Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mike Mearls Interview at ENWorld

Hey Greyhawk fans, GenCon is nearly a week old already. Time flies, but the news and recaps keep rolling in from that wonderful convention. One that I nearly missed is an interview of Wizards head-honcho Mike Mearls by Christopher Hackler over at ENWorld. Check it out because Christopher asks some good questions about the future of D&D I haven't seen elsewhere and Mearls' opinions carry a lot of weight obviously. Here is some pertinent parts:

"...Are the plans for either Dragon or Dungeon Magazines?"
"Right now, we don’t have anything to announce. Part of the reason we moved the magazines to an online format was the dramatic drop in the subscription base over the last few years. Bringing a digital magazine out on a regular basis is no small undertaking, either. So, we’re taking our time to make sure we have a good plan that puts material out there that people want and that makes sense from a business stand point."

There's probably no sane reason for them to continue with the full magazine format anymore. The D&DI format of online magazines even seemed to stall during the 4e era so they went to breaking up the monthly slate into separately released articles (with non-essential content made free to read). Gygax Magazine showed (albeit quarterly) that people still care about classic printed game magazines, but their production and delays to get out is a headache that I can't see Wizards wanting in the digital age. Now a yearly collected "best of Dragon/Dungeon" would be smart and might even make a nice printed product, perhaps a GenCon exclusive if they wanted.

"...are there any plans for which setting might be updated and revisited next? If not, and it was your decision alone, which setting would be the next to be supported and why?"
"We don’t have any specific plans we can talk about now. When we look at setting support, we’re looking at more than just products. The various D&D settings have acquired robust, active communities over the years. It doesn’t make sense to simply bring a setting back into print unless you can also find a way to support that community and making it a vibrant, living thing.

Personally, I’d love to see a big, Greyhawk hardcover sourcebook. The fifth edition rules system would work very well with Greyhawk. You wouldn’t need a lot of new class options, but the background system would be very handy for drawing out the differences between different regions. It would also be cool to get an in-depth treatment of the Free City of Greyhawk and the surrounding region. The original City of Greyhawk boxed set powered many of my campaigns in high school."

Mearls is messing with my heart here, but this shows he is definitely in our camp so the chance definitely exists for a new Greyhawk launch. The key part of his answer is about supporting the community and making it vibrant. To bring Greyhawk back would require a Living Greyhawk type revival (Greyhawk Reborn anyone?) or a spin-off of their current version the Adventurer's League. Yeah it's not enough to put out a couple splatbooks and call it a day anymore. Wizards wants to drive a whole theme of stuff around it now (Tyranny of Dragons). The World of Greyhawk setting can more than provide this kind of an extravaganza.

"...Are there any plans to perhaps update some of the classic earlier adventures to the fifth edition? If the decision was entirely yours what classic adventure would you like to see updated first?"
"We definitely knew that people like having the option to update their favorite adventures. We’ll have some guidelines on converting material from prior editions in the fall. In terms of updates we publish, it’s a bit too early to talk about that. We know that classic adventures are a big part of what has made D&D great, and we want to embrace that going forward.
My personal preference would be a deluxe update of the Saltmarsh series. It’s a fun trilogy that includes a nice variety of challenges and a nifty final dungeon against a band of sahuagin. It might not be an adventure that sits at the top of most gamers’ lists, but I’ve always had a fondness for it."

More Greyhawk on Mearls' mind. I think converting previously published Greyhawk material to fifth will be a hot item this time around compared to fourth. Stay tuned this Fall!

Again, check out the full interview HERE.


Jeff B. said...

Thanks for the heads-up on this, and for posting the relevant Greyhawk bits. Mearls has always expressed an affection for Greyhawk, and I'm happy to see him mention it yet again. If 5e does well enough, it doesn't seem unrealistic to think some new Greyhawk material will be available in the next couple of years.

Mike Bridges said...

The time is ripe indeed, after weathering the 4e craze and seeing them go to reprinted classics, it just feels like the right time.
One more possible white knight, Steve Winter, one of the writers who worked on the Tyranny of Dragons story was involved in the 83 GH boxed set. Hmm...