Mike Mearls' title in today's press release from Wizards of the Coast says it all - 'Charting the Course for D&D -Your Voice, Your Game' as the beginning of the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons is announced. In the press release Mike tells us that at this years Gen Con a draft of the new set of rules will be on show and that by this Spring the draft set of new rules will be in open playtest to allow as many people as possible to feed back in to the creation of 5e.
If you go to the Dungeons and Dragons main website page a nice popup appears inviting you to "Sign up today and become part of gaming history". Click on the signup button and it will take you to their big press release detailing how 5e will be developed - via open playtesting throughout 2012.
At the bottom of the press release page is a link to an email signup form.
The full Press Release says
We are happy to announce today that we are developing the next iteration of D&D, and will be looking to the legions of D&D fans to help shape the future of the game along with us.
Our mission is to ensure that D&D enters its next 40 years as a vibrant, growing, and exciting game. By listening to the needs of the D&D community, we can meet this goal. As part of our increased efforts to engage with the player-base, we launched a series of weekly articles in early 2011, including Rule of Three and Legends & Lore, to give you a voice in our work. We’ve listened to both praise and criticism from all D&D fans, regardless of their edition of choice, and we’ll continue to do so.
That is why we are excited to share with you that starting in Spring 2012, we will be taking this process one step further and conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it. With your feedback and involvement, we can make D&D better than ever. We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.
D&D is more than just a set of rules for fantasy gaming. It launched an entire gaming genre and played a pivotal role in creating the entirety of the gaming industry, both analog and digital. The game has lived and thrived because it has awoken a spark of creation, visions of daring adventure, wondrous vistas, and untold horrors that pull us all together as a community of RPG fans. It is the countless players and DMs who have brought it to life over the years. The game is at its best when it is yours.
For that reason, we want your participation. The goals we have set for ourselves are by no means trivial or easy. By involving you in this process, we can build a set of D&D rules that incorporate the wants and desires of D&D gamers around the world. We want to create a flexible game, rich with options for players and DMs to embrace or reject as they see fit, a game that brings D&D fans together rather than serves as one more category to splinter us apart. We have begun obtaining feedback from a limited Friends and Family playtest consisting of internal employees and their gaming groups and soon we will be expanding that group to consist of members from our existing body of playtesters. Then at the D&D Experience convention in late January, Wizards of the Coast will conduct a special playtest of ideas currently in development. The D&D Experience will be moving to Gen Con in 2013, so as a convention special this year, we will be offering show attendees a first-look at a draft of the new set of rules. Then beginning sometime in the spring, we will begin open playtesting. Through our web site, we will release a growing set of rules, classes, monsters and other materials for your study and feedback. We seek to reach as many people as possible, from the gamer who just started with D&D last week to the gaming group that has been together since the early-1970s. For this process to work, we want to give a voice to all D&D fans and players of all previous editions of the game.
The next year is going to be an exciting one. There is a lot of work to be done, and I’m hoping you have the time, energy, and inclination to pitch in. We sure hope you do, as we seek to make gaming history by shaping the future of D&D, together.
Now, how do you feel about this new method of crowd sourcing? Will it essentially give D&D away free? Will enough people feel the need to buy D&D 5e if they already have a finished or close to finished version to work from?
Will Mike's line of "The game is at its best when it is yours" come back to haunt him? or will this crowd sourcing "make gaming history"?