start ups that have continued to spread their wings under the OGL that's still in effect from 3.5.

If WoTC goal is to have a game out there and use that to push along some sales on the PDF front, well, they've succeeded.

Am I way off base here? Does anyone else see this as "The Long Goodbye" of WoTC to the role playing game? Is Dungeons and Dragons just going to be mined for it's IP in board games, card games, video games, and I'm sure WoTC would love it, but I doubt we'll see it, a cable series or a movie?