It’s that time of year again. Time for Hasbro to slough off its old skin as it lets go of yet another of the most experienced RPG designers in the world. Earlier this year Bill Slavicsek (a 20 year D&D veteran) left amid a rash of WotC layoffs. This time around in the annual Christmas firings another of D&D’s Old Guard, Rich Baker, has come under the axe.

Perhaps it’s just a sign of the times, as businesses struggle to stay afloat in the frigid economy, or is it evidence of the increasing board game-ification of the D&D franchise by its toy-manufacturing parent company. WotC has been releasing ever more D&D themed board games – a trend that I enthusiastically support so long as it doesn’t impact the continued development of D&D as a RPG. And there is no doubting that 4e is much more board game-esque than any of its predecessors.

No need to worry yet, though, as it might simply be a reorganization. I don’t think we have heard the last from Rich Baker, Bill Slavicsek, David Noonan or Steve Winter, as WotC often taps its laid-off talent for freelance work. Hopefully we will have years of quality D&D from these talented game designers.

Best of luck to all the employees let go this season, and Merry Christmas.