Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition official translations

Tonight I am going to play 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons with my regular group of friends. We have been playing together for over a decade, using different role-playing game systems. Of the six players, half don't speak English, so we play in French. And while the majority of Dungeons & Dragons players of the world have moved on from 4th edition to 5th edition, we keep playing 4E for the simple reason that 5th edition isn't available in French. Or any other language than English. So the news yesterday that Wizards of the Coast is in fact planning a localization is significant. They partnered with Gale Force 9 to translate 5th edition into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese, with more to follow. Already this year, over the summer, the three core rule-books will be released one after the other. I will need to discuss with my group whether and when we want to switch.

While this is good news for me, I know some people who are going to be extremely angry at this announcement. Up to now there was no word at all from Wizards of the Coast on a possible translation. But there is an "open source" / "open game license (OGL)" version of 5th edition rules called the System Reference Document (SRD), also in English. And while I don't know about other languages, on the French side there were not one, but two different Kickstarter projects that have been successfully crowdfunded to translate the SRD into French to create a "French 5th edition" equivalent. However obviously a crowdfunded project doesn't have the same resources as a big company. So the official 5E translation will arrive on the market *before* the crowdfunded translations. And the SRD has minor differences from the official version, with well-known monsters, spells, and character options missing. Being not even much cheaper than the official version, I don't think the crowdfunded translations will do very well. Such are the dangers of Kickstarter projects!

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