Behold! These aren't lazy vacations for Wizards of the Coast. Heck, observing them one could imagine they've already forgotten* what their holidays were like.
Instead, they focus on ours.
Special Edition D&D Core Rulebook Covers and Gift Set
Without further ado, that's how those Special Edition Rulebooks will look like. Click to enlarge:
Aren't they amazing? That's the result of the careful plotting at WotC of course, but for the art we should thank entity known as Hydro74.
Being an eternal fan of the D&D legacy, sure I would and most likely WILL actually buy those. Especially that they come (probably optionally) as a "Gift Bundle", which is going include an alternative, Special Edition Dungeon Master's Screen and a similarly cute SE Core Rulebook Case to pack it together. Such slipcase is very welcome because it's practical - it's gonna be easier to carry the books around to players for a session.
But this alternative cover version won't be the only available. An identical set with a DM's Screen and Core Rulebook Case will be sold featuring traditional designs as well.
Release Date and Some Important Details
First of all, let's take a look at those whole 2 sets:
When will we get those goodies?
Thera are two release dates: October 19th 2018 for Special Edition and October 30th 2018 for Standard Edition. So not yet, but incoming. The whole "Gift Set" bundle is priced at $169.95. For those not familiar with D&D - it's complete, enough to start playing right away.
Keep in mind though that some official sources call the Special Edition version a "Collector's Edition". So we could expect that this is a one-of-kind occasion, and I wouldn't be surprised if there won't be any reprints once that first batch is sold and the wave runs out. Also, WotC confirms that the alternative cover version is planned to be available only at physical stores. So that's what we get - a real D&D Collector's Edition of the base rulebooks that should be regarded and pursued as rarity in the future.
Dungeons & Dragons for Children and Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Adventure
On 23th of October 2018 Wizards will release also two previously unannounced books for children - one to help them master the alphabet and one to make them as good at numbers as a young dragon. All themed around D&D, so if you'd like to give your kids some idea of what fantasy roleplaying might be like, those could be perfect. There's also a coloring book we had some prior knowledge of that's shipping to stores on August 21. With a big purple beholder on cover!
Whether is such age appropriate to familiarize your children with the world of magic spells, heroes and beholders is up to you though.
Two other premieres that will happen are Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Adventure and a Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Dice Set. No, I'm really, totally not working for WotC. I have nothing to do with them. I'm really hard to impress in general. But in my opinion, both offers look great and useful for players and DMs. The storyline of Dragon Heist (and what follows) looks really promising. Waterdeep is a great city of intrigue and politics, filled with numerous, often very rich factions that compete for power and control over the region. And thanks to the (in)famous wizard Volothamp Geddarm, players are surely going to get involved in things much bigger than they are.
Maybe it's a quest for riches, but with some realistic background to keep players thrilled and entertained throughout. And it's not for the high levels, it's meant to be experienced by 1st-5th level characters. Which could seem like an alternative to Lost Mine of Phandelver from D&D Starter Set, but the complex Waterdhavian environment might not be the best setting for inexperienced DMs. Still, that's exactly the kind of adventure I was missing for a long time and I'm eager to check it out, playtest and review for you some time after it's available. Release date: September 18th 2018. Price: $49.95.
Now, the latter of two, Dragon Heist: Dice Set is an accessory that isn't very important. But can't say it's not an interesting offer either. It's a themed dice set including four d6s, two differently sized d20s to ease the rolling of Advantage and Disadvantage, plus it's coming with a golden Hit Point tracker. All depends on whether you can afford it. To me $24,95 is quite expensive. But the quality appears to be really superb and as a gift for someone you value I would still recommend to consider. It's useful and looks like a treasure.
Summarizing the Wizardry
So that would be it for now. Did you feel like a child in a candy store too? I certainly did. While generally, to say the least, not a fan of big companies and I do hate when they're trying to sell me stuff of questionable utility or quality, here it's a different story. Even if you wouldn't be a D&D lover, I bet you'd still be impressed by what WotC menages to achieve with it's unique approach to 5th Edition. Apart from high standard of production (especially the books are really well written), I think it's because WotC menages to capture the attention of both veterans with their nostalgic, precious collector's editions, and possibly everyone else interested in their franchise. There's something from everyone, and it doesn't seem like they're trying to sell us just *anything*. There is some deeper thought behind each accessory. Also, they're not releasing that much material like TSR did in the past, which dragged the company down in the end, ultimately resulting in a financial catastrophe.
Is it all I'd dream about? Exactly what one would expect? No. But what they're creating is successfully inviting to their own vision and there's probably still a lot in store for us in the future.
Meanwhile, we're walking the planes.
* pun intended!