Dice Monkey made me do this. Blame him.
Over on Dice Monkey, Mark (all round good guy and uber gamer) asked what you would do if given the reins of D&D and told to move it to the next Edition of the game. I encourage you to hop right over and read his well-written words as well of those of his commenters. Much yummy food for thought is contained within regarding the possible future of everyone’s favourite (or least favourite, depending on who you ask) role-playing game.
What I’m going to do here is reproduce the comment I made over on his site to throw it open for discussion. I’m fortunate to have the best, most intelligent (not to mention great looking) commenters around and I’d value your input as to whether I’m barking up a tree other gamers would like to bark up as well. Woof woof, etc.
Here’s my thoughts.
I would hop across the hall and talk to the Axis & Allies guys. They manage to fit multiple scenarios, hundreds of minis and an infinitely customizable game into a single game box. Find out how they do it then do that, all in the D&D style. This will inevitably mean changing the scale of the game from traditional 25mm to something more like 15mm. That’s a good thing – more cost effective, more monsters on the table, bigger dungeons. 4e gamers will be up in arms, then love you forever when you release a box of 150 unpainted Orcs and Kobolds for under $30.
Next, make a one book D&D hardback that contains all the rules, char gen and monsters you need to get to 10th level. They did it with d20 Modern, so they can do it for D&D. Then release a hardback for 11th-20th level which features strongholds, Domain management rules and mass combat. Then 21st-30th with Empire building rules, and 31st-40th level with planar travel, and 41st-50th with godhood. Build and expand the game rather than keeping it the same but with larger foes. Essentials is a step in the right direction, but falls far short in where it should be (in my opinion).
Then hop across the hall to the Magic:the Gathering guys and make a one-book M:tG Campaign Setting book. Release a new campaign setting every year, all as one book settings. Cover the existing ones – Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Greyhawk (please?), Dark Sun, Ravenloft, etc then head into new directions. A one book Campaign Setting per year could take the game into Dark Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Modern Fantasy, etc as well as open up potential wider licenses. How about a one book Game of Thrones official D&D Campaign Setting? Or Gormenghast? Or even Lord of The Rings? Widen the appeal of D&D into literate audience rather than pretending that fantasy literature doesn’t exist (as they have insultingly done with Fourth Edition).
Release a printed publication magazine (possibly called Dragon) on the newstands to target new and lapsed customers. Aim it at teens (ie, non credit card wielders) as well as more mature gamers. Offer new monsters, adventures, GM advice, supplemental material and previews for the Campaign Settings and more – all fodder for new and existing customers alike. People buy magazines, and people who buy magazines buy stuff. Simple.
Finally, ditch D&D Insider. Get Bioware or whoever to make a world-class character builder and sell that for $30. Make it the exact same builder as it used for all official D&D computer games and sell subscriptions for them instead. Put the content that would have gone into D&DI into Dragon magazine (which is also available for subscription) and it’s a win all round.
End result: a fantatic edition of D&D that is well supported from the ground up with a clear path for the future and a growing userbase.
That’s where the original comment ended. I would also add one thing. Ditch the GSL and replace it not with the OGL (shock!) but with a new license that specifically permits the use of D&D monster stat blocks, traps, magic items and diseases in published adventures. This will allow the third party adventure market to thrive and allow Wizards of The Coast to concentrate on the big picture instead of publishing low-profit (for them) adventure modules.
So there you have it. My vision for how 5e could be presented. Smaller (but more and cheaper) minis, one book, yearly campaign settings, third party adventures and a magazine back on the print stand to support it all.
What do you think?