In a press release issued this morning, Wizards of the Coast announced that they will launch the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons as a Kickstarter project in June of this year.
The press release notes that the campaign will begin with a modest $50,000 goal to fund the "apprentice" version of the next Player's Handbook, which will include character levels 1-4. The initial stretch goals will fund "expert," "paragon," and "epic" levels of play. The OSR community is already grumbling about the lack of companion and master levels, but 4E fans are applauding the model. The next phase will fund the release of the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual. The latter goal will be split into pieces headlined by various iconic monsters like the owlbear, beholder, and gelatinous cube.
More stretch goals include re-opening old campaign settings. Unsurprisingly, the Forgotten Realms seem sure to be funded (with a goal set at just $1,000 above the core books), while grognards desperate for some Greyhawk love will have to reach deep into their nostalgia-filled pockets to fund the $1,000,000 requirement. Planescape is on the list as well but will be unlocked one faction at a time.
Furthermore, WotC has lined up a star-studded cast of industry stalwarts to write a series of adventures, also funded as stretch goals. Amongst others, James Edward Raggi, IV has been tapped for a light, introductory adventure aimed at children that avoids even the whiff of a controversial or attention-grabbing topic, Steffan O'Sullivan will construct a highly tactical scenario about fighting off hordes of animals, Kenneth Hite will pen an adventure that totally does not involve Cthulhu, and Jason Morningstar will write one in which narrative authority rests solely in one player's hands, no argument. Supervising the adventure line will be well-known adventure theorist bryce0lynch.
Onyx Path Publishing's string of hit "deluxe" Kickstarters, and WotC's own recent reprint line, this initial campaign will only be offering "premium" versions of the core books: priced at $125 each, the books will have gilt-edged pages, silk bookmarks, embossed cover images, and faux-leather binding. Higher pledge levels will reportedly include custom-made D&D KRE-O figurines, deluxe customized versions of the Lords of Waterdeep board game, an advanced tryout for HubTV's forthcoming RPG Superstars series, and even participation in the next D&D movie (the Hasbro version, not the Sweetpea one) as an extra with a grisly death scene.
Those unable to meet the hefty $125 price tag (per book) will have to wait until after the Kickstarter supporters have received their copies to buy the standard version.
Speaking as a longtime observer of Kickstarter, WotC is - so far - doing everything right here. They've obviously paid attention to the smashing success of several recent RPG Kickstarter projects. In particular, geek industry news magazine ICu2 notes that WotC's campaign is largely modeled after four popular "evergreen" projects: Far West, Dwimmermount, Axes & Anvils, and the Myth & Magic Player's Guide. We'll have to see if they can hit the lofty standards of those projects at launch, but this blogger will be keeping his fingers crossed that D&D can ride the crowdfunding wave to grand success.
While most of those involved with D&D's chief rival, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1st Edition), didn't respond to our inquiries, one unnamed source said, "We wish our competitors the best of luck, but let's be real for a minute. All I have to say is that they have a $1,000,000 campaign planned and don't have a single adventure path along the way. Real game designers write campaigns that can last you a lifetime."
For the full version of the press release, see here.
Thanks to RPGG newscasters Steve (sdonohue), Phil (sbszine), and Sam (lorddillon) for their contributions to this article.
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01 Apr 2014
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