Since the announcement of D&D Next earlier this month, there has been a flurry of news about D&D. I’ve held off on writing about the new edition because I wanted to avoid speculation, but as more details have come out, especially from D&D Experience last weekend, I feel more comfortable writing about it. But first, some thoughts on the D&D releases happening later this year.
Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (Feb 21)
I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced. The main reason is that I like 4E’s story of the gods and primordials fighting against one another, and I’m hoping to get more information on the primordials in the book. A few previews have already gone up on the D&D web site including a look at the Sha’ir and an awesome picture of a primordial named Ty-h’kadi.
Lords of Waterdeep (Mar 20)
This is the latest D&D branded board game, and lets players take on the role of a lord in the city of Waterdeep scheming against his or her rivals. So far I’ve seen nothing but positive remarks from people who have been able to play early, and I’ll be tempted to pick up a copy when it’s released.
AD&D 1st Edition Premium Books (April 17)
Wizards of the Coast is releasing premium reprints of the first edition AD&D core books. The books will have new cover art, but the interior will be the same art and text as the original. One cool thing about the rerelease is that money from the sales will go to support the Gygax Memorial Fund. Like Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium last year, these books will only be distributed to hobby and gaming stores. I hope to pick up a set of these this spring.
Dungeon Survival Handbook (May 15)
Based on the product seminar at D&D Experience, this book sounds like a resource for underdark-themed characters. It is supposed to contain new themes and powers that are tied to the underdark and full racial writeups for goblin and kobold player characters.
Dungeon Command (July 17)
Dungeon Command is a new miniatures game that was in open-playtesting last year. It is being released in two themed sets, Heart of Cormyr and Sting of Lolth, that will each contain a non-random set of miniatures, cards, and dungeon tiles. The game is quite a departure from previous D&D minis games in that it has a card element and doesn’t use dice.
Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue (Aug 21)
When I first heard about this book, I was expecting it to be a paragon tier sequel to the Neverwinter campaign book. I don’t think that’s accurate anymore and it instead sounds like its geared towards drow-allied characters in and around the city. During the product seminar, it also sounded like this book would contain a campaign framework for player characters to be competing with one another as associates of rival houses.
Elminster’s Forgotten Realms (Oct 16?)
This book sounds like an awesome product for fans of the Forgotten Realms. It is a look at how Ed Greenwood, creator of the setting, has used the Realms in his own campaigns over the years. It sounds like this will be a bit of an alternate timeline for the setting mixed with notes about the setting’s development. While I don’t think I’m enough of a Forgotten Realms fan to really enjoy the book, I’d love to see something similar done for Eberron.
I wasn’t at D&D Experience to try out the next version of D&D and I’m not part of the friends and family playtest, so the only info that I have on D&D Next is what has shown up on the designers blogs and the panels at D&D Experience. That said, here are some of my reactions to the things that I have read. If you’re looking for the latest news I’d recommend checking out ENWorld’s D&D Next page or Obsidian Portal’s coverage of the D&D Experience Seminars.
The designers are talking about D&D Next as a modular system that is flexible enough to match the style of any version of D&D. As a fan of the game, I think this sounds like a great idea, but I’m also skeptical of whether they can actually pull it off. As someone who likes game design, I can’t wait to see how they apply the idea of modules to the game and keep it manageable.
Based on what I’ve read and the video of the class design seminar at D&D Experience, it sounds like they are working on a lot of different classes and multiple versions of at least several of those. They’ve stated a goal of including every class that has been in any edition’s Player’s Handbook, which gives us at least the following: assassin, barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, illusionist, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, warlord, and wizard. That seems like a ton of classes, and I don’t expect all of them to actually make it into the first book, but would be happy to be proven wrong.
During the skills and abilities seminar at D&D Experience, the designers talked a lot about the skill system they are working on for D&D Next. It sounds like the game will have an open-ended skill system rather than a fixed list of skills. These skills will then work in different ways with the default being adding to ability checks for related actions, but a skill could also give other benefits such as letting you move faster while sneaking. More than anything else I’ve read so far, the contents of this seminar makes me really excited for the new edition.
I like the idea of an open playtest and plan to run at least a few games once the open playtest starts later this spring.