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.

A Tumultuous Time for Part of the RPG Industry.

Then there’s Star Frontiers: New Genesis. I really don’t want to give this product or this company any free press. There are literally hundreds of RPGs that I’d rather invest my time and effort it. Yeah. It’s that bad.

I’ve been following the recent news about a game company that many of us in the community had a world of love and respect for back in the day.

I was genuinely excited when I heard someone was bringing back Star Frontiers. Taken at face value, it’s one of the coolest things to happen since D&D 5E! Freakin Star Frontiers! It’s back. YAY!

Here’s the Bell of Lost Souls article.

The original Star Frontiers cover art by Larry Elmore.

Did I mention it looks awesome on the surface?

I keep my somewhat banged-up copy of the original with my D&D boxed sets. I’ve kept up with the game on and off. It’s a really amazing classic Sci-Fi RPG. It’s been available in reprint form on DrivethruRPG. That in and of itself is enough for some of us old school gamers.

Then there’s Star Frontiers: New Genesis. I really don’t want to give this product or this company any free press. There are literally hundreds of RPGs that I’d rather invest my time and effort it. Yeah. It’s that bad.

There are two notables among many out there fighting the good fight.

In case anyone wonders, I always type it out as T$R to honor this old logo. It’s a dragon, not a dollar sign.

Tom (Jedion) at Table Top Taproom on YouTube has been embroiled in an ongoing conflict with the person behind this revival version of T$R. Another soldier in this battle is Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern. They have both been up to their proverbial eyeballs in harsh trolling on Twitter. (Gonna leave those links alone, because it’s pretty brutal.) They have both been making videos in support of one another and are very critical of these guys at the “nuTSR.” From what I’ve seen between Tom and Tenkar, there’s no way I’ll touch the new Star Frontiers.

In fact, from all of the internet brawling I’ve seen over Star Frontiers: New Genesis and other “nuTSR” properties, I won’t touch anything the authors do. Ever. Please note, it takes a lot for me to be openly offended this way.

I’m just peeking in on this insanity that is “nuTSR.”

The old T$R had its flaws before and after the Lorraine Williams era. Gary Gygax, (Rest in Peace) had his own personality quirks and flaws that people have called out. It’s all water under the bridge now, but we do owe Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and others credit for putting RPGs on the map.

There are so many award winning authors and RPG designers who passed through the hallowed halls of old T$R, I can’t name them all or we’ll be here all day. Some of the luminaries from the T$R golden age of prosperity and even a few of the later hires are still HUGE names in the RPG business.

Despite the popular culture overtones of the time, many of the games from the 1980’s and 1990’s are still thriving in one form or another. Some of them are five, maybe six editions in. (It happens.) Many old campaigns and modules in reprint now come with a disclaimer from Wizards of the Coast.

The disclaimer as it appears on DriveThruRPG and DMsGuild.

I would bet my collection of Polyhedron magazines none, absolutely none of the old T$R crew would sign off on anything these “nuTSR” guys have been doing. From everything I’ve seen, most conscientious gamers won’t touch the stuff these new guys are putting out. We feel bad for the ones who have.

It’s not just Star Frontiers, either. This “nuTSR” has acquired the licenses for Dungeon Crawl and Cult of Abaddon (module.) Apparently they have not shipped as promised. Seems a bit suspicious at best. At worst, it’s awful customer service. (*Here’s a thought- don’t screw people who are giving you money in exchange for your product!)

Crowdfunded efforts unfulfilled. Designers/Writers blasting fans publicly on social media. One incident on social media involved threats against someone’s family. Star Frontiers: New Genesis is a hot mess from what we hear. Lore and backgrounds aside, it is rumored the editing is a total disaster. The museum and several old T$R intellectual properties are on the line, too. Oh, and apparently WotC has issued a Cease and Desist order and set their crack ninja death squad of elite hit lawyers on the perpetrators from this “nuTSR.”

Trauma and drama aside, the true disservice is done to the fans at this point.

No offense to Tom and Tenkar, but that’s what hurts most about this entire debacle. There are some real Dungeon Crawl fans out there. If there was a successful, well thought-out, well edited remake of a classic game, who knows how many fans could have been introduced? The same can be said for Star Frontiers.

Old school T$R fans from all over are shocked and appalled at what has gone down with “nuTSR.” No matter how freaky and controversial the old guard T$R might be, they would never have stamped their imprint some something shoddy, undeliverable, unedited, blatantly offensive, or promised but not delivered. Then to go on social media (*sorry, not much 1980’s or 1990’s comparison,) and treat fans and buyers like absolute dirt? Ouch.

My humble advice regarding “nuTSR.”

I sincerely hope this all dies down soon and we can get back to gaming. Star Frontiers really was a good game. Please, my advice will always be, put your energy toward that which you love, not creating more hate. Love Dungeon Crawl. Love Star Frontiers. Please give Table Top Tap Room and Tenkar’s Tavern a listen over on YouTube.

My other earnest advice, from someone who used to be somewhat anti-WotC, please watch the manufacturer listed on the product! If it comes straight from Wizards of the Coast or old T$R via WotC, then you can reasonably assume it’s authentic. I also find that knowing a little of the product history helps when I’m looking at older modules. There are plenty of other companies reprinting or revising old T$R modules and they’re fine.

Good times are on the horizon. Please stay hydrated. Stay safe. Thanks for being here. You are appreciated.

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