09 January 2012

Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition is Coming

The official announcement concerning the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons at the Wizards of the Coast website is here.

This claim in particular caught my attention:
We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.
While I think that this is an interesting and ambitious goal, it strikes me as quixotic. I have no idea how a single version of D&D could possibly appeal to the diverse D&D-descended role-playing communities that exist today (the stalwarts of earlier editions, the splintered 'Old School Renaissance' folks, the Pathfinder/3.x fans, the 4e people, etc.).

Still, as someone who is a fan of neither 3e nor 4e D&D, I must confess that I'm somewhat curious to see what WotC does for 5e, given this mission statement.

The 5e announcement has been covered by the New York Times, Critical Hits, and Forbes.

Especially interesting is this comment from David M. Ewalt (the author of the Forbes piece):
Wizards is on the right track.

I’m not a fan of fourth edition. I find the combat slow, the powers limiting, and the rules inhospitable to the kind of creative world-building, story-telling and problem-solving that make D&D great.

But so far, the fifth edition rules show promise. They’re simple without being stupid, and efficient without being shallow. Combat was quick and satisfying; we got through most of an adventure in just a few hours. And I get the sense that fifth edition will bring back some of the good complexity of previous versions, allowing players to create unique characters and new worlds.

Most of all, it feels like D&D, not a console video game, or an MMO, or a card game. That’s the first step towards bringing old players home.
While I'm not holding my breath for a '5th edition miracle', I do look forward to seeing what happens with Ye Grande Olde Game. I try to remain curious and open-minded, even in my old age...


  1. I also hope for something better from 5th Edition. 3rd Edition didn't interest me, other than the dungeon punk style artwork. But I would much rather deal with 3rd Edition than 4th Edition any day of the week.

    WoTC has made error after error since 4th came out. First was the new console game/MMO gameplay presented in books with severely substandard construction/binding quality compared to 3rd Edition book. This was followed by WoTC pulling all their pdf versions from the online stores with the claim that pdf versions promote piracy. ID10Ts. Now the only way to get a pdf version for your computer or iPad IS through piracy. I guess WoTC doesn't understand that most of us gamers are hones and WILL pay for the pdfs.

    I walked away from D&D and WoTC 4 years ago and it would take a lot to get me to return to the fold.

  2. As far as I can tell, this seems to be the general sentiment with our group too. All happy with Pathfinder, and it would take a great deal for us to bother with 5e. Wizards has got a mountain to climb here, particularly with Pathfinder and the Old School movement now fairly entrenched.

  3. I shall judge not, 'till its feet are upon my floor.

  4. Right now this post is in the first page of results when I Google dungeons and dragons fifth edition. There are several other OSR blogs in the top results too. This obviously may change, but still. Interesting, no?

  5. I've pretty much moved on to other systems.

    But D&D is like an old girlfriend. You broke up, sure, but that does not mean you don't want to see her doing well.

  6. @Brendan: Wow, that is surprising and strange!

  7. Yeah. And it still is, too. Hit number 6 for me.

  8. Maybe we could just get a quality reprint of 1st Edition AD&D? :)


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).