WotC to discontinue novel line?

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WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Havard » Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:20 pm

Came across this at ENWorld:
EbbTide808 wrote:I was just listening to The Tome Show / D&D Round Table episode 139 and they suggest that we might not see any more Forgotten Realms books. Their evidence?

Erin M. Evans's Brimstone Angels series is ending, and on her blog she says she's not happy about it.

The "Next Issue" section of this month's Dragon + says they will interview R.A. Salvatore on "the fiery conclusion of the Legend of Drizzt novels"

Ed Greenwood has apparently blogged that there won't be more Realms books. I could find and validate this.

Troy Denning's most recent novels were cancelled.


The end of the episode was an interview with Erin Evans and she basically said NDA makes it difficult for her to say much, but you can draw your own conclusions. She says she is not writing any Forgotten Realms books anytime soon. She then goes on to say that all the authors' writing will translate to other settings easily, implying that it is ending.

Anyone know any more?
Anyone here at The Piazza hear more about this?

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Zeromaru X » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:24 pm

I knew about Ed doing this new setting (because I talk to him from time to time on twitter). I also read somewhere (at Candlekeep, I believe) that Drizzt line was about to end. But I didn't knew about the rest. By Io's scales, they ended Brimstone Angels! :'(

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:43 am

Zeromaru X wrote:I knew about Ed doing this new setting (because I talk to him from time to time on twitter). I also read somewhere (at Candlekeep, I believe) that Drizzt line was about to end. But I didn't knew about the rest. By Io's scales, they ended Brimstone Angels! :'(
Ed Greenwood (and his organisation Onder Librum) are not just doing a new setting - they are doing a large number of shared worlds.

Onder Librum's publicity material calls them all "campaign settings", but I'm not sure if some of them will only be for novels.

But...if what The Tome Show is suggesting is true (and I've not had a chance to listen to the podcast and hear exactly what they are suggesting) perhaps this entire Onder Librum thing was Ed Greenwood setting up a "lifeboat" for the people that write Forgotten Realms novels. :?

If that is the case...and I'm not sure that it is...Onder Librum would seem to be in a very similar position to Paizo, just after Paizo lost the Dragon and Dungeon licences and had to put it's staff to work on creating Pathfinder.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:39 pm

I think that one potential problem with Forgotten Realms novel is the back catalogue. (And the same applies to Dragonlance.)

There are a lot of older novels that are out of print. So if someone is looking to buy a novel that spins off from those older novels, they might want to buy those first.

Some of the older novels sell for dirt-cheap prices on the second-hand market, so might not be viable as options for a second print run. But a few others are more popular and a bit harder to track down.

I think this creates a logistical problem for a Forgotten Realms fan that WotC has not addressed.

Closing down a product line entirely, would "solve" that problem, but I'd rather see WotC solve that problem by getting DMs Guild to offer every single out of print D&D novel in Print on Demand format.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:50 am

Big Mac wrote:Closing down a product line entirely, would "solve" that problem, but I'd rather see WotC solve that problem by getting DMs Guild to offer every single out of print D&D novel in Print on Demand format.
That would be epic and I would fully support that if they did.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by True_Atlantean » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:39 am

I always thought that the Dragonlance novel line ending was a deep shame, and now to hear the possibility that the same will happen for Forgotten Realms feels like the end of an era. I only recently started tracking down the FR novels to fill in the gaps in my collection by chronological order (I'd love to actually read them in the order of publishing one year or two). Big Mac is completely correct, they can be very cheap second hand.

Whilst I definitely think it is high time the Drizzt novels were brought to a close, and I've never liked the Brimstone Angels books, this is not the way I would like to see it happen.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:00 pm

True_Atlantean wrote:I always thought that the Dragonlance novel line ending was a deep shame, and now to hear the possibility that the same will happen for Forgotten Realms feels like the end of an era. I only recently started tracking down the FR novels to fill in the gaps in my collection by chronological order (I'd love to actually read them in the order of publishing one year or two). Big Mac is completely correct, they can be very cheap second hand.
I think my main problem is not finding the novels cheap (I like to find them cheap, because I can then buy more of them). My main problem is working out the best order to buy them to avoid spoilers.

Getting them in the order they were published is a great way to go. But sometimes there are series of books in one of the product lines, and it can be good to read two, three or more books back-to-back.

So far, I've been focusing on the books for sub-settings, as it is a lot easier to become an "expert" in a subsetting with not many books is a lot faster than trying to read a significant percentage of Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms novels.
True_Atlantean wrote:Whilst I definitely think it is high time the Drizzt novels were brought to a close, and I've never liked the Brimstone Angels books, this is not the way I would like to see it happen.
I've never read any of these Drizzt novels, but if other people like them, I'm happy to see them continue.

I do wonder what this means for D&D comics. Can they scrap novels, but continue to sell comics? :?
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Havard » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:19 pm

Well, this is still speculation untill we can get something more definite confirmed.

I have to say that I agree with True_Atlantean that the ending of the Dragonlance novel line was a great disappointment. I was hoping that at least through the novels they could develop a new era of the setting after the War of Souls.

I liked some of the early Drizzt novels, but I lost interest along the way. I guess he is still a popular character, but I don't know if the stories of him exploring the Post Spellplague Forgotten Realms hold the same appeal even to hard core fans?

What was the Brimstone Angel books?

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Zeromaru X » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:28 pm

Havard wrote:What was the Brimstone Angel books?

-Havard
Brimstone Angels is a saga about how the "Asmodean tieflings" came to be in the Realms, plus the plots on how Asmodeus became a god in 4e, and the forces that tried to stop him or kill him during the Sundering. It also deal with the descendants of Briseys Kakistos, the first "Asmodean tiefling" in Faerun, and during the Sundering series of novels, also dealt with the fate of the dragonborn race in the Realms (as you can guess, this is why I'm interested in the saga).

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Havard » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:43 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:
Havard wrote:What was the Brimstone Angel books?

-Havard
Brimstone Angels is a saga about how the "Asmodean tieflings" came to be in the Realms, plus the plots on how Asmodeus became a god in 4e, and the forces that tried to stop him or kill him during the Sundering. It also deal with the descendants of Briseys Kakistos, the first "Asmodean tiefling" in Faerun, and during the Sundering series of novels, also dealt with the fate of the dragonborn race in the Realms (as you can guess, this is why I'm interested in the saga).

That does sound interesting!

What is an Asmodean Tiefling? Do Tieflings have different bloodlines based on Devil Princes?

I just read Erin Evans' comments about the novel line ending on her blog:
Erin Evans wrote:So it’s true? This is the last book?
Yes. The Devil You Know is the last book of the Brimstone Angels series.

I don’t like that.
I can’t say I like it either, but if it helps, the last book was nearly Ashes of the Tyrant, cliffhanger and all, so really–

I WOULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE.
That’s kind of what I guessed. You can be a little dramatic.

The point is we’ve come to the end. It’s not the end of me, not the end of my stories, not the end of characters like Farideh and family, but it’s the end of the Brimstone Angels Saga. I worked my butt off to get The Devil You Know to you, my darling readers, in time to be published. You get an ending, and having been at this long enough to see lots of series get unceremoniously cut off, I think that’s something precious. So barring unforeseen circumstances, The Devil You Know will be available October 4th
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Zeromaru X » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:08 pm

Asmodean tieflings are the tieflings that were born from a curse related with Asmodeus (the pact made in Bael Turath in the Nentir Vale setting, and Asmodeus godhood in Forgotten Realms) instead of a lineage, that I guess is the case of the Planescape tieflings. The curse affects tieflings descended from tieflings (all tieflings in Nentir Vale's world, and those who were alive in 1385 DR in the Realms), because it's "dominant." Asmodean tiefling + [basically anything else]=Asmodean tiefling.

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by dulsi » Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:09 pm

Havard wrote:I liked some of the early Drizzt novels, but I lost interest along the way. I guess he is still a popular character, but I don't know if the stories of him exploring the Post Spellplague Forgotten Realms hold the same appeal even to hard core fans?
I loved Icewind Dale Trilogy but preferred the other characters over Drizzt. I didn't read anything after the Dark Elf trilogy for a long time. The Sundering interested me enough to get that series. I really enjoyed the Companions. It brought back the characters I liked. It had very little to do with Drizzt. It had no end of world or anything that needed saving. It made me interested in catching up on later books and perhaps earlier ones.

I don't care if they keep doing Drizzt books but it is a shame to end the line. Feels like WotC doesn't really make anything any more. Perhaps the cut from DMGuild earns more than actually making their own products. (Can you make novels under DMGuild?)
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Le Noir Faineant » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:14 am

*Rafe, on his bi-annual visit to the Piazza.*

Wow, thanks for sharing the info, folks! Another part of our youth, gone. :(

That said, the novel line had been ailing since the early 2000s, and any attempts to expand it were almost universally reviled by the critics. (There were a few new Ravenloft novels, for example, not quite so many years back.) That WotC finally realized it was time to shoot the dying horse, probably even for the better: Myself, I've never been a Realmer, and literally would have judge the books by their cover. Now, regarding the course and the content of the novels over the last five or six years, the almost universal verdict of actual readers that I talked to has been that WotC's brand manager would likely need an exorcist.

- Not sure what went wrong there, but it's certainly difficult to continue character-driven series ad infinitum. Ideally, WotC has simply realized that they need to bring things to a fitting conclusion while they still have an audience, and, more importantly, while their principal authors are still interested. - Both Greenwood and Salvatore have branched out in the past, and to no small success. At this point, their active involvement with WotC might even be holding them back.

Now, my own polite guess is we will see a reboot of the D&D multiverse (not necessarily in connection with a new ruleset), some time soon. Especially, if the movie/TV series becomes a reality, and, errh, has no relation to prior movie versions. - Streamlined versions of the old stories, just as Disney is doing with Star Wars, these days. A switch of the novel line to the DMsG, I think is not very likely, in my opinion: The actual license agreement for DMsG authors is not very attractive; if you can write, why would you do it under a worse contract than any indie publisher would give you? - Unless WotC flat out plans to release FR into the public domain, this would make no sense, at all.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by True_Atlantean » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:09 am

Le Noir Faineant wrote:Not sure what went wrong there, but it's certainly difficult to continue character-driven series ad infinitum. Ideally, WotC has simply realized that they need to bring things to a fitting conclusion while they still have an audience, and, more importantly, while their principal authors are still interested. - Both Greenwood and Salvatore have branched out in the past, and to no small success. At this point, their active involvement with WotC might even be holding them back.
I completely agree with this statement. The first six Drizzt novels were great and I will still go back and enjoy them. There are quite a few short stories featuring Drizzt, Artemis Entreri, and Jarlaxle that were a nice surprise along the way. However, it's a bit of an ask to sustain the same character for thirty-odd novels. There's a lot of room in the Realms, and it sometimes feels that it's a bit too narrowly focused. I know that the Salvatore novels are popular and I don't begrudge anyone who enjoys them - we game for enjoyment, after all. ;)

Still, I'll be waiting to hear about the ultimate fate of the line. These novels have been a source of great pleasure over the years, and I do thank TSR for the experience. There is a tiny completionist in me that whenever I hear a line is ending thinks 'hey! I can now own a full set!' FR novels are a slippery slope indeed. :D
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Alzrius » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:11 pm

The issues with the D&D novel lines came up during the Candlekeep meet-up at Gen Con this year, with James Lowder having quite a bit to say on the issue. I wrote about this on another forum (answering a question someone had when I initially mentioned it only briefly) but I'll re-post here:
Alzrius wrote:The gist of it was that Hasbro told WotC "you're not a novel publishing company; stop acting like you are."

To put it another way, WotC inherited TSR's novel publishing arm, and had initially kept with it. This wasn't surprising, as James Lowder told us that, although TSR's publishing wing only had a half-dozen or so employees (and so didn't have that much overhead), it was - at its height - bringing in half of their total revenue. This had been continuing under WotC, and was still profitable when Hasbro shut it down.

Naturally, this led to another attendee then asking why Hasbro had closed down something that was making money. The answer was that, quite simply, it wasn't making enough money to justify its continued existence in Hasbro's eyes. "They didn't acquire WotC for D&D," we were told. "They acquired it for Magic and Pokémon." In other words, even though it was making more money than it spent, it wasn't making enough for Hasbro to care about funding it at all; instead, they liquidated it so that the resources spent on the novel division could go elsewhere, to the divisions that made more money.

Needless to say, this aligns perfectly with everything else I've heard over the years about how Hasbro views WotC (e.g. that even D&D is under tremendous pressure to turn profits of at least $50-$100 million, or more preferably $100+ million, every year).

EDIT: As mentioned, the exceptions to this are R. A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood. I don't know the details regarding Salvatore, but Realms fans have known for years that when Ed Greenwood signed his original contract with TSR, he included a stipulation that they had to publish at least one Forgotten Realms book, written (I believe at least in part) by him, every year or so (it might be as long as 18 months; I'm not privy to the details). Otherwise, he can sue to recover the intellectual property rights to the Realms.

Needless to say, nobody wants that, and so they still publish his material with regularity (while probably waiting for him to kick the bucket).

I had also forgotten to mention that there was one tidbit that was dropped: it was hinted at that WotC might be trying to negotiate with a New York-based novel publisher to outsource D&D novels to them. No confirmation or names were given, but it certainly fits with WotC's current business strategy (e.g. farm out everything).

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by agathokles » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:37 pm

Farming out everything makes sense, in this context. The problem with Hasbro and D&D is that D&D will never be as profitable as their more traditional toys lines, or even Magic or Pokemon. One approach would be to sell D&D to a company with less demanding returns on investment. However, it is likely that the value of D&D on paper (i.e., factoring in the value of the brand in terms of potential for computer games, movies, etc) is much higher than the current profits, so the price Hasbro would ask is bound to be much higher than any reasonably sized company would be able to pay. Thus, Hasbro's only option is to either sit on the brand doing nothing until it is sufficiently devalued to find a purchaser, or to outsource as much as possible. Both these options reduce the investment at the expense of the returns, but since the ratio is anyway unfavourable in Hasbro's eyes, these are both viable options for them (both reduce the impact of the low-return branch on the overall balance).

I'd have an end line to this reasoning, but politics are off topic...

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Havard » Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:14 pm

Thanks Alzrius! Very clarifying! :)
agathokles wrote:Farming out everything makes sense, in this context. The problem with Hasbro and D&D is that D&D will never be as profitable as their more traditional toys lines, or even Magic or Pokemon. One approach would be to sell D&D to a company with less demanding returns on investment. However, it is likely that the value of D&D on paper (i.e., factoring in the value of the brand in terms of potential for computer games, movies, etc) is much higher than the current profits, so the price Hasbro would ask is bound to be much higher than any reasonably sized company would be able to pay. Thus, Hasbro's only option is to either sit on the brand doing nothing until it is sufficiently devalued to find a purchaser, or to outsource as much as possible. Both these options reduce the investment at the expense of the returns, but since the ratio is anyway unfavourable in Hasbro's eyes, these are both viable options for them (both reduce the impact of the low-return branch on the overall balance).
You know what, if WotC lisenced out the rights to their novel lines, the D&D lines and other D&D related products and simply became managers of brand.

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:32 pm

Havard wrote:You know what, if WotC lisenced out the rights to their novel lines, the D&D lines and other D&D related products and simply became managers of brand.
They should license it out to KindleWorlds.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by agathokles » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:49 pm

Havard wrote: You know what, if WotC licensed out the rights to their novel lines, the D&D lines and other D&D related products and simply became managers of brand.
That's what they are trying to do, apparently.

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Havard » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:00 pm

agathokles wrote:
Havard wrote: You know what, if WotC licensed out the rights to their novel lines, the D&D lines and other D&D related products and simply became managers of brand.
That's what they are trying to do, apparently.
Makes sense. I hope they will do this for the D&D line as well. More importantly, I hope they lisence out all the settings. I think one of the big reasons they stopped lisencing out settings in the past is because they felt that those companies were competition against their own lines. But if they no longer have a line, that logic no longer applies.

If lisencing out to multiple companies, (one for novels, others for settings setc) that means they will need someone to coordinate things though.

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by True_Atlantean » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:56 pm

Given the recent shift to Print on Demand, though, it would make a lot of sense to offload the back catalogue into that avenue.

As for brand managers, this is a good idea. WotC could provide an level of oversight, and simply ;et the other companies foot the bill for staffing, printing, distribution, and ll the other overheads. I think that for a board game or card game, FFG would be an excellent choice.
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Alzrius » Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:37 am

Another tidbit about the Candlekeep meetup that I wrote elsewhere:
Alzrius wrote:One other tidbit that I forgot to mention was that the forthcoming D&D movie was mentioned very briefly.

Specifically, it was mentioned as an example of brand diversification (e.g. it's not coincidental that the lawsuit about recovering the movie rights had been brought when it had). Also brought up was that, if it were to be set in the Realms, it would never be labeled "Forgotten Realms" as such, since WotC is de-branding everything to just being "Dungeons and Dragons" (and because the characters in the setting don't call it that anyway).

One attendee asked who at WotC would be handling issues of making sure the material in the movie was handled properly. James Lowder replied that if there was anyone consulting on the movie, it would be the Brand Manager (whose name I can't remember), since a feature film was too big of a deal to go to anyone further down the chain.
The issue of branding was a topic that came up a fair amount at that meeting. James Lowder, who mentioned that this was just what he'd heard from people he knew, since he wasn't actually a part of WotC anymore, said that WotC was currently making an effort to "de-brand" anything D&D-related that wasn't just "Dungeons & Dragons."

What that means is that anything D&D that had its own logo or trade dress would no longer have those things, since they were now seen as taking away from a unified attempt to brand D&D as its own thing. So that's why Curse of Strahd didn't have the Ravenloft logo, or Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast doesn't have the Forgotten Realms logo (or why Erin M. Evans last FR book has "Forgotten Realms" in what looks like a 2-point font). In other words, D&D needs to be consolidated as a brand so that that brand can then be diversified across various media platforms.

So even if the novels do get farmed out, I wouldn't expect to see them being organized under the familiar banners of "Dragonlance" or "Dark Sun" anymore.

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by agathokles » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:57 pm

Alzrius wrote: What that means is that anything D&D that had its own logo or trade dress would no longer have those things, since they were now seen as taking away from a unified attempt to brand D&D as its own thing. So that's why Curse of Strahd didn't have the Ravenloft logo, or Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast doesn't have the Forgotten Realms logo (or why Erin M. Evans last FR book has "Forgotten Realms" in what looks like a 2-point font). In other words, D&D needs to be consolidated as a brand so that that brand can then be diversified across various media platforms.

So even if the novels do get farmed out, I wouldn't expect to see them being organized under the familiar banners of "Dragonlance" or "Dark Sun" anymore.
Yes, "farming out" does not mean they don't have an interest in brand consolidation, or that they would create competition among the licensees. Probably, the management is trying to contain the damage until they can get to use the brand on something high-return enough (movies may be the most likely way).
They'll try to farm out novels, they have farmed out sale of old products to DTRPG, and they've made licensing agreements for merchandising. They'll likely try to keep board games and the main RPG line in-house, at the lowest possible cost, however.

GP

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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:12 pm

Havard wrote:
Zeromaru X wrote:
Havard wrote:What was the Brimstone Angel books?

-Havard
Brimstone Angels is a saga about how the "Asmodean tieflings" came to be in the Realms, plus the plots on how Asmodeus became a god in 4e, and the forces that tried to stop him or kill him during the Sundering. It also deal with the descendants of Briseys Kakistos, the first "Asmodean tiefling" in Faerun, and during the Sundering series of novels, also dealt with the fate of the dragonborn race in the Realms (as you can guess, this is why I'm interested in the saga).

That does sound interesting!

What is an Asmodean Tiefling? Do Tieflings have different bloodlines based on Devil Princes?
"My name is Asmodean, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" ;)
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Re: WotC to discontinue novel line?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:13 pm

Le Noir Faineant wrote:*Rafe, on his bi-annual visit to the Piazza.*
You are allowed to come here more than twice a year, Rafe. :)
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