Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons has been around for more than a couple of years now. Since its inception, it has been obvious the game’s publisher Wizards of the Coast is doing something different with this edition when it comes to the number of publications. Earlier versions of D&D had lots and lots of books, from rules books to adventure modules, travel guides, setting guides, etc. Some might even suggest the third edition of the game was somewhat notorious for this.
Fifth Edition, however, has a slimmer number of publications beyond the core books. There is nothing wrong with this. Wizards of the Coast is obviously focusing upon a different strategy and it seems to have worked for them considering the popularity of the game. And in all fairness there have been some adventure modules and other books released, plus there have been fairly regular free pdf documents offered on the Wizards of the Coast website, not the least of which have been the Unearthed Arcana series which provides new but unofficial rules for Fifth Edition.
The Unearthed Arcana series appears to be rather popular, especially since recently Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford wrote on the site that they were going to focus more on Unearthed Arcana in months to come and that the Sage Advice column would be on standstill temporarily.
One might think, or maybe even hope, this means the material used in Unearthed Arcana over the last couple of years might be released sometime in the next year as an official publication in book form.
The future of Unearthed Arcana?
It is no secret Wizards of the Coast has made use of the Unearthed Arcana materials to test rules and to learn from the feedback of gamers. This is great! Not everything released through the Unearthed Arcana has been a winner, and I think Mearls and Crawford would agree, but there has been quite a lot that has been excellent, though maybe a few tweaks here and there might be nice.
That being said, we now have nearly two years’ worth of Unearthed Arcana material for 5e D&D, yet little of it is official.
In my opinion, it is time for that to change. Wizards of the Coast needs to seriously consider an Unearthed Arcana book, or something similar, which would gather together materials approved by the publisher.
Why do this? And why now?
Right off the bat, I can point to gamer dissatisfaction. I don’t mean to say there are droves of D&D fans out there who are foaming at the mouth because there aren’t more books, but there are a few, and one of the most common criticisms I see leveled against Fifth Edition is that it doesn’t have more books, especially books concerning new and/or additional rules expanding upon classes and races and player options.
To repeat, Wizards of the Coast is utilizing a different strategy than before. However, while I understand and actually appreciate that strategy, I do feel it is time for a new book providing additional rules. In fact, I appreciate this so much that only a few weeks ago I wrote an article titled “In Defense of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons and its streamlined approach.”
Also, so far Wizards of the Coast has been hesitant to release digital versions of its 5e D&D books. This is also a different strategy than many game publishers are following today, but again, it seems to be working. It also solidifies the current books as official while making the online works unofficial. There’s nothing wrong with this, but for gamers who are sticklers for what is canon and what isn’t, this might raise some concerns, possibly even creating some confusion; if nothing else, when some dungeon masters are only willing to use material from the actual books (or even just the core books), it makes it harder for some players to find a game they enjoy.
We need more 5th Edition
Admittedly the adventure modules and other books that have been released beyond the 5th edition Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide have included some new rules for classes, magics, and the like, but there has not been much of that and it is still rather limiting. Not everyone wants to purchase adventure modules, many players and dungeon masters being more interested in creating their own worlds and adventures. Some gamers simply want more rules so they can play with them in their own settings.
Also, there has been some 5th edition material released by other companies and individual game creators, but again, for those who are sticklers, much of this material will not seem to be canon, and some of it might not even live up to expected standards.
Maybe Wizards of the Coast has plans for an Unearthed Arcana book. I hope so, and the sooner the better. Either way, I’m not enraged or even annoyed, but it is something I would like to see.
It’s time. No, I don’t want the publisher to change its strategy, nor do I want to see a glut of new D&D books hitting the market, but I feel gamers have patiently waited long enough. We’ve had a couple of years now to learn 5th Edition, to experiment, to learn the ins and outs, and we need more material, preferably material which focuses upon expanding the rules instead of another campaign or adventure book. We need more official 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons material as related to the rules, especially for character generation. An Unearthed Arcana book would be appreciated.
It’s time for a 5th Edition D&D Unearthed Arcana book
A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.