The Future of D&D redux

A few months ago, I posted the plans of Wizards for D&D in the future – the various lines of Hero Builder books (the Complete series), the Race books (Races of Stone), the Monster books (Draconomicon), the Environ books (Frostburn) and so forth.

With the Complete Adventurer, announced last week and due in early 2005, the series of the four Hero books will be complete. Someone on ENworld mused that the way the topics of the book were split (with a little for each class in each book) might be some sort of ploy to get everyone to buy the books. Well, obviously there’s some truth in that, but I also consider the split Wizards have made for the hero books to be excellently considered.

I have found Complete Warrior to be a great book with options for all classes in it. Obviously, those classes that engaged in a lot of melee and ranged combat got the lion’s share of it (Fighter, Barbarian, Monk, Cleric, Ranger and Paladin), but there is material in there that help any character.

Complete Divine is a more tricky beast. As a guide to Divine magic, it really only applies to those classes that use Divine magic. However, with the Relics and a few Prestige classes, it made the material applicable to other characters – especially those that wanted a more Divine look at their game.

Complete Arcane will be similar to Complete Divine in focus, I guess (though we might have more magic items), and primarily useful for the Bard, Wizard and Sorcerer.

With the Complete Adventurer, the cycle will be complete. Obviously, it will be most useful for those characters that use more mundane tactics than the spellcasters, but by definition it will be more broad than the previous books.

I’ll be very interested to see what guidelines it gives for Thieves’ Guilds – the subject is broad enough to cover in a book of its own (as some people have done), but simple guidelines for a DM to use can be extremely effective. Lots of detail is not always a good thing!

Conversely, consider the more focused approach of the earlier series (and indeed, the original Complete books from TSR!) – there are many aspects to combat, divine magic, arcane magic and adventuring that are missed altogether because the focus is too narrow.The 3.5E Complete series has been very interesting in its approach. An unalloyed success? Probably not, but I do think they have been much better than the Classbooks of 3E.

I think there’s a mentality among us gamers that we must get it all! However, that really isn’t how the Wizards people approach it. They understand that quite a lot of people only get the books they are interested in, so they are providing a range of books that can be excellent to different people.

I mean, I’d rather like to have every Wizards product ever produced, but the Monster books (Draconomicon, Libris Mortis, Codex Anathema) really don’t interest me that much. The monsters really don’t get that much attention from me in my games.

On the other hand, the adventure’s (environmental) setting and the characters’ roles are very important to my players and me. So, the Complete series gives my players a lot of options to play with, and the Environ series looks like it will help my DMing – providing more interesting locales for the adventures.

Meanwhile, you have things like the miniatures which don’t really expand the game much, but provide useful tools to play it with.

That mentality of “must get it all” can lead to the trap of saying “Wizards is doing badly – I don’t like anything they’re making!” Although I’m sure it is true for some, if Wizards sell you a couple of products a year, that’s not bad!

The assumption here is, of course, that they sell enough of each book. Really, I think there’s enough variation in desires for Wizards to do well. Of course, it does depend on the number of people who actually play the game…

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