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Tuesday 27 May 2014

D&D 5e BASIC/Core Rules: I Told ALL of You So!

So the other shoe has finally fucking dropped.  Here's Mike Mearls announcing what I've known for months and had to keep a lid on; what I had tried to hint at and a few of you got, but most did not.  Yes, there will be a Basic D&D.

But its more than just that. It will be on a PDF.  It will be FREE.  And most importantly, it will be the true Core D&D.   Not the PHB, not the DMG, not that 10000-feats version. No. The basic version will be the default version of the D&D game, the one that all adventure products will use for their baseline.

This is hugely significant. This is the victory of Old-school thinking over all else, and I don't mind if I take more than a little credit for the lobbying I have done to create and hold this vision as a Consultant. 

You're all welcome.

It is also an incredibly bold move for Wizards to make.  It means that in theory, all you'll ever need to play D&D will be, in the first few months, the Starter Set and the Basic Rules PDF.  And after that, not even the Starter Set.  So whatever you get, whatever you purchase or get into from Wizards will not be because they're holding a gun to your head. It will be because they'll be making great products (well, we hope!).

This is, with any luck, the beginning of the end for the whole "endless Splatbook-production-line model" of RPG thinking which only served to create an ever-shrinking mass of aging fanatics while alienating everyone else who didn't want to have to buy every single book.

Making Basic D&D the core D&D rules means that kids will be able to get into the game first, and then become customers of those adventures, expansions, settings or materials that they find exciting.  It will serve the "amateur" gamer rather than the hardcore drooling fan, and that's a good thing.

So its time now to give Wizards its due.  And to give the Pundit his due, particularly all the naysayers and those who made certain claims about me in the last few days.  I win again.

And this time, so does every other D&D fan.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Volcano + H&H's Beverwyck


  1. XD

    Certainly, it looks like a smart movement to do. So, if you were involved, kudos on that. We'll see how it turns out when I can see the PDF. Who knows, maybe it will be to D&D as RQ6 was to RuneQuest. That would be fantastic.

  2. This is precisely what I wanted to see out of D&D. If I want to get someone into the game, giving them FREE copies to get playing is precisely the way to make it easy. Someone finds a neat adventure module, wonders how much the book is to play.


    They'll buy that adventure module. And driving current sales is not only good for the company that prints the stuff, it's good for the hobby. Get a new player in now will require they invest in dice and a sheet, and build from there.

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  4. This is a huge relief. I trusted Mike Mearls and the design team with their vision for D&D Next, but there was always that nagging fear in the back of ones mind, what will the Corp side of WotC do to hamstring the project.

    Having the Basic rules online as a free PDF download is a win win. Win for WotC as it's practically free for them to host/share it. And win for the fans as well it's free, and a effectively Zero barrier to entry to the hobby and brand.

  5. Thank you for your effort. It's a great plan and, in my opinion, better than the OGL. The OGL served to allow other people to almost make D&D products. My average customer, the average game wants to play D&D though, not a clone. And it's not strip it out of the "hands of the corporate overlord". From my perspective Dancey has been the corporate overlord more than he hasn't. Now it's just time to play D&D.

  6. I was right about you being right. Now give me applause, vindication, and all your pirate booty!

  7. Actually, the starter set still doesn't include character generation, comes with an adventure and pregens, and that sounds to me like a set like the 4e starter set minus character generation. I don't retract anything, really: it is dumb not to include the character generation rules in the starter set; that doesn't change my mind about this particular issue.

    BUT. The Basic game being free as a PDF is a great thing, so the Starter Set can be completely ignored by the computer literate. That's great news, it's great for the fans, it's great for WotC, everybody wins. That's cool.

    It'll be even better if the Basic game ends up in print itself, so we can get it and offer it to people instead of the Starter Set.

    1. That would be great. A product less than $10 ($5.99 would be a godsend) with D&D on it would help many of customers who come into the store.

    2. The only challenge with a print copy - you will need to keep buying it as they add material.

      What I gathered from the announcement is that the first release of the PDF will NOT be the last, with content added to the "Core" Basic D&D rules as time goes on.

    3. Which sounds to me like a bug, not a feature. I personally don't care for errata at all, and if each time I am sending newbies to WotC's website they end up downloading a different game than the one we played, there's no point in referencing them to it at all, as opposed to a free OSR game out there. "Living documents" sounds like "DDI ever-changing database" to me. That doesn't make the core of the game perpetual, stable and evergreen, and sounds more like asking people to use the last two extensions to play a Magic game at the hobby store, to me.

    4. Jesus fuck you are determined to see this in the worst imaginable light, aren't you? Why not speculate on whether WoTC will intentionally include malware in their PDF while you're at it? I mean THEY DIDN'T EXPLICITLY SAY THEY WOULDN'T, RIGHT? That must be enough to presume that in fact clearly they WILL, otherwise they would have done what you wanted included a 48 page book at the cost of raising the box set price by $10 and projectedly losing THOUSANDS of new customers to make sure to please the fucking Ultra-Grogs. God forbid they don't get their way in their endless fucking asinine quest to relieve a 1979 most of them technically never actually lived through in the first fucking place.

      Jesus christ.

      Obviously, Benoist is inventing things born from his rage again; the Basic Rules are not going to be regularly re-written every second tuesday by Mike Mearls in his personal quest to ruin the lives of all the children that supposedly will be far too confused to know how to download a PDF in the first place (sorry, see, the narrative there is clearly a bit confused). In fact, what was announced is that the core rules will be ADDED TO. In what fucking world does "added to" mean changed? From everything I've been told, it will absolutely be perpetual, stable and evergreen; or at least as much as Gygax-era TSR's D&D was (see how I just invoked the Holy-Gygax as a powerful ward there? Knowing that any mention of the Sacred Name immediately puts the OSR-Talibani into a mindless stupor of fetishistic adulation!).

      What will happen, of course, is that there could be additional rules material (e.g., new spells, more monsters, sub-mechanics for specific environments or conditions drawn from modules, etc.) that will be ADDED to the PDF.

      Which makes it, oh I don't know.. JUST LIKE EVERY VERSION OF D&D EVER.

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  8. Well, there's been some hints that this is not out of the question. I suspect it will depend on how popular this strategy turns out to be, and thus far based on first reactions when the news came out, the reaction has been pretty good.

  9. Pundit - in your blog post you mention in the first few months I need the starter set and the BASIC pdf to play. What's in the starter set that a veteran roleplayer would need?

  10. At first, the PDF will contain only the Character Creation material; for the rest of the basic rules (i.e., how to play) you'll want the Starter Set.