Home » Ancient Posts » A New Edition of D&D Designed to Unite D&D Players — Can It Be Done?    
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systems are irrelevant at this point. all you need is a base system of guidelines (D&D, AD&D, 2E), a decent improvisational storyteller, and players who are willing to Weird Out together. thats the recipe

game mechanics has gotten so overly convoluted that it just reeks of calculator brained people who want to crush abstractions-as-numbers more than they want to use their imagination (its similar to the MMO-ist who is just figuring out the most economic way to reduce numbers to 0 while raiding). the "problem-solving" becomes accounting instead of creating an imaginative scaffolding with friends where you creatively solve problems through exploration, questions, improvisation, etc. old school gaming is an artistry more than it is a rigid mathematical exercise.


You could certainly craft a game that could be all things to all gamers, but there is little point. What is gained by pretending two groups that are really playing completely different games are playing the same game? That just breeds and exacerbates the sort of confusion we already have from (at least) three very different games calling themselves D&D over the years. And people like me will readily stick to games we have rather than deal with the info overload of such a grand unified system. One of the reasons I prefer the games I do is their concision.

As for making money, that is a (relatively) simple thing. There are three ways: 1. Size your investment in a property according to what the market will bear. Trying to trick the market into spending more will only come back to bite you in the long run. (Though, if you work for some companies, no one stays around long enough to be worried about the long run.) 2. Diversify. Betting the company on one property is foolish, which is why early TSR or Wizards since they bought TSR has never done that. 3. If you have a valuable brand, license it.


@JB: I agree, selling multiple editions is probably the only way to satisfy almost everyone who likes D&D. As WOTC has almost all the D&D product prior to 4e in PDF form, they really have no reason not to sell it there would be little to no upfront costs associated with doing so — and they have already seen that they can't force everyone to go to their latest edition by removing the material from the market.


@JB: I agree with you: the best solution is to sell multiple versions of D&D. Given that WOTC already has most of their pre-4e material converted to PDF, there's really no reason not to sell it. Even at only 4 or 5 bucks an item, that material could be generating profit with little or no upfront cost (since places like DriveThruGames take a cut of the sale price). They would not even have to produce any new material for the old games, just let people who like edition X and its products buy it instead of losing all the business of people who like D&D but don't like their current edition.


@Jeff Rients: How would the IP owner make a profit in that 'version'?


@Rainforest Giant
The times, they're a changin man..

Rainforest Giant

Pen and pencil games are a sideshow. Really a sideshow of a sideshow. The console games rule them all with rpgs a small subset of console games. Pen and pencil rpgs are an afterthought behind everything electronic.

While I love tabletop rpgs (I wouldn't be here otherwise) I know that there is no renaissance in sight. Is it possible for D&D to appeal to all pencil and paper folks? I give that a qualified, slim, unlikely shading to impossible.

Simple marketing and game politics alone have created people who will never purchase anything from WOTC (two at least on this thread alone). With the hard feelings left over from the OGL adoption/abandonment some would be wary for business reasons.

A wiki type of set up might work but you cannot sell a wiki. You might be able to let people pick and play but you'd make no money. Let's not forget Hasbro isn't interested in a good game, a hobby, or rpgs for their own sake. If they cannot make them metric ass-loads of money Hasbro wants nothing to do with the D&D.

Sure they might want to keep movie, toy, tie-in rights and they'd jump on rpgs if they thought there was money involved but but that is it.

D&D as a major pop phenomenon had its day. Just like garage bands, tie-dyes or afros, they might make a small niche/nostalgia comeback but we will never see D&D played by even half of its former percentage of the population again. It certainly won't command the same fraction of leisure dollars that it used to. Population changes, different interests, culture change, and other options have taken D&D out of the mainstream for good.


13 Some people want their characters to be at risk of dying, some don't, and some want to feel like their characters could die but don't want it to actually happen.


I'm thinking a unification of the fan-base is a fine, if lofty, ideal. Unfortunately, it is an ideal I cannot envision ever being achieved.

With OD&D you have the TLBB only crowd, the TLBB + GH guys, the All the Supplements guys.

With BD&D you have Holmes versus Moldvay versus Mentzer versus Cyclopedia factions.

With AD&D you have the pre-UA crowd and the "anything before 2e" crowd.

With 2nd Edition AD&D it is the core books versus the splat books.

And that is just the edition warfare I know; I'm pretty sure similar dust-up occur in 3e (core versus splat versus Pathfinder) and 4e (book versus box). A reasonable person would think that within each of those broad categories (at least) there would be a degree of support and unity. Such is not the case.

And with what I've witnessed on-line I'm sad to say I believe that "One Edition to Rule Them All" will never happen.


Personally, I think an attempt at an edition that woos everyone (Old Schoolers, Pathfinders, 4th Ed'rs) is a fools' errand. You're only likely to alienate everyone (though possibly creating a new fan base).

Randall, I think your post does a good job of highlighting how different players want different things from their games (they have different objectives of game play) even as they all want to play a fantasy game called "Dungeons & Dragons." What's wrong with a game company simply publishing different versions of the same game? TSR published AD&D and (BECMI) D&D at the same time, WotC published 3rd Edition and a boardgamey "Chainmail" at the same time…and in the oldest of days there was OD&D, B/X, and AD&D all being offered by the same company at the same time!

Why only one system? Is it just an attempt to monopolize marketshare? Is it just an attempt to maximize profits (by junking an entire edition and making everyone pony up a couple hundred bucks for a new set of "core" books)?

Actually, I don't really have a dog in this fight, because I've already decided to NEVER PURCHASE A HASBRO/WOTC PRODUCT EVER AGAIN. But I can't help shake my head when I think of people considering methods of unifying a fractured fanbase. I think the "D&D Community" was probably shattered irreparably from the first moment an "advanced" version of the game was published.


What Jeff said.

Jeff Rients

All these problems can be overcome by reconceiving of D&D as coreless. No core rules, only a panoply of options that can be clicked into or out of existence for individual tables. All previous editions become accessible under this scheme. Basically reimagine D&D as a wiki you select options from to construct your own personalized rulebook.

Rainforest Giant

Official D&D whether run by WOTC or whomever comes after, will not be able to satisfy everyone. With OGL and the proliferation of better presented, better written, and free or semi-free games out there the WOTC's job just keeps getting tougher.

Whatever they do it will be whistling past the graveyard as far as I am concerned. They have lost me as a customer before I even became interested in the game again (I stopped playing in the early 80s). They will probably be able to remain propped up by other offerings, nostalgia, name recognition, and just plain laziness for a long time to come. I just won't be doing the propping.