The last few years have been rough for the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Already Diminishing sales in the RPG industry was one thing, but then to end up with a majorly fractured fan base that hurt. Dungeons and Dragons has been filled with controversy ever sense the 4th edition of the role playing game came out. It was a major change for the game. It was a major mechanical over haul and rethinking. In my opinion this wasn’t a bad idea, the problem is that they were dealing with a fan base that does not like change. So when they changed the system considerably products like Pathfinder filled the niche of players who did not want to change. This left fans split. Not only Fans but groups.
It was interesting that last year (2011) Mike Mearls announced that Monte Cook would be coming back to Wizards of the Coast to work on the Legends and Lore column. Monte, of course, was one of the designers of D&D 3rd edition and left wizards several years ago. In his columns he talked about the past present and future of the D&D game. Many fans became suspicious of this move. It seemed strange. there were murmurings in the fan community of something happening.
Today on January 9, 2011 Mike Mearls announced the coming of 5th edition less than four years after the release of 4th edition. It looks as though they want to take fan feedback into consideration, They are starting a massive play test project where players can get involved. They can suggest rules. It is a very different approach that has been used with the property for the last 40 years, where fans can participate in the creation of something new. It will be interesting to see the product that emerges.
Now for some friendly speculating and personal thoughts. I think there is a chance for another major fan backlash, but there is also a chance to develop something new that will appeal to all of the fan factions. If it were me, I would stick with the lower price point books like the ones they put out in the essential line. I liked the look and feel of this. also I think they should look at a very good intro product, more closely resembling the Pathfinder beginner box than anything to come out from D&D in the last 10 or so years. This will be a coo for them. I have a feeling they will go this direction though. I also think we will see a real “looking back“ feel , with the 40th anniversary of the property just around the corner.
One thing is for sure, it is going to be a fun couple of years watching, and perhaps participating in the evolution of this new 5th edition.