Just like many of you that love D&D, the recent announcements about D&D Next have been sending me through multiple emotions on the full spectrum from excited to furious. I’ve been playing D&D since 2nd edition and fully embraced 3rd, 3.5, 4th, and even Essentials. I’m an Insider, and I spend quite a bit of money on everything D&D offers from game product to novels, miniatures, and board games.
Let me first say this: I really like the direction D&D has been headed. The board games are great, they’re making a return to miniatures soon, and products and articles are generally more interconnected and focused on story than in the past. I felt like things were finally moving in the right direction. Then the red dragon came and burned my village!
OK, OK, I’m going to try and keep the tone of this article out of too much doom and gloom. I’ve done my share of ranting on the forums in the days after the announcement, and I’m pretty much over that. I’ve read the articles and watched some of the Q&A sessions from Experience. I’m actually pretty pleased with the changes the designers are talking about making to the game. I really feel like they are trying to evolve the system to something better, which is what I was hoping for when Next was announced. I’m not even that upset that the new edition sounds different enough that most of my 4th ed. books will have to start collecting dust with my other editions. I understand that Wizards has to make money and you do that by selling product.
Here’s what’s really keeping me up at night. I want to get excited about D&D Next. It sounds like it would be fun to play and a new edition always brings a fresh perspective to the game. But 5 years… 5 short years is all it took to reboot 4th. And I made a significant investment in 4th edition. I really felt like it was going to last for 10 years before this all started over again. I’ve gone along for every ride that D&D has been on since it became Wizards’ property, but this is the first time I feel like stepping to the side. I mean, why not just wait 5 years and see what 6th looks like, right? OK, there I go again. I really don’t want to sound like one of the negative nellies, but I feel like Wizards needs to talk to the gamers like me and give us some reassurance that they’re going to invest significant effort in changing their product strategy so it doesn’t require completely rebooting everything every 5 years. I feel like I’ve got battered DM syndrome or something.
So I’m throwing down the gauntlet. If this is really the “one edition to rule them all,” the edition that will “heal the rift” and “put a tent over all D&D players,” then address the real issue. Tell us that what you’re saying isn’t just marketing mumbo-jumbo. Tell me you’re not just trying to sell me the latest potion off the cart and then skip out of town. Tell us these are going to be the rules now, the rules for more than 5 years, the rules for the future of D&D. Then I’ll get excited and come along for one last ride.