An article floating around started some speculation about the possibility of Hasbro selling Wizards of the Coast or at the very least the Dungeons & Dragons property. I won’t rehash the speculation on this or why people seem to think this is a possibility, but I would like to take time to give a few thoughts and perhaps a few things I’ll put on my D&D future wish list.
I still recall the first time I rolled up an AD&D character. I had been playing various role-playing games for years in my basement and in my friends bedrooms. I remember sitting on the scratchy carpet of my friends bedroom as he laid out on his side in his bed overlooking us. The smell of the pages, the firm cover of the player’s handbook and the sound of the binding cracking as I flipped though it is etched into my mind forever. I am sentimental when it comes to that Player’s Handbook. It sits on my shelf with brown box tape on the spine.
The D&D I love is not the 5th edition, I have not yet picked up a copy even. I do pick up modules made by independent creators who publish for older editions and clones of older editions. I also play variants from smaller publishers. It has been a long time since I have bought a new product from Wizards of the Coast. I have a few books from the 3.5 edition I bought second hand for cheap some years ago, but I still have not ran a 3.5 game. I want more from D&D though. What would I like to see?
If by some chance I win the lotto and could buy just the D&D property from Hasbro I would not jump into creating a new edition. I miss the days when TSR owned it and put out modules regularly. And that is where I would start. I would publish nice new possibly repackaged versions of popular editions of the game. I would start with a print run of them, from a basic box, AD&D, 2nd edition, 3rd edition and 5th edition at least. I would keep the games alive, and see which ones had the most interest and try to keep those games available for players.
The modules would be a focus for my D&D. The biggest change I would make would be to create a stat block that was a bit bigger than any we have seen that displays stats for multiple editions. For OD&D and AD&D I would likely create a stat block that had multiple combined and include stats for 3rd and 5th all in one block together. This way you can publish monthly modules similar to what Paizo does with Adventure paths only the one module would be usable for all previous editions even Pathfinder which pretty much uses 3rd edition rules. Going forward I would push to publish any new supplemental material in the same manner with the extended stat blocks that can be used for all the editions.
Doing this I would look to try and make two monthly releases, one the new modules that would be coming out, the other would be a rerelease of a classic module updated and to include the new stat block. The rerelease of the editions would be accompanied by occasional rerelease of the classic box sets updated in this manner and rerelease of the various classic realms settings. This would put the Planescape, Ravenloft, Darksun, Spelljammer, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms boxes all back into print slowly over time with the option to run them with just about any edition you play. Currently it seems that most of the new adventure modules and new settings are being put out by third party publishers and independent creators, I would cut them in on the action. I would like to see royalties offered to creators instead of just a one time payment, keep the creators compensated if the company is making cash. New settings or anything of that sort would be nice to see as well. Now, that would be a lot of material and a lot to crank out so it would likely be the long game over time.
What about that 6th edition? If I were in the drivers seat I would be hesitant to put out a new edition. I would hope the release of the core books in various forms would accomplish what was intended there, but if it did not and a new edition was released it would be my intention to make it backwards compatible so that it could be compatible with existing modules and with what is currently coming out.
The other thing I would like to see is a greater integration with the larger community. With so many who have done so much to clean up and clarify rules, the retro-clones can often be better organized and better articulated than the classics. Matt Finch and others did an amazing job with OSRIC as a clone of AD&D. It would be my desire to get the folk who worked all these years on those games in on putting out the new stuff. I would love to see the official D&D looking to those folks on how they would do it and putting some of them in charge of getting the new material assembled and organized. I would like to see the open license even more open, even to the point of allowing proprietary realms, spells and monsters into an open license. Perhaps the release of products would follow more what is going on in the industry through models like that many do with kickstarter and indiegogo. I would also be looking at options to keep many of these publications in print so that there were little scarcity of adventures or books gamers are playing though things like print on demand services.
Trying to get some starter boxes into the big box stores and basics to start playing the game into other places than the gamer sites online and in game stores would be a big push as well to open the game up to newcomers and make it accessible.
And, that’s my daydream.