WotC RPG Setting Books

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So I made this thread, mostly for any Devs to see, and it made me think:

I want setting books that are high in setting content and low (or nonexistant) in game mechanics.

WotC owns the rights to other interesting settings besides the Forgotten Realms.

I would happily buy this sort of high setting content low game mechanic line of books for many of their other settings as well. Ravenloft, Planescape, Lorwyn (and other M:tG settings) would all make great setting books.

Am I the only one?
The thing is...i am trying to see if there is a big interest on settings book around the net recently...and is not.  I have a weird way to research interest of people...and it is by magnitude of piracy...There is no piracy of Menzoberranzan City of Intrigue at all...and there is only like 2 people in the internet asking for PDF of that book...nobody cares about those books, and i think the same will happend to the new Ed's Forgotten Realms book, nobody seem to care.

Sorry to inform you...but interest for pure flavor/fluff/settings content and low or non existent crunch is a extremly gimmick market, even if it's edition neutral.  Most players don't want to play somebody else settings and world, they prefer to make their own world, the ratio of interest on playing on a published world/settings is getting smaller and smaller over the years, because people prefer to frankenstein a homebrew world filling it with tropes from all kind of sources.
Early 4th ed setting books were pirated Its proably an indication of how far D&D has fallen if no one is interested in pirating Menzo.
The thing is...i am trying to see if there is a big interest on settings book around the net recently...and is not.  I have a weird way to research interest of people...and it is by magnitude of piracy...There is no piracy of Menzoberranzan City of Intrigue at all...and there is only like 2 people in the internet asking for PDF of that book...nobody cares about those books, and i think the same will happend to the new Ed's Forgotten Realms book, nobody seem to care.

Sorry to inform you...but interest for pure flavor/fluff/settings content and low or non existent crunch is a extremly gimmick market, even if it's edition neutral.  Most players don't want to play somebody else settings and world, they prefer to make their own world, the ratio of interest on playing on a published world/settings is getting smaller and smaller over the years, because people prefer to frankenstein a homebrew world filling it with tropes from all kind of sources.


Damn. That's disappointing.

I'd much rather play in a published world; most of the time.

I've done homebrew, and I'm far more interested in Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms and Planescape, And if there was a decent book for it I would also play Lorwyn. I don't mind Golarion either, and Golarion is getting tons of sales.

I don't think its a matter of people don't like settings, I think it's a matter of many people having stopped following Forgotten Realms products after the 4e version came out. It's no secret how poorly the setting went over with fans of the setting. Wizards lost many customers with the 4e version.
The thing is, i have yet to know of somebody around the circles i know that play on a published settings (current or past), outside of a LFR that was played online for a couple of sessions, wish only lasted for a couple of sessions, and it was something done on a community to teach new players to play D&D or the world of RPGs in general...

The closest thing is Points of Light i have seen continuisly...and Points of Light it's not a complete settings, it's a homebrew settings base/squeleton.  I will be blunt, but newer RPG players are like this, they don't care for published D&D settings if it doesn't include crunch that they can cannibalize from it, they will take more things and flavor/fluff from videogames they have played and tv/movies they have seen than they will from from published settings, wish is kinda easy on 4e, because mechanics are not married to the flavor/fluff.
Points of Light is most definitely not a complete setting.

Out of all the people around the circles I know in my city (which includes a large gaming club), I only know of one 4e group, and I know well over a hundred RPG Gamers in my city.

You do see a lot of homebrew settings. They've always been the most common choice. The "spend less money" choice. Nobody uses the "partly finished settings" that I have met, though. If they aren't using a published setting overall, they don't use a published setting period. The next most common thing I've seen is people using Pathfinder's Golarion setting.

I haven't seen anyone use Forgotten Realms besides myself since before 2008.

But gaming circles in different cities can be quite different, so my city *may* not be indicative of the general trend.

Well, i have only know of 3 RPG groups on my city...2 of them was a split from the same group, into younger and older group, the younger one got new players from friend and eventually moved from the editions of D&D supported at the time and moved to 4e when it was released (for a long time, this was my D&D group), the other group of older people abandoned the game with the exception of one that got his younger family member to join, but never moved beyond 3.5 (grognard uncle), the 3rd group was completly new players and started with 4th edition very recently.

I know all those groups from very diferent sources...despise my city being a million population city, there isn't enough RPG players, so it's kinda obvious all these groups would be related in some way...The grognard uncle group no longer plays, i offered to DM for them 4th edition, but because of how much their uncle trashed talked 4e, they don't want to and because they don't want to create and level up new characters.  My former group rarely play anymore, as real life have interrupted everything, they sometimes game in a very irregular basis, some random RPGs they find PDF on the net (don't know if piracy or not...i just know it's not D&D or pathfinder), the 3rd group i don't know anything about them since years ago.

I currently play online with a group of people i got into from an online community, on that community several people play diferent RPGs, but most of them play 4e, and all of them homebrew using points of light as skeleton.

About Points of Light not being a complete settings, that's actually a virtue, because it's meant to be used as a skeleton, DM or players fills the hole with their own stories, flavor, settings and warp it into something that feel like it's their creation...this is something alot of grognards hate and continue to say we are RPing wrong because we don't fill a published settings to the letter. 
I really don't care if you think I'm a grognard. I started playing D&D in Highschool, and I'm 24 and just finished University. That means I now have more of a disposable income than the highschool students who play it, and I'm willing to buy more books. I don't *only* like some old edition of D&D. I have several other games as well: Mutants and Masterminds, RuneQuest 6, Mongoose' Legend, World of Darkness Classic, new World of Darkness, Song of Ice and Fire, Dresden Files, Ghosts of Albion, Buffy/Angel, and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I didn't care for 4e, I don't like Savage Worlds, and I'm not a big fan of (but would play it if the group was good) the system used in the Smallville RPG (and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying) 

I can understand that some people feel they need a skeleton of a setting but don't need a full setting. The people I know who don't use a published setting generally design the skeleton framework themselves too. Most of the skeletons those GMs come up with are quite different than "PoL".

The DM and Players can add their own stories into a published setting, but yes, the players generally don't have the handwaving power to make up the culture for a country. That consistency, and the ability for all the players to be familiar with the setting in advance is another strength.

Published settings are generally used by GMs who want a very detailed setting that don't want to have to sit down and build a very detailed setting.

I really don't believe that having a detailed setting, and therefore not making it up on the fly is a weakness. It's just a different way to play the game. Calling it a weakness is just as annoying as someone saying you're RPing wrong when you do things your way. Having tried it, I did not enjoy Points of Light. I've played in other homebrew games where the GM was making things up on the fly, and sometimes I have enjoyed it. I found the skeleton of Points of Light rather bland, and I didn't like the sort of world it produced.

As for the people who never use published settings? Many of them don't buy more than the core books to the game either - Often because of insufficient spending money, but not always. They skim or borrow rulebooks from the other players in the group. Those players are likely not the ones who will be buying various splat books.

Additionally, the people who only buy books with player options likely never GM - and they're not so likely to buy any of the books geared toward GMs. They probably don't buy most of the Monster Manuals either.
You are younger than me...but i started to play D&D for serious about 3 years ago, because i mostly avoided anything related to D&D, for me the brand was a symbol of bad quality or generic, the cartoons, the movies, the novels/books, the rule set, i hated the game mechanics of the D&D based videogames... thought those mechanics are actually related to the rule set the videogame was based on.  I was asked to try 4e D&D but i refused for like a year after de-railing "grognard uncle" campaing without trying because i decided to craft a wand of fireballs and destroy everything in my path like it was Diablo 2 on my first session, then i heard grognard uncle hated 4e, and alot of former editions hardcore fans disliked 4e saying 4e doesn't feel like or isn't D&D...ofcourse, this for me was a huge plus for me...if i disliked so much older editions D&D and older edition hardcore fans hated 4e, there was a huge chance i would love it, so i have it a try it, loved it and i have stick to it.

I have played on quite alot of campaings and i even DM'd one...it's skeleton is points of light, but it's very...peculiar.  It's set on an era where industrial revolution is about to happend, is not as flourish as steampunk thought, except for a faction that have firearms, flame thrower, napalm grenades, mustard gas, tesla batons, etc... The campaing is set on a "small island continent" like australia, it's a continent just recently colonized and governed by 3 nations, Banehold, Moonrise and Cuslan, they have some sort of pact of no aggresion between them, because of the danger of outside of the continent nations deciding to invade them.  The settings is also set post "war of scales"...Tiamat is dead and chromatic dragons have gone near extinct.  The final battle took place on this continent, and after the war lots of ruins that were scavated because of the war were discovered, and it seems some of those ruins are so ancient, it predate the current pantheon and they are know as the trevelers from beyond and the little is know about this civilization is that they came from beyond the far realm.

A friend of mine DM a campaing where is post war of scales...but Tiamat winning and killing Bahamut taking over so many domains, it's a very dark and gritty settings actually. 
The thing is...i am trying to see if there is a big interest on settings book around the net recently...and is not.  I have a weird way to research interest of people...and it is by magnitude of piracy...There is no piracy of Menzoberranzan City of Intrigue at all...and there is only like 2 people in the internet asking for PDF of that book...nobody cares about those books, and i think the same will happend to the new Ed's Forgotten Realms book, nobody seem to care.



I think nobody cares for those two books also because it's the end of 4th edition. What's the point to keep buying stuff, even if they are rules neutral, when your system is deemed unworthy by its own creators? Most people, like me, still feel a bit betrayed, not by the fact we will be having a new edition soon, but by the way it's been announced. Don't get me wrong, I bought the two books, and find them good, especialy the ed greenwood forgotten realms one... It's clearly in the spirit of what I want to see in a setting book, and for any edition, in addition of history and geography. It sets a mood. It gives ideas... It's all I ask for such a book.
Alot of people felt betrayed when essentials started, alot of things changed for the worst with things.  We got 3 books with only 2 great class (Mage and Hexblade)...one of them just being a slight upgrade from a 4e class (Mage), nobody liked Slayer, Thief, Scout, etc... and the Heroes of Shadow classes were just as bad...(with the exception of...surprise...the hexblade pact weapon), then the disaster that was bladesinger...whoever who designed that class, didn't understood how 4e worked, he got stuck with the idea of 3.5 where, if you are a bladesinger, you have to lag behind on spell levels...so he translated that to...bladesinger don't get dailies, it use wizards encounters as dailies...also, the class suffer from great identity crisis tagged as controller...that class is no controller.

There is a reason why from all essentials classes, Hexblade is the one that have received the most support.  Some hope returned with Heroes of Feywild, but the thing is that it still so underwhelming compared to pre-mearls take over era...

This is the reason why during essentials and on, 4e sales has been droping during the last almost 2 years...because the quantity and quality of content we have been offered...
I did not like essentials as well. But I did not felt betrayed at the time. As for bladesinger, well I suppose your milleage may vary, I personnaly liked the class, even if at first, before playing it, I was taken aback by the dailies taken from the wizards encounter list. All in all I think it worked pretty well in the fields... I also liked the assassin (even if I still prefer the earlier version published in the dragon magazine...)
The important, I think, is the personnality of the character you are playing, not the actual mechanics used. I had great fun with my bladesinger because I managed to have a real feel for who he was, what he wanted in the world, and because the DM cartered well to those needs, and not only for me, but for the all group.
I still think dndnext comes too soon, and 4th edition still had a lot of legs under itself, especialy with such books as Heroes of Feywild, Neverwinter, Menzoberranzan and Ed's book. I Still feel dndnext is a sudden knee jerk gesture, and not a well planified update to a great system. I can be wrong, and I don't dislike everything I see in the playtest, but it still feels a step backward to me, instead of the step forward it needs to be.
The Menzo and Ed's book doesn't add anything to 4e player, they are such a small niche to the point of being insignificant...

About characters personality being what the fun is...i prefer to have a fun character to RP and to also having it being fun to play from the actual game mechanics...why have only 1, where i should expect to have both
Menzoberranzan and Ed's Realms don't add anything to the players. That's true.

They aren't designed for the player. They're designed for the GM.

If you're a GM and you want to run a Drow Game? Menzoberranzan is amazingly useful. It includes a good primer for players on what a drow game is about, and how drow psychology works, but the players are not the target market.

Ed's Forgotten Realms? Another book of GM advice and ideas.

They're both books targetted at GMs and potential GMs, not at players - unless the players enjoy reading about the setting. That's generally how setting books work.

In this case, they could also be targetted at the novel readers. Both books do make for an interesting read.

The books are good for DMs, and they're good for getting attention from the customers they lost over the past 4 years - to get them interested enough to look at 5e. They succeeded in many cases by the way. I know people who stopped buying WotC RPG products, and have been buying from the various other companies instead. The recent 4e products (Menzo, Ed's FR) and the 5e playtest have gotten a bunch of people curious.

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I'm not a 4e player. I tried it when it came out, and I just didn't like it very much. It was too much of a tactical tabletop combat game for me, and the settings divorced from the fluff simply didn't interest me, for an RPG. I could have enjoyed it as the current edition of Chainmail. Something I play once in a while with a bunch of minis and just kill another player's team of minis on the other side, without trying to make it an RPG. Some people like it alot. That's great for them. Some people like Warhammer 40k alot too. Also great for them. I'm simply more into games like the list I mentioned above (and D&D 3e, and Myth and Magic).

So the recent products have me intrigued. If there had been any significant amount of game mechanics in Menzoberranzan or Ed's FR, I probably would not have checked them out, after having already decided 4e wasn't the game for me. It looks like there's a decent chance they will get me back as a customer. Talking to other RPG Players I know, that's a good possibility with many of them. The trick for Wizbro is going to be: "Can they manage to pull this off without losing the majority of their 4e players?" It would be neat if 5e could satisfy both. Obviously 4e wasn't earning them as much money as they needed it to, or they wouldn't be putting out a 5e so soon. They need to get some of their old customers back, but they will want to hold onto their new customers too. I imagine that the recent setting books are mostly to try to interest the players who didn't enjoy 4e - something they really need right now.

The 4e team angered and alienated the majority of their customer base in a short period of time. Mainly due to 4 things that happened (which I can recall, I may be missing one or two others).
1. The advertising for 4e didn't focus enough on what made 4e good, and instead insulted the what was the favorite game of many of their customers - some people took that quite personally (I didn't).
2. The new game was a very different sort of game - so different that liking the game before it was no indication of how you would feel about the new one. Some people were offended that there would no longer be anything similar to the old game available.
3. What was (quite likely) the most popular setting of D&D was completely trashed, in order to fit it into the 'Points of Light' philosophy and shoehorn in the various changes to core D&D. The result was a setting that bore little resemblance to the popular setting.
4. Due to a leak of the 4e books, and the same sorts of piracy that were around before D&D pdf sales, they stopped selling PDF copies - adding another terrible idea to that, they decided to tell DTRPG that customers who paid money for the PDFs should lose their access to re-download them.

So they alienated 3 different groups of their customers (3.5 players, forgotten realms fans, pdf customers) in a short time period, but obviously there is overlap between them - though the pdf customers and fr players also included people who still used 2e or 1e rules (or other rules completely, like RuneQuest), but either continued to buy Forgotten Realms products, or were buying digital copies of 1e-3e books.

Many of those customers started buying from the competition (mostly Pathfinder, which ironically wouldn't exist to be 4e's competition if WotC hadn't pulled the license for Dragon and Dungeon Magazine and made the first GSL license so restrictive that Paizo had to release their own game just to stay afloat). The 4e customerbase wasn't stable enough to replace all the people they lost. They need to get back their old customer base, but they obviously want to avoid alienating the 4e players as well. Many 3.5 fans just don't like the playstyle of 4e. The Forgotten Realms crowd mostly want as little to do with 4e realms as possible (Most of them hang out at candlekeep and aren't on these forums anymore - and many people there see 4e Forgotten Realms like Highlander 2 - "There was no highlander 2. Just 1 and 3"), and want the setting to continue on from where it was before 4e, as though it never happened. Some are willing to settle with the world being 'close' to how they were before (We'll see if it's enough people that WotC can maintain FR, since they said rolling back the timeline to pre-4e isn't an option). The PDF purchasers are still left slighted, possibly out of a bunch of money they spent on PDFs and thought they would continue to have access to - ironically leaving them no alternative to piracy for digital books, and little faith that they will get to keep access to the products they pay for from WotC in the future.


Getting back the lost customers will be no easy task. It's a tricky balance they have to find, and a tough situation they've put themselves in.
In offering a different perspective, I would argue that (based on my own anecdotal evidence) that players around here are pretty burned out by the Realms. It's not that the changes bothered them, but that's all we're really getting from WotC anymore. IMO, what sold the settings were the adventures and the novels. A Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Planescape, Eberron, or Mystara fluff-book would sell, I would imagine, especially if some of the old adventures and novels were reprinted. I started playing my campaigns on Krynn because of the novels, which brought an added familiarity to the setting that compounded on the box set; I didn't bother with the Realms until I started reading the novels (FYI, some of the old FR trilogies were awesome: Finder's Stone, Avatar, Icewind Dale, Moonshaes, etc.); the stories piqued my interest more than just a book of play options.
I prefer 2nd Edition AD&D. But I have played basic, 1E, 2E, 3.5, & 4E, and found all to be fun. IF IT'S D&D, I'LL PLAY IT, NO MATTER THE EDITION. Just roll some dice.
I don't entirely disagree.

The Adventures are Key. That's what makes Paizo's Golarion so appealing.
I would love to see them actually do something useful with their Non Forgotten Realms settings again. If they started releasing some good planescape adventure paths and sourcebooks I would be all over that. Likewise For Ravenloft or Athas. (I'm not all that interested in Greyhawk or Dragonlance or Eberron) - It would also be awesome to see use of the settings they came up with for M:tG, particularly Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, Innistrad, Ravnica, or Kamigawa, not to mention the settings of Exodus, 7th, and the various other older sets not mentioned on their 'planes' section of the website.)

The Novels certainly help garner interest in a setting. Ideally, you want to set the novels a couple years ahead of the campaign setting (5-10 or so) so that the people using the campaign setting don't feel like the novel events should be having a huge effect on their current campaign any time soon - I've met DM's who felt like they had to keep up with the novels to run a game in current day Forgotten Realms, and decided that they wouldn't use the setting as a result. Put the setting about a decade back, and the more recent novels won't have that effect on people.

I could still really go for some decent setting sourcebooks though, for the Forgotten Realms as well. I can see how the 4e players could be burnt out when all that's getting support are Faerun and Athas, but for those of us who were turned off by the retcons in the 4e Realms, the only Realms Products released in the last 4 years that we've had any interest in are Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue, Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms, and a small handful of this group liked Neverwinter. Personally I found it far too crunch heavy, and far less interesting than pre-spellplague neverwinter. I skimmed a friend's copy and lost interest. I would have been very interested if it was a sourcebook based on the neverwinter of Bioware's Neverwinter Nights computer game. Likewise I would be interested in a Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale sourcebook that's mostly based on those videogames, as well as the novels. But there haven't been many Realms products in the past few years that are written for the long-time fans of forgotten realms (which, any polls I've read, seem to show they're mostly 25-40 years old, unsurprisingly).
The only way I'd consider buying 5e if WotC pusblishes an adventure path in Planescape, city-based.