Maybe it’s just the weather this time of year, but I’m seeing storm clouds up ahead for D&D’s future. I’m going to make a prediction, and hope I’m wrong.
I predict that there’ll be a new edition of D&D at the end of 2010. And it’ll be the last one, ever.
I don’t think I’m alone in this line of thought either, as I’m seeing similar rumbles and ruminations on the Paizo and EN World boards too with the instant cancellation of D&D Minis leaving folks asking whether the same could also happen to D&D istelf; of course it could, and the only thing that would prevent it from happening would be a very healthy profit line. Combine Wizards’ handling of the whole DDI/GSL/OGL/marketing affair with the current economic climate, and…. well, draw your own conclusions.
So why’m I suggesting a 5th Edition so darned soon? Surely it would make more sense, if it’s going to die, do go without another edition on the cards. Well yeh, I reply, but 4e is a transition product – it’s a halfway house between D&D as it was, and D&D as it’s going to be. 5th Edition D&D will cement the product line (as far as I can see it) as a collectable card game slash miniatures game with a strong digital element. 5th Edition D&D will come as a Starter Set with pre-generated characters and two packs of Powers Cards. There’ll be Monster Cards too, replacing the traditional Monster Manual with adventures offering limited-edition Cards and DDI offering encounter and deck building tips.
Then, after 5th Edition, the whole thing will merge with the declining Magic line to create a single Fantasy arm for Hasbro providing collectable card and subscription-based products under some product name which might (or might not) be Dungeons & Dragons.
Not that I’m dissing any of this; evolution is, fundamentally, exciting, and I’d love to see D&D move in brave new directions. The shift from a three-core-book model is (IMHO) long overdue, and the world isn’t 1977 anymore.
It might not be role-playing as we know it, but one thing is for sure.
The next few years is going to see plenty of changes for the game!