Monte Cook Leaves Wizards/D&D 5e Design Team

In surprising news on his Livejournal, Monte Cook has announced he’s leaving the D&D Next design team. He says it’s not a disagreement with his fellow designers, but with the company.

This is bad news, very bad news, for D&D Next.  Monte was providing external credibility, as someone who had worked on Pathfinder and has been outside the WotC/Hasbro echo chamber, to the process. Mike Mearls has been talking all old school but he’s been in charge of 4e for a long time and many of its missteps belong directly at his feet. I was willing to believe the combined team, I’m not so sure I’m willing to believe “Now it’ll be even better!’ backpedaling/spin from the same old characters.

I wonder what ‘corporate disagreement’ is in this case. Did they not want to pay him enough?  Or did he see the business plan and think “this is crap on toast?” The Examiner has some speculation. Mearls’ post does have a little bit of a lightly disguised slap-back in it so I’m not sure the “company not the designers” thing is entirely forthcoming.

I guess we’ll see; Wizards took the opportunity to announce that the 5e playtest will start on May 24. Maybe we’ll see something good… But the person with the most experience working with actual players and getting playtest information on products just left. And I’m worried that they’ll just show off some core mechanic that will seem fine…  When I did my initial 4e PHB readthrough, the core mechanic itself seemed fine, it was what they did on top of it that (IMNSHO) ruined the game.

Well, good luck to Monte, and good luck to the 5e team.  (The latter needs it!)

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6 responses to “Monte Cook Leaves Wizards/D&D 5e Design Team

  1. Interesting development.

  2. The “corporate disagreement” was about the re-release of 3.5E PH and DMG in September of this year. At least I can imagine that Monte was not happy about the second competition to 5E – the first being the re-release of the AD&D books -.

    • Oh I think that’s quite unlikely. Monte seems like a big-tent guy, don’t think he’d object to that (certainly not to the point of leaving!).

  3. I can’t imagine the competition was the reason for his departure, the AD&D books only really cater to the OSR crowd while the 3.5 books can’t possibly sway people from Pathfinder back to 3.5 “as is” at this point.

    It has to be something along the lines of how the new 5e material was going to be presented. Something, maybe, in his mind that wouldn’t work and would only lead to a backlash.

    Also, I guess it has to be assumed, that he has other pursuits available to him, ala, Pathfinder.

  4. There are just too many possible reasons for him to leave that I have to take any speculation with enough salt to choke a horse. He has a lot of professional value tied up in his name, which means that it wouldn’t take much to make him unhappy to have his name attached to something. Given how high-profile 5e will be, he’d have to have a lot of faith in the game to stand behind it.

    Which is all to say that his reason for leaving might be a very little thing that may not even be significant to us, the potential players.

  5. I squeeled with delight when I read the title. So long, Cook!

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