The Future of D&D Might Be Its Past

This morning, in Mike Mearls’s regular Legends And Lore column on the Wizards website, he made this big announcement:

Starting next week, I’m turning this column over to acclaimed game designer Monte Cook.

Followed by:

Monte has an unmatched design pedigree in the RPG field, and for that reason we’ve brought him on board to work with R&D in making D&D the greatest RPG the world has seen.

If you speculate that this is the lead-up to a new edition of D&D, I certainly couldn’t disagree with you. 2013 was even when I predicted the next edition would come out years ago.

However, I’m going to do what I almost never do an engage in some wild speculation here, with a good chance that I’m totally wrong and off-base. I think it’s an interesting idea, so I’m sharing it here. Keep in mind that I have no insider knowledge about this: this is solely my speculation based on public statements and the Gen Con seminars I attended.

So if it’s not just 5th edition, what else could it be? Well, we know that there has been this sentiment: making D&D a game that players of all editions can enjoy. Likewise, we know from various blog posts and such that the R&D team made a journey playing through all the different editions of D&D. (Even the D&D brand team was in on this, as evidenced by Shelly Mazzanoble’s column.) Likewise, there’s good money on there being an open playtest, which is being refined now through the new miniatures game and which had undeniable success in the Pathfinder launch.

My guess from all this is that we’ll see a product that I’m calling “Dungeons & Dragons: Anniversary Edition” that attempts to be the Grand Unified Game of D&D – not in the “this is the best edition ever” sense, but in the sense that it takes every edition of D&D made and puts it into one game. It would use a modular approach that allows you to combine aspects of each edition to make your own D&D, effectively, while also providing plenty of tools to hack whichever version of D&D you’re currently playing.

The closest analogue I can think of is the Vampire Translation Guide put out by White Wolf designed to bridge the gap between Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem. While that product covered many story concerns that I don’t think D&D: AE would cover, it would be something designed to bridge the gap between different rulesets. At the same time, I think it would have to be playable by itself, while also a manual that could be used with any existing D&D edition you’re already playing, while giving a menu of options for rules you want to tweak and change.

Such a manual (and it would almost have to become a whole game line in and of itself to support the amount of resources it would take) would certainly benefit from open playtesting, especially from people who play previous editions of D&D or have sworn off D&D entirely in favor of other alternatives.

And why would Monte Cook be an important element of this? Besides being a great designer in general (one of our favorites here at CH, in fact), he also underwent a similar D&D deconstruction when part of the team to build 3e, and who has continued to examine and tweak D&D in the years following. In fact, his company and Mike Mearls put out one of my all time favorite takes on D&D, Iron Heroes.

Now, I can’t speak to this being a great idea: while there is a large portion of the D&D community that loves to tinker, it remains to be seen if they would buy a product in such numbers to support the effort, or even if players of various editions would adopt the approach. Heck, I’m not sure if it’s something even I would play (though I’d certainly buy it.) It’s just a guess, but one I think is interesting. Have at it.

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. While I certainly think that is a likely possibility, I can’t help but think to myself. If I found a group and we all wanted to play D&D:AE and we decided that we’d want to play something akin to 2E, why we wouldn’t just go and play 2E?

    I am by no means a barometer of the D&D buying public, so it might well be successful, but I wonder how that hurdle will be overcome.

  2. Tom Cadorette says:

    I think you’re on to something here. Or at least, I hope you are. I’d buy the hell outta D&D Anniversary Edition.

    Your musings certainly are more compelling and interesting for me to read than the “OMGWTFBBQ?!!!” predictions of WotC killing 4e (whilst simultaneously kicking your dog and not calling your sister back after their first date) than this announcement seems to be engendering on the Intarwebs today.

    In other words: I think Monte’s return is a good thing, and I think you’re in the right ballpark as to why that is happening. And I hope you’re right.

  3. NewbieDM’s predictions back from February are along these lines too:
    Though I think Mearls’s recent ruminations on a modular system fill out what this could mean beyond just a synthesized style- I think there’d be multiple skill systems, for instance.

    Elsewhere, I’m immediately reminded the real problem with the gaming industry, and it’s not any rules or company: how quickly gamers are to cast dispersions on the tastes of others.

  4. I’m inclined to agree with you Dave, and there seems to be mounting evidence that 1) D&D 5e might be coming along earlier than expected and 2) 5e going to likely incorporate some of the elements which made the previous editions popular with older traditional D&D gamers.

    I’m honestly ambivalent about having Monte involved in the process of the “new” edition. I respect him greatly as a game theorist, and his knowledge of game design verges on legendary, but it almost feels like they are trying to “get the old team back together” thing, and it makes me wonder what that means for 5e.

    What I do hope is that if 5e is a radical design departure from 4e, in the same way that 4e was a radical departure from 3.5, that WotC has the common sense enough not to alienate the 4e D&D community, and to still offer a minimal amount of support to the game system. I really think that if WotC had continued to do the occasional 3.5 article in Dragon and Dungeon magazines, had come out with a 3.5 character builder to sit alongside the 4e one, and offered at least one book a year to the older version gamers, the Edition War probably would not have happened to the degree it did. Hopefully, WotC learned from that debacle, and will at least throw 4e gamers a bone once in a while after 5e launches.

    Dare I hope that WotC somehow makes 5e to bridge the gap between old-school D&D and 4e, a game where you can play a more traditional old version D&D character right alongside an Essentials one? Hey, I can dream can’t I?

  5. I have mixed emotions on this.

    On the one hand, Monte is a tremendously talented game designer. One of the best.

    On the other hand, Monte’s been professional but also pretty direct about the fact that he doesn’t care for D&D 4E, and that he believes Pathfinder to be the true “spiritual heir” of D&D. (Read his preface in the Pathfinder core rulebook if you doubt this.)

    He’s talented, and if he can leave his disdain (dislike? Pick a word) for the 4E system behind, he’ll be a wonderful addition to the R&D team.

    I’m all for Dave’s “Grand Unified Game” theory. I absolutely LOVE where Mike’s been going in the L&L column lately. I’d like to see a truly inclusive game like he describes. Heck yeah.

    If instead Monte’s work winds the clock backwards on D&D for all of us… well, that will be a problem for me. I’m all for moving forward – even to 5E in 2 years if it passes inspection – but I don’t want to play 3.5 again. I did that for a long time, loved it, and moved on. I’d like to leave it where it is – in the past.

  6. @Dave said:

    “Elsewhere, I’m immediately reminded the real problem with the gaming industry, and it’s not any rules or company: how quickly gamers are to cast dispersions on the tastes of others.”

    Yes. This.

  7. I just don’t think a “Grand Unified” version of D&D that satisfies most people is really possible — even as a modular game. There are far too many things that different people want out of D&D that are polar opposites. I listened a few in a post on my blog a few weeks back (A New Edition of D&D Designed to Unite D&D Players — Can It Be Done?). I think the idea is a wonderful one but trying to put all the differing rules for 0e through 4e in one modular system strikes me as a nearly impossible job. Even doing this for the relatively compatible TSR editions of D&D would be very hard.

  8. TheMainEvent says:

    Maybe its inevitable that the gloss wears off of a game, but 4E enthusiasm has waned severely over the past two years. Knowing that something is brewing, at that the designers are bringing in some fresh old/new blood that does a damn good job at least as me intrigued.

    That’s a good thing.

    P.S. I hate everyone who plays RPGs that I don’t personally play and love.

  9. I have to agree about waning interest in 4e. When it first came out, I loved it for its simplicity and ease of running. The simplified skill system, refined action types, and monster stat blocks with multiple types for each creatures were the biggest selling points for me. No more “a kobold is a kobold is a kobold” without spending a lot of time customizing, and when I do want to customize, I find it much easier than with 3e. No more mess of action types that are in some books but not others. No more long list of fairly specific skills that made it hard for players to think outside the box and use them creatively.

    However, as we have played through the intervening years, I find these things are not so wonderful after all. I still enjoy the variety of monster stat blocks, but I have a very hard time keeping straight all of the things that different creatures in an encounter can do, especially immediate reactions and interrupts. I cannot count how many times something in a stat block has caught my eye that would have been awesome to use…if I had remembered it 2-3 rounds ago.

    The skill system has been by far the biggest disappointment, though. For example, I will often let my players “roll a social/knowledge skill of your choice” in RP scenarios, because while they might WANT their fighter or wizard to be diplomatic or, say, their cleric to be knowledgeable about religion, there are not enough ability points to go around without gimping the character for combat. Even the +5 from training only gets you so far if you suck at something to begin with. For example, a stat-optimized Swordmage or Artificer without Religion trained will know the subject as well or better than a Cleric, whose ENTIRE LIFE REVOLVES AROUND IT! What’s up with that?

    Since the “new and improved” online CB supports no house-ruling/customization whatsoever, so I cannot easily give out free skill training or focus feats to compensate for these things like I could with the old offline builder.

    Speaking of the DDI tools, a small rant on that subject. Last I checked, I am paying more money and getting less functionality than I was with the last iteration of the now-“classic” (offline) DDI tools, especially the so-called Monster Builder that only lets you rename things. I do not feel that the online versions should have been launched until they were at least CLOSE to the functionality offered by the products they were replacing. If my car died, I would not replace it with a more expensive current model year vehicle that was missing a gear shifter and transmission but let me change the name on the back end.

    In experimenting with other systems, I have found Dragon Age RPG to be far better for skills and social encounters than D&D. There is a wider variety of skills/abilities to choose from without being overwhelming, the +2 from a focus really matters, and there is not such an enormous gap between a specialist and an untrained character, so I can set a DC that the untrained character might hit but the specialist has at least some chance to miss.

    Yes, I know the debate about specialization has been had, but there are times I am willing to give away all the info/whatever for a lucky roll, but don’t want to just hand it freely to the guy that consistently rolls in the low 30s on the associated skill check when the by-the-book “Hard” DC is 19.

    If they could drastically improve the skill system and reduce the swinginess of the mechanics for both skills and combat, while retaining some of the other improvements in 4e, I would gladly buy into a 5th edition hook, line, and sinker. Otherwise, I’ll probably switch to DARPG or Savage Worlds after my current campaign ends.

  10. That all being said, I think it’s important to find a system that works for you group. If I were ever running a game that was meant to be combat-heavy, I would consider 4e without hesitation. However, I will not try to run a game with it that is more social interaction and skill based ever again when there are others that do it better. My wife is contemplating a game using 3.5, even though we had sworn off of it, because her idea for the campaign world and party goals require a degree of detail and variety, especially in spellcasting, that 4e, DARPG, or Savage Worlds could not support without an absurd degree of customization.

    It might well be in WotC’s best interest to try actively supporting multiple versions of the game. I don’t know about a “Grand Unified D&D” where they are all interchangeable and you could run a 1e and 4e character in the same game, but seeing some new content for the older systems and more of the older content brought up to date for 3e/4e would probably go over well with the community. I bet people would love adventures and sourcebooks that included the necessary stat blocks and information to use them in any edition!

  11. Iron Heroes fan here… and ardent 4e supporter… Looking into Pathfinder now…

    My opinion… Both games are completely different in terms of how they play. Why unify? Just because 4e is dying? That’s not a good enough reason. Maybe what 4e needs is some palliative care.

    If 4e is dying… let it die with dignity. Don’t cut its throat like WOTC did to 3.5. (They practically leaped at its jugular. Right?) I simply can not understand why they did that. I am afeared that the 4e character builder power switch is now located right next to a light switch in WOTC HQ. And we all know what they would have done if they had a switch to the 3.5 character generator.

    Unification? What would such a unification look like? No matter how you cut it, someone is going to be mad. My preference? Two editions..

    For something new, I’d like to see something between AD&D, Pathfinder and Castles and Crusades. (i.e. Castles and Crusades with some depth, and ‘some’ 4e balance.) I don’t see my game play being any better between Pathfinder and AD&D. C&C is oldschool, and it plays fast, but its too simple and highly subjective to play.

    On another front, I suspect that WOTC has looked at its business model and decided that its current practices (Ryan Dancey’s) are no longer usable. Did the GSL really protect their IP? Or did it scare away 3rd party developers. Is it wise to jam out huge quantities of books in a short time? Should WOTC be supplying good settings or letting 3rd parties do that (while slamming them with the GSL)?

    Paizo clearly has a superior business model. They sell it all (which is not Dancey’s business model). Even if Paizo’s Pathfinder core books started to slow in sales, Paizo has considerably more other sales to prop them up while they get their act together. This is a luxury WOTC doesn’t have.

  12. A more conservative guess would be Planescape as the setting for 2012.

  13. Chris Sniezak says:

    I’m with Deinol. Isn’t bringing on Monte more of a lead into a planescape setting for next year. Think of it this way:

    1) They just remodeled the game with the essentials line and monster vaults.
    2) They’ve been pimping out all kinds of heroic tier play for various reasons while putting an emphasis on setting and story.
    3) You go get Monte Cook to work for R&D

    Next step: Paragon level tier play focusing on Planescape and specifically Sigil like they did with Neverwinter.

    That seems more logical than a 5th edition right now.

  14. However this all turns out, I’m interested to see what comes of Monte’s return to the WotC fold. I engaged in pretty wild speculation in my blog post, but in reality I think it fairly unlikely this is a harbinger of a 5th edition. I think it is more likely we’ll see some supplementary design work, possibly Planescape, possibly something brand new. And if there are new rules ahead, I think it will be more in the spirit of 3rd to 3.5, than a whole new edition.

    Whatever happens, I’ll pay closer attention to the goings on at WotC, that’s for sure…

  15. Ryven Cedrylle says:

    Those are some bold words there, sir, and I completely approve of this kind of CONSTRUCTIVE wild speculation. Kudos for keeping it classy.

    Unfortunately, I’m going to have disagree with you. Attempting to modularize* multiple D&D editions would be an utterly overwhelming task, not to mention the very different design sensibilities and goals of the individual systems. Would I want to see it? Of course! I just don’t think such a thing is entirely realistic. I would first suspect that maybe WotC’s decided to simply support older editions with new material or create conversions from 4E backward so older edition players can use current adventures and such. A Grand Unified Edition sounds awesome, though.

    *is that a word?

  16. Captain Charisma says:

    Essentials was blatantly a design step toward making 4th Edition more like 3.5. I believe this was stated a few times.

    Rather than a 5th edition, it’s more likely that SRM’s “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” hypothesis is fairly accurate. Consider that even though we all call it 4th edition/4e/4.0/whatever, there is no edition number on the current D&D book covers. This is why the company was so adamant in its stance that Essentials wasn’t “4.5” — because it’s “Essentials.”

    I suspect that Monte will be working on a new non-Edition of D&D that incorporates even more 3rd edition design into 4th edition, expertly marrying the two systems.

    Business-wise it’s the right move, considering how many people stood proudly alongside Paizo when they released Pathfinder. Wizards has probably learned that it wasn’t all about “I don’t want to spend money on new books” (I mean, have you seen the price tag on Pathfinder core books?), but on familiarity with the game people had been playing for years and the desire to maintain that familiarity.

  17. I don’t think it will be Planescape for 5e, it will be Greyhawk. It was the original setting for AD&D and it’s a setting that will tug at heartstrings of the 3,5/Pathfinder grognards for nostalgia reasons. Heck it tugs at mine, because I ran so many campaigns in it growing up with AD&D. Do you think it’s a coincidence that they are invoking the name of Oerth’s most powerful wizard for a 4E book release? We haven’t heard from the Circle of Eight in years, and suddenly out of the blue, Mordenkainen has a book named after him? Coincidence? I think not.

  18. Monte has an unmatched design pedigree in the RPG field…

    ‘Unmatched’ pedigree? Now that is some comedy! If Mearls wants to hire his old boss he’s welcome to do so, but since Cook (all due respect to his achievements in game design) wasn’t even the most innovative or respected designer on 3rd edition itself, I find my eyes rolling involuntarily over this one.

    That said, I’m inclined to credit the Planescape speculation before any ‘Grand Unified D&D’ notion, particularly since everyone’s (justifiable and even sweet!) wishful thinking is coming through way, way more clearly than any description or explanation of what such a product would look like…

  19. Planescape hadn’t occurred to me – and that would be amazing.

  20. While they might try a Grand Unified D&D notion, it seems like a daft idea to me. The design philosophies between the games are so disimilar (look at the edition-war arguments about “what a wizard should be able to do” as an example), that I simply don’t see how you could come up with a system that supports both. You could do one that has modular play-style that is similar to both, but that wouldn’t do the “backwards compatibility” thing that you seem to be suggesting, and so would basically just be 5e that draws more inspiration from 3e than 4e (to some degree).

    And yes, I’ve kind of given up on using 4e as a basis for my games. We’ve tried it for a few years, and it just never seems to work out for my group. We’re currently playing around with using DresdenFate in a Fantasy setting, and if that doesn’t work we’re trying out Pathfinder.

    I hope the Next Big Game doesn’t use the online character builder. While a mostly fine piece of software (at least before it moved online), I think the lack of direct interaction with the character numbers and the rules makes it harder to “hack” 4e in a way that supports alternate styles of gameplay.

  21. Neuroglyph might be on to something with the Greyhawk concept. The Kas/Vecna article I recently did for Dragon is the kickoff of a new “History Check” series. The Greyhawk references were encouraged, with no thought of retconning them for a newbie, Essentials-only or 4E audience. Curious…!

  22. Ultimately, I notice that in looking through Pathfinder and 4e, that both are chock full tactical munchkinism (4e more so, obviously). It is precisely all this stuff that sets the game on a path of dependance on minis and grids. And it stands in sharp contrast to oldschool, where the DM hand waved and said, “Yup… you can back stab.” (Actually I’m finding it shocking just how much common lineage the two games really have.)

    I’m not sure how much of the ‘grid’ you can get rid of when powers, abilities, and feats all bring out detailed tactical combat exploits.

    But by far the biggest concern is Vancian Magic. 4e did away with it… If you put it back would you somehow try to balance it? (I think that would be a wise choice. Nerf some of the more powerful stuff, and keep the old school flavor.) Or will we simply go back to wizards rule, fighter’s drool?

  23. But by far the biggest concern is Vancian Magic. 4e did away with it… If you put it back would you somehow try to balance it? (I think that would be a wise choice. Nerf some of the more powerful stuff, and keep the old school flavor.) Or will we simply go back to wizards rule, fighter’s drool?

    Again – this is the sort of thing that ‘Grand Unified D&D’ (i.e. one game incorporating the various incompatible versions) simply can’t answer, and why it’ll never exist. A vanishingly small group of gamers really really care about ‘Vancian magic’ in the simplified, game-friendly form it takes in D&D; most gamers just don’t actually care where the magic system comes from, so long as it’s fun to play. Fire-and-forget magic isn’t intrinsically more fun than 4e’s at-will/encounter/daily model – it’s just a convention.

    ‘Balanced’ 1e-style magic is a contradiction in terms. 4e is a game about balanced combat: chess++. 1e and its revisions (2e/3e) are a different game entirely. They emulate different stories; they provide different play experiences. So-called ‘Vancian magic’ is easy enough to recast in 4e terms, but why would you? There’s a perfectly serviceable, self-contained, much-loved older game built around that very magic system: it’s called ‘Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,’ and in its first version it’s the worst-organized, worst-written RPG ever to find an audience of millions.

    It’s better off on its own.

  24. first off, I think we all just want to play a good RPG … whatever edition of D&D or pathfinder or Dragon Age or Savage Worlds or whatever you find fun and can find people to play with…

    however, 2nd, we also all want some support for our games – either settings, adventures, items, or monsters, and this is why a lot of people left 3.5 for 4e or Pathfinder, and which is why games like Dragon Age that haven’t provided much support for their games are not going to compete with WOTC or Paizo for the top dog/dragon/dungeon/whatever.

    3rdly, I think that WOTC has to decide what their vision of 5th or ultimate or anniversary edition D&D is going to be… are we going to be sitting around a gridded table-top counting squares or are we going to be only using pen & paper (or labtops? D&D ipad/iphone edition anyone?) and sitting around a small table talking and using our imaginations…. because that is really going to be the deciding factor for which parts of previous editions they want to use and how they work together.

    and then, 4thly, they need to take the best of what has come before, the best game theory of what they have been tossing around, and put them together in a way that appeals to a wide range of gamers, keeps the gaming interesting, but also streamlined, and allows for different settings and eras and types of games (high magic, low magic, RPG or combat heavy, horror, etc)… really it is the wide variety of settings that makes D&D of all editions one of the cores of the RPG world and that is one thing that 2nd and 3rd editions seemed to do that 4th has not really embraced. (dark sun really didn’t get the ball rolling like I hoped it would for 4e).

    finally, I think the most confusing thing to me is WOTC’s wish-washiness with their game… supporting miniatures, then saying tokens, then re-animating their miniature line… I would think that a 5th or anniversary edition would also support the miniatures line and vice versa, but the previous bipolar behavior makes me wonder if they are thinking that far in advanced or not…

    anyway, it is an interesting discussion to have and hopefully the people @ WOTC read some of these blogs and get feedback from it!!
    _ Josh _

  25. See, the thing is there are plenty of us that actually LIKE 4e. So WotC were to try to go back and water down the concepts that drove 4e to be designed to begin with and all of a sudden you’re VERY likely to have a game that most of the 4e people hate because it doesn’t do what scratched their itch, and it STILL won’t be 3.5 or AD&D, and probably will be pretty mechanically distinct from them too. So it is this sort of Frankenstein’s Monster edition of D&D that pleases no-one…

    OK, companies have done dumber things, but I think the die is cast in terms of direction of the game for WotC. There can certainly be better reincorporation of a lot of themes into the game. Making items that are closer to the classic 1e items for instance. Powers can be more streamlined and not attached to specific classes (or everything can be a subclass of a very few, say 5, archetypal classes). Characters can get more always on stuff and fewer but more decisive powers. You could crank the futziness of combat down a whole notch and it can still be quite tactical, but with more of an element of planning attached. Get rid of most of the baggage of immediate actions, and just leave OAs (which can be twinked a bit for certain characters). Make ‘builds’ that are more specific, SOMEWHAT like E-classes, but they can be more modular, with “Big Axe Guy” being slapped on top of fighter or cleric, etc to make a few concepts (like themes, but you might not be restricted to one). Do away with most of the feats but keep ones that let you customize your character and gain a bit of flexibility (like Arcane Admixture). Make smaller power lists by scaling many powers, and with only say 5 lists, plus extra options you get for “Big Axe Guy” or whatever, then you can have a much slimmer game.

    Give more lip service to old stuff. 4e sort of has an item named after most 1e items for instance, but I’d use the exact names and try to make the powers match up more. Having a rare item SHOULD be a pretty big deal, just maybe a notch less so than in 1e.

    See, a 4.5 like that I think people might be able to get behind. I could see that strategy. Plaster Monte’s name all over it put out a retro setting like Greyhawk and another that is all new to suite the 4e “we don’t care about old stuff” crowd. If it has consistently high quality adventures and is built on slowly and carefully that might almost work. There’s going to be some nerd rage, but it could be muted a good bit if the result is a “better 4e”. Plus you could probably just about manage to avoid reissuing every DM side book for a good while, as the 4e ones are good references, and then at the same time sell updated ones now and then down the line, which a lot of people would get.

    So, maybe that’s the magic of Monte. Just to make it all palatable to the 3.5 people. Not all the PF fans are going to run out and switch no matter what, but most people will play a well-received game, and 50% of people’s happiness with a game is how well they think everyone ELSE likes it. lol.

  26. Wax Banks: When I’m talking about Vancian, I’m not talking about AD&D. I’m talking about Pathfinder and 3.x. The spell system they use is Vancian, and I don’t consider Pathfinder a mess. If you sit down and compare AD&D to its latest incarnation, Pathfinder, you find very similar if not identical verbiage in the spell descriptions.

    As for balance, I’m of the opinion that it can be done. Pathfinder made some serious head way in that precise direction. Beefing up the martial classes was great. I think now you just need to cut back some of the higher level spells. I like the old quirkiness of Vancian…

    Lastly, I don’t think you know what is really balanced about 4e. The characters most certainly are not.

    What’s balanced about 4e is that all the players get to contribute at all times in some sort of meaningful way. Why else would you come up with a skill challenge? I definitely want to see that in what ever they do.

  27. I don’t know how else to put this: there was more soul in D&D 2e and 3e.

    There’s something about the mechanics in 4e, as robust and teamwork-oriented as they are, that casts a shadow over the balance of D&D that is game and storytelling.

    Monte Cooke understood this balance well – you saw it and see it in his products and writing. How could adding him to the D&D team be a bad thing? It’s time to combine the best of all editions, and this is a wise start.

  28. What a better way to get Paizo fans back than by adding to the R&D team one of the Pillars of admiration of that games system- Monte Cook, the Jesus of RPG. The beginning of the endgame is here, the war for every soul’s wallet is on- Wizards has its eye on the Paizo fan base. First chess move, Wizards, hire on Monte Cook. Your move Paizo.

  29. Philo Pharynx says:

    This will be the most broken game ever. First, some things will have to address every module. “The wizard class gets a +4 class bonus to Arcana in skill system A, or +1 per level to Knowledge (arcana) in skill system B, or a 20% improvement on rolls to identify scrolls in skill system C, or free reroll on Thaumaturgy in skill system D”

    This alone will be a major issue. Then there comes the challenge of playtesting. If they use class A with skill system B and magic system C using magic item system D and combat resolution E is it okay? Even with a couple of options in each category you soon get thousands of combinations, and that’s when things get broken.

    @theShaggDM: In 3.5 I had the same problem with monster stat blocks. Especially monsters with spell abilities. It’s going to be an ongoing problem whenever there are complex monsters. I try to avoid having many different types of complex monsters in one encounter.

    The skill system has plusses and minuses. I hated that in 3.5, a nigh-epic character would not know anything about most things. The most brilliant wizard in the world might not be able to tell a ghoul from a ghast.

    The character builder is a tool. A useful tool, but you can play 4e without it. Or use it for the power cards and then adjust things that are custom.

    @uhf: I can see a combination of Vancian magic and 4e. Give each spellcaster X at will slots and then a complement of Vancian spells. They just need to make sure that the at wills do not become irrelevant and the vancian spells do not become overwhelming.

  30. Enough people have told me that my crazy idea is crazy and it seems to be delving too much into edition war/company war territory, so I’m closing comments. If you have an interesting idea about what Monte joining WotC could be, or if you have your own vision of the next edition of D&D based on the evidence we have, please post it on your own blog.


  1. […] abuzz and ablaze with congratulations, ululations and prognostications.  If you are a follower of Dave “The Game” Chalker and Stephen Radney-MacFarland, you can read their very well-reasoned speculations on what this move […]

  2. […] site: The Future of D&D Might Be Its Past : Critical Hits AKPC_IDS += "13091,";Popularity: unranked […]

  3. […] The Future of D&D Might Be Its Past from Critical Hits ” Roleplaying Games ( […]

  4. […] their R&D team for Dungeons and Dragons and the news has been causing quite a stir. There are some interesting notions being discussed as to what this may mean for the future of the game, and much like everything else […]

  5. […] nestas duas possibilidades. Já é possível ver palpites em conceituados blogs gringos como o Critical Hits , onde sugerem que Monte poderia trabalhar em um grande manual modular unificador de regras das […]

  6. […] by ENWorld, Wired, and CNN. For my prediction back in September before I had any clue, check out The Future of D&D Might Be Its Past. For some wishes for what a new edition of D&D could have, here’s an older post from Sly […]

  7. […] just “Dungeons & Dragons” people would attach “5e” to that title. Though there is goodspeculationonline that points to it possibly being touted as an “Anniversary Edition” or perhaps […]