Cross-post from the newly-live Brittanis.com website.
Cross-post from the newly-live Brittanis.com website.
Ahh, the shoe is on the other foot and the whining and nerdrage from the 4E fanboys can be heard throughout the internets. Thing is, if they’d actually READ the rules, they’d realize that 4E is all over the place in there.
So here is what I see: a conversation about 5E comes up, and before you can count to 20 (seconds or posts, depending on your conversational medium), somebody who loves 4E and only 4E pipes up about how their version of the game is getting screwed. They complain that all the 4E elements of the game are going away, and they have no love from the designers. Usually here is where some comment about “4E is going to the way of the dodo in favor of pandering to crusty old grey-haired grognards who whined all the way through the last edition” comes up.
I have a couple things to say to these kinds of folk:
2) YOU ARE WRONG. If you’d actually stop and take a look at the playtest rules, you’ll see 4E all over the place in there.
And there is a lot more, but really– the bones of 4E are in there, just as much as 1E, AD&D, and 3.X are in there. As far as I am concerned, it’s a remarkably successful mashup.
And one more thing: THIS IS A PLAYTEST. If you’re so pissed off that you feel 4E isn’t being represented, make sure you say so in the playtest feedback AND DO SO IN AN INTELLIGENT, CIVILIZED MANNER.
I guarantee you that, “5E iz teh suxxors! I’m never giving my money to Wizards ever again!”— whilst incredibly ironic to those of us who have been around for more than 1 edition — won’t get you anything, and won’t make anyone listen to what you have to say. Make your case in concise language in the playtest feedback forms, and use specific examples. That’s why it’s a playtest— so everyone can speak up and get their opinion heard. But if you come across as a douchebag (like many of the 3.X fans did at the beginning of 4E… never forget that this is a cycle, folks), you comments will have about as much weight as those of a douchebag should.
Which is to say none.
(oh, and if this is your first time to my blog and you’re feeling inclined to write a flame about how I’m just a grognard and I hate 4E, I suggest you read through my backlog of posts before you prove yourself to be exactly the kind of asshat I’m talking about in the post above. I *WILL* mock your stupidity.)
So if you haven’t been paying attention, I’ve got a bit of a Semi-Secret Project going on. Once the website is up and running, I’ll go full-on public with it, but for now, I’m still putting the pieces together slowly, one at a time. One of the pieces of that plan happened today, and I’m going to share it with you.
Part of what I’m working on is a Small Business, tentatively named Lionheart… something. Might end being Lionheart Crafts, or Lionheart Smithy, or… any number of other ideas, but one of the main things I want to be offering is custom crafts made for gamer type folk, and in order to do that I have to learn how to mold, cast and sculpt stuff in order to facilitate that endeavor. Which, while being deployed to Afghanistan, is a bit of a challenge. I have decided to work on the skills and knowledge necessary for the work while I’m here, in my free time. That way I’m ahead of the curve when I get home stateside and can jump into production…that’s the plan, anyway.
So today– Memorial Day Monday which also happens to be my 32nd Birthday, I decided to really get started on that project. The first thing I have to learn how to do is make a silicone mold of an item. I am, at heart, an uber-geek, so I figured a tower of dice would be really appropriate. For this project, I’m using the Smooth-On Starter Kit I acquired from The Engineer Guy— I’ve got something like 50 emails back and forth with their customer Service department making sure all of this would work getting shipped to A-stan, etc. Great people.
Next step is to put a light coat of Mold Release (to keep the silicone from sticking to the dice) on the dice tower and let it dry.
Next gets to the cool part– the liquid silicone. Chemically, the silicone that will eventually make up the mold is a two-part equation, in this case measured by volume: 1 unit of Part A (blue) and 1 unit of part B (pink) are measured out into separate cups. As soon as they are combined, the chemical reaction starts, so it pays to measure first and pour once (to steal a carpenter’s adage.)
After the component materials are measured, you pour them into a single mixing container together and then stir…
And then continue mixing for three minutes. It seems like FOREVER, but when you stop having steaks of individual pink and blue in the liquid and have a uniform lavender color, you’re doing it right.
Once the components start mixing, you’ve got about 30 minutes of working time before the silicone begins to really set up. So, it’s pouring time!!
Pour into the lowest part of the mold. This lets bubbles surface easier. With a slightly conical coffee cup as a mold box, this wasn’t really an option for me, so I just did the best I could. This is a Proof of Concept, after all. I’m not all that concerned with getting it “perfect” yet.
More pouring… also, showing off my tattoos from Done-Rite Tattoos in Kansas City. Ben there is an AMAZING artist, and his work on my arms is almost a year old but looks BRAND new. The sword handle is perfectly straight when my arm isn’t bent.
Now… we wait. For 16 hours, for the silicone to solidify and cure. So tomorrow morning, I’m going to see how well I followed the directions, and then hopefully pour some liquid resin epoxy into the mold and make a replica dice tower!
The whole process outlined in these pictures took me less than 30 minutes. Once I have practice, I can see it taking less than 10 minutes.
(web design courtesy of Christopher B. Nelson, the best money I’ve spent yet on the Brittanis project. In all seriousness, if you’re looking for AMAZING-quality web design and equally impressive customer service, get ahold of this guy.)
So that is a sneak peek of what I’ve been working on the last couple months. More to come in the next few weeks!
I’m looking for artists and/or costume designers for a Live-Action RPG rulebook, capable of designing multiple looks for both male and female characters of various races as detailed in the rulebook.
Looking for theater-style costume designs like the ones below– not too detailed, but enough to let potential players get a feel and style for the various races, ethnic groups and factions of the game world.
If interested, please send samples of your work and/or portfilio links as well as price rates to email@example.com.
Thanks, and feel free to pass this around to anyone you might think interested!
I really, really mean that. The game you play, regardless of what you might think or what delusions of grandeur you might have, is NOT ABOUT YOU. Suck it up.
This post inspired by:
In philosophy, agency is the capacity for human beings to make choices and to impose those choices on the world. It’s my belief that in our everyday lives, humans in modern society feel an absence of agency. Most of our capacity for meaningful choice is illusory; our daily lives are routine, and our scope of choice limited by lack of opportunity or resources. Very few people really can “change the world” in even a small way. Almost all of us lock on to meaningless decisions, such as what football team to support, or what color to dye our hair, as a means of expressing our need for agency. Unfortunately, intelligent people – the sort most likely to enjoy an RPG – feel the lack of agency far more poignantly than most, and often experience existential depression as a result. If you’ve either felt, or know someone who has felt, existential depression, this will probably make sense to you.
Regardless of what fabulously railroady plot you have designed and scheduled, it’s the player’s right and honor to screw it the hell up. Period, end of conversation.
Even if the players have knowingly signed on for an inherently structured series of events like an Adventure Path, it’s still not the GM’s job to force the players onto a particular track. It’s our job to facilitate the game they want to play; it’s our job as GMs to work with the players BEFORE THE GAME STARTS so that we are running a game we will have fun running as well. But once the game begins, it’s all about them– it *has* to be, or the time you spend at the table chucking dice with your friends is wasted. If the choices their characters make have no way to change the story, then you’re not roleplaying– the players are merely acting out your pre-written story.
The real glory and magic of RPGs happens in the moment when you see the player’s eyes light up when they realize that a choice they made has MATTERED– seeing the results of the village they saved from rampaging goblins, watching the BBEG get taken down a notch (before the final confrontation), or just interacting with an NPC they know and care about– all of those moments happen specifically because the players made a choice, and that choice changed the world. It means you allow your players to fail, and fail HARD if that’s the way it goes. Whether from a bad dice roll or a poorly-made choice, the consequences of the characters actions MUST matter, which means that we as GMs must put our egos on the shelf as soon as we sit down to play.
We are here to facilitate THEM. Without them, we are lonely nerds reading books about the fun we could be having. The game isn’t about the GM, it’s about the players. Remember that first and always. Your game will be better for it.
Most roleplayers are SMART, too. They’ll figure it out with a quickness if you’re bamboozling them.
Looking for folks who can work to a client’s specifications in a professional, timely manner. I’ve been trying to contact folks individually, and I’ve been flaked out on three times already.
I am getting ready to go into full production mode on a project I am working on and will need:
So… if you’re in one of those fields looking for some freelance work, put your contact info in the comments. Please have a working professional portfolio with examples of your work ready when you supply contact info. Thanks!
Also– if you’re reading this and have a recommendation for someone you have worked with before, please let me know. I’m all about word of mouth marketing.
I had a revolution in my thinking when my life came to a screeching halt a couple of years ago. One simple question I asked myself over and over again that, when I realized I had no answer, turned my whole world on its head and made me look at my entire life in a way I never had before. The question was this:
I have since moved on to asking myself that question about every major aspect of my life, and it has brought a new way of thinking, goal setting, and decision-making in my world that I want to share with you. No, I’m not trying to sell Amway or a Kirby Vacuum to you. I just want you to stop for a moment and ask yourself the same simple question I did. The answer you get– and your reaction TO that answer– might shock you.
I firmly believe that you should know WHY you, as a human being, are embarking on any particular major action. I’m not talking about, “Why am I drinking this cup of coffee at 0900 on a Tuesday?” but I am talking about, “Why am I choosing to sit at a table with 5 people and roll dice once a month when I go home wanting to cry every time?” or “Why am I choosing to play WoW for 15 hours a week?” or “Why am I in this romantic relationship?” And if we go back to the coffee, the question could be, “Why am I putting this into my body?”
What I’m really talking about are GOALS. One of the things I had seared into my soul during my two tours in Iraq was that our time on this planet is finite, and wasting that time–especially when you really don’t know when that time will end— is just plain DUMB. My entire “Why am I doing this?” philosophy comes based off of that platform. If you know that your time is limited, why in the world would you waste that time?
I firmly believe that no matter what you do in life, knowing WHY you are doing it will help you determine if it’s a worthwhile activity to pursue. For a solitary activity like working out in the gym or eating healthy, this requires a couple adjunct questions to gain additional information in order to give yourself an educated answer.
Once you’ve got answers to all these questions, you should have enough data to answer the question, “Why am I doing this?” and make decisions based on that answer.
So that’s a lot of abstract psychobabble, so let’s break this down and give an example. Let’s say, for example, that I want to start up a new RPG game group when I come home to the United States for good. “Why am I doing this?” might seem like an easy question, but let’s break it down.
This is actually a writing/theatre term, meaning that you as the director/actor/writer need to be aware of the “why” of an action before you do it, or write someone into doing it. It’s just as applicable, if not moreso, to our real-world lives. If you go through your life wandering around just RE-acting to things, instead of making active choices and knowing WHY you are doing something, you’ll end up frustrated at life, bored with your existence, and have no idea how to get out of that predicament.
If you’re about to start something new, ask yourself why you’re contemplating that new course. Let’s say you go to an amusement park you’ve never been to before with friends (or go to a LARP, or a tabletop game, or a movie…). You are going there with a purpose– to have fun in a way you can’t outside the park. That’s your goal– and it’s an awesome one. Don’t let anybody tell you that having fun isn’t a worthwhile goal. they’re wrong, and you can probably look at their life and see that they have little to no fun themselves. DON’T LISTEN TO THEM!! All I’m saying is that you should KNOW that having fun is your goal. It helps put things in perspective.
So you pay to enter the park, pay for food, and sweat your ass of in the middle of July (COST)… and the park sucks. Half the rides are broken, the lines are an hour and a half long, the food is overpriced and gives you a stomachache, etc. At this point (or well before this point, frankly), you have an active choice to make– is the fun I am (not) having worth the cost? Sure you may have had a great day in mind and it blows that the day in your head isn’t happening, but is that worth the additional un-fun of staying at the park and having even LESS fun? And is there anything you can do to change the fun-to-suck ratio?
At an amusement park, your options are slim: leave or stay. Chances are if you’re in the above scenario, you’ll end up having a more enjoyable time if you bail and go somewhere you KNOW fun is to be found. If you’re at a LARP or a tabletop game, however, the options become much wider- you can choose to get involved, help the folks running the game,talk to them in a POLITE AND CIVILIZED MANNER about your qualms and talk to them about solutions. (please note that internet flaming is nowhere listed in the compilation of acceptable tools for conflict resolution. Don’t Be A Dick.) Regardless, you have a choice to make– Should I Stay or Should I Go? In this scenario, you have asked yourself all the above questions, and you now have data to make an Active Choice from.
This section applies the upper commentary but I’m putting it in context of relationships because, let’s face it, a LARP or a tabletop game is a kind of relationship. You’re spending a lot of time and energy with someone or a group of someones and expending a lot of time and energy with them. Whether you like it or not, there is some kind of emotional investment there, even in a less-personal game like D&D Encounters or convention games.
I’m in a relationship now with the most amazing, stunning, and clever woman I’ve ever known. It’s freaking awesome in ways I can’t talk about without changing the ESRB of my blog, even when I’m in Afghanistan and she’s stateside. I think that one of the primary reasons our relationship is so solid is that we talk to each other about everything. Admittedly, from 7,00 miles away, talking is about ALL we can do, but that communication is what has built such a solid base for us to go from. We have talked about our goals, both short term and long term. We know what we want out of the relationship and we talked about how we see ourselves, both individually and as a couple, in 5 and ten year increments. We’ve set a lot of goals and we’ve talked about how we’re going to achieve them. We have a working, living, changing relationship, and it all is based out of constant, honest communication. Now that I’m done bragging, let me say this: your game is a relationship between you and the other players and the GM. If you neglect that relational aspect of the game, it will eventually crumble like bad romantic relationships.
I think that interpersonal maintenance requires two things: communication and goals. Without communication, you have no means of dealing openly with the other players at your table. Without community-agreed-upon goals, you have nothing to judge your successes or failures by, and no concrete means of determining how to fix problems that might arise.
I’m no communications major, but a simple fact of communication is that it’s SCARY. Opening your mouth and letting other people know what’s really, genuinely in there can be a terrifying experience for some folk. Because of this, and especially if your community isn’t used to this kind of open talk, start slow. I would recommend face-to-face at a coffee shop or at someone’s house with a couple frosty adult beverages. Electronic media is too prone to mis-interpretation for this stage. Also, make this conversation the ONLY thing on the agenda. Don’t put something else besides dinner on the schedule, or the quieter folk will be inclined to go along until the next event to avoid conflict. Then, start asking the questions above. Ask them from an individual perspective, and have everybody talk about their own personal reasons. Then, collectively as a group, talk about what you want to get out of the activities your group participates in. For a romantic relationship, this list could be lengthy. For a tabletop group, it could be a bullet-point list of what everybody can agree on in regards to table rules, campaign tone, maybe even experience progression or what kind of subjects the GM shouldn’t touch for plotlines. It’s up to you, and I guarantee that once you talk about WHY you’re doing something, the “what I want from this” factor follows naturally. A couple beers can help to get things started, though.
In a romantic relationship, the “community” consists of you and your partner. In a tabletop you’re looking at the entire table, but in a LARP or a club situation you might be talking about the Officers, Staff, or Plot… whatever. The decision-making, driving factors are hat we’re talking about here– and not just in name. If your LARP team has a Third Undersecretary of Hobbit Rules, they need to be present for this too. If you think their opinion is not important enough to have a say, they probably shouldn’t have a title in the first place.
So you’ve got your Community, and you’ve talked about “Why I’m Here” and “Why WE are Here”… now what? The answer is very simple– WRITE IT DOWN. Write down your group goals in such a way that you can use them as a yardstick for later decisions, and whether or not you’re achieving the things you want to achieve.
For example, let’s say I’m GMing a tabletop group and we have the aforementioned hangout/meeting. During that meeting we talk and discus and write down the following goals:
…etc etc. Priorities and goals for the group to look back on and see if they are meeting them, and to decide as a group what to do if they aren’t.
For a LARP group, it might be something entirely different, based around player immersion, keeping rules int he background, etc. For a romantic relationship, how to spend your money is a HUGE factor in happiness, etc etc. You need to talk about these things, because if someone is unhappy with the status quo, it’s important to have a gauge to figure out solutions to that unhappiness.
So there’s my public service announcement for you this time around. In short,
1) Ask yourself , “Why am I doing this?”
2) Split that up into the cost/benefit analysis of the action and BE HONEST with yourself about the costs.
3) Sit down and talk with others involved with the situation and figure out what they want out of the thing.
4) Write down, on paper, at least 4 goals for the community and use those goals to judge the success/failure of the community’s actions and choices.
DO IT. I promise, when you implement this for your life (ESPECIALLY community-based things like tabletop and LARP), you’ll be tons happier for it.
[Edit– this post was written at 0743 after an entire 36 hour period of no sleep and copious caffeine. It rambles and isn’t entirely coherent. You have been warned. –Jason]
It’s interesting to me when folks talking about Legacy D&D (anything from Chainmail all the way to Skills & Powers, for clarity) talk about the rules as if they had ONE way to play and ONE way to read them. The default is usually assumed to be some variation on exploration/sandbox, free-form, rules-lite, “theater of the mind” — and that’s simply not the case with my experience of D&D. I used miniatures/token/gummibears on a pretty tactical kind of wargame setup– ACCORDING TO THE RULES AS WRITTEN– and had a great time with running and playing in very scripted kinds of adventures.
The OSR stuff has basically been telling me and people who had similar experiences to me (and there ARE many of us– we just aren’t as vocal because we tend to get shouted down by the “purists”) that we were playing the game wrong by their refusal to acknowledge other styles of play as valid. I feel pretty solid saying this because I have not seen any support whatsoever for anything other than the aforementioned playstyle in any of the OSR/OSRIC/C&C/L&L stuff that I have looked at– and I own most of it. And it’s remarkably hypocritical to complain about how “new” D&D doesn’t let them play the way they want to when their own fixes for the problem do nothing to accommodate the way others played the game when those versions of the rules were current.
Christian Lindke did an AMAZING job on his blog Cinerati breaking down the Opportunity Attack rules from each edition up until 4E, and I’ll let his work stand on its own merits. It’s good stuff, and it’s his breakdown of the rules edition by edition that really prompted this post. Back in the day, I was playing the way the designers intended– it’s in there in black and white. So were the folks playing in the “theatre of the mind, gridless sandbox” style.
We were both doing it right, you and I. We were ALL doing it right, because we were sitting down with our friends, chucking some polyhedrals, and having a good time. THAT is the core of our chosen hobby, THAT is what makes our hobby so much fun– the interaction with other human beings, face-to-face, sharing in the highs and lows and critical hits and natural 1s that come along with it. No matter what game you’re playing–regardless of what the rules say– if you and your group are having a good time, you’re doing it right.
So when the playtests start, regardless of your favorite edition, don’t come to it with the attitude of “If it doesn’t have X (with X being your particular niche rule or style or whatever from your favorite edition), then I’m not even going to try it!” Instead, give it a play for what it just might be– the way to get folks from all editions, and all gaming backgrounds together in the same place to share their love of the game we all say we love. Let the 4E folks mingle with the 1E/Moldvay folks, and come to the table with a “wait and see” attitude… and then send good, solid feedback. Don’t try to clone your favorite edition– try to make THIS edition the one that we can all rally around and play together.
Don’t expect the new version of our game to be EXACTLY what your favorite version was… if it was exactly the same, they would just reprint the old editions and let the community stay fractured and bleeding and dying. Expect it to be something new that we can all learn together, and that if the previews are correct, a great many of us from all gaming spectrums might just learn to love.
This could be what saved D&D and Tabletop RPG in general. But if we all come to the table with our arms folded and our noses in the air, it’ll never happen. We have to give it a chance and we have to try–together– to make this game the best edition yet.
…and it might just save the brand from a slow and ignoble death.
First, before I start editorializing, some quotes from the horse’s mouth, lifted from the ENWorld 5E Info Page.
“The new edition is being conceived of as a modular, flexible system, easily customized to individual preferences. Just like a player makes his character, the Dungeon Master can make his ruleset. He might say ‘I’m going to run a military campaign, it’s going to be a lot of fighting’… so he’d use the combat chapter, drop in miniatures rules, and include the martial arts optional rules.”–Mike Mearls
This tells me that while the new edition’s ruleset may START very basic and simple, there will be a lot of rules additions as the years (hopefully more than 4) of D&D Next’s life-cycle progress.
“Now imagine that the game offered you modular, optional add-ons that allow you to create the character you want to play while letting the Dungeon Master create the game he or she wants to run. Like simple rules for your story-driven game? You’re good to go. Like tactical combats and complex encounters? You can have that too. Like ultra-customized character creation? It’s all there.”–Monte Cook
Again– modular rules, MORE rules, and optional additions that can be added to your game with possible ease.
“”Players can pick their own style and complexity within a class. Think of it kind of like having a $10 budget to spend on lunch. Some people will go to a restaurant and buy a $10 lunch special. Someone else might spend that $10 by ordering a few different things off the menu, rather than a special. Someone else might take that $10 and go to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients for a recipe they like. The idea is to put everyone on the same scale, but then allow people to burrow into the level of detail they want. DMs have a similar process they can go through, adding optional rules to flesh out their campaigns. Those options can range from creating a unique list of races or classes for a setting, to adding in special rules for things like managing a kingdom or waging a war.”–Mike Mearls
And again, reinforcing my point that the rules are going to start out simple and focused–likely with a box set or starter package–and then as time goes on, more and more…and MORE rules are going to be added. And how do we get the rules content for D&D?
BOOKS. Lots, and lots and LOTS of books.
In a very literal way, the core design of 5E seems to be intentionally designed additions to the ruleset. To put it another way, they are putting “rules bloat” in a different package and re-marketing it as a good thing. And by saying in the playtest, design-and-change phase and saying it as loudly and as up-front as possible, they have the marketing of saying “Hey, all these other rulebooks are Modules. They’re completely optional. Don’t buy them, don’t use them if you don’t want to.”
What does this mean? It means that we are going to see a MASSIVE amount of books put out for this edition over a long, LONG period of time. Each discrete addition to the rules– which I’ll call a Module– can be its own book, and have its own place in the release schedule. We joked in 4th Edition about how nobody would buy the “Complete Fighter” anymore, but you know what? If you include more RULES for the fighter in that book, we will, because the player who wants the fighter rules will buy the fighter book–and the GM then wants to keep up with the player of the fighter.
From a marketing and profit standpoint, this is pure freaking genius. By specifically saying that all the Modules are optional and allowing PLAYERS to customize their characters regardless of what the GM’s preferred complexity may be, SUDDENLY PLAYERS ARE BUYING LOTS OF GAME BOOKS. Typically, the vast majority of people buying game books are the guys running the game– a lot of groups only have one or two sets of core books that the GM has been the one to pony up for.
If modular rules means that suddenly a player can pick the rules he wants his character to play by, that puts the onus of responsibility for his “rules happiness” on the player, not the GM who might have the rulebook and allow/disallow stuff in it. As far as sales goes, this is an unbelievably smart idea, because then the GM wants to have that same book to make sure he knows the rules that his player wants to use. That’s TWO copies of the same book, likely in the same gaming group. Profit for sure.
Then multiply that concept and let it get exponential.
Elemental Power? Module.
Complete Fighter (2E title)? Module.
Heroes of Battle (war rules, 3.x title)? Module.
Story-based rules in the Vein of FATE or Mouse Guard? Module.
Adventures? Not a module in the rules-sense, but still a viable profit source. And if they are smart, they’ll produce rules-compatible versions of all the old materials from previous editions, too. Not as books, but as .pdfs.
Heroes of Shadow, Adventurer’s Vault, Complete (Race, Class, Villain, etc), Spell Compendium, Arms & Equipment Guide, Martial Power, Ghostwalk, Magic of Incarnum… the list of Modules for previous editions goes on an on. But instead of just putting out rules and letting the books “float”, I think we’ll see bits and pieces of rules in all these books, thus putting incentive on the player to buy the rules he wants to use for his character, and also on the GM to buy the books to keep up with his players.
In a very real way, it might bring back the days of 3.X when a player buys a splatbook from a 3PP and brought it to his GM saying, “I just bought this book and now I want to use it in your game.”– which was the one thing (other than taking 3hrs and a calculus degree to build high level characters and monsters) that I absolutely, positively, DESPISED about 3.X. Suddenly the GM feels pressured by the player to allow these rules that he may not like or want in his game, just because the player bought the book.
However, by building the game from the ground up as a series of optional, modular rules, the GM can feel vastly less pressure that he MUST use the rules because the player bought them. I like both aspects of that– I can use as much complexity as I want, the players can do so as well with my approval, and I’m not being guilted into doing something I don’t want to for my game because the players have the EXPLICIT declaration that all rules modules are 100% Optional and must be approved by GM before use.
I foresee a LOT of books coming out for D&D Next. I see smaller, individual books for each niche ruleset that they decide they want to support. And people are going to buy them, for lots of reasons… and I will likely buy nearly all of them because I’m a hardcore geek and a collector (like a lot of you reading this right now).
In fact, I can see so many products coming out that WotC devises a Subscription system in emulation of Paizo. That means an ensured, sustainable flow of incoming cash– both from the modules and DDI in whatever format that get implemented as. In addition, I’m sure that Wizards will continue making tiles, maps, miniatures and other sale-able items. They’re profit centers, and the company wants to make money, period.
I also think that this means WotC is setting up D&D Next to be “the” edition for at least the next decade. Think about it– WotC did the same thing with the 4E, with the basic books coming out first and all the expansions after that. THIS IS THE EXACT SAME THING WITH DIFFERENT MARKETING. But this time I think it’s going to work far, far better because it appears that they have learned from their competitors and from the 4E marketing debacle. If they produce a solid, likeable Core ruleset that appeals to lots of people, they can continue to pump out Modules (which we used to call splatbooks) at the rate of one a month ad infinitum, because not everybody will be buying everything, but by making the Modules explicitly optional, it ensures that lots of people will be buying just about everything they put out, because they can tap a different niche market for the rules with every Module put out. And some idiots like me will buy pretty much everything simply because it’s D&D, and I love the game and want to support my hobby.
All in all, my prediction is that D&D Next will hit our wallets harder than previous editions. However, I think that the investment will take place over a long period of time– hopefully a decade or more. If WotC does this right, they will have a cash cow that they can put out Modules for and keep milking that cow for a long, long time. And to me, that means that my favorite hobby and one of the things I love to do most in the world will ALSO be a living, breathing, viable game for a long, long time.