We’re due a new edition of Dungeons of Dragons, D&D 6E. The 3.5 edition was available for five years while the (unfairly) maligned 4th edition was available for six. We’re now closing in on six years since the release of the current 5th edition of the game. I can hear the clock ticking when I think about it.
5E is good but has some things that are clunky and other things that are just..sloppy. Spell levels for example are sloppy. If you’re a 10th level wizard you don’t have access to 10th level spells. Instead you get five cantrips, four first level spells, three second level spells, three third level spells, three fourth level spells and two fifth level spells. That’s just a pain in the ass. Spell casting is already like inventory management and this adds additional complications to that.
Class progression is also weird. Every class inches along together at set points to make the gameplay look fair. Levelling characters in D&D today is like the participation trophy on school sports day. Everyone gets something though many times they shouldn't.
Levelling shouldn’t be fair. Someone who can use a sword well should be able to easily cut down a low level spell caster who is waving their hands and babbling as they try to cast some crappy spell. That said, when a spell caster is moving towards the pinnacle of their abilities they should be able to drop an asteroid on any master swordsman with a hand wave. Don’t bother with the saving throw it’s an asteroid summoned by someone capable of folding the fabric of the universe.
The martial classes should peak early when it comes to experience points, it’s okay to have it take less points for them to increase levels. If you’ve fixed the spell levels a level 10 fighter is a great fighter but a level 10 wizard should be a nuclear weapon. It might take twice as much experience for a caster to get to level 10 but so what if the spells you can get make it worth it?
There are no deep flaws in 5E that would mean I’d be happy to see the end of it but I’ll admit I’ve found many of the source books disinteresting. The product line has been a mix of the kind of useful and the meh. I’ve found the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Xanthar’s Guide to Everything and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes to be kind of useful. Let's go through the meh.
-Eberron. This got a 5E setting book late last year which as one of the more popular D&D settings means it was years late. I'd have bought it had it come out sooner but as of now I've given them more than their share of money so I skipped it. Its current Amazon sales rank is 1,545.
-Acquisitions Incorporated. I don’t know who plays this or who played it more than once. This is reflected in its dire Amazon sales rank of 11,935.
-Wildemont. I’m playing in this now because the intro campaign was a quarantine freebie but I pretend the setting is something else in my head so I don't have to buy the book. With an Amazon sales rank of 304 Wildemont clearly has the loyal Critical Role fandom behind it. That interest bodes well for their animated show later this year. For comparison the D&D 5E Players Handbook, the core D&D book, has a sales rank of 314.
-Ravnica and Odysseys of Theros (To be released) are there for corporate brand synergy with the much more popular Magic The Gathering card game. No one I’ve spoken to has expressed a desire to set their game in Ravnica. I bought the Ravnica setting book and found little I was interested in. Ravnica has an Amazon sales rank of 4,086. I deem it a failure as were it popular it would be closer in rank to the Eberron book. Theros’s focus on myths of the ancient world is probably an attempt to be of interest to D&D players rather than an attempt to make D&D of interest to Magic The Gathering players. Which the Ravnica book was. Theros might be more successful as a result.
Looking at the above, while I’m not into Wildemont it’s clearly a hit. Eberron looks to have suffered a bit from being so late while Ravnica and Theros are a corporate strategy tax to be paid. There’s no getting away from cross product promotion so the publisher will keep introducing Magic The Gathering setting books no matter how few people ask for them.
The absolute turd is Acquisitions Incorporated. Whoever made the decision to go with that instead of doing anything else, like publishing a low selling Dark Sun sourcebook, has questions to answer.
The question we can answer is that 6E is coming soon, there are more years behind 5E than ahead. Maybe it’ll fix the levelling systems or maybe it won’t. Hopefully they’ll get a few more source books focused on settings that people are interested in. The books covering the default Forgotten Realms setting do well, there’s no reason to expect an additional Eberron or Wildemont book wouldn’t too.