Elven Rage at Wizard of the Coast
New Year rage of mighty Elven Maid and her flip-flops.
And here we are in 2024, and I am significantly behind with my blog. I have no idea where to start. Organizing my work is a real challenge for me. Usually, when I get an idea, I dive into it, focusing all my time on it, losing myself completely and often neglecting other commitments. In 2024, I want to change that. I have two straightforward goals: first, to finish composing my Monster Manual before the end of the year, and second, to create at least one blog per week. So here we are, with the very first blog of 2024. Let's do it!
Time is passing quickly, and I can't recall if it was two or three weeks ago when I watched a video by my friend, Dungeon Delver. (If you haven't checked him out, please give him a like and follow, as he is one of the best TTRPG creators on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@thedungeondelver) In one of his videos, he mentioned something that left me fuming—not at him, but at the lack of logic from Wizard of the Coast and Hasbro.
What triggered my anger was a statement Delver read, made by one of the executives at WotC/Hasbro, expressing their desire for "D&D to be more like Lord of the Rings." The sheer amount of rage that overwhelmed me was massive, not because of the statement itself, but because of the false narrative they were trying to sell.
First and foremost, Dungeons & Dragons will NEVER be like Lord of the Rings. Why? Because it's a GAME SYSTEM with RULES. Lord of the Rings is a story, a world, and characters. D&D consists of rules; it doesn't have characters, a story, or a world. However, Hasbro/WotC owns properties that can match or even surpass LotR—Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and many more from TTRPG settings, as well as Magic the Gathering settings like Ravnica or Innistrad. But, during the entire 5th edition era, these worlds were not just neglected but, in many cases, forgotten.
Wizards of the Coast has done very little to showcase these worlds. People from Paramount did more to depict Forgotten Realms in their movie than WotC did in the entire 5e Era! And here I go, fuming again, because I love those worlds! I love the Vampire-filled Innistrad, I love Forgotten Realms, I love Dragonlance, I love Planescape!
People say, "You're overreacting," but I have proof. Since 1987, we had at least 6 novels per year in Forgotten Realms, with 1998 hitting a record 19 novels released in a year. Since 2014, we've only had 13 new novels, with 9 of them being about Drizzt! Yes, Drizzt is the most famous character from Forgotten Realms, but back in the '90s and 2000s, people who didn't play D&D knew who Drizzt was. That's how popular Forgotten Realms was—it went beyond D&D.
Since 2017, we've had 6 novels, every single one about Drizzt. Let's move forward. I conducted two polls on my X account, asking a simple question: During the TSR Era, did you use Homebrew or Established World when playing D&D? Over 1000 people voted, with 68% claiming they used Official Settings or Modified Official Settings in their campaign, and 32% creating a completely homebrew world.
I asked the same question, but this time about 5e. Can you guess the answer? Around 800 people voted, and only 36% use Official Settings as a base, with most of them stating that they are using the Adventure Books like Curse of Strahd. What does that tell you? WotC/Hasbro aren't putting any effort into expanding and promoting their worlds, so people don't care about them and are more interested in creating their own worlds. Not only that, there is zero support from WotC.
"But if you want to learn about those worlds, you can buy old books or get some Homebrew"—Stop! You know who cares about Homebrew? DMs who have had enough of WotC's subpar books, DMs who prefer risking their money on a Kickstarter book than giving it to WotC. Can you go to your local shop and buy the Faerun setting from AD&D, 3e, or 4e? No, because the only place you can is the DTRPG—you can order a reprint. If you live outside the US, be ready to spend double on shipping and taxes. And those individuals claim they want "D&D to be more like Lord of the Rings." There is no vision at Hasbro/WotC; there is no one who can set a path for their franchise. No one will connect Baldur's Gate with Hasbro or Wizard of the Coast; they will say, "Hey, it's that game that Larian made." Faerun is alive thanks to ONE game.
Quite recently, I delved deep into the lore of Warhammer 40K, something I wasn't expecting. This dark setting is filled with slavery, racism, genocide, and other horrible things. No one shames Games Workshop for it; no one calls to cancel the company. It's a FICTIONAL world. But WotC is afraid to bring back Dark Sun because it's "too controversial."
Wizard of the Coast will never create a franchise that can rival The Lord of the Rings. They messed it up when they took the road for 5e. Places like Cormyr are completely forgotten—well, it matches the name now, "Forgotten Realms." 98% of the world is forgotten, and the current generation has no idea that there is an entire world outside of the Sword Coast and Icewind Dale.
In 2000, we had the first D&D movie, making 34 million in the US. Adjusted for inflation, that's nearly 60 million today, that was during the times of 3rd edition. Honor among Thieves made 91 million in the US—a movie that came out after the D&D boom and the pandemic. In 2016, Mike Mearls of WotC tweeted: "5e lifetime PHB sales > 3, 3.5, 4 lifetime," meaning that the 5th Edition Player's Handbook had by then outsold each of the previous WotC versions before the pandemic. How was that audience not transformed into people who would go to the cinema to watch a D&D movie? Because they don't care about the D&D world; they play D&D in their own worlds. In fact, if Baldur's Gate 3 had come out earlier than the D&D movie, I bet sales would have been much higher because that single game made for Forgotten Realms did more than WotC did during 5e.
If WotC wants to bring these worlds to life, we need novels, we need setting books, we need more information about these worlds in official material—material with the WotC logo. Books that you can go to your local shop, pick off the shelves, take in your hand, see a few pages, and say, "Oh, that is interesting," and then take it home. We need novels that bring these worlds to life. After you've done all that, then you can say, "We want D&D to be more like The Lord of the Rings." You neglected these worlds! It's your fault that they don't sell. Larian Studios threw you a lifeline, but I don't believe you can utilize it.
I apologize for this rant. I really wanted to approach the topic calmly, but the more I wrote, the more filled with rage I became. I grew up reading Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, and Troy Denning's Cormyr Saga. I grew up loving Azure Bonds written by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb. To this day, I have on my shelf Elfshadow made by Elaine Cunningham. I remember R. A. Salvatore's Canticle scene where Cadderly was teasing Danica in the library, blushing like a little kid. Seeing how those childhood memories are neglected, and then people in charge make such statements, fills me with anger.
So here it is, my first blog post of 2024, filled with emotions and love—for the worlds I grew to love. I want to experience those worlds. I am making my very first Monster Manual, hoping that it will bring me income so I can afford to buy AD&D 1e and 2e books about Faerun and other worlds. Hell, I want to buy 3e and 4e books that explore different worlds. I don't like charging people for things I make; this blog is free, my maps are free, my stories and stat blocks are free. But if you feel like supporting my TTRPG addiction, I have this thing called Ko-Fi. You can donate $1 for my AD&D PHB Campaign. Don't do it if you're struggling, please; my addiction is not worth more than your well-being. I know how hard life can be firsthand, so support my addiction only if it won't hurt you too much. Thank you.
Dungeon Delver Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@thedungeondelver
Elven Maid Inn Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/elvenmaidinn