Friday, May 30, 2014

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS WILL BE FREE, KINDA

In a post earlier this week, Wizards of the Coast explained that they will be releasing at least some of the rules for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons for free. Titled Basic D&D, this PDF will include enough information to level a wizard, fighter, cleric or rogue from level 1 to 20. This is great news for gamers everywhere, but isn't quite as revolutionary as it sounds.

Depending on how you count, it, this is more or less the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, a game that has been constantly evolving for many years now. After Wizards received some major flak for 4th edition (I'll write more on that eventually, I promise) they are trying to hearken back to earlier editions for this go-around. This edition appears to be dropping any numbering system and (going by the book covers) rebranding itself with a simple D&D logo above the book title.

Speaking of the book titles, I'm enjoying the art so far. Lots of epic scenes and inspiring monsters. Like the dragon on the cover of the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set. Speaking of the Starter Set, it brings me to a bit of launch information. Basic D&D sounds like it will launch at the same time as the Starter Set, which is great because it means that everyone around the table can have a copy of the rules on their tablet/phone/computer/retinadrive come July 15, 2014. Which is in just under 2 months.

The launch schedule so far looks like this...

  • July 15, 2014 - Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set launches
    • This will cost $19.99.
    • This will allow players to create characters from the 4 core classes and advance to level 5
    • The free PDF "Basic D&D" will launch, and include rules for full, 20-level character advancement.
  • August 19, 2014 - Player's Handbook launches
    • This will cost $49.95.
    • This will provide additional options for character creation and advancement.
    • The free PDF will expand to include more information to make these options playable.
  • September 30, 2014 - Monster Manual launches
    • This will cost $49.95.
    • This will provide a bunch of monsters. You knew that from the title.
    • The free PDF will continue to expand, like some unstoppable yeast-based monster which will probably appear in Monster Manual 4 during 2017.
  • November 18, 2014 - Dungeon Master's Guide launches
    • This will cost $49.95.
    • This will provide more information on crafting stories, building encounters, and things like that.
    • The free PDF will expand again, and probably become self-aware.

There are a few other products launching near the end of the summer as part of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign that Wizards is running. Tyranny of Dragons is interesting to me, but I'll wait before writing more on it. For now, it's enough for me to know that it's a thing that is happening.

Wizards wants Dungeons & Dragons to expand. They're making cooler-looking books (click any of the links above, basically) which gamers are less likely to be embarrassed about. They made a shiny new logo, which will look awesome on stickers and book covers alike. I'm pretty pumped about that. I'm less pumped about dropping 150 dollars for new core-books, but Wizards has an answer to that as well.

By releasing Basic D&D, an evolving monster of a free PDF, Wizards has created multiple points of entry for new players. A player can play using only that one book, or can use it to supplement the Starter Set, which is only 20 dollars. A DM could buy only the Dungeon Master's Guide or Monster Manual, and use the Basic D&D PDF to flesh out the other rule aspects. It's a pretty awesome feature, and one that brings the new edition to parity with older rules.

That's right; this isn't as new as it sounds. There are excellent resources available already for Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 already. Check them out now if you haven't already.

For myself, I will be holding off on the main books for now, and seeing how far the Starter Set and Basic D&D will get me. Each of these products is also conveniently on sale on Amazon right now; a pre-order; the Starter Set is only $12.65.

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