Monday, May 19, 2014

D&D Release Stuff

EN World has a bunch of stuff about the next release of D&D here. It's coming from Amazon and Wizards so it looks this is the real thing.

First Impressions? Well, for the first time ever I'm going to say "I don't like those covers". I'm having a hard time nailing it down but my gut reaction is "bleah". I don;t think it's the art as much as the overall presentation. I've liked all of the others over the decades. The revised "black cover" 2E books didn't really do much for me but I didn't dislike them. Maybe these will grow on me.

Does that little red "Dungeons and Dragons" flag on the lower left imply we might see books for another game in the same format? Something, say, compatible with D&D enough to share books with it? Don't know, but I'm sure it's there for a reason.

Timing-wise it's a staggered release - PHB in August (Gen Con), MM in September, DMG in November, which seems late but OK.

Notable notes on the Starter Set:

  • The starter set is titled (on Amazon): "Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: Fantasy Roleplaying Fundamentals" - oh lord, it sounds like homework! Core set? Basic set? None of those were good enough?
  • "Ideal for a group of 4 – 6 ..." - OK, sounds right
  • "...the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set includes a 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started..." - OK, so far so good. I'm assuming softcover full-color like the Pathfinder starter set
  • "... a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5 ..." - Interesting. That's a pretty good range for a starter set
  • "... 5 pregenerated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material ..." - and this may kill it if it means there are no character creation rules. I hope there are and this is just additional material to help get a game started, as creating a character is one of those "fundamental" elements of playing D&D. 
  • "... and 6 dice." - Cool, this is a good thing.
As long as it has the character creation rules for whatever classes are included then it sounds like a solid deal. The price is certainly right at $19.99 Fantasy Flight has been selling Star Wars Beginner Boxes with dice (but no creation rules, pregens only) for $29.99 for a couple of years now so I think this one will do really well due to price, being a bigger game, and general curiosity.

The Cult of the Dragon/Tiamat thing appears to be all of two adventures. They're both 96 pages, and I wonder what kind of level range they will cover? Two books doesn't scream "Adventure Path" to me. 

I assume that strip at the top will be the new banner/flag for the Realms.

 "Adventure design and development by Kobold Press." - that's interesting. I don't follow KP but I am aware of them, and as far as I know that's not a person but a group of people, so it's basically hiring another company to write adventures which you then publish as your own. That's an odd choice, an escalation of sorts, beyond even using a freelancer. I wonder if it's a one-off thing because of resource shortages while getting the new edition ready - basically not enough in-house writers to go around, or if it will be a continuing thing? It does work around some of those licensing issues if they do not go with an open license - they can target certain design teams or designers with specific projects, identify an adventure or supplement with that name, and keep it as an in-house branded product all at the same time. I guess we will see how it develops.

Apparently they are doing minis too. There an open set (including Drizzt, of course), then there is this:

Collect all 44 miniatures found in the D&D Icons of the Realms: Tyranny of Dragons boosters. Found in 4 figure blind booster packs, and inspired by the Tyranny of Dragons storyline, you'll find dragons, kobold fighters, bugbears, wraiths, mind flayers, and many more iconic D&D characters guaranteed to level up your tabletop roleplaying game experience.

Produced under license by Wizkids
Format: Booster 
Price: $19.99

 Four figures for $20? $5 each? It does look like a pretty good-sized box and it does mention dragons so maybe some of them will be larger than man-sized. That would definitely make a difference for me at least.  


Charles Akins said...

Mearls confirmed on Twitter that the Character Creation rules are in there.

Charles Akins said...

In the starter set. Sorry, posting on my phone. :(

Kelvin Green said...

The cover designs are a bit odd -- as you say, why distinguish D&D and Dungeons and Dragons? -- but they also remind me a little of the revised first edition cover designs and I loved those.

Blacksteel said...

I saw that Mearls tweet but because he didn't specifically say it's in the box there's a debate raging now on EN World about what exactly he meant - online download? DDI generator? I think they're probably just in the box but we will see.

Geoff N. said...

The thing I liked about the earlier editions is that the books felt like tomes. Even the graphics-heavy 4e books had a nice, header that still had a classic feel to it. These covers have more of a comic-book feel. Actually, I think the typography has a lot to do with it. In the past, they've used fonts with heavier seriphs, and wider lettering. This narrow font almost feels art-deco, and just doesn't have the feel of high fantasy.

I feel like I really need to see the spine before I render final judgment though, since that is what would show up on my bookshelf.

Blacksteel said...

Link to book spines:

Kelvin Green said...

It may be wonky perspective but it looks like the new books are smaller than the standard US letter size.