If there are still people out there discovering things like the Chainmail miniatures range and buying into them, is it actually possible for Wizards of the Coast to cater for the Chainmail audience? I think there are three aspects to this, the old books, the old minis and possible future support:
The Return of Chainmail Books
A few years back (after previously killing off the PDF industry) WotC got together with DriveThru/RPG Now to create D&D Classics, which has now been incorporated into DMs Guild. And DMs Guild is bringing back old D&D stuff as PDFs...and are now starting to bring products back as Print on Demand books. That means that we could - in theory - have a return of Chainmail sourcebooks as PDF/PoD options. (Mike Mearls said he was going to look into this.)
Some of the Chainmail material is fairly slim, so I'd personally be quite happy if they could dump it all into one big Print on Demand hardback (even though I would be buying stuff I already own).
The Return of Chainmail Miniatures
But miniatures are less easy to deal with. If they become rarer the price goes up. So what I'm wondering is: Can WotC do a deal with someone (not sure who) to bring back Chainmail miniatures, and other miniatures as Print on Demand minis? I think that PoD minis are more expensive than mass produced ones, but it would mean that players could get some stuff on the second-hand market and use PoD where they second-hand market can not supply them.
(From a non-Chainmail point of view, I know it would be good to be able to dip into miniature history to get a variety of monsters like illithids and beholders.)
I was following the Hero Forge Kickstarter a few years back. They were actually trying to work on poseable miniatures that customers can design themselves. If WotC did a deal with them, and they could import D&D monsters into their system, it would actually be possible to go far beyond the Chainmail range and be able to print an entire squad of North Wind Duelists that had different poses.
(I suppose that some of the Chainmail miniature designs are just generic enough to allow for people to use Hero Forge to build very similar looking figures that could fill out a Chainmail army.)
Just being able to scan and reprint iconic D&D miniatures (both Chainmail and non-Chainmail) would be useful.
Future Chainmail Support
This one is the big one. Can Chainmail actually come back. I know that Chris Pramas didn't think there was enough of a userbase.
One thing I've seen about 5th Edition is that (instead of trashing past versions of D&D, as has sadly happened in the past) the 5e design team have actually looked at the previous editions to see if they could identify the best features of each ruleset.
I don't want to get into the pros and cons of that, or how successful they have been, but it strikes me that Chainmail is just one of several attempts for D&D to return to it's miniatures gaming roots. We have also had Battle System and D&D Miniatures. There may be others I don't know about. (I think that the original Chainmail wasn't a TSR product.)
Anyhoo, I do feel that WotC has been tossing out their miniatures combat systems, instead of migrating them to new rules. And I feel that there is a place in the market for miniatures that can be used both with D&D tabletop gaming and also with wargaming.
I recently asked Mike Mearls about how to bring back other settings:
He said this:David Shephard on Twitter wrote:On the one hand "settings are too similar and generic". On the other hand "settings are too radical and different for homebrewers to use".
How do you find the middle path and avoid the poo-pooing of the naysayers?
So, if we get a new 5e miniatures combat game, could it do the same thing? Could it find "shared ground" from Chainmail, Battlesystem and D&D Miniautures and then build unique Chainmail elements on top of that?Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:1. Find shared ground for all settings.
2. Build unique elements from/on that.
Keeps D&D recognizable, but allows for lots of directions.
Also, looking at 5e D&D, it has some interesting mechanics, like Advantage/Disadvantage rolls. Could Advantage and Disadvantage be used as a 5e replacement for Chainmail's Command rules?
How easy would it be to have a forth core rulebook that sits along the PHB, DMG and MM to be the new "D&D wargaming" book? How easy would it be to cater for warband-sized combat on the Chainmail scale and larger combat? How easy would it be to have a "Sundered Empire Adventurer's Guide" that gives an overall plot that ties into dozens of Chainmail battles, with sidebars that suggest options for changing that to something like a war in the Dalelands of Forgotten Realms or a Return of the Last War in Eberron?