Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Not Being A D&D Fan

Big news this week from Wizards of the Coast and honestly, I couldn't be more excited.

Can't you tell?

Release dates have been announced for the next incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons (Simply titled, 'Dungeons & Dragons'. Note that is was previously referred to as Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, D&D Next and D&D Please-Don't-Let-This-Be-The-Debacle-That-Was-4th).

When I looked at these four covers, my first thought was, "Boy, am I going to be saving money this year!"

The Starter Box

Why do I want or need a separate, starter box for the game? The game is already going to be expensive (more on that later). Is it all that important that I pay $20 for a lesser version of a game that is coming out the following month?

Does the Starter Game give me any rules the main game doesn't? Can my players and I not start with the Player's Handbook?

Never get this kind of product.

The Core Rulebooks

Staggered out over the course of several months, this game will eventually cost you a buy-in price of $150.00. That's one hundred and fifty dollars to begin playing D&D 5th Edition. Aside from being $150 dollars more than I have, I have never, ever purchased a game that required I pay even half of that much to play it. Wait. Not true. D&D 4th Edition. I have since sold my slipcase of that having never played it outside of trying it out at two or three conventions.

 Wait, what if you don't need to pay that much to play it? According to Mike Mearls (via Twitter):

 "Lots of Q's about the staggered release: You will not need the MM or DMG to run a campaign. Or the PH or Starter Set to make a character."

See there! So...WHA?

What does that mean? If I don't need the Monster Manual or Dungeon Master's Guide to run a campaign why the hell are you charging us $75.00 for those two books? I don't need the Player's Handbook to make a starting character? Where are the rules than?

If I am understanding this correctly (and I am surely not as the statement as worded makes little sense), you really only needed to make one book but found a way to make three so you could make more money. Well, why didn't you just say so?

In Conclusion

I wasn't about to buy it, even if it had been in my price point range. I won't be playing it. I pretty much never play, run, or have the urge to play or run D&D of any kind, and when or if I do, I play my homebrew rules. I still have them, they still work better than anything anyone involved with the published product will ever make, and I may run a session of it soon just to prove it.

For $150 dollars the game had better actually be magical. I mean it had better literally teach me how to spin yarn into gold or give me clairvoyance.

Geez Louise.

Barking Alien


  1. "What does that mean? If I don't need the Monster Manual or Dungeon Master's Guide to run a campaign why the hell are you charging us $75.00 for those two books?"

    This means that they're deliberately mimicking the original release of AD&D. They're saying you can play just by owning the basic set. Then add the Monster Manual, just as you did originally, which allowed you to expand the number of monsters Then add the player's handbook, which if it is like every other edition, will largely be a whole lot of spells you can cast and a few pages adding specialists. Who knows it might even revive the Players Option rules or something. Then you buy the the DM's guide, which if like the original will be a huge number of magic items and a vast number of special situation rules. I admit this seems like a huge buy-in to run a game, but it is still just the one book to play the game.

    Looking at the costs, I think I'll consider buying the 20 dollar starter set, which would likely be enough to acquaint me with the basic rule overhauls enough to play the game if I find a circle of people playing the new version or go to a convention. The rest is just details, which it is usually easier to fake in the first place.

  2. The core books are more like splats now. The starter has all you need except chargen. Chargen will be in the free pdf which contains 15% of the PHB. If you want more, there's a PHB or a DMG or a MM or all three if you want. Adventures seperately if you can't write your own. If not, $20. If not, torrents. Seems like a good deal all around.

  3. Looking at the releases, the Starter Set is about all I am in interested in picking up (at first - once I give it a spin or two I'll see about the rest). The starter set, combined with the PDF, will contain everything I need to play the first five levels of the game and everything after that I can either make up or extrapolate on my own. Monster Manuals have become the one kind of book I have little to no interest in so i can live without them.

  4. Translation: We need cash flowing in and we have no other product lines. All our eggs are in one basket. Pathfinder stole our players. Please, please, please buy into the hype and believe you need this shiny new edition and please, please, pleases shell out a few hundred bucks!

    I'll pass. If I wanted a poorly designed game that doesn't let me create the characters I like, I still have my old basic D&D on the shelf.

    1. Right, because they totally don't have Magic, or novels, or computer game licensing money. Sheesh.

  5. I got no need. I have OD&D, AD&D 1e, Moldvay B/X, and a few OSR games. If I ever run D&D, it'll be one of the first three, probably B/X. I've seen multiple editions pass by without ever getting around to playing them, and the one-two punch of the 4e carcrash and the Old School Renaissance ended my need to follow further ones.

    1. Here, here Fred. I'm kind of in the same boat as you.

      I say 'kind of' because, although I still own the three core books for 3.5, my AD&D trinity and a couple of the OSR jammies on pdf, I don't have any other old D&D games or books. I just don't play it or run it. I don't own a single Pathfinder book (bleh - don't like that game at all) and sold off my 4E trinity with slipcase.

      If I were to run D&D nowadays or in the foreseeable future, it would be using my homebrew version which, strangely enough, I have all the books for. ;)

  6. I enjoyed 2nd Ed, despite all the knobbly warts in the mechanics. I enjoyed playing Labyrinth Lord for it's retro simplicity. I enjoyed D20 for it's streamlined system... at first - the more that was produced for it, the clunkier it became until it collapsed under it's own weight. I like Pathfinder, but it appears to be working towards burying itself beneath expansions a la D20 which is a little sad. I tried 4th Ed and it was a nice blend of board game, rpg, and WoW-esque styles, but not really my thing. I also played an early playtest of 5E and it had potential, although I'm not a fan of their upcoming relea$e $trategy. And that's just the D&D-style games I've played. Many other systems have been good too.

    At this point, I don't know what I want most: an old system I'm familiar with, or a complete homebrew system I can tinker with without concerning myself with another companies vision and strategy. Both have their appeal, yet I'm leaning towards just going total homebrew. Either way, buying in on ANY new system is taking a big back seat.

  7. On the rare occasion I buy any RPG these days, it's usually tracking down old out-of-print stuff. The only value I see in the soi-disant OSR stuff is it's nice to have when the originals are expensive or cannot be found. other than that, I don't understand the need for numerous D&D ripoffs and doubt the market will support much more of it.

    If only there was an OSR that focused on other worthy games.

  8. See, and I was (probably) going to pay $20 for the starter but not the books! (Maybe once they're discounted on Amazon or something, but never full price. YEEESH.

  9. The original AD&D books were released on a staggered schedule. The DMG took over a year to come out after the PHB.

    Regarding price, $15 in 1979 = ~$49 in 2014 dollars. It doesn't look any more expensive (granted, these days you can find used AD&D books for a song, but the used market is not how you keep a product viable).

    And Holmes was the original AD&D "starter box." It constantly directed you to AD&D for anything past level 3.