What Do We Do When the New Edition Comes?

It just seems like they’re a little conflicted. Maybe it’s a great business strategy? Strike while the iron is still hot. Start hyping up the new game with the old one still on everyone’s minds. Every RPG has its high and low trends, like any business. Maybe WotC saw the downhill slope starting and decided to act before it dropped too far.


Am I throwing all of my D&D 5E books out the window or what?

If you ever thought this one caused a stir…

I’ve been around since the old days and I have yet to throw out a gaming book, much less a whole set, so probably not. I’ve seen editions of the grandfather of all RPGs come and go. I’m still here. They’re still here.

I remember when 2nd Edition first came out. My group was only in high school and we had the old guard refusing to get on board. I was a little leery at first, but I came around as soon as I read through some of it.

The same effect occurred with pretty much every edition and revision after, too. I’m not comparing titles and I certainly don’t want to rehash the edition wars of Interweb fame. For the record, I love pretty much every edition of D&D. Each has its own merits and inherent flaws. I particularly enjoyed Basic (Rules Cyclopedia,) 2.5 AD&D, 3.5 D&D, and 5E. The other editions are fun and all. I’ll love 1st Ed AD&D forever. They are my most cherished collection of books.

It sounds as if 2024 is going to be the year of the Dungeons (& Dragons.)

Wizards of the Coast is sort of teasing that the new edition of D&D is going to hit in 2024. I’m a little puzzled that they’re telegraphing the punch this far out with 5E still riding a massive wave of success. I know some have pointed to the anniversary, and maybe that’s it.

It just seems like they’re a little conflicted. Maybe it’s a great business strategy? Strike while the iron is still hot. Start hyping up the new game with the old one still on everyone’s minds. Every RPG has its high and low trends, like any business. Maybe WotC saw the downhill slope starting and decided to act before it dropped too far.

Every edition has its life cycle of supplements.

Constantly.

Pathfinder 1E really stretched the limits of what a fantasy RPG could do in terms of supplements before moving onto another edition. 3/3.5E D&D did much the same. I literally have an entire book shelf and a half jammed full of 3.5 books, adventures, and even a couple of boxed sets. Every edition of D&D seems to evolve through three or four full length player’s guides, a handful of official monster books (or more,) a handful of campaign settings, and some interesting add-ons (Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide for example.) Starting with 3.0 and again in 5E, we also have innumerable amounts of third party sourcebooks and supplements.

Then there’s the troves of homebrew and fan sourced material for free on blogs such as this one. Magazines, either online or print are even further edition fuel. But most editions of D&D start to decline about where 5E is in 2022. It’s the longest running edition of the game, but still maintains about the same number of official core books as some of its predecessors.

New editions tend to cause as many issues as they solve.

Kits -> Subclasses. Evolving concepts.

I know WotC has expressed an interest in the way races are treated in the game. There has been more than enough outcry over the way certain base mechanics work (i.e. short/long rest, overland travel, and death saves.) The way monsters use spells is due to change. Every edition of the game finds a way to streamline something.

Remember THAC0? Remember having six or seven different saving throw types? How about Comeliness? What about d%00 for Thief/Assassin/Acrobat skills? Kits? Prestige Classes? Attacks of Opportunity anyone? Sometimes streamlining the rules is a very good thing.

It seems like they always manage to edit some of the good stuff out, too. Psionics is a debate for another time, but some would point to it. I miss the robust weapons tables in 3.5 and prior editions, including exotic weapons. At least one cool campaign setting or more seems to vanish between editions, possibly to never be seen officially again. At times some of us fans feel like they proverbially throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What will the newest version of the OGL look like?

DungeonMastersGuild.com

My biggest concern any time Wotc even breathes a word about a new edition is what will the OGL look like? I’m not afraid of it cutting into my personal profit margin, but I know some people are relying on it for income. I was around for 4E and the OGL or lack thereof. The best legal advice on third party 4E supplements I recall hearing was, “Don’t.” And I think that hurt the game and the company.

DMsGuild might be one of the best ideas anyone has ever had. It gives people an outlet for homebrew material and a real sense of community. Not to mention a bit of side credit to buy more books. It’s also very encouraging to see other people immersed in the hobby.

It would be absolutely tragic if WotC does a repeat of 4th Ed’s version of the OGL. It would hurt almost as much if they hold their breath for too long dealing with a new OGL/SRD. My biggest concern is that they would go back to actively discouraging the fanbase from contributing new ideas to the game.

What will the new edition bring?

I still have 4 projects in motion aside from 5E.

My biggest question is still what will happen in terms of retro-compatibility with 5E? A lot of people started or even discovered roleplaying on the current edition. What about all of the mountains of third party books still coming out? Will this edition have the success of 3rd Ed, or the curse of the even numbered editions in terms of sales? (That last one is a bit superstitious on my part, but I’ve seen it happen.)

I still have plenty of irons in the proverbial fire and a ton of other RPG interests to keep me going for years to come. Power Rangers, anyone? Monster of the Week? OSR, specifically Dungeon Crawl Classics, which is sort of a byproduct of other D&D editions in a way is on my list. Heck, I might even build a few one-shots for ICRPG, FATE, or GI Joe. Transformers RPG is coming, too… Hmm.

All this and more remains to be seen. I’m going to keep my 5E game going with my family until the kids go to college, at least. I’ll invest in 6E (*Or whatever they call it,) when I have the money. If nothing else, I’ll give it a good look and write a review. Every edition of D&D ends up being special in some way.

Thanks for being here. Have fun gaming in whichever edition of whatever game you love. It’s better to spend the energy on what you love, not on hating the things you don’t. Stay hydrated. Have a great week.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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