Well, considering how everything has worked out since my earlier post, I’m quite surprised at how much speculation exists out there regarding the next edition of D&D. Monte Cook chose not to see out his contract period with Wizards, but his departure has fuelled a number of conspiracy theories. The playtest is available from later this month but speculation is already rife when DNDnext (which would be a better name than 5e) will be actually available. Some internet RPG “pundits” are suggesting September, but I don’t think any real thought has gone into it, or at WotC HQ.
Here’s what I think is happening. It takes time to test a system like Dndnext that is literally is going back to formula. With the input from the D&D community at large, plus a corporate bottom line, it will require a lot of testing and marketing. Current players don’t want to play a board game with cards, although 4e was close. WotC is the publishers of the Magic card games so it looks towards its strengths in that regard. If they can get Magic: the Gathering players to start playing D&D with the same cards, then they’ll reap the whirlwind.
I think DNDnext is at least a year off. It takes time to print and edit a book, let alone a franchise. A board game costs a lot to print compared to a book. There’s counters, cards, the board, and the packaging – plus the overhead from artwork or graphic design.
I’ve a suspicion of my own: will DNDnext be a basic board game of counters and cards, with “Advanced” books that are available later? Something similar to the Expert and boxed sets that they produced in the 80s? However, my suspicion is that they will lean towards a series of books that expand upon a common structure – extra monsters, feats, powers, etc.