Perhaps I’m a bit of a curmudgeon (actually, I know I am), but it seems to me that RPGs more-often-than-not shoot themselves in the foot with the manner in which they release material. I was reminded of this recently while I was reading a number of blog posts about the possibility that a new edition of D&D might be in the works.
The problem as I see it is this – RPG makers tend to push out a new game (or a new edition of a game) before they have anything else ready for release. While it’s pretty obvious why this happens, the result is that you wind up with a core system followed by a long, protracted trickle of splatbooks.
Let’s use D&D as an example since almost everyone is conversant with that system. If Wizards comes out with 4th Edition tomorrow, we all know the sequence would look something like this:
May 07: Players Handbook
Jun 07: Monster Manual & DMG
Aug 07: Campaign setting X
Oct 07: Warriors Guide
Dec 07: Mages Guide
Feb 08: Priests Guide
April 08: Thieves Guide
These are obviously fudged timetables and the distance between releases may in fact be much further apart. Nonetheless, you’ve all seen this kind of model before, as it’s practically universal.
The problem it creates for GMs is fairly universal as well. If you want to play a game that’s got a fairly diverse and level playing field, you wind up waiting a good year before you have the entire collection of manuals to develop a fully-realized game.
Sure, you can (and most do) wind up starting a game when you have the core rulebooks. However, the on-going game winds up being disrupted throughout the cycle as players realize the new potential the “just released” player’s guide affords them.
I’m sure we’re all different, so I ask: how do you handle that sudden glut of new information and its resulting misplaced appearance in your campaigns?