Now that we’ve all succeeded on our save vs. shocking news, let’s examine today’s Big Announcement and study what we know. We’ll learn a lot more in the coming days and weeks, but let’s make a first stop of many and roll Perception to see if there’s any hints at what to expect. Until the playtest phase rolls around (and we’ve been assured it will), we’ll have to make do with gossip and terrible, wonderful speculation.
The future of D&D?
First off, we don’t even know what it’s going to be called. The Internet has erupted in 5th Edition fever, but if you look at the WotC press releases, they carefully call it the next iteration of D&D, or the future of the game, or the new rules. The closest you might find to an “official” name so far is “D&D Next.” Press who visited WotC in December learned the code name used by WotC R&D for the rules document, but have been asked not to reveal it. (It begins with an “I,” though. 4th Edition was codenamed Orcus during development, so maybe Iggwilv? Ioun? Imix? Io? My money’s on Iuz.)
In fact, Mike Mearls pretty much put it down when he said “Most people will think of this as the fifth edition of D&D. In many ways, though, we want this to be a version of the game that embraces the entirety of D&D’s history, one that all D&D fans can turn to and use. I think that the actual naming of the game will come down to how the play-tests go and how people react to it. I’d love to just call it Dungeons & Dragons and leave the edition numbering behind” (CNN).
A sigh of relief can be followed by a *huh?* of confusion at the news that Mearls hopes “to create a system that allows players to use much of their existing content, regardless of the edition” (The Escapist). Whatever that means, he seems to be saying that the game will accommodate content from throughout D&D history, at least in part. But how? What does it mean? A magic formula for turning 2e monsters into 5e statblocks? Unlikely. An extremely stripped-down ruleset that doesn’t use most of the rules trappings that each edition of D&D has employed? Undesirable. A pipe dream that cannot be followed through upon? Unknowable.