Why I’m Hopeful About DnD Next

I’m sure many folk out there think I’m a huge D&D fan, so I want to preface this post by saying: “No”. In fact, I only got into D&D recently, having grown up on Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play and World of Darkness. I started playing 3.5 right around the time 4e came out and then got quite seriously into the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. I’ve generally found D&D to be bland, not near as interesting as the Warhammer World or the World of Darkness setting.

And yet, I think D&D Next will be a good thing.

Next will surely bring in new blood. Kids that were too young to play 4e are now older, and students who missed 4e have a chance to be excited about something new. Also, here’s another chance for Wizards of the Coast (WotC) to entice more of the “old school” back to the table.

If you haven’t played the D&D Adventure System boardgames yet then you’re missing out. They have a rightful reputation in board gaming circles as a top dungeon crawl. I think WotC learnt loads from the Adventure System and the Next play tests. I’ll wager that will mean a great starter set, one that could even include miniatures and modular dungeons, while being tailored to new players. Consider what WotC have learn’t from their Red Box and the Pathfinder Beginner Box. This product will be a key to the growth of Next. If they do it well enough, they might even manage to sell it to experienced role-players.

A new rules set also means more miniatures. Let’s look at another WotC product; Dungeon Command. Having played a few games and having played Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures before that, I think WotC is heading in the right direction. Buy a themed army of twelve figures: goblins, orcs, undead, drow or heroes, then use them in any one of three games; DC, AS or regular role-play. You could run a campaign off a box alone! I’m hoping Dungeon Command will see more support and smaller boosters, which tie in with Next and the Adventure System. That sort of marketing can only boost sales. However, Wizards announced this month that they are partnering with WizKids to bring the next line of D&D miniatures, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Now, I haven’t talked about Next‘s mechanics, and I’m not going to. Inevitably there will be folk who love it or love to hate it. It’s just one more system in a sea of countless fantasy RPGs. Can it be ground-breaking while remaining true to the D&D legacy? Probably not. But maybe D&D Next doesn’t need to be ground-breaking. Maybe the magic is in the marketing.

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