By this point most Dungeons and Dragon nerds have read Wizard of the Coast’s press release regarding upcoming D&D 5e products. In short, the Fall of 2015 will bring a RAGE OF DEMONS!!!
I’ll link the full press release, but the purpose of this post is not to simply regurgitate the press release. That’s the work of WotC’s publicist, after all, and I’m sure the marketing team at WotC gets paid well enough that they don’t need Nerds on Earth to do their work for them.
Instead, I want to attempt to read between the lines in order to speculate on what future D&D 5e releases might be.[divider] Clues Pointing to Future D&D 5e Storylines [/divider]
On the last two Dungeons and Dragons storyline press releases the Neverwinter MMORPG was listed prominently, with the D&D pen and paper role playing content lucky to merit a footnote. A pattern is developing.
This is understandable. Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the owners of the D&D brand, is a for-profit corporation that answers to shareholders. It’s not a charitable organization. If WotC executives can buy a bigger boat with the profits from their video game properties, then it only stands to reason that that will be their focus, letting Neverwinter drive future D&D 5e storylines.
Alas, I do wish they’d treat D&D 5e pen and paper tabletop products a bit more charitably, but their official press releases tell a different story.
D&D is without a doubt one of the biggest brands of gaming and its roots is in pen and paper tabletop play. But the popularity of computer-based RPGs has vastly hill dwarfed dice rolling for some time now. And even though I haven’t touched a MMORPG since my World of Warcraft days, I know when I’m beaten.
So I did some research into Neverwinter, but not because I was interested in the game. No. I went in for clues into upcoming Dungeons and Dragons releases. If Neverwinter is going to dictate D&D storylines, then I needed to get into its head.
Unfortunately, I learned bupkis that would point to future D&D 5e releases. Neverwinter has released 7 expansion modules, beginning with the Fury of the Feywild up through Tyranny of Dragons and Elemental Evil which seamlessly matched those same storylines from the pen and paper tabletop RPG. Then, of course, the Rage of Demons / Underdark story will release simultaneously for Neverwinter and D&D 5e in Fall 2015, making all 3 storylines since D&D 5e was released match perfectly with Neverwinter storylines.
All we know for certain is that the stories of Neverwinter (and the upcoming Sword Coast video game) and D&D 5e will be intricately intertwined and that storylines are mapped out through 2018, but if there are clues within Neverwinter that point to those future releases, I couldn’t find them.
But there is something we DO know for certain. The existence and focus on the Neverwinter MMORPG solidifies that the pen and paper RPG setting is tied to the Forgotten Realms for the foreseeable future. There won’t be any D&D 5e Dark Sun or Eberron campaign setting any time soon. Instead, WotC plans to open up more of the Forgotten Realms, letting Neverwinter development lead future storylines.
[divider] Clues on Future D&D 5e Campaign Settings [/divider]
Indeed, the Forgotten Realms are getting an update. One get tweeting Mike Mearls and Chris Perkins, both WotC employees, this: “I don’t understand why you guys did the Sundering if you weren’t going to update the Realms. Can you clarify that for me?” Perkins’ reply was clear: “We ARE updating the Realms.” (You can read more here.)
But if the Realms – through both video games and pen and paper – will be getting all the fresh storylines for the foreseeable future, what od campaign settings like Dark Sun and Eberron? Well, I think it’s clear that WotC’s strategy is to release teasers via their Unearthed Arcana blog posts, letting creative DMs flesh it out on their own.
Indeed, Unearthed Arcana included a post that gave us a taste of D&D 5e Eberron. I suspect a future Unearthed Arcana will give us Dark Sun. There won’t be a fully formed splat book.
[divider] Clues on Future D&D 5e Products [/divider]
The official press release is quite clear here. To quote: “Partners such as WizKids, GaleForce 9 and Smiteworks will all support Rage of Demons with new products to help bring your tabletop game to life.”
- WizKids will produce an Underdark and demon-inspired line of miniatures.
- Galeforce 9 will continue to produce collectable miniatures and other gaming aids.
- And Smiteworks with their Fantasy Grounds platform has solidified its place as part of WotC’s digital strategy.
We can assume that all D&D 5e products are being evaluated via market feedback. In short, if folks buy them and WotC makes money off them, then we’ll see more.
[divider]What Pen and Paper RPGers Can Look Forward To[/divider]
Straight from the press release:
WotC will release the new Out of the Abyss adventure book, which will include details about the races of the Underdark, as well as settlements of mind-flayers, duergar, derro, svirfneblin and myconids, among others.
The book is scheduled for release on September 15, with WPN stores Core level and above qualifying for ealy release on September 4. MSRP is $49.95.
Certainly, there will be downloadable content for players, just as there was for Elemental Evil.
tl;dr – Future D&D 5e storylines will be set in the Forgotten Realms for the foreseeable future, and WotC’s video game properties will drive the development, not the tabletop RPG. Fans clamoring for additional pen and paper content for other campaign settings like 5e Dark Sun need to get comfortable that Unearthed Arcana will be their source.