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Roll For Wisdom – Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Needs Your Help

Calling all rogues, wizards, paladins, druids and those who despised the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast require your d20 for open playtests to make their 5th edition the best yet. In laymen’s terms, they’re looking for user input to make the game better. Hooray!

Liz Schuh, head of publishing and licensing for Dungeons & Dragons spoke with the New York Times about their new venture. The game “is a unique entertainment experience because it’s crafted by the players at the table, and every gaming session is different,’ said Schuh. “We want to take that idea of the players crafting that experience to the next level and say: ‘Help us craft the rules. Help us craft how this game is played.’”

“Since the game’s birth an estimated 20 million people have played it and spent $1 billion on its products,” writes NYT. So what spurred an almost 40-year-old franchise to make such a move? When the 4th edition was released in 2008, it’s safe to say it was not well received by most D&D players. There was a great deal of complaints from fans who found the new set of rules frustrating. And although Wizards of the Coast do not release sales figures, the NYT says they have been dwindling the last few years, pointing to the huge success of electronic games like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim.

Mike Mearls, senior manager of Dungeons & Dragons research and development wrote on Wizards website:

Our mission is to ensure that D&D enters its next 40 years as a vibrant, growing, and exciting game. By listening to the needs of the D&D community, we can meet this goal. As part of our increased efforts to engage with the player-base, we launched a series of weekly articles in early 2011, including Rule of Three and Legends & Lore, to give you a voice in our work. We’ve listened to both praise and criticism from all D&D fans, regardless of their edition of choice, and we’ll continue to do so.

That is why we are excited to share with you that starting in Spring 2012, we will be taking this process one step further and conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it. With your feedback and involvement, we can make D&D better than ever. We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.

Mearls says they have started with feedback from friends and family of the company but will soon expand to their existing playtesters. “Then at the D&D Experience convention in late January, Wizards of the Coast will conduct a special playtest of ideas currently in development.The D&D Experience will be moving to Gen Con in 2013, so as a convention special this year, we will be offering show attendees a first-look at a draft of the new set of rules,” he said. “Then beginning sometime in the spring, we will begin open playtesting. Through our web site, we will release a growing set of rules, classes, monsters and other materials for your study and feedback.”

You can sign up now to be notified when the open testing will begin and they say they are looking for players of all skill levels, whether you’ve just started or have been playing since the 70s. “We’re really lucky that we have such passionate fans,” Ms. Schuh said, “and we anticipate they’ll roll up their sleeves and help us in this effort.”

(via GeekMom)

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  • Keith

    They want to make it better? Take a HUGE step back, simplify the ruleset towards an earlier era, put the role-playing back in, and stop trying to make it a pen-and-paper version of a MMORPG….

  • Glenn Buettner

    Thing is though, many of the folks they upset with the move to 4th have moved on themselves, many to Pathfinder.  I think the bridge is burnt, they might get a few old schoolers back, but most of those that have moved on, or worse yet, hung up their dice, won’t come back.

  • Il Bui

    Another DOA edition.  4. was created to be an MMORPG not a P&P one.  5th, the same.

  • Angela Fortin

    Eh. My biggest problem with 4th ed. is that 3.5 is so large and well fleshed out that starting over means losing a lot of the cool stuff. Sure, there’s an argument to be made for simplification but people like my gaming group just aren’t going to be impressed with a new edition until the volume of content is in the same league as 3.5.
    I will agree though that D&D isn’t an MMORPG and probably shouldn’t be set up like one. That’s my other major problem with 4.0. It’s focused on dungeon-crawling and monster-killing, which is fine but really not why I play pen and paper RPGs.
    Okay, apparently I have more to say about this than I thought I did. XD

  • mea.glitch

    My gaming group tended towards unusual characters, and 4th edition really didn’t cater to that.  To me, the system encouraged generic character builds, and that was kind of a turn off. 

    If our druid wants a cow for their animal companion, or our fighter wants to spend feats so they can wield the halfling ninja as a weapon, or someone wants a skill in Profession: Pie Making, or whatever not-necessarily-anticipated-by-the-book thing the gamers’ imagination can come up with, they should be allowed to at least try it (GM discression) instead of being locked into that rigid MMO like structure. 

  • Anonymous

    Just buy 1st and 2nd edition AD&D stuff from Half-Price Books.  No need for any version beyond that.

  • Sam Groves

    The audience for D&D could be mapped using a Venn diagram with three domains.

    * The old school war gamers/’statisticians’, for whom the real joy of the game is creating and simulating ‘realistic’ worlds. (see: Gygaxian Naturalism –

    * The storytellers, for whom the rules and dice are really only suggestions and a framework used to keep the narrative ‘honest’ and hopefully avoid things becoming too (forgive me) Mary Sue (see: – in theory – White Wolf’s games –

    * The monster mashers, for whom the game is more about having fun by meeting and killing as many powerful creatures as possible in the smallest amount of time as possible (see: video games from WoW to Gears of War)

    Up till the 4th ed. the game itself could be seen as meandering closer and closer to catering mostly to the first domain. Understandable, given its history, but it didn’t exactly bring many new faces to the table. With the ascension of WoW, it’s understandable that WotC would try to change focus to cover the last domain over the rest. I just hope they understand that eventually they are going to have to come to a better balance if they want to keep the long term customers.

  • JoAnna Luffman

    See, I want a system that has rules for everything, but allows for crazy spur of the moment insanity as well. I’m in 3 games right now – tonight and tomorrow are 3.5, and Saturday is 2E. I’d love to see a return to a combination of both editions, really. The simplified math of 3x and the feel of 2.

    I’m even finally, after 13 years, running my wemic character.

  • John Davis

    This is the core of what is killing 4th edition. I’ve been in this game since 1975 and when I make characters, I want to make something different. I want to play something with a twist.

    3.5 allows the room for that kind of thinking. 4th ed. doesn’t. Also, the body of work that 3.5 has is incredible. Not only are there the Dungeons and Dragons books but there’s also the alternate games that made D20 versions, i.e. Call of Cthulhu for example.

    I feel sorry for everyone who jumped ship to 4th ed. and now are going to be rewarded by having to throw all of their newly acquired books away and start over.

    Our group opted to remain with 3.5 ed. and have begun looking over and discussing Pathfinder as an option. I have to agree with those who say that a 5th ed. version of D&D is likely to be DOA.

  • Null

    That’s the one thing I don’t get. If video games already do what you’re doing better than you do it, why not focus on the other two groups? Who’s going to mash monsters in their head when they can see them explode on their PC? Better to focus on storytellers, who can get an open-endedness from a human player they can’t get from a computer.

  • Sam Groves

    Because to execs: “There’s gold in dem thare hills!” and getting a crappy 10% cut of a billion dollar pie is ‘better’ than getting a 90% cut of a million dollar pie.

  • Kortnee Bryant

    Honestly, I was so irritated by 4e that I’ve moved on to other things. My husband plays 5-7 days a week and is excited. Supposedly they’re bringing back thac0, which was one of my complaints about 3e, but it’s not enough to entice me. They have to do it very, very right to get me back. Even then, I won’t be the hardcore gamer I was when I first started playing. 

  • Amanda M. Ramsey

    We moved from 3.5 to Pathfinder. There is so much more depth and character customization in Pathfinder than in 4th ed. Honestly, I was bored out of my mind with my character in 4th ed. Pathfinder is really where it’s at now. Some of the pre-made modules are amazing story-wise.

  • Margaret Carter

    I’m very, very upset at the thought of yet another edition. IMO, 4th Edition solved many of the problems that have flawed the game from the beginning. I like it more than any of its predecessors (in most respects — only thing I don’t care for is that spells tend to be under-powered compared to their older versions). Having become used to this edition and spent (AGAIN) loads of money on it, I am strongly averse to starting over again.

  • Kristin Sar-nik

    I have played every edition. I don’t say that to brag, just as a bit of background information for what I’m going to say. 
    1st edition was the spark to start all of this, but like a spark, you can’t do much cooking with it…
    AD&D and 2nd edition really expanded the rules.  This was great in a lot of ways, as it provided rules for things that were kind of difficult to rule on in 1st E.  It wasn’t perfect either…  The added complexity, particularly THAC0,

  • Adam Whitley

    Between pathfinder, 3.5, second edition and Warhammer fantasy roleplay all the bases are covered in terms of fantasy gaming.

  • Adam Whitley

    Pathfinder is what fourth edition should of been. Rangers get their hit die back and paladins are mint.

  • Adam Whitley

    Someone has to explain the appeal of THAC0 to me because I started with second moved to third and never looked back.

  • Adam Whitley

    What bothers me about all this is that once they make a new edition they just completley abandon their old systems instead of releasing little bits of content here and there.

  • Matthew Lane

    Bring back the damn Vancian spell casting system. This at will/ecounter/daily system effectively turned every class into “fighter lite”

  • Matthew Lane

    An yet getting only 10% of the million dollar pie, while staring lovingly at the 10% of the billion dollar pie, must have been a kick to the teeth.

  • Christopher Michael Johan Grub

    why not try and go back to basics? like the original D&D? character customization is paramount, people forget the original MMOs were created to emulate AD&D, not the other way around. personally i preferred a hybrid 1st and 2nd AD&D combo, with some modifications to ease gameplay, dragon and dungeon magazine were very useful for that. telling creative players what races they CAN and CANNOT play is futile. when WOTC was purchased by Hasbro, the game lost a LOT of forward momentum, and 3rd edition, 3.5 and so on, slowly drove nails into the coffin. the appearance of choices, prestige classes, feats, and so on, actually limited our choices, and with 4th ed, the laughable emulation of emulation, the inspiration becoming the copycat, dissapointing to say the least. a game is first and foremost a story, that i do not suggest be provided in it’s entirety, but removing many well fleshed out worlds, and imposing one single one on players, was not only arrogant, but damaging to the game itself, i say remove the NEED for prestige classes, and offer not just … say… “feats” and make them either more general or offer more of them, without so many prerequisites, re-add skills like cantrip (dungeon magazine) if someone wants to be a samurai, the DM should say: ok, you are a Samurai now, and impose several limitations and “feat” requirements, the rest is worked out in game play. AD&D shouldnt be an MMO, MMOs are not condusive to ROLE PLAYING. when releasing content: release content, not just flash. there are many many resources, past and present available to use to create a 5th edition. this is not my little pony the role playing game where we can simply be sold a new pony and some cake.most gamers are willing to try something new, but spitting on or ignoring AD&D’s rich roots, is folly. when i played AD&D, it was not to play the world’s slowest game of WOW.

  • Heather Hopkins

    I’ve been playing since AD&D and I have to say I love 4E. There are a lot of complaints out there that its a MMORPG made into a table top and there is no RP. Honestly, why isn’t there RP? I’ve seen more RP in my 4E games than I’ve ever seen before… It’s all in who you play with, not what the system is. I can see the “MMORPG” similarities but I have no issues with that. It’s nice to see defined roles and groups working together instead of comparing damage output… In 4E the game feels more like a team game than a who can dish out the most damage/cheese. And since I’ve always been a huge fan of Mages.. well, I honestly like them far more in 4E with their defined “Controller” role than in earlier additions where you didn’t even roll to see if you hit and you did an insane amount of damage.

  • David L. Hamaker

    That is, in fact, exactly the sort of game I’m running.  It’s not easy to combine 2nd and 3rd editions, but it’s worth the effort.  My game is using a hybrid of 3.5/pathfinder for the basic rules, but I allow spells from 2nd and 3rd editions to be found or researched by the players (and custom spells of course), and I have a 2nd edition psionicist in my game too (it was a truly unique system instead of being just another spell ladder).  I use fluff books from all editions, because they are useful no matter what the mechanics of the game say.  I keep a copy of several D20 books around just in case (Dragon Lords of Melnibone, Call of Cthulhu, D20 Modern as examples) as well as things like GURPS because face it, you cant beat GURPS for versatility.  My players started off in the Forgotten Realms, but have traveled the planes, gone spelljamming, seen the world through the lens of the dead, visited other worlds like Steven Brust’s Dragaera, and now they’re happily slaying demons on Greyhawk fighting the Savage Tide.
    What I would love to see is a D&D where game balance is based in the 2nd edition Rock Paper Scissors school of thinking instead of the 3rd and 4th edition “equal levels have a 50% chance of failure no matter how cool the spell or power” school of thinking.  I want to see books where you don’t need a new feat or prestige class or whizbang character customization option.  Those are great, but shouldn’t be mandatory.  I miss the 2nd edition focus on new and interesting magic, on the ecology of how the monster fits (or doesn’t) into the world it lives in.  For me, the greatest joy of running a D&D world is when the players are able to suspend disbelief because everything is internally consistent and they’re asking “How do we” instead of “Why can’t I”.

  • David L. Hamaker

    Oh, and it’s a play by chat game, so you’re welcome to pop in.  Here’s the facebook group:

  • Adam Whitley

    In 3.5 I managed to run entire games where no one rolled a single attack die. In 4th edition I couldn’t  make npcs out of the player classes unless they hid fired off their once crazy attack for the day and ran away. Also the fact that clerics healed while dealing damage and had no alignment restrictions to their powers never sat well with me.

  • Joshua Meade

    indeed, i have also moved on to pathfinder or just stuck with 3.5. i really dont see them outdoing 3.5 or any other d20 based game out there. if they really want to wow me, they might consider going to a percentile system ala dark heresy style. otherwise, i mean, theres very little they could do after this 4e fiasco. 

    honestly, the cards, the at will stuff, it kind of insulted my intelligence. i read it, i tried playing it, and all i could say is “so you dont think we should feel like we are playing WOW paperback? REALLY?!” i felt like it was aimed at children who need explanations of their characters fighting style with cards they can tap.

    honestly, when they did 4e, it felt like they were completely out of touch with the playerbase. 

  • Joshua Meade

    yeah, dnd has really shot themselves in the foot with 4e lol now that theyve let the biggest talent in the industry walk away and make their own system. a system which regularly beats them in sales.

  • Joshua Meade

    not to mention my barbarian is truely a wrecking ball. i get to add my con to my damage. in 4e dnd, barbarian, fighter, whatever. its all the same. everyone does the same damage. just at different ranges. its not that i have an issue with balance…it just feels like they think we are children or something.

  • Joshua Meade

    eh THAC0 makes my nose bleed. but id rather play 2nd ed (which i lothe) than play 4e which insults my intelligence. 

  • Joshua Meade

    whats his secret? if i played 7 days a week my wife would kill me lol also, she played in our games on saturday nights, so its not like she isnt a gamer :P

  • Joshua Meade

    sure if you like card tapping…it adds paperback mmo style play, a card game like magic the gathering, and removes the necessity to wonder what class youre going to play because they all do the same thing.

  • Joshua Meade

    ditto. thac0 is like cooking with propane. sure you can eat it, but charcoal tastes better every time. and you dont end up drinking twice the soda to get the taste of gas out of your tongue.

  • Nick

     That’s what 5th Edition seems to be aiming for. A cmobo of the good parts of each different edition. Honestly, I run every edition of D&D and I have certain players that excell or favor different versions for various reasons, 4th does have some good qualities to it, I really like their taking of prestige classes and fleshing them out into paragon paths and epic destinies. It really helps to manage the ammount of things stacked onto one character and you can still get rediculous creations like: Warfoged Vampire Half-Demon/Half-Angel/Half-Vampire if you take the feats for them and use the Player’s Option: Vampire Class. There’s still insanity, but I agree itdoes feel more mmo. I think my perferred version is 3.5

  • Anonymous

    What they need to get across to people is that D&D can do far more than any computer game (I can do ANYTHING in D&D in terms of interacting with environment) and if battles are done correctly the excitement can have people jumping up and down and fist pumping with when they are victorious or sulking when they have to run or die. I played WOW and man that got boring after a while…….because you just don’t get the same interactions or powerful imaginative images etc…..D&D done correctly (and P&P games in general) NEVER get boring!.

  • Anonymous

    Some of the free add on’s with the new edition will make it worth buying even if you don’t use the books. Cheaper to by the boxed version of the new edition game than to buy the add on’s separately. I am hoping they will repair the damage done by 4E. I am still playing 1st ed and 2nd ed……will see where the 5th one takes it all. Last chance I think….so they will want to get it right.

  • Warren Tame

    i think 4e looks very good i got the starter set and i like the look of it so far
    it deo’s not seem too hard for me