In Geek Native’s coverage of the leaked Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount news, I found myself pointing out how frustrating this must be to Wizards of the Coast. It took up a segment of Saturday’s podcast.
What’s the problem? Lots of hype around a new and mystery D&D sourcebook, expectations rising as speculation runs wild and gamers hoping that the new book is the one that they wanted most of all. Of course, statistically, that means most people are going to be disappointed. There isn’t a single ‘must-have’ book the whole community is asking for.
Then D&D confirmed the news – it’s not your old favourite coming back, or splatbook, but it’s a detailed inspection of the part of the world that Critical Role’s campaign is set in.
It’s easy to find negative comments on the announcement.
There’s nothing wrong with being disappointed, of course, especially if you had your hopes up for a different book. It is worth keeping in mind, however, that D&D’s publishing schedule can’t possibly be written to please any single DM or group.
Imagine if the creator of the most popular D&D entertainment title of all time came to you and said; “Hey, do you want to work together on an official book?”
Would you say no?
Green Ronin didn’t when they published Critical Role: Tal’dorei Campaign Setting in 2017. Is it a surprise that the Critical Role fans at Wizards of the Coast were also keen to do the same?
Matthew Mercer defends Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
An hour after the official D&D news, and signing off as insecure nerd, Matthew Mercer was on Reddit with a follow-up of its own. Sadly, you can tell just how worried he’s feeling about the whole thing.
I am also well-aware of how much negativity can permeate these spaces regarding myself and the games we play, and that’s ok!
He’s spot on. D&D is a game that makes experienced DMs and players feel like experts. Confident in their knowledge of their hobby, many of these gamers feel as if the world needs to hear their opinions. I am one, of course, and worst than most as run a whole blog! Sometimes those opinions are negative.
Mercer also shows that he keeps his finger on the pulse of the community. He knows exactly why some gamers are speaking up and disappointed.
As a person excited and clamoring for new settings to be brought into the D&D multiverse, I also understand the frustrations from some that this isn’t one of the “classics”. Believe you me, I’m one of the those who is ever-shouting “I want my Planescape/Dark Sun”, and said so loudly… multiple times while in the WotC offices.
It’s not as if it makes business sense for Wizards of the Coast to find success with D&D 5e (a success which is due, in no small way, to Mercer) and crank out re-issues of old material as quickly as possible. There’s no hurry to burn through old hits.
There are also all sorts of complications around rights to intellectual property, ownership and royalties. Just cast a glance at Keith Baker, the Eberron creator’s Project Raptor for an idea of how complicated this can get.
It’s a brave author who can take unsugared and heads on criticism of their labour of love. Mercer, it seems, can.
I also wanted to comment on the occasionally-invoked negative opinions on my homebrew designs I’ve seen here… and they aren’t wrong! I don’t have the lengthy design history and experience that many of you within this community do have.
Reddit, so far, has responded with warmth and positivity to Mercer’s post. After all, it’s not all that common for someone who appears on so many computer screens around the globe to take the time to write your community a heartfelt letter.
Will you be buying Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount and using it in your D&D? Let us know in the comments below.