And while various RPG companies have been sidestepping it to produce things for 5th edition already, this makes it far easier and – more importantly – seems to have learned from the 4th Edition situation with a return to 3rd edition era openness.
Wizards have also created their own, semi-open, online webstore in which D&D material can be sold called the ‘Dungeon Master’s Guild’ though, with a cut of 50% and more stringent rules on content etc, it’s really not that tempting to a publisher like me, save – perhaps – as a place to sling a few short products.
The good thing about it is that it’s just another ‘face’ to Drivethrurpg/RPGNOW, which means an account on one of their sites is an account on all of them. That should help bring more people over to the other sites and increased attention and sales all around. Again though, recent greater pushes for censorship under the Onebookshelf banner is a cause for concern and getting the D&D online sales is another concentration of power in a single place, vulnerable to censorious pressure.
So, what to do with it, now I can play with it?
There’s a couple of projects I’ve been developing for the OSR:
- A ‘city crawl’ inspired by Bloodborne and other Renaissance/Restoration/Victorian horror.
- A post-apocalyptic fantasy hex-crawl across an environmentally ravaged landscape.
- A dark-fantasy waste-world, mingling technology and magic in an interdimensional junkyard city.
A 5th Edition version of Machinations of the Space Princess could be done, though it would be a lot of work for a repeat project and probably not cost effective.
House rules options – like I did in the past for 3rd Edition – might be an option. Some people prefer grimmer and grittier rules more suited to low fantasy and dark fantasy but this kind of thing is more complicated than it seems if you want to retain game balance.
New races are always an option, but it’s hard to create something that truly stands out. The work I’ve done on various fantasy worlds makes me think I could come up with some possibilities.
New classes are popular, but it’s hard to find effective niches for new character types and there’s a lot of competition in creating them. The old Prestige Class system in 3rd Edition was a way around that, but doesn’t exist in 5e, though there are sub-classes to the classes which fulfil some of the same role. It might be interesting to do some anime-JRPG style classes, inspired by Final Fantasy ‘job’ systems though. A new ‘Actual Monk’ is a definite possibility though.
Backgrounds have plenty of room for additions, but are a thin thing to hang supplementary material on.
Equipment can always use additions, but as with background probably needs to be wedded to something else. A deeper crafting system definitely has some appeal.
Mass combat rules would be a useful edition, an updated Feast of Crows might be a good thing to do.
Feats were popular things to create lists of in 3rd Edition, and it doesn’t seem unlikely that they’d be popular again. Again though, a thin thing to hang a whole supplement off.
The Skill system is not remotely as deep or interesting – or adaptable – as 3rd edition and some alternative rules for skills might be a useful thing to introduce.
There’s always room for new spells, or types of magic.
There’s all manner of real and fantastical gods and pantheons to be potentially detailed.
There’s an insatiable hunger for new magic items.
People always need more monsters.
Then there’s adventures, but they never sell well and have limited long term use to purchasers.
If I do anything for 5e, I don’t want it to be the kind of mindless blown-through make-work that a lot of 3e products were. A few of the shorter ideas above appeal – such as the JRPG character classes – but otherwise I’m far more interested in the potential of creating worlds and lore and tapping into the 5e audience that way.
What do you think, what would you be after?