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When 6th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Could Release | Screen Rant

The Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG is bigger than ever, and those who have followed the game over the years may be anticipating a 6th edition, while some fans are likely hoping the current 5e D&D will continue. There are many factors in D&D’s recent success, including podcasts like Critical Role bringing the game to a new audience, tools like Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 integrating the D&D ruleset to allow remote gaming during the pandemic, and the sheer simplicity of the rules making it welcoming to newcomers to the hobby. This simplicity could keep the game going for another decade, if not longer, but the "power creep" introduced in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything could make a successor likely within the next three to five years.

While there is certainly room for improvement to the current edition, a new version would need to worry about disrupting an ongoing success. Past editions were released as part a tabletop RPG business cycle. Given the current widespread adoption of 5e D&D, the question of timing for a new edition is more complex. Dungeons & Dragons had its best sales year ever in 2019, and 2020 again topped that record. Wizards of the Coast now must weigh the spike in sales from new core books and the excitement of a fresh edition against the risk of alienating fans and impeding the current momentum they've established.

Related: Abandoned D&D Rules That Should Reappear In 6th Edition

In part, the success of the current ruleset of D&D is due to timing. Podcasts of D&D games and celebrities supporting the game have both increased in the time of 5e, providing exposure for the game. It also offered the simplest and most streamlined ruleset produced for the game since the earliest versions of original D&D. 5th edition walked a careful line, avoiding the polarizing reception of 4e D&D, which provided an excellent system for tactical fantasy combat, but sacrificed many familiar D&D staples in the process. 5e D&D retained most of the familiar legacy elements like Vancian spellcasting but kept a few of the 4th edition innovations like short rests. For longtime fans of the game, 5e may not be their favorite edition, but it makes a solid case as a “runner up" for many, while being much more welcoming to new players.

4th edition D&D had the shortest print duration, at only six years, while the D&D Basic Set had the longest, with roughly 23 years in print, albeit receiving multiple revisions during that time, and running concurrent with two editions of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. As 5e skews much closer to the simpler rules of Basic, and there a precedent for a D&D edition lasting multiple decades, it is possible the current edition might have many years ahead of it. The reasons for edition changes are obviously profit driven, since core books tend to sell better than supplements, but other factors have come into play in the past, largely relating to complexity and eroding game balance. Some of the imbalances of the original 3e D&D were addressed in the 3.5 edition refresh, but by the end of its run, the sheer volume of rules material spread across multiple books was intimidating for new players. The same could be said for 4e D&D, with its numerous books containing powers, classes, and races.

The current edition of D&D has been more reserved with rule changes and additions, slowly adding new classes, spells, and feats, and largely avoiding the issues of prior editions by starting simple and balanced, and staying that way, up until recently. Adventure modules and campaign setting books provide new opportunities for sales, and supplements have added new rules and classes that maintained the balance of the original Player’s Handbook, up until Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the first notable instance of “power creep” in the edition’s history, with its magic items that raise the spell DC for caster characters.

If the balance and simplicity of the game is maintained, 5e may see an extended time in print. If the balance-breaking additions like those introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything continue, then the current Dungeons & Dragons game could see a replacement in the next three to five years, giving it a print cycle on par with each edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, which lasted 11 and 12 years, respectively.

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