[4E] is over

edited February 2010 in Story Games
Here's the case.
Posted By: FrankSo we're calling it. 4th edition D&D gets its last book around the September mark, with the Rules Compendium. There is never going to be an Arcane Power 2 or a Shadow Power or a Darksun Player's Guide or any of that. The DMG 3 will not happen.

Starting in Fall of 2010, they will produce a new line of D&D called "D&D Essentials" which will come in a Red Box. It will have vastly simplified rules when compared to 4e D&D, because the entire Player's Guide fits into 32 pages including the Table of Contents. It will go from levels 1-5, and the closest equivalent is the D&D Basic Rules. This strongly indicates that the new main edition of the game that will come out in 2011 will be contrasted as being "Advanced." Even money on whether the new edition gets called "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons."

In the meantime, D&D Essentials will be getting its own expansions, that will include a "Dungeon Master's Kit," a "Monster Vault," and at least two "Player's Essentials" books that will take the D&D Essentials game past 5th level. These will probably have kludgy rules that allow you to use them with 4e D&D standard, but the focus will be upon working directly with the simplified "D&D Essentials" rules.
Of course, this ties in to our own recent discussions of the new Red Box and why the hell they might do that.

They seem to be trying to address the fact that the game is far too complicated for what they want to do with it. Will the 32 page book they're packing into the box have a Skill Challenge system that works? We can only hope. Maybe the relaunch will be enough to save some jobs this time around.

Comments

  • As I see it the problem with 4e isn't so much that it's too complicated, as that they didn't really think through how to provide you with the proper tools to manage its complexity. My group has all of that stuff pretty much figured out, but that's after a substantial amount of planning an innovation on our part with power cards, initiative cards, battle mats, minis, little color-coded rubber bands for marks and other conditions, and so on. We'd have happily paid for a (reasonably priced) box of a bunch of that kind of stuff, but WotC never provided any such thing. (Though come to think of it, Fiery Dragon's "Battle Box" has a lot of that stuff.)
  • edited February 2010
    Seems like the idea behind all of this is really market penetration. I'd be stunned if you don't see this in the board game isle of toy stores, Target and Wal Mart. Almost like the sales pitch from Wizards to the retailers is "don't worry about our freaky 'books', instead, look at this totally non-threatening 'board game' that we have now. People living anywhere that is surrounded by fields of corn will LOVE it!"

    Or, perhaps, the message will be something more like "If you want to carry any Milton Bradley board games, you better carry this one, too."
  • It's about market penetration and expansion. I mean, this is no secret; WotC has said as much. It's too hard for a new player to get into the game without someone holding his/her hand. If the Essentials line addresses this, it'll be a success. If it doesn't address the problem, 4e may well suffer for it. Frank mistakes the latter possibility for the inevitable outcome, alas.

    There are two factual errors in the second paragraph, by the by. First, the Red Box won't go to level 5. Second, the 32 page book is character creation and a solo adventure. The actual rules are in the 64 page Dungeon Master book.
  • Does this guy have any idea what he's talking about? It seems to me like random conspiracy theorizing with no particular authority or information to back it up.
  • Well he's talking about this.

    Looks like Wizards has figured out you need more than a book to get started playing 4e... and also that the core books are just too big. And box sets are cool.
  • I am totally out of the loop on this. Who is Frank Trollman and how is it that he speaks for Hasbro on this subject?
  • At some point 4e will be over, as all things on this earth come to an end, and other than it means I'll get the sweet, sweet remaindered discount on the books, I don't see how it will affect me in the slightest. Commercial decisions made by game companies never, ever do.
  • Posted By: Troy_Costisickhow is it that he speaks for Hasbro on this subject?
    He doesn't, which is my point.



    The Essentials line won't replace the existing game, and is not a new version of the game. It's the sme game repackaged to introduce new players to D&D. One the new players get used to D&D via the Essentials books, they'll be funneled back to the existing core rules and such. The developers have already gone back to writing the 4e supplements that will be released after the Essentials line is done, as the Essentials stuff was a limited set of products (new Red Box, Essentials and one or two more things).

    Either dude is underinformed and doesn't understand the goal of the new products, or he's saying that WotC is lying to us. WotC lying isn't unprecedented, but it does put the post firmly in conspiracy theory territory.
  • Yeah, it seems like random doomsaying speculation. From the thread tho, that's not clear at all.
  • Dudes, Eric and Frank both implied that it was a prediction, not some crazy insider knowledge. Take it for what it is.
  • I think WHFRPG has set the bar for RRPGs that have high handling and a lot of crunch. The Next Big DD&D Release is going to be a box game with all sorts of accessories and state trackers.

    I do not work for Hasbro.
  • edited February 2010
    I don't really understand the imperative that people are talking about for gear. Our group has been playing pretty happily for a while, and here is the gear we seem to have identified as comfortably essential:

    - at least a pair of PHBs for the table (not every player has their own)
    - the character builder software, and a reasonable shot at being able to print off sheets on demand (i.e. some weeks, we have to fill in for missing sheets and so on)
    - one mini for each character
    - one battlemat with marker pens (sometimes we use dungeon tiles, sometimes we just draw on the battle mat)
    - a bunch of index cards and/or scrap paper and/or pencils for the DM to do tracking
    - one character sheet for every player
    - some markers that can be used for monsters: sometimes these are minis, sometimes these are just cardboard counters.
    - some markers that can be distinguishable from the monsters used for things that are immediately important to the encounter (such as burning squares, pools of acid, and the like): for this we often use tiddlywinks or the "plastic money" counters from a boardgame that no longer needs them.
    - ample supplies of dice (I actually use extra dice for HP tracking, and that seems to work quite well).

    This doesn't strike me as terribly onerous, since a lot of these things are fairly general purpose that can be (and are) used for other kinds of games or projects, too.

    I personally use a battlemat, laid over with a sheet of plexi and white board markers. I use the same sheet of plexi to lay over my GMT game paper-maps and other boardgames that use "crayons".

    Our group seems to lean very heavily on "just using quick and dirty" stuff for play, and really, it doesn't hurt us much at all.

    I know that there are all sorts of gear out there for tracking "conditions" and such, but really, we don't -- our DM makes notes, sometimes he reminds people, but mostly we just roll with it pretty fast and loose and with that sort of state in our heads.

    Mind you - years and years and years of playing HERO may have prepped our brains to be able to handle storing this kind of state mentally, on the fly.
  • I think that reselling the same but slightly evolved but same product to an audience and/or new members is better than forcing an upgrade to a new version. For now, I think / am hopefully that this is still 4E and not some 4.5. There is of course non-trivial errata (e.g. skill challenges) that will be in the updated Essentials book, so you could see it as somewhere between 4.0 and 4.5.
    At some point 4e will be over, as all things on this earth come to an end.
    Actually yeah, that's true. Everyone will still play D&D, but this will now refer to "(the) Dance and (the) Dawn". Oh yeah, now I'm internet marketing.
  • *shrugs* everything old is new again. It was only a matter of time.

    Ash
  • Geez, what's with all the lamentations about D&D being radically simplified? Curious to find this sort of stuff on Story Games. Wouldn't it actually be a glorious event if a whole new generation of adolescents, folks of mediocre intelligence, and (to quote one poster) people "surrounded by corn" started playying even a dumbed-down version of the game they bought at Walmart, instead of (say) smoking dope, sending pointless text messages, or staring vacantly at the tube?
  • Let us not use D&D as a wedge against the kids these days and their endless youtubes. Nothing would more quickly kill the fun-factor of the brand.
  • edited February 2010
    [doublepost]
  • I'm actually doing just the opposite - i.e. suggesting that it'd be good to have the orthodox version of D&D be a simple, kid-friendly game rather than the vast compedium of charts, stats and pointless, nitpicky rules that only geriatrics like us have any reason to make a fetish out of. But I'm sure the Youth of Today are greatful for your small contribution to the spread of universal love.
  • I personally have never been a D&D fan, so any trend towards simplification is a step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. I just have no confidence in their ability to produce such a game. I suspect that they'll make all the simplifications in the wrong places and fail to remove the things that really deserve to be removed. I am also generally suspicious of the motives of the company in general. But then I've always been paranoid when it comes to big businesses.

    Plus vanilla fantasy (oops, sorry, I mean 'traditional' Fantasy) makes me come out in a rash.

    -Ash
  • Posted By: lordgoonGeez, what's with all the lamentations about D&D being radically simplified?
    I missed the part of the thread where anyone was "lamenting" D&D being radically simplified. For my part I'm mostly just skeptical of the idea that Wizards of the Coast is planning to do such a thing.

    Given that Yuu-Gi-Oh is really popular with the kids these days, I'm not really convinced that simplicity is necessarily the way to go to draw them in. But then, I'm increasingly of the opinion that in general people tend to propose the kinds of games they themselves like when they suggest types of games to bring in new people...
  • I've been running 4E for a group of kids (ages 7-9), and they've had absolutely no trouble grokking the game whatsoever. I'm with Neko on the complexity issue.
  • edited February 2010
    I know some things about 4e that I won't divulge here. Shameless plug, listen to Ninja vs Pirates Podcast later in March. We have an interview with Mike Merls of D&D.

    http://www.ninjavspirates.com
  • Doesn't this conversation occur every three or four years on every single gaming forum on the Internet? D&D is dead!
  • (lordgoon: didn't mean to jump on ye)

    So in fairness I think a "When is the 4E version of the line done?" conversation is less internet-useless than the "D&D is ovar" conversation, and the thread is more about the former.
  • Posted By: DevPSo in fairness I think a "When is the 4E version of the line done?" conversation is less internet-useless than the "D&D is ovar" conversation, and the thread is more about the former.
    Really? The Trollman post linked to originally is definitely in the "D&D is ovar" camp. It's underinformed so as to be useless.


    If we want to have a serious discussion about when 4e will be done, I'd say that the Essentials line indicates that WotC intends 4e to keep going for several more years at least. It's intended to lure in new customers in to the existing gameline, which makes no sense if the existing gameline changes to a new version.
  • The D&D Essentials is obviously a good marketing move on the part of WotC. What a large part of the roleplaying audience doesnt' seem to understand is that there is a huge part of the population that are intimidated by large, thick books. By coming up with a simpler version of the game, they have a greater chance of bringing in new players that might move up to the more complex game.
  • Posted By: HeraldicThe D&D Essentials is obviously a good marketing move on the part of WotC. What a large part of the roleplaying audience doesnt' seem to understand is that there is a huge part of the population that are intimidated by large, thick books. By coming up with a simpler version of the game, they have a greater chance of bringing in new players that might move up to the more complex game.
    While I don't disagree with you and wouldn't dispute this without solid facts and figures to back it up, I do wonder how much crossover there is between the demographic that are intimidated by large, thick books and the people who would consider playing any kind of RPG, simple or otherwise. It's all a bit of a moot point without accurate statistics though.

    -Ash
  • Seeing that I don't have the resources to launch a survey to back up my statement, I will need to rely on my instincts and observation of human behavior. The fact that I don't have numbers to back me up doesn't make my point moot... It does bring it into doubt until it is proven.

    "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
  • The red cover with the menacing dragon is certainly FRIENDLIER (and, yes, this may sound facetious, but I'm dead serious) than a thick blue book with some scowling rejects from a rock band. Really!

    The red hue alone makes it more enticing.
    But for my part, I wish they'd toss those skill resolution rules.
    (Robin Laws still gets my respect for handling the idea
    of games-about-fighting-don't-need-complex-skill-resolution with Feng Shui.) But that's a whole other argument.

    As for the new box set, bring it on.
    Anything that brings in the kids is good for all of us.
  • I heard that they're getting rid of the dice for combat altogether and making it a dexterity-based ring toss game.

    PROOF:

    image
  • Posted By: Jared A. SorensenI heard that they're getting rid of the dice for combat altogether and making it a dexterity-based ring toss game.
    I almost believed you, but then I noticed the glitter red d4 and d10 out of focus at the bottom of the picture.
    We all know dice will continue to be used in D&D combat as stand in miniatures for many years to come!

    Have at you, red geometric goblins!
  • Those dice are just hit-point trackers.

    At conventions you can win tickets good toward plush monsters instead of inflicting damage when you succeed at the ring toss.
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