Previous Next D&D

You may have seen last week that Wizards of the Coast announced draft rules and and call for playtests and feedback on the Dungeons & Dragons edition to follow 5E. Some excerpts from the release:

One D&D is the codename for the future of D&D... One D&D will take what we love from fifth edition and create an experience that is not only backwards compatible with the adventures and supplements you enjoy today but that will evolve the game for years to come. You’ll see updates to just about every facet of the game, from player classes to backgrounds and even to how we lay out books and present game information. Our goal is to improve on everything that has made D&D the best tabletop roleplaying game in the world...

I can't help but recall how much of this announcement resembles the one for 5E almost exactly 10 years ago (including the plan at the time that it wouldn't be called 5E, but rather "D&D Next"):

The Next Edition for D&D is currently on open playtest. Wizards of the Coast decided to create the next edition hand to hand with players, in order to create a game that would appeal to most. They have stated that the next would not be called "Fifth Edition", though they have not yet stated what they will call it, simply referring to it as "D&D Next". The game plays very similar to the 3rd Edition, though maintaining the simplicity that made 4th Edition appealing."


On January 9 [2012], the game's publisher, Hasbro-owned Wizards of the Coast, announced that they have begun development of the fifth edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules. A rewrite of a not-even 40-year-old game might seem trivial, but Wizards' has set an ambitious goal: To create, with the help of their fans, a "universal rule set" which unifies all players under one single system. "We're focusing on what gets people excited about D&D, and making sure we have a game that encompasses all different styles," says Mike Mearls, group manager for the D&D research and development team. "Even if you haven't played in 20 years, we want you to be able to sit down and say, 'this is D&D.'"


When it does finally arrive, expect the game to look something like a "classic" version of D&D. Mearls and his team have spoken repeatedly about their desire to emphasize the core D&D experience --adventure, exploration, and storytelling. Early versions of the playtest rules featured simplified rules and stripped down mechanics. That said, fans of newer editions of the game shouldn't fret: Mearls has also been aggressive about promoting the new rules' "modularity," which should allow players to plug in or drop out rules to match their preferred style of play."


Obligatory comic (you knew this was coming):

Xkcd comic: How standards proliferate



  1. I suspect this will just be the thing going forward - the corporate branding insisting that this obvious new edition of D&D is actaully NOT an edition of D&D, while everyone else just calling it a new edition.

  2. With the big danger being that they're sacrificing the opportunity to call it 5.5 at the risk of everyone else forcing 6 on them.

  3. Thanks for the information as I am not following WoC. I wish them well but I am staying with OSR.

  4. SO I have been thinking about this more.
    I can see with their push to making D&D a lifestyle brand that they do want to get away from editions/numbers. So every few years, expect a revision to the rules (big or small) but under the name Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe they will alter the trade dress, but I can see them just not bothering to note versions. They want to make sure the brand is Dungeons and Dragons.

    1. I hear that. I think we have a pretty rich history now of companies trying really hard to get away from that, but always succumbing to the need for customers to distinguish between versions (e.g., Windows OS, Mac OS, 5E, etc.).

      They're even holding out the current title as the "codeword", so they might be signaling more up-front they don't expect this title to be permanent.

    2. Cynically, I think somebody probably put the kibosh on calling it 6E - sounds like "six-ee" which is way too close to "sexy" for WOTC, particularly when you say it with a German accent.

    3. Wow, that would be a crazy reason for that! But I guess we have ludicrous reason why Windows 9 was skipped, so I guess anything's possible.