Wizards, who recently announced that their upcoming Gamma World RPG will have randomized booster packs, decided to double down on their randomization strategy by ceasing standard distribution of rules and sourcebooks for the Dungeons & Dragons line, and instead will be packaging 2-3 rulebooks in an opaque sealed black wrapped with the simple D&D logo on it. A UPC code and price tag ($49.95) are to be the only other markings on the exterior wrapper.
"You might get a Player's Handbook and Monster Manual, you might get three copies of the Eberron Player's Guide--we want every pack of random RPG books to be a mystery," enthused Rand Gregoire, Wizards' Vice-President Of Continual Accessories.
"The thing to remember is that it's all optional--except for the stuff that's 'core'. Which is everything. But it's optional. Except when it isn't".
Above: Random contents of a sample WotC RPG Booster Pack
Gregoire added that books such as the Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn would be rated as "Common" and in more packs; larger books such as the Dungeon Master's Guide would be marked as "Rare", and the Draconomicon 1 & 2 would be "Ultra-Rare".
"Hey, maybe you'll have a game with Player's Handbook 3, the Player's Strategy Guide, and Hammerfast. You'll never know what you get--we envision players gathering to play, then breaking open their booster packs to see what they have. Three copies of Underdark? Hope you like drow!" Gregoire exclaimed.
Some current fans aren't so sure it's a good idea.
"I love Wizards of the Coast, but I heard they're going to throw in a bunch of old Call of Cthulhu d20 and Wheel of Time RPG copies," said Jonas Gavalt, owner of the Smashing Knight Game Store of Saginaw, Michigan.
"I think if they're going to do it, it should at least be the same ruleset".
However, the plan's supporters far drown out the naysayers.
"Who cares what a bunch of antiquated dinosaurs think?" huffed Ray De Santos, RPGA-certified Dungeon Master and founder of WotCUberAlles.com. "This is the 21st century, baby. Deal with it. If you think about it, it gives the game an old-school vibe--I remember the original D&D had all sorts of random charts and crap, and even something called rolling for stats. This is no different".
If the RPG Booster Packs are successful, Gregoire projected that WotC might expand the practice to their dice packs.
"You might get some d6s, some d8s, some d12, who knows? You might even find an ultra-rare d20. The point is, within a dozen packs, and assuming you pool you resources with friends, you'll have just about everything you'll need to play".
Disclaimer: This isn't a specific dig at 4e or Gamma World. I just read about the booster packs that will be a part of Gamma World, and started wondering what would happen if a company did the same thing with their books. Have a great weekend!