January 25, 2011

About the future of D&D.

Things were better when
they were worse?
These days, everyone is a prophet for the armageddon.
My players are worried about the future of their favourite game (D&D 4E) and the blogosphere is too.
Everyone is saying that D&D is dying, that Hasbro will let drop the brand, that we are all doomed.

You got it right, but you got it wrong too.

The Red GM today writed the first thing I feel to agree on this subject. Where? HERE.
To explain why I have to take a little detour.

First point
First I totally agree that D&D4E is for high end players/GM. I do no agree the meaning of the sentence as The Red GM says it.
High end players/GM are not the ones who have a lot of money or a desire to learn difficult rules. D&D 4E, despite the popular opinion, is aimed to Plyers/GM with a lot of experience. When I try to explain why I love 4E so much i often use this sentence "4E have a solid math system and don't messes with my job: building universes." But that's not the point.
At the same time 4E, with essentials and Gamma World, want to steal players from other hobbies (like boardgames and MMOs)
First question: A single game can be adressed to high end customers ant total mewbies, completely ignoring the gamers in between the two steps?

Second point
The point is that 4E answered to problems the 3.5 fan base didn't have yet.
Teaching the game to new players, making the fun quick and easy, balancing PCs made from newbie and hard core gamers. 3.5 satisfied users was, by definition SATISFIED. Guess what? AD&D satisfied players, was satisfied too!
Second question: What do we do with 3.5 satisfied players?

Now Paizo's Pathfinder is eating customers from 4E and WotC don't know how to expand the fanbase.
This is the way?

What's the solution?
It's easy.
Easy, but unthinkable.
The D&D brand must be acquired by Paizo.
Then, a single company will have 2 great products to make everyone happy.

D&D4 E Essentials and Gamma World will be their weapons against fist timers. They will have dedicated supplements and adventures, with simple rules (Gamma World rocks!) and catching situations.

Pathfinder will continue to produce awesome supplements, but will make this products cute little bosed sets composed by three different books. One with the story, the second with the Pathfinder stats and the third with 4E stats. 3.5 lovers will be happy to have all the D&D brand behind them (marketing, more great artists, great miniatures, great battlemats). 4E lovers will be delighted to discover someone who can write great adventures and supplements.

More reasons? After a good essential D&D Experience, you all 3.5 lovers will be grateful to the game who brought you girlfriends to the gaming night.

When TSR paired the D&D red box and AD&D they knew what they where doing.

What do you think? Am I crazy to dream a peaceful gaming world with satisfied customers and rich gaming companies?

Wanna try D&D 4E for beginners?
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NOTE: If you buy from here I will get a little income, with no extra cost for you. Just to be straight.


  1. I completely agree that D&D needs two completely separate games. The idea of both coming from Paizo makes me wonder how much the D&D brand is worth to Wizards today. And how much it might be worth in 5 years.

  2. That's exactly my point. Good things can come even from WotC going down.

  3. Mike in Oregon5/26/11, 11:52 PM

    I do agree that we're in the midst of disruptive change in the RPG industry, but it doesn't have to do with the sort of band argument shown above. The disruptive change is the explosive growth of electronic RPG's and MMO's. Fourth edition represented a radical attempt to capture some of the electronic RPG market while retaining the pencil and paper market - and it failed. I've seen no evidence that the electronic community has come over to 4th edition and I've witnessed an exodus of long-time gamers from the D&D product line. WotC's current revenue issue is therefore not a matter of 4E production values and associated costs pricing WotC out of the market - it's the fact that they re-engineered a product and alienated a large portion of their customer base. It wasn't quite as bad as "New Coke," but it approaches that level of "historic blunder." Now that they're committed to it, there isn't a graceful way to correct the mistake, so they continue to concede market to competitors (both pencil and paper and electronic).

  4. ...how you've come to the conclusion that 4E is aimed at 'more experienced' players is mind boggling. I've 4E and 3.5 - and 3.5 requires a lot more experience to play. I literally took a bunch of friend that had never played before and ran them though character building and some encounters with very little coaching. The guys I play 3.5 with still argue about rules.

    4E is clearly aimed at a video game generation that want their thinking done for them. It's not harder math - its way easier. There's very little penalties to calculate, no time-based effects (as opposed to rounds), and don't even get me started about spells. Being a magic user is as easy as picking up a gun now, in comparison to how a sorcerer or wizard can be played in 3.5.

    No.. just no.