I’ve really been wondering what Wizards could do to start getting my money again and maybe the money of other long-time fans as well as new gamers. In return for my money, Wizards would give me back the D&D I’ve come to know and love.
The easiest short-term way to get my money would be to release Ravenloft and/or more Gamma World stuff but that isn’t happening. But giving me back D&D would certainly work and it would be long-term.
I think if Wizards was willing to shift focus just a bit they could reel in lapsed gamers and get new gamers. I get the impression Essentials is not bringing back lapsed gamers (it didn’t work with me).
However, I still want to give Wizards some money if I can have D&D. Here’s how they can get it.
First, please ease off on the fear of piracy. I know some deadbeats steal your stuff. However, I find it very hard to believe that the piracy would not be offset by the goodwill of your loyal customers. I pay for stuff, I won’t steal from you. So give me back the PDFs I’ve already bought and that you’ve yanked, and let me buy new PDFs. I do not steal and Wizards you should trust me and the majority of us gamers.
Gamers feel ownership in D&D too and there are enough of us loyal fans to overcome piracy issues if you’d just trust us. Some companies even give the rulebook PDFs away for free like Eclipse Phase and the upcoming the Void. Wizards, every other game company I buy from also provides me with the option of purchasing PDFs. Why don’t you?
Second, give me back the core rulebooks (PH, DMG, and MM) with updates included. Call it 4E or 4.5 or 4.75 or 5E it doesn’t matter. But pick the rules and don’t errata these books anymore unless a true mistake (a misprint or missing rule for example) actually crept in (try to avoid big mistakes here however, such as the majority of the 4E MM or skill challenges in the 4E DMG). Sell me these updated books, don’t change the rules all the time, and let us all play D&D.
I’d like stable classes (eight total, two of each role), stable feats, stable rituals, stable magic items, stable math/DC/damage mechanics, stable skill challenges rules, and stable monsters. Don’t shift all the core rules around anymore. Let the game breathe. Spend less time on errata and more on world building and adventure writing.
Third, give us around four to six rulebooks a year including player books (magic items, a book of new rule options like extra powers for the PHB classes, a stronghold book, how to do steampunk D&D, Asian adventures etc.), DM books (planes books, books about gods and world building, Underdark book, undersea book, etc.), and monster/NPC books (even a themed book would be great—villainous adventurers for example or Asian monsters etc).
Fourth, in addition to the four to six rulebooks, release maybe three to four campaign books (maybe softcover to keep costs down) a year. When the core rulebooks re-release, I’d love for Wizards to be bold and release a new world to go with the updated rules (maybe one of the world contest runner ups tuned for 4E). In addition, that year add one or two books to the existing worlds of Nentir Vale, FR, Eberron, DS, and GW.
After that, add three to four books to the existing worlds each year. Don’t make any new worlds for a few years after the one 4E new world releases. Let the existing worlds slowly grow and support the rulebook releases. For example, if the new world had a strong horror theme in one location (maybe pulling in some Ravenloft ideas), the rulebooks that year could include a player book for playing gothic themed monsters, a horror-heavy monster manual, and a DM book on running haunted campaigns ranging from Gothic horror to eldritch Lovecraft to zombie-geddon.
Finally, publish at least six good adventures a year (aim for two Heroic, two Paragon, and two Epic). Again, some of these adventures could tie in to the campaign world releases (a horror adventure for example).
Hire freelancers if needed, but make the adventures good. If a default 4E setting is created set most of the adventures in that world to give context to the modules. Make the modules good (did I mention that?). Explore lots of different themes—wilderness, city, dungeon crawl, sand box, castle/town/kingdom building, underwater, Underdark, plane walking, negotiation, trailblazing, horror etc.
The modules need a memorable location (not just tactical maps but the overall feel of the whole location), interesting NPCs (not all have to be monsters to fight), a theme, a hook to draw the PCs onward, and a plot twist to surprise and delight (and maybe confound just a bit) the players. The modules should be driven by the actions of the PCs and not just by tactically interesting set piece battles. Keep those battles if they fit the module, but focus the adventure on the actions of the PCs and the reaction of the world around them. Plunge the characters into a thrilling world and immerse the players in the skies-the-limit experience of playing D&D.
To recap, bring back the core rulebooks and PDFs, give us a few rulebooks a year, in depth world building support, and some excellent adventures.
Slow down adding new rules and do away with most errata. Make a core world and create great adventures in the world. Add a few campaign books to explore world building. Let me play D&D again with pencil and paper while copying and pasting info from my PDFs for home use.
Wizards you can have my money again. I’ll also bring six players along who like to spend some money too. And maybe some other DMs would do the same. Do you want our money? ‘Cause I’d like to have D&D back in a user-friendly format. And I’m willing to pay for it.