Predictions About D&D 5e

Recently the PlatinumWarlock wrote a blog post predicting what changes we might see in the next major revision of Dungeons & Dragons. Margaret Weiss has directly stated that a new edition of D&D is in the works and there is other evidence that substantiates this as well (Source). So just like I predicted what a new Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games would look like, I’ve decided to make a few predictions about what we’ll see in a future version of D&D. When the final product comes out, I’ll revisit this to see how well I predicted.

Product Packaging

  • The first Player’s Guide will be in book form: I’m tempted to think that the Player’s Guide will be a box set containing books and some fiddly bits, but at the end of the day, I think that it will be in a book form due to cost. A lower price point means more potential players.
  • There will be one core product for Dungeon Masters and it will be a box set: D&D Essentials currently has the “Dungeon Master’s Kit” box set, containing a book with rules and DMing advice along with a book of monsters and some fiddly bits, like monster tokens. By doing this, it will be easier for a DM to obtain everything that he needs to run a basic game. And for what its worth, a DM needs both a Dungeon Master’s Guide and a Monster Manual, so it makes sense to sell them together.
  • Either the above two will happen OR it will be sold in one box set: I’m cheating a little bit, but I’m going to make a different prediction about this too. I think it’s somewhat likely that D&D 5e will be packaged in one box like Gamma World with everything you need to play inside. By being packaged like a board game, it might appeal to new players. Or at least old timers who fondly remember the original D&D colored box sets.
  • There will be a starter set providing a simplified D&D: This is a pretty sure-fire guess. There was a starter set for D&D 3.5, D&D 4e, and D&D Essentials. So it makes sense that there will be one here too.
  • There will be some sort of card deck that will be a necessary component for playing: Especially if it all comes in one box set, I think this will happen. Gamma World did this to limited success. I would guess that it would be something like a “special event” deck that modifies the battle. Whatever it is, the real reason it will be used is that it makes piracy more difficult. After all, having a PDF of cards doesn’t do you any good on your computer and printing it off on cardstock results in an inferior product.
  • Digital versions of the books will be available for sale, but will only be viewable with proprietary software: In 2009, Wizards of the Coast decided to stop selling PDFs of their products, citing piracy concerns (of course, this didn’t prevent people from pirating the book by scanning it in). It’s a bit of a strange thing to do in this modern, digital world and I think that they will finally cave in. But instead of being PDFs, they will sell files that can only be read through a proprietary program to limit the potential of piracy. Digital copies of school textbooks often do this and I think Wizards of the Coast will too.
  • There will be roughly the same number of classes, but more sub-classes: The way I see it, classes reflect what your character looks like and what they do, sub-classes reflect how they do it. In 4e, there was some support for sub-classes by this definition. If you made a Rogue, you might choose to make him an “Artful Dodger” or a “Brutal Scoundrel,” but this only had a minor influence on the game. Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies similarly provided a little bit of a sub-class. On the other hand, Essentials has classes like the Slayer which is a very distinct form of Fighter. I think that that we’re going to see sub-classes in the style of the Slayer in the Player’s Guide.
  • Powers as they appear in 4e will remain, but there will be fewer choices for each class: Powers were an interesting concept in 4e. Unfortunately, there became way too many of them as more supplements were added (some classes had as many as 15 to choose from at any given level). Plus I can only imagine how many hours Wizards spent making and play-testing the powers. I predict they will not disappear, but will be greatly reduced in number.
  • Instead of powers, many classes will get class abilities at certain levels: This was present in 3.x, but dropped from 4e except for Paragon and Epic destinies. However they did begin to reappear in the Essentials classes. I think they’ll become more prevalent in 5e.
  • We will have at most one new player-character race: There’s more than enough races to go around in D&D at the moment and I don’t expect there to be more. D&D 4e upgraded the Tiefling, Eladrin, and Dragonborn to player races, which previously existed as monster races. I think that at most we will see one new player-character race and the rest will be ones that have been seen before.
  • Human, Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, and Halfling will be player-character races: After all, they’re the archetypical fantasy races and have been in virtually every version of D&D. (Okay, so this prediction is just to pad my correct prediction ratio, but I made it anyway).
  • Dragonborn will stay as a PC race: Some people hate Dragonborn. Personally, I can’t figure out why. Sure, they’re not Tolkien-esque, but I think that’s what makes them appealing. I think they’ll stay as a core race and be included in Player’s Handbook 1 (or as a worst case, in Player’s Handbook 2).
  • Attributes scores will no longer correspond to 3d6: This is a sacred cow that I think is ready to be slaughtered. In the old days of D&D, you got your attributes by rolling 3d6 (or 4d6, drop the lowest) and then deriving a modifier from that. So an 8 in your Strength would give you a -1 modifier, a 10 would be +0, and a 12 would give you +1 and so on by steps of 2. D&D 4e still acknowledges that you can roll 3d6, but it strongly recommends using a point-buy system instead. So I predict they will take one more step away from the rolling and just make the modifier the same as the stat. So a Strength of -1 gives you a -1 modifier, a 0 would be +0, and a 1 would be +1. Much simpler! Mutants & Masterminds 3e already did this and I think it’s a simplification for D&D 4e too.
  • There will be a return to degrees of training (skill ranks or otherwise): In D&D 3.x, you bought skill ranks to add a +1 to a skill, which could be bought multiple times. In D&D 4e, you could be “Trained,” which gave a +5 bonus and could only be purchased once. Although it simplified things, I think it made trained characters a bit too similar. I’m predicting either a return to the old skill rank system or a happy medium. Maybe for different skills you could be one of four things: Untrained (+0), Apprentice (+2), Journeyman (+4), or Master (+6). Simpler and still with enough granularity.
  • Feats are here to stay in roughly the same forms: Feats seem to be one of the aspects of D&D that are least in need of a fix. They provide a small mechanical benefit that distinguish characters from each other. They’ll stay.
  • Percentile dice will still not be used for anything: I can’t think of a reason to use them over the other dice. Apparently the designers of 4e couldn’t either. This isn’t going to change.
  • Splat books will provide more character archetypes and fewer modifications for existing archetypes: We’re not going to see books like “Martial Power 2” or “Arcane Power.” Instead, we’ll see books that add new classes (or sub-classes).
  • By the time 5e is released, Forgotten Realms (in some form) will be announced as a setting: Forgotten Realms is the biggest D&D setting and ia the most likely candidate for one of the first settings. It will probably be Forgotten Realms as a whole, but may be a smaller part of the whole setting, like the new Neverwinter setting for 4e.
  • One other setting will be announced by the time 5e is released: Thus far with 4e, there have been 4 settings released (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Dark Sun, and Neverwinter). Ravenloft was also announced as a setting, but was cancelled. I think that they’ll pick up the pace with releasing settings in 5e and we’ll see more of them.

So those are my predictions. Perhaps some of them were influenced more by what I personally would like to see, but overall I think that it’s a fair guess at where D&D is going. Perhaps the best way to sum it up is that D&D 5e will be more of tune-up revision of D&D rather than a major overhaul.

Please comment and share your predictions. Anything you agree with? Anything you flat out disagree with? Anything you predict that I didn’t? I’d love to hear what you think!


Posted on October 23, 2011, in RPG Thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Many a pirated copy are leaked by the publishers themselves (case in point: Harry Potter, Midnight Sun) and contain the margin/cut marks, bleed, and color swatches, so I don’t buy the whole “if we sell the PDF it will be pirated deal.” If you don’t sell it, and people want it, they won’t even have the option of giving you their money for it. End minirant.

  2. I agree that Wizard’s current “if we sell the PDF it will be pirated” policy is unfounded. I still stand by my prediction though that they’ll sell digital copies of their products in a proprietary format rather than PDF. It may not be a smart idea, but I think it will happen.

  3. I think you’re 75% right. The problem is I don’t know which 75% 🙂

    Agree with you about the Classes/Sub-classes. They need to do this to add some structure, and recent design decisions are definitely heading in that direction. I think we’ll also see Races and Sub-Races too, for much the same reason. There will be Elves as a Race, with Eladrin, Wild Elves, Wood Elves, Dark Elves, etc as Sub-Race variants. I’d like to see more Dragonborn Sub-Race variants, personally. How about Red, Green, Gold, Silver and Copper Dragonborn all with different racial traits and characteristics. I want that.

    What I’m most interested in is where they will stand regarding miniatures. With 4e they made a game that required them from the start, then screwed things up by stopping selling miniatures. They need to get that business model sorted, and fast. Ideally, 5e D&D should support all modes of play out the box. We’ll see if that happens.

    Interesting times!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: