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Drumheller
Acolyte

USA
8 Posts

Posted - 31 May 2020 :  02:58:51  Show Profile Send Drumheller a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I'm behind on the times and just starting to dig into the Realms, both as a game setting and the novels.

Was there any announced reason why Wizards is no longer publishing Forgotten Realms or any D&D novels?

Just wondering.

Thanks,
Drumheller

Organizer, The Edgemont Roleplaying and Adventurers Club. Brea, Ca

Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33902 Posts

Posted - 31 May 2020 :  05:54:32  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't believe there was an announced reason.

At one of the Candlekeep gatherings at GenCon, though, a former TSR staffer explained that even when the novel line was going strong, it wasn't overly favored, because the company regarded itself as a gaming company and not a publishing company.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

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I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1139 Posts

Posted - 31 May 2020 :  10:20:17  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wish they'd sell the rights for the novels (beyond Drizzt) to some actual publishing company; probably not a good business reason to do so but would be great if they did.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33902 Posts

Posted - 31 May 2020 :  17:46:35  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, it's really weird. As I understand it, the novel line actually made more of a profit than the gaming material... And Lurue knows, a lot of the gaming stuff -- like all of the "MOAR DROW!" stuff -- wouldn't have happened without the novels.

It would actually make more sense for them to either license out novels or otherwise get back into doing them... I think, though, that the reason they're not doing so is two-part:

1) the earlier thing about wanting to be a gaming company, and that's all

2) the current design directive seems to be "don't nail anything at all down unless it's in an adventure, and do whatever it takes to prior lore to force it to conform to your ideas, especially if it's kewl!" Avoiding novels means nothing's getting definitively covered, and the current designers are more free to do whatever they want.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

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I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Drumheller
Acolyte

USA
8 Posts

Posted - 31 May 2020 :  18:03:40  Show Profile Send Drumheller a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting. I find the novels helpful in helping visual the settings I'm DM'ing.

Still, there is a third licensed out Salvatore Drizzt novel due out in July. I guess the door isn't completely closed.


Organizer, The Edgemont Roleplaying and Adventurers Club. Brea, Ca

Edited by - Drumheller on 31 May 2020 18:12:06
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Captain Grafalcon
Learned Scribe

Brazil
90 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2020 :  19:19:41  Show Profile Send Captain Grafalcon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It is clear that there was a slowdown in the production of books, at a time when the fantasy genre represents a sales force in the literary market. The prospect that the company stops investing in a sector that could bring in money, and a lot of satisfaction to the public, is strange. My contact with forgotten realms is mostly through novels, and I believe they are one of the best entry points for any beginner.

"Surely you recognize that armies carrying banners are almost always thieves—until they win."
Jarlaxle, mercenary leader of Bregan D'aerthe.
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Caolin
Senior Scribe

743 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2020 :  19:30:47  Show Profile Send Caolin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Because the people running the IP right now don't care about it or our desires to pay for fiction.

Edit:

I'll also add that it doesn't seem like many FR fans care about it either. We all have the ability to reach out to WoTC & the people running the IP via Twitter and similar places. But there's been no organized push to do so.

Edit 2:

https://twitter.com/wizards?lang=en

https://twitter.com/wizards_dnd?lang=en

https://twitter.com/mikemearls?lang=en

Edit 3:

Man you got me riled up this morning. Here's a tweet I just sent to them. Please respond to it to show support. Maybe we can start something.....maybe.

https://twitter.com/rndmaccount098/status/1268612943588909057

Edited by - Caolin on 04 Jun 2020 19:39:29
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1139 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2020 :  20:13:08  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Can't seem to access your tweet from the link, but I'll definitely support and retweet!
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Caolin
Senior Scribe

743 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2020 :  20:57:46  Show Profile Send Caolin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seravin

Can't seem to access your tweet from the link, but I'll definitely support and retweet!



Try again. I had my account locked and I just unlocked it.

And Thanks!

Edited by - Caolin on 04 Jun 2020 20:58:02
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3294 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2020 :  21:22:08  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seconded. Hope the ball gets rolling.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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Caolin
Senior Scribe

743 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2020 :  23:15:44  Show Profile Send Caolin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
FWIW, I made a Reddit thread on /r/forgottenrealms for this.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Forgotten_Realms/comments/gwrke4/are_you_interested_in_new_fr_novels/?
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Werthead
Seeker

United Kingdom
40 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2020 :  14:12:01  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm in the middle of researching an article on this very question. At a time when D&D is nuclear-hot and has never had as high a profile or been "as cool," it's flabbergasting there is no organised fiction push. Contrast this to Warhammer 40,000, where the setting is also at one of the very heights of its popularity at the moment and they are publishing numerous new books and audio plays a year, along with lore-rich companion books (intended for non-gamers) and doing great marketing.

From what I can tell, the original decision to cancel the fiction line was linked to Hasbro's edict (c. 2011) that all product lines had to pull in x million in profit a year or they would not invest resources in continuing them. From what I understand, that figure was $15 million on the low end for their less valued or lower-profile franchises and $50 million for their higher-end franchises. Pre-2014 D&D was a low profile franchise and they were not expecting 5E to take off like it has (in fact, it looks like the plan was, if 5E had bombed, they were going to completely rest the game for a few years before doing some kind of big comeback push). The general view at Hasbro was also that they were not a publishing company and they didn't see the value of owning a publishing arm at that point, so in 2016 effectively shut it down for new authors. It still exists for legacy sales of high-performing books, but Hasbro decided it was more cost-effective to get external publishers to pay them a licence for the rights and then deal with the author negotiations, royalties etc for them.

The problem with that is that the licence fee seems to be flat rate and is rather high, so literally the only Forgotten Realms author who makes enough bank for the licence to be worthwhile is Bob Salvatore. With everyone else - even Ed Greenwood, Elaine Cunningham, Troy Denning, Paul Kemp etc who are pretty popular by any metric - the profits once the Hasbro licence had been paid would be far lower, and for everyone else (who still made a profit for WotC directly but not huge amounts) they'd take a loss. So at the moment that's the key stumbling block to relaunching the line en masse. If WotC were still publishing directly, there wouldn't be a problem.

Related to that is also the perception that having a sheer mass of product is off-putting to potential players, even if those products are selling well. At the moment you can go out and buy all of the 5E-relevant physical Realms products relatively cheaply and easily, whilst for say, late 3E/3.5E you'd need to be fairly rich to get just the lore sourcebooks, let alone all the adventures, novels and other material. WotC seems to be happy to have a streamlined and simple product range which encourages more sales of each item. They also seem concerned about lore density, and keeping the amount of lore and canon coming out at a low ebb is their preference (ignoring the fact that I don't think this is the appeal of FR, and if you look at Paizo's nuking-the-site-from-orbit approach with lore material, that alternative works a lot better and is more profitable).

If you look at what's happened with the Magic: The Gathering Line, where Del Rey picked up the licence, they've gone hard for big names and more celebrity authors (Greg Weisman, Brandon Sanderson) and fantasy authors with their own fanbase and established pedigree (Kate Elliott, Django Wrexler) with crossover potential, whilst ignoring all the less-well-known (to a general fantasy audience) people who spent decades writing fiction and helping craft the world. I can see the same approach with Forgotten Realms and D&D in general in the future: if Matt Mercer decided to write an Exandria novel or allow someone else to with his name on it, that deal would probably happen. If someone like Pat Rothfuss said he wanted to write a D&D novel, that would also likely happen. If Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman proposed a new Dragonlance series, that would happen. For pretty much any other author, probably not. It doesn't help that HarperCollins Voyager USA (who have the D&D licence) is a young and relatively new publishing company without the contacts and capacity that someone like DAW, Del Rey or Tor have, as any of those companies probably would be looking at exploiting the brand more.

In summary, licencing and money is to blame.
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Tanthalas
Senior Scribe

Portugal
502 Posts

Posted - 06 Jun 2020 :  14:46:44  Show Profile Send Tanthalas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's disheartening that they don't have a novel line.

5E is successful, and they said that they would be releasing one FR videogame per year in the next 4 (?) years. Though I'm only certain of the success of BG3. Dark Alliance is supposed to be released this year, but we're in June and only have a trailer yet. Certainly not looking promising.

Wasn't there talk about a FR movie fairly recently too?

Not sure if they're waiting on the games to be released to see how they do before commiting to more books, or if they just don't care.

Sir Markham pointed out, drinking another brandy. "A chap who can point at you and say 'die' has the distinct advantage".
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Captain Grafalcon
Learned Scribe

Brazil
90 Posts

Posted - 06 Jun 2020 :  15:27:35  Show Profile Send Captain Grafalcon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It really is a shame, publishing market today is stronger than it was a few decades ago, when there was an impressive production of FR novels.If they outsourced publication, they could certainly even expand the arches explored so far. At least that's what happened with the Star Wars franchise. What we have in Forgotten Realms is a long-established fandom, and experienced authors who are already familiar with the setting.

"Surely you recognize that armies carrying banners are almost always thieves—until they win."
Jarlaxle, mercenary leader of Bregan D'aerthe.
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Werthead
Seeker

United Kingdom
40 Posts

Posted - 06 Jun 2020 :  16:58:40  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Wasn't there talk about a FR movie fairly recently too?


There's a D&D movie in development. The first draft of the script back in 2015 featured Waterdeep, the Yawning Portal and Undermountain, so definitely was set in Forgotten Realms.

The entire production team has changed (twice!) since then and there's no mention at all of Forgotten Realms in the statements from the new team, who have said they are using a completely new script.
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Werthead
Seeker

United Kingdom
40 Posts

Posted - 09 Jun 2020 :  16:24:37  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The article I was working on:

https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2020/06/leaving-money-on-table-why-is-there-no.html

Hopefully it raises a bit more awareness of this frankly somewhat baffling situation.
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Seravin
Master of Realmslore

Canada
1139 Posts

Posted - 09 Jun 2020 :  18:39:05  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Excellent article! Thanks for writing and sharing.
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Derulbaskul
Senior Scribe

Singapore
402 Posts

Posted - 10 Jun 2020 :  14:52:45  Show Profile Send Derulbaskul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What if we assumed for a moment that Hasbro/WotC actually knew what they were doing and that the novels weren't as profitable as some here believe?

Cheers
D

NB: Please remember: A cannon is a big gun. Canon is what we discuss here.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33902 Posts

Posted - 10 Jun 2020 :  15:08:31  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Derulbaskul

What if we assumed for a moment that Hasbro/WotC actually knew what they were doing and that the novels weren't as profitable as some here believe?




We've been told they were more profitable by former staffers.

I've seen little evidence WotC knows what they're doing when it comes to running the gaming side of things. Few of their decisions have made any sense... One particularly noteworthy example: right after the 4E rules were released, they were pirated online. WotC's immediate reaction was to remove ALL legal downloads -- regardless of edition. So, because the newest rules were pirated, WotC decided to no longer make any money at all off of prior rules -- AND to get rid of the free downloads they themselves hosted. They ended a revenue stream because of an entirely unrelated thing.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Editor and scribe for The Candlekeep Compendium

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
5234 Posts

Posted - 10 Jun 2020 :  16:40:47  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Big business seldom makes sense. In the early years a company focuses on quality to make a name for itself. Later they focus purely on the brand and produce substandard garbage in the pursuit of profit, using that profit for marketing to try and cover up the substandard garbage until finally people lose faith in the brand and abandon it for quality focused upstarts.

It's a cyclical process repeated the world over. WoTC are in the later phase of focusing on brand over quality and ot has resulted in new upstarts such as Paizo gaining power with the release of 4e.

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Werthead
Seeker

United Kingdom
40 Posts

Posted - 10 Jun 2020 :  22:42:11  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Derulbaskul

What if we assumed for a moment that Hasbro/WotC actually knew what they were doing and that the novels weren't as profitable as some here believe?


As someone with over 15 years of experience working with publishers and dealing with some of the former TSR/WotC editors, it's pretty certain the novels were profitable to a high degree, often far, far moreso than the actual RPG materials (certainly during most of 2E's period, and the last few years of 3E and almost all of 4E). The only times the RPG materials were actually more profitable than the novels were during the launch phase of 3E and 5E when sales went ballistic, and maybe briefly when 4E launched.

With Salvatore by himself, you have someone who has sold more novels than every single D&D RPG sourcebook ever published, combined, going back to 1974. That's not counting Weis & Hickman (who are almost as successful) and the many authors who did very well (Ed himself, Troy Denning, Elaine Cunningham, Paul Kemp).

quote:
It's a cyclical process repeated the world over. WoTC are in the later phase of focusing on brand over quality and ot has resulted in new upstarts such as Paizo gaining power with the release of 4e.


That was certainly true during 4E and why Pathfinder trounced it quite comprehensively. The last few years, not so much. 5E has been a lot more successful than Pathfinder, hence Pathfinder 2nd Edition (which a few years back they swore would never happen) and Starfinder, which has been relatively successful but never in any danger of outselling 5E.


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Caolin
Senior Scribe

743 Posts

Posted - 12 Jun 2020 :  20:18:58  Show Profile Send Caolin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Werthead:

You might find this interesting.

https://twitter.com/zbeg/status/1269962379925708801?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1269962379925708801&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fkotaku.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-1269962379925708801%26autosize%3D1
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Mirtek
Senior Scribe

584 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2020 :  16:49:56  Show Profile Send Mirtek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Isn't it that the Pathfinder novel series is also dead? AFAIK it's not officially stoped, but it has been stuck at "yeah, we totally want to release more novels and will do so as soon as we find a suitable partner" for quite some years
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Werthead
Seeker

United Kingdom
40 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2020 :  17:40:44  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They were coming out through Tor, but it looks like Tor decided that sales weren't worthwhile, or perhaps couldn't reach an agreement with Paizo to carry on.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
33902 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2020 :  17:44:48  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Caolin

@Werthead:

You might find this interesting.

https://twitter.com/zbeg/status/1269962379925708801?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1269962379925708801&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fkotaku.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-1269962379925708801%26autosize%3D1



Wow, that's a pretty damning picture of WotC.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Editor and scribe for The Candlekeep Compendium

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Caolin
Senior Scribe

743 Posts

Posted - 16 Jun 2020 :  02:14:55  Show Profile Send Caolin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Caolin

@Werthead:

You might find this interesting.

https://twitter.com/zbeg/status/1269962379925708801?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1269962379925708801&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fkotaku.com%2Fajax%2Finset%2Fiframe%3Fid%3Dtwitter-1269962379925708801%26autosize%3D1



Yeah tell me about it. I was kind of shocked by it, but then not really surprised once I thought more on it.

Wow, that's a pretty damning picture of WotC.



Yeah tell me about it. It's pretty shocking, but it starts making sense the more you think about it.
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