Reacting to changes in the gaming audience and the pull of other media, D&D is about to go through some changes.
Over at The New York Times, in a profile of Wizards of the Coast, the venerable publication is sounding—if not the death knell, then some kind of warning for D&D. Beset by unhappiness among longtime fans with the changes and simplification of the 4th edition, challenged by online and console gaming, and simply part of the broader decline in tabletop gaming over the last decade or so. The article actually paints a fascinating, if too-brief picture of gaming fandom and it's well worth your read.
But amongst all of the details about the external difficulties and internal search for D&D's overall vision, The Times revealed that Wizards of the Coast are currently developing a 5th edition of their rules set with the fans in mind. So much so, that Wizards of the Coast are actually soliciting help from the fans, holding an open test period for fan feedback before releasing the final rule set out into the wild.
I'm actually of two minds about this: while I think it's excellent that Wizards of the Coast are taking a proactive, fan-centered approach to their updated rules, they might be giving themselves one more headache they don't really need. To crib a bit from Men In Black, the average fan knows very clearly what they want, but "the fans" are more often than not has quite a few different, conflicting ideas about what's "right" for a property and trying to reconcile what moves to make next through consensus might add to the overall challenge of the next rule set. Essentially, you can't make everyone happy and when it comes to something like D&D with its committed fanbase, it might be hard to make even a majority of the fans happy about the majority of your changes.
No word on a target date for the finalized rule set, but we'll bring you news as soon as it's announced.
[Source: The New York Times]