Friday, November 7, 2014

Overreaction Friday - D&D goes Pathfinder

There's an interview with Mike Mearls here and some additional discussion on EN World here that spurred this post. The short version is that it looks like WOTC is adopting Paizo's core approach:

  • Paizo puts out two Adventure Paths per year, with separate supporting books for players and DM's

  • WOTC will put out two "stories" per year, with at least a supporting source book aimed mainly at players
Now Paizo also puts out additional material like poster maps, flip-mats, cards, and sometimes miniatures for each of their AP's but they have been doing this for a while. WOTC will likely be doing a little more than this too, from miniatures sets to a special DM screen (they did one for Tyranny of Dragons) to tie-ins with the Neverwinter MMO. 

They also note that they have plans through 2018. I think that's interesting because I don't think Paizo plans out their AP's that far in advance other than having a pool of ideas suggested previously. I suspect part of that may be that WOTC is deliberately drawing on D&D history and has a list of the first ten or so things they want to tackle while Paizo has less "legacy" to deal with given their separate campaign world. 

It is interesting too in that up until very recently all we heard was that "adventures don't sell" - yet Paizo found a way to make that work. In fact, it's to the point that now WOTC seems to be basing their whole approach around a similar adventure-centered concept. What changed? Did gamers suddenly decide to spend more money than they did in the 90's? I'm going to say no. I think building a fair amount of setting material into the adventures probably helps, as does tying a source book for players to a set of adventures. 

I also think it's interesting that WOTC's D&D team is smaller than Paizo's Pathfinder team. Both of them use a lot of outsiders/freelancers. Maybe it's just setting more reasonable expectations for tabletop D&D at WOTC - if so that seems like a good thing to me. It will also be interesting to see if it stays that way.


Norman Harman said...

What changed is they started mixing splat book content (more powers for players) into the adventures/supplements. Only GM buy adventures, Players buy anything that will make them more uber.

Also, I believe demand for published adventures is much higher in Pathfinder (maybe less so in 5ed) because the systems are so complex and it's a lot of freakin work to build adventures. Compared to older systems at least.

Finally, a lot of the "middle years" 2ed-3.5 modules sucked balls. Adventure Paths starting with ones in Dragon Mag generally rock. So, the mantra is more correctly stated as "shitty schlock doesn't sell" rather than "adventures don't sell"

Also, I do think the gamer population and thus $$$ to spend is larger now than it use to be. Thanks to MTG, and Eurogames. Both gateway drugs into RPGs.

Blacksteel said...

I don't know - in PF the extra player stuff is typically in the "people of" books that go along with each AP but are not actually a part of the AP.

You may be on to something with the complexity - the NPC Codex and the Monster Codex books are aimed directly at this.

I was thinking about the adventure quality issue myself - what is the most memorable 2E adventure? Probably the "Return to" series and those were just updates of memorable 1E adventures!

I see a weird conflict divide here, where some gamers don't want to spend anything on a game while others will pay extra for the Autographed Preview Special Collectors Gold Foil edition. I'm not sure which is bigger.