As everyone knows by now, Wizards of the Coast announced yesterday that they are indeed working on the next version of D&D (links to EN World, as the stunt NY Times pulled releasing the news early was playing dirty). This really does not come as a surprise to me, especially in light of recent events such as hiring Monte Cook and the feel of the Legends and Lore articles.
The Internet is abuzz with talk either on your favorite RPG forum, Facebook, Twitter or any number of other outlets. Several bloggers have written open letters to Wizards about what they would like to see and such as well. I feel I would be remiss if I did not at least put my two coppers in here at The Iron Tavern.
Regular readers will know that I tend towards the Pathfinder game for my fantasy gaming fix. I never really found 4e that attractive. Maybe I wrote it off too soon, but from the reading I did and the reading I still do there were just several parts of 4e that did not fit my wants in a fantasy RPG game. With that said, I have nothing against the people that do like to play 4e. I am glad there are plenty of games for people to enjoy and do not disparage one system over another.
This recent announcement of a new D&D version does have my interest, much more so than the release of 4e did. 4e was not the game for me, so seeing a rework of D&D as released by Wizards is welcome. Coupled with some of the talent they have on the design team, Monte Cook and Mike Mearls weighing in strongly in my opinion. I have also found myself agreeing more with the Legends and Lore articles than disagreeing with them, which I take to be a positive sign.
So at the very least they have my attention. While everyone that has played early iterations of the game are under NDAs to not talk about it, I do have some show stoppers in how likely I am to adopt the game that aren’t wholly related to the rules themselves.
First up, DDI. I do not like the concept of the DDI subscription with 4e and I would not like it with the next version either. Don’t get me wrong, I like electronically distributed content, but I like it to be in a form I can continue to use with a one time fee, not something I have to pay a monthly fee for continued access.
I want PDFs I can read on my iPad. PDFs allow me to read them when I am offline and I retain ownership of them should I not wish to pay a subscription. I like choices in character builders and I like character builders that I do not have to pay for on a monthly basis. Note that I did not say I don’t want to pay for a character builder, I just want to own it after I pay my money, not rent it.
So if 5e makes heavy use of DDI in the same manner 4e does I don’t see myself making any substantial moves to the new D&D version.
Another aspect that I have some concern about is the licensing of the next D&D version. I consider the GSL that 4e was released under subpar compared to the OGL that 3.x was released under. I really enjoyed the third party supplements that came out during that era of D&D. Was there content released that was not stellar during that era? Certainly. But there were some real gems out there. The more open license also allowed for better electronic tool support from third parties as well. I valued these things and the open license helped facilitate these things. A restrictive license with the new D&D version will likely also turn me away from the release.
Despite these reservations I am remaining cautiously optimistic about the next version of D&D. Hopefully good things come of it. If nothing else it will certainly be an interesting year watching how the next version of D&D evolves through play testing!