What's Next for 4th Edition?

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With the advent of D&D NEXT, I am left with a lot of questions about 4th Edition, and I'm concerned.  I've heard a lot of rumors with regards as to what exactly is going to happen, and as a loyal 4E player, I want to hopefully use this thread to get some answers.

I've heard that with the release of NEXT, the Insider programs (Character Builder, Adventure Tools, Compendium) will be swept, and new NEXT compliant materials will be released for those.  I understand that this is beneficial to the new wave of players who will undoubtedly be using the new material.  Kudos to them for that.  My question in this regard is "What will be happening to the 4E Insider tools?"  Will there be a version of those made available?  For those who will continue playing 4E, there is a large group of us subscribers who feel our money would be wasted if we lost access to these amazing tools.  If WoTC releases it for free, more power to them, but I would at the very least like to see them continued through a different venue if possible.

Another of the rumors I'm hearing is that the 4E Gaming License and all materials associated with 4E will be vaulted (Hidden away so no one can ever make new materials for 4E once NEXT launches).  I understand that it is a company's ultimate goal to make money, but I find this type of tactic an utter slap in the face to those of us who loved 4E and would be excited to see new material released (either through WoTC or some other entity).  Now I'm going out on a limb in saying this, but I think there are others who feel the same way.

If these rumors are true, I find it to be a bit insulting as a player and DM of 4th Edition to be treated in such a way.  4E revolutionized the Dungeons and Dragons game.  It brought in a whole new type of player.  Sure, it did have an emphasis on combat, but it also brought a new element of team synergy not seen before.  For WoTC to create such a bold and ambitious project, only to sweep it under the rug fills me with despair.  It's like making a huge statement, only to recant it because the hecklers in the back said a few words.

I'm not looking for a return to 4E.  I acknowledge that this is not possible.  What I am looking for is a chance at continuity.  The rights to the 3.5 OGL were capitalized upon by a company that made it into a new legacy for those who appreciated 3.5's mechanics.  Why is this suddenly not possible with 4E?

If someone with the ins on Wizards could alleviate my worst fears, I would be incredibly grateful!
Well, there are a ton of rumours and even more speculations. And WotC is being pretty much silent on the entire topic.

I, too, am a fan of 4E and will continue playing this "iteration" of the game for as long as my friends will sit at my table. I'm in the early stages of a paragon tier campaign and have an epic tier still to write.

The DDI tools have been fantastic to have at my disposal and well worth my monthly subscription fee. But I doubt seriously that they will remain after "Next" is officially released. And though I'd hope that WotC would make them available via a purchased download or as a continued subscription service or whatever, I also doubt that this will happen.

To this end, I have been scouring the internet for any alternative tools, mostly a character builder, but also for an alternative to the compendium as these are the tools that I use the most. So far, I've found no "legitimate" replacements. There are a few spreadsheets that use Excel to create characters, but they don't fully incorporate all of the classes/races/feat/etc. I've seen one third party character builder (HeroLabs) but it doesn't yet support the essentials-style character classes and they have no posted plan as to when that will happen (if it even does). I have a friend who has heard of an off-line compendium that individual users can input their own data into, but I've yet to see how it works.

So, my advice to you is to do as I am doing and search for other means to continue to play the version of D&D that you enjoy the most. It is very likely that once 4E is officially put to rest WotC will not "play nice" and make their stuff readily available to the public. So it will be up to the player base to keep it going. I have friends who still play 2E because it is the edition they enjoyed the most. And there are several groups out there who feel the same. They keep that edition going in their blogs and forums. At this point, it looks like that's what the immediate future of 4E will be.

Now, WotC has been reprinting older edition stuff and selling it. Some say it is just so they can continue to make money while they aren't publishing anything for either 4E or Next. However, others have speculated that it has more to do with the apparent goal of WotC to create a "unifying" edition that can be played and enjoyed by people of "all editions". In other words, it seems that maybe WotC wants their player base to be able to use stuff from previous editions in Next. If that is the case, I can imagine that there might be individuals that will create and possibly release new material for the various editions at some point in the future. And, if that happens, then mabye those of us that still enjoy 4E might see some support out there. But that is just speculation and isn't based upon any real information. 
I'm bugged by their lack of communication, or anything about the future of 4th edition. They act like we are not here and seem to think that if they ignore us we will just go away. And they may get what they want. I don't want to be part of a community that used me and then threw me away. There are a lot of other games out their that listen to their players and it may be better to play those. Who knows maybe people will have to create their own 4th ed stuff online. Maybe we can stop letting them do this to us over and over again. 

Although I am a 1E/2E adherent, I completely sympathize with the questions and anxiety of the 4E folks. I really wish they would officially continue supporting all editions. I think D&DN actually will be the version that "everyone can play" with emphasis on "can", even though it might not be the version of choice. It's hard to say really, but the suits at Hasbro will spout some line about "cannibalizing your customer base" blah blah, because it's not what they learned at Business school. If the reprinting of old stuff has taught them anything, there's still a market out there and I think that obviously applies to 4E too. They shouldn't be trying to railroad us into the next edition.

The rights to the 3.5 OGL were capitalized upon by a company that made it into a new legacy for those who appreciated 3.5's mechanics.  Why is this suddenly not possible with 4E?

Because the corporate WotC people intentionally decided that it should not be.  They view what happened with the 3.xE OGL and Pathfinder as a colossal mistake that split their fan base and siphoned many of them to a competitor, rather than a boon to the hobby that halped many gamers continue or begin playing something they love.

There's a 4E analog to the OGL, the GSL, but it's apparently a lot more restrictive, to the point where I'd be surprised if anyone can take advantage of it in a meaningful way, the way Paizo did with the OGL in making Pathfinder.

Another problem for third party 4E-style content is that 4E content is intended to be intricately balanced in a way that 3.xE material never was.  Thus, custom classes, races, powers, etc. for 4E should undergo rigorous vetting and / or playtesting to ensure that they're balanced properly.  This is a lot harder to do with third party material that's already struggling for a fan base than for WotC themselves to do.

It's really a shame, but I'm afraid that in WotC's zeal to make a buck 4E is basically being thrown under a bus.  Frown
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