A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer



Calm Before the Storm

At a personal level, I've been having a rather difficult time this past month because of my attempts to recover from what could only be described as a rather expensive holiday. As a result, I look to my alternate sources of income - however small they may be - and somehow hope that they would increase. In the process of doing that, I noticed something somewhat alarming... or perhaps I'm reading too much in to it.

The last Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition product I released, Items of Legend, was published on DriveThruRPG on December 31st. In the next few days I sold a couple of them; not a lot mind you, but enough to make it noticeable. A little over a week later, on January 9th, the next version of D&D was announced by Mike Mearls... And I have not sold a D&D 4E product since.

On the same day of the announcement I released my Pathfinder conversion for The Dragon's Master... Which I still manage to sell one every now and then.

This could just be a fluke, but as a publisher I can't help but think about the potential repercussions of such an announcement. We are now in limbo, in a time when we don't have enough information about 5E to create new content but if we choose to create content for 4E we may not have an audience.

And this time of limbo isn't a short one; by all accounts, this might be the case for the next year. This could arguably be the worst time to be a publisher like myself, because right now it does not make much business sense to continue to create 4E content without having any idea what the market will bear.

I have one product I'm about to finish, a massive D&D 4E module for a party of 10th level called The Heart of Fire, but to be honest the only reason I will put the work in to releasing it now is because I only need to finish 4 pages out of the 110+ pages in the module.

But what then? What will happen? I like to think that 4E isn't dead or dying... but in the next year it's anyone's guess how it will be treated. Sure, at the time of writing this blog post WotC has several 4E publications in the works, but they have been known to cancel future products on a whim.

And there's yet another problem: let's assume that both editions somehow remain strong, that 4E isn't "dead". So as a publisher I need to decide which edition to publish for, and a big factor in that decision is the licensing that would be available. If you ask me to day I'd like to say I can develop content for 5E, but despite what you may have heard so far we have no idea what kind of licensing agreement 5E will have. And let's throw out another possibility: what if the 4E GSL gets redacted and allows for open content development for 4E, but there is a more restrictive license placed on 5E because it's newer and their profit leader?

All this is speculation... But I sit here wondering what I'm going to do for the next year. I have at least three new modules in my head right now, not to mention the planned rewrite of The Coming Dark. I'm going to have a hard time sitting around waiting for... well... something.

And don't get me started on the possibility of Gamma World 5E...

In the meantime, The Heart of Fire will get released under the 4E GSL once I can get around to writing up the last four remaining pages of fluff, getting a map made and editing the crap out of it.


Finally, I'd like to give a shout out to Brian Patterson (d20Monkey) for linking to my website from his awesome comic. This blog might not be read by millions yet... but yesterday was the single highest traffic day I've had here. Thanks!

Filed under: 5E, DnD, Publication, RPG Comments Off
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