D&D 5e Release Roundup June 2014

Hello, dear readers!

Wow, over the past month there have been so many announcements, reveals, interviews, podcasts, and articles about the upcoming 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons that it can make one’s head spin!

Never fear, though. The Beard has got your back! So check out this roundup of the new edition’s (surprising) release dates, the free rules WotC will be releasing, the 3rd party content / products already lining up for release, as well as how your buddy Berling is predicting WotC’s digital D&D strategy moving forward.

So stop the presses or whatever. Did you know that the D&D Starter Set is actually coming out on the 3rd of July and not the 15th? If your local gaming store is a ‘Core Level Store’ or higher (like my local Twenty sided Store in Brooklyn which is an ‘Advanced Plus Store’) it will be receiving the first 5th edition product twelve full days ahead of any physical store or online distributor!

The D&D Starter Set retails for about $20 and comes complete with a 64 page adventure module named The Lost Mines of Phandelver, 5 pre-generated heroes who have direct narrative ties to the adventure module (which includes a few rules, some DM advice, and a Monster’s appendix), as well as the obligatory set of polyhedral dice. They are marbled blue, if that’s the kind of inside knowledge that floats your boat.

The love for the Core Level stores will not stop there either. The 5e Player’s Handbook will be for sale on the 8th of August whereas other physical stores and online retailers will have to wait eleven days until the 19th. The PHB will be available at GenCon 2014 as well, for those of you lucky enough to be attending!

Check out this interview with Mike Mearls on the YouTubes for full details.

The real surprise though, WotC announced they will be giving D&D away for free. “Wait, what’s that you say?” Yes, you read that right. D&D 5th edition will be free! A basic set of the rules will be released via PDF on July the 3rd and consequently updated until the end of 2014. The rules set will include four core classes (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) & four core races (Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human) and allow players to level up all the way to 20th. As the PHB, DMG and Monsters Manual are released over the next six months, the PDF of Basic D&D will be updated with some of that new content.

A slew of 3rd party vendors have partnered with WotC to release printed Adventure Modules, Painted Minis, Unpainted Minis, Vinyl Maps, & the DM Screen that all will tie in to the overarching Meta-Story of the 5th edition launch; Tyranny of Dragons. This is interesting in light of the allusions WotC employees have been making in regards to the so-called 3rd Edition D&D ‘Open Gaming License’ being a topic that will be addressed in early 2015. If WotC is hiring / partnering with specific vendors to create and distribute D&D licensed products, it is difficult to predict what shape an OGL might take. One can’t imagine that any products available under a new OGL would be interwoven  within an overarching Meta-Plot or be in any way allowed to compete with, aka cut into profits of, those businesses that have partnerships with WotC. So what will the OGL look like in 2015? Seems we must wait and see!

What may be the most interesting piece of all this is how little is being said about digital first / digital only products. It is clear to your buddy Berling that the PHB, DMG, and Monsters Manual will not be on sale in a digital format. This is undoubtedly because Basic D&D will be given away for free as a PDF.

However, let us not forget the D&D Neverwinter MMO that released in 2013. This seems to be the delivery vector for all online D&D content going forward. Indeed, Tyranny of Dragons will be released as online modules at all levels of play in the MMO. Mysteries tied to the overarching Meta-Plot will be revealed in-game and there will even be in-game events tied directly to the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. If this was not interesting enough, it has been reported that there will be interplay between the Table Top RPG Adventure Modules and the Online Neverwinter MMO Adventure Modules. We can already get a glimpse of how this might operate with the latest module release on Neverwinter, Curse of Icewind Dale, which has direct narrative connections to Legacy of the Crystal Shard, the Table Top RPG Adventure Module WotC released in November 2013.

Check out this podcast for more details on 3rd party vendors, including the D&D MMO, and how their products will be interwoven with the overall Meta-Plot of Tyranny of Dragons.

It is an exciting time for D&D, faithful readers! With so many products on the horizon, keep checking back on the Beard for more roundups, release dates, and insider info. Maybe even a few interviews as well!

About Berling

Ken Breese (he) Writer, Narrative Designer, and Game Master for hire focused on Inclusion, Table Top RPGs, Nerd Culture, Critical Thinking, and the Politics of Gaming.

2 Responses to “D&D 5e Release Roundup June 2014”

  1. Mad Viking | June 13, 2014 at 17:10 #

    Do you have any comments to make about what will distinguish 5e from Pathfinder/3.5/4.0 ? What is the biggest reason I should consider spending part of my meager gaming fund on this new DnD offering?

    • Berling | June 13, 2014 at 20:12 #

      Great question, Mad Viking!

      Firstly, this new DnD offering is *free*. You don’t need to spend anything on it. Just download the PDF.

      Secondly, in my opinion and experience, the 5e rules are streamlined in such a way as to lower barrier for entry to new players, customizable enough to suit those who are looking to try different combinations (the Sub-Class & Background system interplay really shines here) and each phase of the game runs very quickly.

      At the Encounters table I run on Wednesdays, I consistently run five to six level 6 PCs through a single combat of their level, with upwards of a dozen hostiles, in under an hour.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Game on!

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