So the big unavoidable news today is that Wizards of the Coast is (no duh) working on Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.
The writing has been on the wall for a while now, so it’s not exactly a surprise, but this is the point where the designers will begin talking openly about what their vision for the game is going to be. I don’t have much to say about 5e itself yet, for obvious reasons, but I will be following its development closely. I do, however, have a few initial ponderings:
1) I’m cautiously optimistic. I was never a fan of 4e, so I’m hopeful that 5e will be a game that I want to play.
2) I would like to see a strong 4e community come into existence, on the same order as the one around Pathfinder. Whenever there is talk of a new edition, there are always edition warriors there ready to shit all over the other side. Given the evolution of retro-clones and Pathfinder, I’d like to see people understand that 5e is not a revision of 4e, but rather a system-fork.
Name aside, the various editions of D&D are essentially separate variations on a theme, not unlike the Final Fantasy series. While similar, each one is different, and enjoying one does not diminish the others. I hope that if the RPG community can sustain parallel lines of 3e, 4e, and 5e, it will convince fans of each to just leave each other the hell alone.
3) There were 8 years between the release of 3e and 4e (with a minor revision in 2003), but if WotC is aiming for a 2013 release date, that will only be 5 years between major system refreshes. That’s a worrisome number, which suggests to me that all may not be well in the house of WotC.
EDIT: Jerry over at Penny Arcade (should I call him Tycho? Are we still playing that pretense?) makes a couple of points in line with what I say in point 2 above, pointing out that Wizards is trying to remedy the—as Jerry puts it— balkanization of D&D and the fact that it’s a somewhat hopeless task. Every group already plays the game their own way.
I’m willing to double down on my previous assertion. I want to see D&D become the
Baskin-Robbins Linux of RPGs. Let everyone have a flavor distribution they like.