Is “Provolone” D&D Next?

EDIT: Turns out B&N has now taken down “Provolone” and the two 3.5 reprints that were up there yesterday.

I think D&D Next is scheduled to be released on September 18 of this year.

In the comments of my post from last night pointing out the “reprints” of the Players Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, sharp eyed James Mishler pointed out that the Wizards RPG Team also had something called “Provolone” scheduled for release the same day, which was also available for pre-order:

James thought– justifiably so, I think– that this “Provolone” was the Monster Manual, since that would complete the trio of 3.5 core books. But the more I think about it, the more I think the identification of the first two books available for pre-order on September 18 was a mistake by Barnes & Noble. I think they’re the D&D Next books.

Because “Provolone” sure sounds like a code-name to me.

It would make a certain amount of sense; it’s certainly been the case that online booksellers, especially the massive ones like Amazon and, have screwed up details of forthcoming gaming products often enough in the past. I think Barnes & Noble put those entries “live” on their website early, by mistake, and the identification of the first two books as 3.5 was also a mistake. I note that none of them appears on the website. That wouldn’t make sense if this really was a 3.5 reprint.

If my theory about a B&N screw-up is true, that leaves us with the notion that WotC is rushing to get D&D Next out the door. The official announcement was January 9, 2012. But we know they’ve been working on the game for at least a year leading up to that (and probably longer); they had a complete (although not polished) game ready for the D&D Experience convention that same month, and we know that the initial playtesters have had a complete game in their hot little hands for about the same amount of time.

It would finally make the timing of the announcement make sense. Remember how a lot of people were wondering three months ago why WotC would announce 5E while 4E was still on the shelves? Surely they knew the announcement would kill 4E’s sales; how could they take that for a whole year or more, until 5E was ready to release?

I think a September release date suddenly makes that all make sense. The design of D&D Next is pretty well wrapped up. They’re just polishing it at this point. The input from the open playtest will be used to patch up any glaring holes, anything that’s broken mechanically that they missed with their in-house and non-disclosure-agreement-burdened testers. Maybe they figure three months or so is enough time to catch and patch any glaring holes. They’d certainly have enormous pre-release buzz at GenCon, and might just have some previews of the books there (or an early convention-only release, if they can swing it).

Could this be why Monte Cook jumped ship? Because corporate was pushing to get the game out this year, before he thought it would be ready?

All this is just speculation, of course, but it does fit the available facts, and makes some moves from January that didn’t make any sense suddenly seem not so crazy.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

15 thoughts on “Is “Provolone” D&D Next?

  1. Google Mike Mearls and Provalone. You'll get a link to an enworld thread about how Mike ruined everything.

    I think your right. But them I am easily prone to conspiracies.

  2. I'm going to have to disagree with you about B&N making a mistake. My reasons for this are two-fold. First, B&N lists this as D&D 3.5 with eratta. That is pretty specific. I don't think that the person doing the data input for that or WOTC would make a mistake like that with "erratta" in the title. Second, Mike Mearls in his big long video on D&DNext said they're only at about 20% complete. That being said, over at Bat In The Attic Blog, I just read that the playtest he got was a complete game, but not the entire D&DNext. What your suggesting is public playtest from May to July, as one has to consider shipping from China and other such things. So I just can't see the September release date happening at all.

  3. I thought about a D&DNext release as well… but Metal has a point. The "3.5 with errata" could be a in-joke, though, or maybe intentionally false for publicity reasons.
    Interesting times…

  4. I'm beginning to wonder. This popped up at BN:

    Now it's at Amazon:

    Amazon has been slipping lately (Oh, and they hang up on you when you call customer service and ask them why they are setting retail prices higher than the suggested price-example- – it retails for $59.99 everywhere else including FFG and that is the price when it is stocked by Amazon, not just third party 🙂

    I expect to see the items at Amazon anytime now…

  5. Wow, ADD Grognard, that *does* add something to the mix (and is wonderful news in and of itself).

    Could they be doing a wide-ranging reprint of old material? Maybe "Provolone" is a code name, but a code name for the 3.5 reprint.

    Man, I wish they'd just come out and *say* what the hell they're doing, rather than being so opaque all the time.

  6. I was at my FLGS yesterday-on the NEW rack was a hardcover 4E book. I was surprised to see that with all the D&D Next noise. I think it was the 'Halls of the Undermountain' adventure book.

    The thing about the 3.5 books is, why wouldn't you incorporate the errata into the text? One big complaint about 4E was the amount of errata.

  7. Umm… the Dungeon reprint/refresh is enough to make me squee like a little schoolgirl and that sight ain't f*in pretty, fellas.

    I'm just letting that reprint bubble in my head a bit. The whole Next thing… whatevah. It's Dungeon! 🙂

  8. I'm with TheMettle1 here. Mearls has said it's at the most 20% complete. Although Bat in the Attic said it's a complete game, he was most likely referring to the central kernel; We know the full game will also have a significant amount of modules with it and that's going to take some time to create.

  9. @ ChicagoWiz-DUDE!

    As for the reprints, I think the 3.5 may be correct, and it looks as though the cheese would be the Monster Manual.

    The reason I think the 3.5 is correct is that I have been checking prices at Amazon everyday for over 6 months to grab a couple of 'work copies' (= cheap) of 3.5 for my desk and they have been selling for more than when they were new. I notice today prices on the DMG, PHB and MM 3 have all dropped by almost half. That MM 3 has stayed way up in price for as long as I have been checking.

    So maybe the sellers know something we don't…yet…I won't have to check if they release the beast…I will hear the 'squee' I believe it has been called and know they are shipping white boxes. 🙂

    Ok, the ball is in the air…lord this is gonna be a crazy year…

  10. And now we have Trevor wotc on twitter asking how we would want to have the return of grey hawk. Wtf. I gave my opinion for what it's worth.

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