Monday, May 19, 2014
By now everyone and their animal companion are lighting up the social media and blogging about the official announcement for the release date of D&D 5th Edition (5E, Next, etc.). In addition we get images of the cover art and design, the trade dress, page count, the staggered release dates, the presence of the starter set, the three core rule books, the deluxe DM screen, and the first adventures at release with the Tyranny of Dragon. Through it all, people are analyzing the released information with fine-tooth combs. That's all fun and distracting, but much of it was as expected.
What really seemed to come out of no where was the reveal that the designers for the two Tyranny of Dragons adventures, Horde of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat, were none other than Wolfgang Baur and Steven Winter, but it was actually Wolfgang's company Kobold Press that was hired as a third party developer for the adventures. The press release and Q&A on KoboldPress.com explains this arrangement was similar to the video game industry setup of having games developed by one company but published by another (and sometimes the publisher does own the IP of the game being developed). The Kobold blog post notes this is a one-time deal and does not mean KP has rights to write more official D&D adventures or if this is the model going forward for D&D adventures or even if this is a hint at the OGL equivalent for the upcoming edition.
Kobold Press's involvement is significant because although both authors have written adventures for TSR/WotC previous, in the capacity of employees and as freelancers, this is the first time they've been included as part of a third party company. Not to say KP had free reign over this project as I'm sure WotC had guidelines and requirements they desired for these adventures, but inclusion of a third party company does seem to indicate the possibility of allowing KP more freedom in following through with the entire chain of design, from content creation to writing to art direction. Certainly this doesn't mean the designers will necessarily write differently, but there could be an alternate mentality going into this as another company versus as freelancers hired by the publisher. Either way, congratulations to Wolfgang and Steven and the whole Kobold team involved in this. This is a profile raising contract and really goes to show the support Kobold Press has even amongst the major RPG companies. As always, I'm looking forward to new adventures from Kobold Press and am doubly curious due to the tie-in with the new D&D.