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!)