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[5E] WotC's Production & Marketing Strategy For Fifth Edition (Where are the splats?)

Dzhay

Trust a flumph.
Validated User
#21
I hope this isn't breaking any rules, but there was a very helpful post on another forum explaining the various expansions released so far (spoilered because long)
Spoiler: Show

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide

What is it: A book focusing on the setting and lore of the Sword Coast, a specific and popular region of Faerun/The Forgotten Realms.

What's in it:
  • A broad overview of Forgotten Realms as a setting including history, regions, and Gods. A much more specific detailing of a number of areas within the Sword Coast.
  • A lot of information detailing setting specific versions of PHB races including rules for new mechanical variants:
  • Ghostwise Halflings
  • Svirfneblin Gnomes
  • Duergar Dwarves
  • Tiefling cosmetic options
  • The following new class archetypes:
    • Dwarven Battlerager Barbarian
    • Totem Barbairan Elk and Tiger totem options
    • Arcana Clerics
    • Bannerette Fighter
    • Long Death and Sun Soul Monk
    • Order of the Crown Paladin
    • Mastermind and Swashbuckler Rogue
    • Storm Sorceror
    • Undying Warlock
    • Bladesinger Wizard

Who should buy it: There's a lot of Sword Coast information for DMs who want to play a game in the region but for anyone interested in Faerun as a setting would be better served buying the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting which is easy to find used or available on DriveThru. For prospective players, many of the archetypes are reprinted in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Swashbuckler is a must have option for players who like rogues but is among the XtGE reprints.

Short version: Most of the content in this book is better presented elsewhere. Skippable.

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Volo's Guide to Monsters

What is it: A supplementary monster manual/bestiary with flavor excerpts from the perspective of hapless Faerun wandering bard Volo and nigh omnipotent caster Elminster.

What's in it:
  • Extensive sections on the lore, personality, culture, and ecology of the following monsters:
    • Beholders
    • Giants
    • Gnolls
    • Goblinoids
    • Hags
    • Kobolds
    • Mind Flayers
    • Orcs
    • Yuan-Ti
  • Over 120 new monsters with stat blocks including some common creatures and a number of generic NPCs of specific classes
  • 7 new player races:
    • Aasimar
    • Firbolg
    • Goliath
    • Kenku
    • Lizardman
    • Tabaxi
    • Triton
  • Untested options for monstrous player characters

Who should buy this: DM's looking for expanded encounter options or better design and roleplay context for some popular monsters. Players who are interested in playing any of the expanded races or monsters like Orcs, Goblins, or Kobolds without homebrewing from scratch. People who love reading about fantasy monsters, particularly fans of Beholders and Mind Flayers.

Short version: Must buy, especially if you will ever DM. This is both the best value and maybe best written non-adventure book they have released.

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Xanathar's Guide to Everything

What it is: A compendium of new options and archetypes for players, many reprinted from other materials,some DM advice, options, and clarification on some more common but underexplained mechanics. Dozens of pages of character names for different races including long lists of real world Earth names.

What's in it:
  • The following class archetypes
    • Ancestral Guardian, Storm Herald, and Zealot Barbarian
    • Bard Colleges of Glamour, Swords, and Whipsers
    • Forge and Grave Cleric Domains
    • Dream and Shepard Druid Circles
    • Arcane Archer, Cavalier, and Samurai Fighters
    • Drunken Master, Kensei, and Sun Soul Monk
    • Oath of Conquest and Redemption Paladins
    • Gloom Stalker, Horizon Walker, and Monster Slayer Ranger
    • Inquisitive, Mastermind, Scout, and Swashbuckler Rogue
    • Divine Soul, Shadow, and Storm Sorceror
    • Celestial and Hexblade Warlock including new Invocations
    • War Wizards
  • Tables for randomly generating player backstories
  • Racial Feats
  • Dungeon Master's section notably explaining how to use tool proficiencies, traps, downtime options, and random encounter tables
  • New Spells
  • A Billion Goddamn Names

Who should buy it: Players who want expanded archetype and spell options, or like Traveler style random background generation. The archetypes are WILDLY uneven in power and quality, but Hexblade Warlock and Swashbuckler Rogue are vital for anyone who likes those classes, and this is overall better purchase for players than SCAG. DM's can easily skip this as none of the DM advice or tables are vital. Probably the worst overall value for an expansion book.

Short version: A grudging but necessary purchase for players.

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Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes

What it is: Another supplemental bestiary more focused on higher level threats. It includes large lore sections on some famous races and intraracial conflicts in the multiverse. It has flavor excerpts from the perspective of famous Greyhawk wizard Mordenkainen.

What's in it:
  • Deep lore breakdowns on the following races and conflicts:
    • The Blood War
    • Elves (including Shadar'Kai and the Raven Queen)
    • Dwarves and Duergar
    • The Gith
    • Halflings and Gnomes
  • ~140 monster statblocks including Demon Lords tweaked from their Out of the Abyss stats and some powerful named Devils
  • New races Gith
  • New variants for Elves and Tieflings, reprints of Duergar and Svirfneblin

Who should buy it: DM's looking for more challenging monsters at higher level bands, it also fills in some gaps in encounter design like higher level Drow NPCs. DM's looking for story hooks related to the Blood War or the Raven Queen (though they have altered her from previous appearances in a controversial way that I personally dislike.) Players can skip this as all the player subraces except Duergar and Deep Gnomes are available as UA playtest options but I haven't compared to see what if anything changed in print.

Short version: Must buy for DMs, especially those needing a modern primer on the Blood War. Players can skip.

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Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron

What it is: A setting book for the pulp-magic Eberron campagin setting focused on the Khorvaire continent. It is only available digitally and is a living playtest document being actively updated.

What's in it:
  • An overview of the tone, history, and key elements of the setting
  • Tips for adapting other D&D material into Eberron
  • A still broad regional exploration of Khorvaire and its politics
  • The religions of Khorvaire
  • The races of Eberron including new races:
    • Changlings
    • Shifters
    • Warforged
    • Kalashtar
  • 12 Dragonmarked houses which function as new racial variants
  • An in depth look at the city of Sharn as an adventure location

What's not in it:

  • Psionics
  • Artificer class

Who should buy it: People who want to see this made into a proper hardcover setting and help give its creator Keith Baker some money. People interested in a setting where magic is common but low power, where players can quickly become notably powerful in relation to the world around them. Unfortunately for fans of the setting, because WotC has their own internal designs and goals for the artificer and psionics, they are not part of these materials. DM's may find more useful material setting material in the 4e and 3.5e Campaign books, but the rules for the setting specific races are useful for players.

Short version: Buy this if you are interested in the setting and/or want to see it become a more fleshed out, physical product.

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Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica

What is it: A setting book based on the plane of Ravnica from Magic: The Gathering. It is a high magic megacity setting divided into ten ruling Guilds each with their own regions and purviews based on different aspects of society.

What's in it:
  • An overview of the City of Ravnica and it's guild structure and a broad look at life in the city.
  • New races:
    • Centaur
    • Goblin
    • Loxodon
    • Minotaur
    • Simic Hybrid
    • Vedalken
  • New archetypes
    • Order Domain Cleric
    • Circle of Spores Druid
  • An elabroate breakdown of each Guild, their subculutre, function in society, and relations with other guilds
  • New mechanical system for earning Renown and advancing within your organization
  • New Backgrounds specific to each guild
  • New Guild Spells mechanic, a list of always available spells for casters of that specific guild
  • Maps and descriptions of the Tenth District as an adventure region
  • A section on adventure hooks and complications based on each guild
  • 16 new magic items ranging from good to incredibly powerful
  • A handful of NPC statblocks for each guild including stats for the powerful, high level leader of each guild.

Who should buy it: Anyone interested in an wild and varied cosmopolitan setting that doesn't have to be Sigil. DMs not interested in the setting can still coopt many ideas, items, and monsters from the book including the new Renown system. Players should buy this if they want more racial and background options, like extra lawful clerics, or want to beg their GMs for blatantly broken items.

Short version: A must buy for fans of the setting. A solid buy for anyone just curious about the setting or wants to co-opt a number of aspects from the book.
 

Crinos

Be inspired!
Validated User
#22
I was one of the few folks who unreservedly loved 3e's out-of-control bloat, but I can't say I actually bought many books during that era, so...
.
Same here. Of course in my case it was mainly because A) I didn't have any reliable income back then to buy with, and B) those books were fucking expensive. So even when I did get money I couldn't get too many of them.

Nowadays with Amazon Prime I can get a 5e book, even a new one, for like twenty bucks. And PDF's I can get for a fraction of the original price. So building a sizeable DnD Library is nothing nowadays.
 

Alban

Registered User
Validated User
#23
I think the 5e strategy was primarily decided in reaction to what happened with 4e, where lots of books were produced and the majority of those didn't sell very well and occupied a lot of shelf space.

In the end, 5e strategy is to propose less books, and sell every unit produced.
 

Mr Teufel

Dashing
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#24
I think the 5e strategy was primarily decided in reaction to what happened with 4e, where lots of books were produced and the majority of those didn't sell very well and occupied a lot of shelf space.

In the end, 5e strategy is to propose less books, and sell every unit produced.
I think it's also a specifically game-store focussed strategy. I think I'm right in saying you can only get the special cover editions from game stores?
 

Deliverator

Belongs to an elite order
Validated User
#25
Great breakdown, Dzhay Dzhay ! FWIW, though, I disagree that Xanathar's is skippable for GMs. Sure, the player-facing new subclasses get most of the attention (and debate over which ones are bad vs. OP vs. just okay), but the GM-facing stuff is largely awesome: the random encounter tables are incredibly useful, the new way of presenting the encounter math from the DMG is so much more intuitive, some of the stuff about tool kits is actually really nice, etc. Hell, even the name charts can make GMing a lot easier.
 

Nelzie

Registered User
Validated User
#26
Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron

What it is: A setting book for the pulp-magic Eberron campagin setting focused on the Khorvaire continent. It is only available digitally and is a living playtest document being actively updated.

What's in it:
  • An overview of the tone, history, and key elements of the setting
  • Tips for adapting other D&D material into Eberron
  • A still broad regional exploration of Khorvaire and its politics
  • The religions of Khorvaire
  • The races of Eberron including new races:
    • Changlings
    • Shifters
    • Warforged
    • Kalashtar
  • 12 Dragonmarked houses which function as new racial variants
  • An in depth look at the city of Sharn as an adventure location

What's not in it:

  • Psionics
  • Artificer class

Who should buy it: People who want to see this made into a proper hardcover setting and help give its creator Keith Baker some money. People interested in a setting where magic is common but low power, where players can quickly become notably powerful in relation to the world around them. Unfortunately for fans of the setting, because WotC has their own internal designs and goals for the artificer and psionics, they are not part of these materials. DM's may find more useful material setting material in the 4e and 3.5e Campaign books, but the rules for the setting specific races are useful for players.

Short version: Buy this if you are interested in the setting and/or want to see it become a more fleshed out, physical product.

I have all of the books you listed out above this and I am a bit bummed that this isn't available in a hardcover. I'm not keen on digital books..

I would like some info on the Warforged, at least for some ideas about how to work up a playable race that's been in my Home Brew world since... the very early 90's.
 

Grumpygoat

Registered User
Validated User
#27
I would like some info on the Warforged, at least for some ideas about how to work up a playable race that's been in my Home Brew world since... the very early 90's.
Mechanically the stats exist in 5E. For physical books on their culture, there's always the setting books from older editions to provide all the fluff.
 

macd21

Registered User
Validated User
#28
Wasn’t there some talk of the Eberron book eventually being available in print? Or am I totally making that up?
 

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
#30
Wasn’t there some talk of the Eberron book eventually being available in print? Or am I totally making that up?
Talk is just talk, so no telling.

That said, I wonder if they're using OBS' print-on-demand services or not for the DM's guild on larger books? I've not looked myself...
 
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