How digital should 5E be?

Reading though the forums, I've noticed sharp differences of opinion about how digital D&D should be.

One side is in favor of leveraging smartphones, computers, and online tools to their fullest extent.  It would keep costs down and make difficult tasks like character creation easier.

The other side is in favor of maintining a strict analog gameplay experience.  They feel that books, pencils, paper, and (for some) minis on a grid is an important part of what makes D&D unique.

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Personally, I side with the analog crowd.  With so many good computer role playing games on the market, I think that if 5E goes digital people will regard it as a poor substitute for Skyrim.  D&D is unique because it is NOT digital, and I think they should capitalize on that.

As a DM, I had to institute a "no laptops at the table" policy.  People started bringing their laptops to use the 4E character software during game, but they ended up checking Facebook and Twitter and not paying attension until it was their turn in combat.  I've also tried to run a campaign online via MapTool and Skype, but it just never felt right.  It was a poor (and unenjoyable) substitute for playing with real people around a table.

In short, D&D is not a video game, and the more digital it becomes the more people might start to treat it like a video game.  I think that will hurt the experience a lot.


What are your thoughts on this debate?
They should go all digital. Print is dead and they could cut their costs, lower prices and still make the similar profits by doing so. It wont look good on the next few quarterly reports but that's the price for long term improvement, something I feel they desperately need and would be fools to wait until the last minute. Like the music industry they will pull their heads out of.... the sand and accept the market has changed both in terms of technology and people's disposable income. If they start accepting less profits now it will be better for them than suddenly having sharply declining ones later.

So many people pirate the books just because its more convenient, going all digital should increase sales because:

A) People who only pirate PDFs because it is more convenient to have 20 books on their laptop or ipad will pay for the pdfs if given the chance. This has been proven in other industries like music already. Its about providing a better service than the pirates. By reducing the cost of books by going digital WotC can still make a profit by bringing back people who are not interested in dragging around hard copies. 

B) People who pirate because they can't afford it and/or wont pay anyway still pirate anyway and wotc didn't lose anything. The only lost sales from piracy come from people in group A: people who would buy the pdfs if WotC sold them.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
I think the computer is great for the behind the scenes stuff.  Character building, Adventure building, these things truely benefit from the techy stuff. 

But I agree with you, D&D needs to be  a table top game.  And the laptops/crackberries/and newest shiniest gadgetry needs to be left at the door.  Only to be used for quick look up of rules and such.

Books should be availible in both formats, makes looking things up fast via techy stuff.  But I want to hold a book, I have to say I am somewhat of a bibliophile. 


SO what is D&D?  D&D needs technology.  But I want my game to be a table top, real person game.  However, there are those who want to try the game online, skype, what have.  That is great too.  IF that is what thier group wants, they should have the ability to enjoy the game on thier terms. 

Playing strictly online or strictly pencil and paper does not change what D&D is.


~Swash~
I think this is an interesting question. D&D isn't just about characters, its about monsters too. As a DM, I find my laptop and the Masterplan program invaluble tools. At my table, I have a "DM is the only one who can have a computer; he's running 500 characters for Peylor's sake" rule. On the other hand, as a player, I love the feel of analog - a handwritten character sheet with all you need to know is a beautiful thing! (4e makes that a bit difficult... ).

For that reason, I think that it should be both.

I also think that instantiating DDN under a modified OGL liscence or a liscence very similar to OGL will reduce piracy by a great deal (the modification should include enhanced abilities to use OGL data digitally, such as in videogames and electronic tools). As the guys at Valve say: it is not price that deters customers and attracts pirates, but a lack of service. If DDN products are offered digitally (which they will be, lest piracy is ensured), then convenience should be the golden rule - the products should be available in print, PDF, on Kindle, Knook, iTouchmyself, etc etc.
Let your voice be heard! Tell WotC to Publish D&D 4e under the OGL!
I enjoy having a real book. However, if the game store had wifi it would have been nice to open up the compedium to pull something out. A compromise to both could be to have pdfs with charts and information but limited basic art if any at all, and to have the HARD back books with super killer art on quality paper similiar to the way the Spectrum series of artbooks has done.
Print is dead...



So many people pirate the books just because its more convenient, going all digital should increase sales because:

A) People who only pirate PDFs because it is more convenient to have 20 books on their laptop or ipad will pay for the pdfs if given the chance. This has been proven in other industries like music already. Its about providing a better service than the pirates. By reducing the cost of books by going digital WotC can still make a profit by bringing back people who are not interested in dragging around hard copies. 

B) People who pirate because they can't afford it and/or wont pay anyway still pirate anyway and wotc didn't lose anything. The only lost sales from piracy come from people in group A: people who would buy the pdfs if WotC sold them.



The number of people who would buy pdfs for the convenience of it is so miniscule as to not matter. Thinking otherwise is delusional. A lot of gamers still love their books. 4E was a pretty good compromise setup with DDi and books. Your reasoning is completely flawed. Piracy is an issue but selling cheap pdfs of your rulebooks is a non-starter.
I would like to see both made available. I don't see why they can't have books and PDFs and also produce a solid Virtual Tabletop as my work landed me in the Midduhlanoware, IL.

I certainly agree that digital media can lend to distractions and that is always annoying.

As far as piracy and such, people photocopy books and put them online so even if you don't release PDFs people will find a way to get their hands on stuff. I personally prefer to buy the stuff so I can further feed the beast so they can keep my books and content coming.
There are two kinds of digital that must be considered. The first has to do with the rules, books, and supplements. On that front, i believe both should exist. This is the present/future of publishing. As a former journalist, I've come to accept it. So should everyone else. The second digital has to do with programs/apps that improve the experience of playing the game. This would include character builders, monster builders, encounter builders, campaign managers, support, community, etc. As a DM and as a player, I LOVE this side of things because it makes my life easier so I can better enjoy the game.

Here's my concern: I have a total lack of confidence in WotC's ability to provide us with electronic support that matches the quality of the rest of their products. It absolutely KILLS me to say that!! But this has been my biggest disappointment since 2E. What's the deal? It's like you guys are cursed! The two best things you have done for 20 years has been the Character Builder and DDI, and even those two are NOT up to your standards of excellence. I say all that recognizing that you do these things as well or better than other game companies, but come on! This is D&D! It just seems as though the electronic stuff is such an afterthought and are very under-funded. You need "killer apps" to go with this "killer" game!!!
I do not think they should abandon the print media.

I do think they should continue to leverage the Internet, including providing online releases alongside print media. They should do what DC Comics is doing and bundle online access to the book with the printed books, but still provide the option to buy only the online access.

They also really need to abandon Silverlight, you can only reach a certain portion of Internet users with it, and even with the ones you do reach, it's garbage. The printing issues alone should be enough to look elsewhere.

I like working with books, but once the game has thousands of character options it is easier to run text searches to find a feat you want than to leaf through a stack of books and scroll though a bunch of on-line magazines.


I also prefer the experience of being in the same room with my players, but tokens have given way to projecting a maptools battlegrid on the TV.  Not only do I not have to worry about my kids knocking over the tiles or tokens, but as my friends get older and leave earlier I am able to same the game in the middle of a battle and pick it up next session.


The real beauty of something like maptools is if you set it up right it automates virtually everything.  It will track initiative, use of daily and encounter powers, damage, conditions, ammunition, healing surges, you name it.  It will make the rolls, add your bonuses and tell you if you hit and how much damage was done.  That way when we play we can focus on playing and not or math or record-keeping.

I like playing 4e that way, and my maptool framework is set up for 4e.  It is going to take a lot for WotC to convince me to buy a new set of books to play essentially the same game until they also offer me a product that helps me automate play in the same way.

I would pay for a DM guide that also included a code to download a maptools like program with a built in framework, plus maybe a custom monster builder and a couple of other tools to make creating easier.  I would pay for a Players Handbook that included a code to access a character builder with the characters included in that book - which characters could them be made into virtual tokens to place in the maptools-like framework.  I would pay for a Monster Manual that allowed me to download all of the monsters included in the book into the framework so that all I had to do to place a monster in my dungeon is drag a token onto the map.  I would pay for an adventure that had the maps and monster tokens available electonically.  I would pay for second and third volumes of any of the books that gave me access to more DM tools, or character classes, or monsters - I wouldn't expect all the updates to be provided for free.

Do that, and make it flexible enough to accomodate house rules, and I will switch to 5e.  Otherwise I am better off sticking with what I have now.



The number of people who would buy pdfs for the convenience of it is so miniscule as to not matter. Thinking otherwise is delusional. A lot of gamers still love their books. 4E was a pretty good compromise setup with DDi and books. Your reasoning is completely flawed. Piracy is an issue but selling cheap pdfs of your rulebooks is a non-starter.



Tell that to the companies that produce Reign, Eclipse Phase and Infinite. They are all making it work and those are just three other table top game examples. Not to mention the success of Amazon's ebook program, people can just as easily pirate all of those book but they still buy them from amazon. Your logic is flawed sir, you seem to be to entrenched to notice.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
This isn't a zero-sum game, it's quite possible for D&D have both physical books and digital books and other digital content. It's not as if putting the game out in electronic format prevents it from being put out in physical format too, and vice versa. There are plenty of people who prefer digital format and computer tools and plenty of other people who either don't have easy access to the internet and ebooks and who have to or who choose to rely solely on physical books.  So in order for DDN to reach the widest available audience of D&D players it should be available in both formats if possible. 

I feel that, howevermuch support Digital gets (And Wizards could likely make a pretty penny tapping a digital market with good tools and avaliable downloads), Analog play MUST be possible.  If I can't go to my FLGS, buy D&DN's core materials, bring them home, and play a game without turning on an electronic device, it's a dealbreaker.

But like Bodyknock says, there is no zero sum game here.  There is no reason why I must be denied for the digital crowd to get what they want, and even less reason for me to deny the digital crowd.

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I love the print books.  I'd rather lay on my bed and sit in a comfortable chair than sit at a computer desk to read.  On the other hand, I use the digital stuff a lot.  The character builder saves me a lot of time when players advance in level and i get rules and info off the compendium that I group in my own way and either print up or put on my laptop.  I also take the monster info that my players will encounter in that session and put them all in one place.  This saves a lot of time at the table looking through books.  As far as the money issue, I would not mind registering a book I've bought (using a serial number) so that I can have that information online.  As a matter of fact, it would be nice to be able to print up the maps and handouts from the adventure modules I buy.
I'm a big fan of using electronic tools outside of game play, but less so at the table.  Unfortunately, in 4E my group laments that the print books are largely worthless now thanks to errata.  Anything that can be done to speed up game prep, like monster and trap tools, is a plus, but having books to refer back to is nice. 

Given the drive for a modular, play your way type of system, I think WotC needs to do both.  Provide tools for DMs and players to use both in and out (especially mobile apps) of the play session, AND have character/monster sheets (both per-printed with your character's stats and blank fill-ins).  Have print AND digital versions of all the books (even if you have to pay a bit to have the digital version of a print book you own).

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

I've collected D&D hardcovers for decades, book after book, month after month, rarely missing a release.  I've never been as dedicated to grabbing up the PDFs (when they were available).  Dragon Magazine for instance, I bought off of the newstand, starting around issue #200 up to the final print issue, #359.  

So, I hate to admit it but I think some of the other posters have it right . . . print is dead, -10 hp.  The local Waldenbooks, where I bought my D&D stuff for years and years (long before the local gamestore) has been outta business for a while now.  Needless to say, I miss it . . . a lot.  

For instance, most of the people I talk to on the street nowdays don't seem to realize that things like 'comic books' still exist in print format.  They appear to believe Spider-Man is just for movies, games, 'toons, stuff like that.  Used to be you could buy comics at the local gas station, now it's all direct sales.  Blows my mind, and so I think that in the mind of the general public, print might as well be dead.

Seems like people don't rent DVDs much anymore.  The local Blockbuster just closed.  Seems to me like everyone is either visiting kiosks like Red Box or renting movies from their cable/dish providers.  Red Box is nice ($1 rentals are awesome) but they tend to carry newer movies (I'm outta luck if I want an older movie I guess).

Certainly the younger generation seems to have embraced digital formats (e-books, pdfs), social networking, (whatnot), more readily than I've ever been able.  I miss ol' fashioned paperback books, face-to-face conversation, (whatnot).  I'm 43 this year but I honestly feel old-fashioned, out-of-step.

= = =

Yeah, I am ranting about the good ol' days but by the same token, I do realize the world moves on (whether I choose to or not).  So, very soon I'm gonna break down, buy an e-book reader (Kindle maybe?), and even start reading up on some of the D&DI articles I've been 'laying aside' for the last few years.  It's about time I guess ;).

/\ Art
As much as I like using the 4e electronic tools (character builder, etc) I vote that for 5e there is a single thing that they don't do.  Let you build your character and print out the sheet.  The character shouldn't be an electronic generation- it doesn't live and breathe the way they did in 3.5 when you had to actually spend time with pencil and paper.  And you don't always know what your character can do.

The largest thing that slows things down at my game is people looking at their sheet, and trying to figure out what they can do.  Because they didn't build the sheet themselves, they don't know where things are, how things work, or what they have.  Now, 4e characters are complicated enough that doing them by hand is prohibitive, as compared to doing them using the character builder.  My hope for 5e is that things are elegantly simple enough that you don't need an electronic tool to build a character.

I definatly think that they should embrace electronic printing, perhaps even an updated browser program, to help people build characters.  But the one thing, the single thing i want, is a character sheet written in pencil, that you can, and have to, do yourself.  The biggest problem I have with 4e is that you really do need the computer to build your character, to keep track of everything that adds half level, and all the things constantly changing about the character.
Siding with the people who say "both" here. I don't see any reason why they should NOT be offering us books, and I don't see any reason, why we should not get good online tools.

Of course for online tools having a systematical way to group, categorize and search your content and keywords are quite helpful for that. Without the idea of keywords, there's a lot less systematic - but that at the moment is not my primary concern.
I think my gaming group would be split about down the middle on the digital vs paper books issue.  There is no reason for Wizards to pick a side though, the path to maximum profits is to distrute both and get in on the app game or at least support Android and iOS using the web tools.

I would prefer paper core books - they are much easier to pass around during gameplay and as others have said facebook etc con become too much of a distraction for some.

Online adventures are fine as the page count is not as high as the rule books so it makes printing easier


However, I have enjoyed using the character builders, especially since they information on the character sheet is clear and it means players don't have to rely on reading notes  or constantly referring to the PHB to remind themselves of their characters skills and powers. It also makes record keeping simpler.

I want to be able to run the game independently of digital tools, but I wouldn't say no to using digital tools for preperation and so on.


 


 

4e characters "live and breath" way more than in previous versions. This is patently obvious. The amount of options for a character is unending. Hybrids for example. Unique characters in the previous editions are simply not possible due to the few options (feats, powers, paragon paths, and epic destinies).

The idea that we should simplify the game to appease people who still insist on using the outdated paper and pencil system is utterly stupid. The only thing that will come from that are characters which are no longer unique. Remember the paladins before 4e? The character builder allows you to build a unique character in less time.

If you want to use the pencil and paper system fine go ahead, just don't complain about being unable to build a unique character. That is totally your problem that you can easily fix by purchasing the character builder.

The electronic generation is the best invention since sliced bread. I have run into a lot of situations where my friends and I just want to play a quick campaign one day because we have nothing else to do. Electronic generation allows for the building of one time use characters, which are extremely useful. If you as a DM want to prohibt electronic generation you can do that.
Reading though the forums, I've noticed sharp differences of opinion about how digital D&D should be.

One side is in favor of leveraging smartphones, computers, and online tools to their fullest extent.  It would keep costs down and make difficult tasks like character creation easier.

The other side is in favor of maintining a strict analog gameplay experience.  They feel that books, pencils, paper, and (for some) minis on a grid is an important part of what makes D&D unique.

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Personally, I side with the analog crowd.

I side with BOTH.

I want 100% digital D&D. Books, magazines, tools, minis, dice, adventure modules, game sessions.

I also want to walk into a big-box book retailer and see D&D on the shelf, attracting people who aren't already into it. Which means there must be a substantive analog D&D. Books, minis, dice, and adventure modules.

Maybe 6E, in 5-10 years, should go purely digital. Or maybe not. It's too early to say.

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Unique characters in the previous editions are simply not possible

As much as I prefer 4E over prior editions, I have to say that I have NO IDEA where THIS is coming from.

I did have a problem in 3.5E that I could never FINISH building a character - I couldn't, for example, build a barbarian from a hunter-herder tribe who had all the skills by level 7 that a real tribe of that sort would expect of nearly all level-0 adult males and some adult females. (Then I multiclassed Cleric, and discovered that in 3.5E if you want to model a barbarian a Barbarian is not nearly as suitable as a refluffed Cleric, which even has a better Rage mechanic... but that's a different problem.)
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
The problem I have with digital stuff and DDI is that it was killing the local game store. NO ONE was buying the books for the game. They just kept a DnD insider account and used everything in there. So, the store owner stoped ording DnD books, and the whole store ended up going to path finder (and I dont like pathfinder, would rather play 3.x instead).  I bought every book for 4th ed, and it would bother the hell out of me when people just used DDi to get all those options (although, I used to gloat over them about how some day a new edition would come out, online tools would be discontinued, and they would be scrounging to get their hands on my collection muwahaha). 

But seriously, this bothers me a great deal as it compleatly underminds the local gaming store, which I feel is essential to keeping the hobby alive.  But at the same time, the digital tools are helpful and I would not want to see them go.

So, how about this idea? What if DDI's price for 5th ed was droped or, significanlty reduced. Then, when you buy a DnD 5th ed book, you get a code inside the book that unlocks that content for you in your digital tools account? Maybe the online account could be free, but you have to buy the book with the content you want, then the code unlocks that content. Then, as an option, you could pay for extra tools such as the virtual table top and subscritpions to dungeon and dragon magazines? This way, you dont have to pay every month for your basic digital tools, you just pay for what you want one time. This way, people will still want to buy books from their local store, and we only have to pay for the content we want rather then paying every month, and using only about 10 percent of what we are paying for.

Also, I think they should create an adventure building program. A templet that you fill in with flavor text, monster stats, and maps you can dray similar to how you can draw them on the virtual table top. Then, when you ahve it all done, you can print out your "adventure" as a booklet. It could even be more expanisve and be a campaing creater as well. Likewise, a character jornal program that is similar, that can be filled in either digitally or after printing it, along with maps you make, and then turned into a booklet of the the adventures for that character would be really cool.

What do people think?
The problem I have with digital stuff and DDI is that it was killing the local game store. NO ONE was buying the books for the game. They just kept a DnD insider account and used everything in there. So, the store owner stoped ording DnD books, and the whole store ended up going to path finder (and I dont like pathfinder, would rather play 3.x instead).

Question: why did the partial electronic availability of 4E D&D drive the D&D paper out of FLGSes, when the 100% electronic availability of Pathfinder did not drive Pathfinder paper out of FLGSes?

Or did any of that actually happen? I haven't been in an FLGS for over a year, but the last time that I *was* in one they had about 10 times the shelf space dedicated to 4E as to Pathfinder - and I see the same thing still in big-box bookstores.

So, how about this idea? What if DDI's price for 5th ed was droped or, significanlty reduced. Then, when you buy a DnD 5th ed book, you get a code inside the book that unlocks that content for you in your digital tools account? Maybe the online account could be free, but you have to buy the book with the content you want, then the code unlocks that content. Then, as an option, you could pay for extra tools such as the virtual table top and subscritpions to dungeon and dragon magazines? This way, you dont have to pay every month for your basic digital tools, you just pay for what you want one time. This way, people will still want to buy books from their local store, and we only have to pay for the content we want rather then paying every month, and using only about 10 percent of what we are paying for.

That would pretty much guarantee that I won't buy 5E. I don't want the paper, I don't want to find a place to put the paper, I don't want to have to haul the weight of the paper around in my motorhome, and I don't want to pay for the paper.

Right now I want to buy Arcane Power and Heroes of the Feywild for 4E. But they persist in not showing up on any of the e-book sites. As long as they maintain that sad habit, I won't buy them.

Also, I think they should create an adventure building program. A templet that you fill in with flavor text, monster stats, and maps you can dray similar to how you can draw them on the virtual table top. Then, when you ahve it all done, you can print out your "adventure" as a booklet. It could even be more expanisve and be a campaing creater as well. Likewise, a character jornal program that is similar, that can be filled in either digitally or after printing it, along with maps you make, and then turned into a booklet of the the adventures for that character would be really cool.

The adventure builder sounds like it might be promising. I'd want to actually see it be GOOD before I'd talk about a campaign builder.

As for the character journal program, I already have a number of them. The best one I have is published by Microsoft, but it's kind of expensive.

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
I think it needs to be a case of both.  The game needs to be simple enough that you can play it without needing electronics.  However, electronics need to be supported.  In particular, WOTC needs to support third party digital apps.  Third party app keys for full compendium access would make it possible for other people to find a way to innovate around game creation, even as WOTC provides what they do best -- iterative balance.

I don't mind print books, but I'd like print books which are more fluff and less crunch.  Give me rituals and locations and nouns and names -- things which aren't going to get erattaed 5 minutes after the print dries. 


The number of people who would buy pdfs for the convenience of it is so miniscule as to not matter. Thinking otherwise is delusional. A lot of gamers still love their books. 4E was a pretty good compromise setup with DDi and books. Your reasoning is completely flawed. Piracy is an issue but selling cheap pdfs of your rulebooks is a non-starter.



Tell that to the companies that produce Reign, Eclipse Phase and Infinite. They are all making it work and those are just three other table top game examples. Not to mention the success of Amazon's ebook program, people can just as easily pirate all of those book but they still buy them from amazon. Your logic is flawed sir, you seem to be to entrenched to notice.



Your comparison doesn't hold water. Three little games starting that way do not equate to D&D where a large portion of the customer base thinks 2E was too radical of a change to support. People like their books. That's why I liked 4Es approach of books + builders + compendium. I still had the electronic content for basically everything I needed but people who still want books had their books. I bought the books too, even though I didn't "need" them and use the e-tools because I like them too.
Thats what I did as well, but it still bothered to me see the local game store take a hit, as no one eles was really buying the books. This in turn led the store owner to stop stocking 4th ed stuff. His store had a bunch of 4th ed and not much path finder, becuase every one was buying path finder and not 4th ed. I talked with him about it, he said explicitly that no one was buying 4th ed stuff becuase they either had a current insider account or had a copy of the old program that they did not have to pay anything for and so he was not going to regularly stock it. this meant people shifted to path finder instead of DnD. I felt it was sad to see a store have to move away from DnD in order to keep sales up, rather then using DnD as a solid sale the way MTG is.

And I am of the strong opinion that game stores are vital for the hobby. When you move to a new town and are looking to get a new group together where do you go? Your local game store. Yes, you can try to find groups online and sometimes you will find one, but often I just find websites that have not been updated in 4 years and email address that people don't respond to. But, walk into a local game store and you can usually find a group playing something you like pretty quick. They are are also nice because they expose you to new games you might never herad of, not to mention offering the opertunity to make new and good friends.

Because of this, if I find that every one is just using electronic tools and no one is buying the 5th ed DnD books in the local game store because they are too cheap or lazy to go down to the local store and pick up a copy of even the basic player's hand book, then I will go back to promiting games like hackmaster or dungeon crawl classics in an effort to support the store.
Print books are better than PDFs for reference books.
But it is possible to make hyperlinked documents that are better (such as D20SRD).

Also if the normal scheme of producing expansion books is followed, then unless they merge seamlessly into one hyperlinked document books will be better.

In summary, unless a considerable effort is put into makign a good computer

I have mostly stopped buying game books from the local store, mostly because they have stopped stocking a large range, but also because Amazon are more convenient. However, I probably wouldn't have looked at 4e essentials if they had not had some books in stock, having giving up on 4e after getting the PHB. Essentials is a lot better, and has some ideas I will probably  use as house rules for 3.5 next time I run a campaign. (I would also take some ideas from Pathfinder but 3.5 still seems best to me).
I think it needs to be a case of both.  The game needs to be simple enough that you can play it without needing electronics.  However, electronics need to be supported.  In particular, WOTC needs to support third party digital apps.  Third party app keys for full compendium access would make it possible for other people to find a way to innovate around game creation, even as WOTC provides what they do best -- iterative balance.

I don't mind print books, but I'd like print books which are more fluff and less crunch.  Give me rituals and locations and nouns and names -- things which aren't going to get erattaed 5 minutes after the print dries. 

I would also like the fluff online, I would prefer to never use my books, but I do when I am interested in fluff (which is consistantly underwhelming in 4e)

My biggest hope, is that they design the edition knowing that it has to work both on paper and online. 

That the monster statblock database is robust enough to find small abberant creatures that can fly but not so huge that each requires it's own page in the MM.  That they realize I want my character sheet to fit on page of paper wether I print it or hand write it.  And that the game is stable enough at launch that with enough time reading the books or PDFs you can memorize lots of the material before the next edition comes out.

But seriously, this bothers me a great deal as it compleatly underminds the local gaming store, which I feel is essential to keeping the hobby alive.  But at the same time, the digital tools are helpful and I would not want to see them go.

So, how about this idea? What if DDI's price for 5th ed was droped or, significanlty reduced. Then, when you buy a DnD 5th ed book, you get a code inside the book that unlocks that content for you in your digital tools account?



I wholeheartedly agree that the FLGS needs to be supported (I make it a point to support not only my local store, but other stores when I am out of town).  The unfortunate reality is that even with NO digital books, online stores would still undermine the brick and mortar shops.  There are other ways to incent in store purchases (like WotC allowing the FLGS to sell books a couple weeks before other outlets).  I believe the code in the book for the digital copy method was mentioned when 4E was first announced, and I still think it's a great idea.  What about something like this: 

Books are available in both print and digital formats (ideally with a reduced price for the digital version).  All print books have a unique code that allows you to buy the digital version for a few bucks.  That digital version is hyper-linked, and gets updated with (hopefully very minimal) errata to make it appealing if one already has the print version.  In addition to early sales, the FLGS gets a card for each print book that has another code, which might offer a few pages of additional content (similar to the old web enhancements).  Perhaps after a a couple months that bonus content is available for everyone for free for those with no nearby store. 

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

I like to run my game with my laptop's support, but I use mainly analog tools. I'm thinking of building a program to help me DM (and if I ever manage to, you can bet it'll be open source), but I'm no professional programmer (not yet, at least) so I'd like to see some cool tool to use... I already have a skeleton in mind for that.
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
The first catch with the unique code in each book is that unethical people will go into a bookstore, do what is necessary (remove shrinkwrap, rip open envelope, etc.) to get access to that code, copy it, and put the book back on the shelf. Then go home and use the code as if they had bought the book.

Hey, there's a big issue now with people doing the same thing with gift cards. Copy the code from a card, and then regularly attempt to use it online so they can jump in between the time that some unsuspecting customer actually puts money on the card and the time that the intended recipient gets it - and drain it dry.

The second catch is that you've so far offered no provision at all for people who, for their own reasons, want the content but will not buy the paper book.
 
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
I am in favour of both digital and hardcopy books.  Hardcopy feels better, but digital is more convenient.  As an aside, I would very much like to see the return of the print versions of Dragon and Dungeon, perhaps on a subscription basis only.  Even a once a year, "Best of Dragon", "Best of Dungeon" would be better than nothing.

I think that having a suite of electronic tools to assist with gaming is a good thing.  (rant warning) I also agree with an earlier poster that WotC has a poor track record of supplying these tools.  There are things that Wizards promised at the launch of 4th ed that still have not materialized (character visualizer and gaming table, I am looking at you).  The second character builder was launched with less features than its predecessor.  My opinion is that if they are going to charge a fee to use the tools, they damn well better work well on day one.  I would rather pay a premium for a fully featured, well designed character generator, than rent a half-finished version.

I would be ecstatic if Wizards chose one of these options:
1) Well funded and highly QA'd in house development.
2) Outsource D&D tools to a company with a track record of making high quality software.  Lowest bidder need not apply.
3) Well designed open-source D&D database interface and let the community build the tools.



Thieves will get things if they want them, but that doesn't mean there's not honest people out there that will pay for things if available.  I, for one, would be glad to be able to download and print the maps from an adventure I've purchased, be able to print monster stat cards from books I've purchased, spell cards from books I've purchased, etc.  Doesn't sound that difficult to me.
I believe game needs to be designed to play on table, and online features needs to be created to make things better for those who like it.
4e characters "live and breath" way more than in previous versions. This is patently obvious.


That is a patently ridiculous statement.

The amount of options for a character is unending. Hybrids for example. Unique characters in the previous editions are simply not possible due to the few options


Um ... right. Because one of the things people complained about in 3E was how there wasn't *enough* option for customization, multiclassing, etc. Right ...


Should D&D be digital or analog? Why shouldn't it be both digital AND analog?

Perhaps every analog book could come with a CD with a pdf of the book included? Or a download code for said book? Or heck, just make digital book sales part of the business plan. I know I would prefer to buy and then carry around an E-reader than have to lug all of the books I need to carry in between games. I don't game at home, and when I dm I carry a rules comp, dm guide, players guides for the different classes (so, HotFW if someone is playing a skald, Shadow if someone is playing a vamp, etc). Depending on the group at the time that can get rather heavy!

The online tools created for 4e are also very helpful. Yes, you can still create a character the good old fashioned way, but that requires you to have the books out etc. Having CB means that I can browse the fully erratad rules and generate characters quickly with little fuss and bother. And despite what an earlier poster claimed making a character digitally doesn't mean you "Don't know what they can do". Yes you do, you made the darn thing. Reading comprehension doesn't drop because you're using a computer. :P

But should digital ever replace analog? No. D&D is a game I play at a table with a group of friends with dice and minis and a can of soda and some junk food next to me. Not something I play online. The soul of D&D is analog gaming, but that doesn't mean it can't make use of the tools available to make that play experience better, faster, and more fun.
I_Roll_20s @twitter. Not always SFW. I may prefer 4e, but I will play and enjoy almost any edition, and indeed almost any table top RPG, with my friends. Down with Edition Wars. Shut up and roll your dice. :P
I think that the Books need to be available in both print and digital. And that each needs to have something over the other to make you want to buy that version. I would say that if you buy the digital only that it needs to cost less than the print version (if print cost $35 then the digital should be $25) and that the print version needs a code to give you a discount to the digital book. If you bought the print book your code lets you get a digital copy for only $10. I think that no matter the price of the print book you should aways get the digital version at the discounted price of $10 and the digital book price should always be $10 less than the print version. Its a very fair price to all partys (Wizards and the customers). Card codes that don't work unless the store activates the cards and have scratch off of the hidden code that will work once activated is a good system. And online stores for print books can send you the code at time of purchase though email so you can start reading the book online right away. And if you return a book you only get the price minus the difference the digital copy cost you, the print book is $35 you paid $10 for digital with code and the digital only is $25. [35+10-25=20] so you only get $20 if you return the print book. This will drive the used books down in price so that anyone who bought a digital copy only can later find a used print at a good price and not feel as if they never should have bought digital only.

I also have an idea for the digital books not being pdf for the format for digital but will post that later. 
The first catch with the unique code in each book is that unethical people will go into a bookstore, do what is necessary (remove shrinkwrap, rip open envelope, etc.) to get access to that code, copy it, and put the book back on the shelf. Then go home and use the code as if they had bought the book.

Hey, there's a big issue now with people doing the same thing with gift cards. Copy the code from a card, and then regularly attempt to use it online so they can jump in between the time that some unsuspecting customer actually puts money on the card and the time that the intended recipient gets it - and drain it dry.

The second catch is that you've so far offered no provision at all for people who, for their own reasons, want the content but will not buy the paper book.
 



People will always find a way to steal things.  there is the option to treat it much like a gift card and make it so the code isn't activated until the book is bought.  Another trick would be to have it work much like the release of video games that come with codes.  Have the code print with the reciept that comes with the book.  The last thing I can think of for getting around the code scammers is to have the codes on a card that vendors keep at their sales desk when you buy the book they throw the card into it.  I am in favor of the former option where the books need to be activated by the vendor for the code to work.  The recipt codes pose the issue that someone may recieve a book as a gift and have the reciept discarded by someone that doesn't know what is going on.    That cards at checkout option runs the problem of forgetful counter workers or possibly confused counter workers throwing the wrong card in the book you just bought.

Now, for the second catch.  If you mean people that wish to buy a digital copy of the book.  That is easy enough and hardly even needs to be discussed.  If you mean people that want content and rules without buying a book at all I would have to say this shouldn't happen.  If it were my choice I would tie the book codes to the data your allowed to access via the WOTC online tools.  Just as a business model being able to get all the data concerning 4E from one DDI account was a poor choice.   After about the first year my gaming group stopped buying books almost entirely because we could find all the rules and stat blocks on DDI.  Up until late last year we had one DDI account that we all used to get the information we needed.  Now we have about 3 DDI accounts for the 6 of us in my group just because we needed to make more characters for all the games we are running but still we buy no books.  I say make it so you can't get at the rules or stats you haven't paid for.  I would say that with this change they should lower the DnD insider price but in reality with the increas of complexity of the data system and the fact that your paying for the magazine's at the same time 6 bucks a month doesn't seem to bad. maybe make that the base monthly cost though and make ordering a year long sub cost 5 bucks.  Or you can take the example of the edition it's self and both follow my model and allow people to pay even more for a special sub that gives you access to all data without having to buy books.