Can Wizards Avoid Another OGL Glut?
  • Can Wizards Avoid Another OGL Glut?


    Wizards of the Coast's famous experiment in open design allowed more game designers to contribute to Dungeons & Dragons than ever before. But the same freedom to publish compatible games resulted in a glut of products that confused consumers and clogged game store shelves, resulting in the D20 "bubble" bursting. With the arrival of a new open game license from Wizards of the Coast, will history repeat itself?


    D&D is About Sharing

    Open gaming has its roots in open source coding, spearheaded by Richard Stallman of MIT. In open source coding, code isn't owned by any one company or person but rather a shared platform everyone benefits from. In return for this openness, coders become familiar enough with the system that they are incentivized to create ancillary products supporting the platform. The GNU General Public License (GPL) was part of how the Linux operating system came about.

    Ryan Dancey, vice president of the D&D brand at the time, modeled the Open Game License on the GPL. Dancey elaborated on Stallman's approach in The Most Dangerous Column in Gaming:

    During his time there, he participated in a community of software developers who shared code between themselves and were at the cutting edge of computer programming. When those people started to leave the university and go into private enterprise, they stopped being willing to share their code, because the standard corporate philosophy is to keep secrets rather than share them. Stallman thought that was a mistake. He feels that the best way to get good software is to let everyone see the source code, and be able to make changes to that code if they think the changes necessary.

    Of course, open gaming was not a new concept for Dungeons & Dragons. It was a key part of the how the game was developed, spearheaded by co-creator Gary Gygax, who knit disparate ideas into a cohesive whole. In the days before the Internet, fanzines served a similar role in testing ideas with a broader gaming populace. A prime example is Alarums & Excursions, which is still in circulation today. Jon Peterson in Playing at the World explains how the exchange of ideas worked:

    Given that TSR simply could not manage the volume of ideas the fan community generated, Alarums served a crucial purpose. The February 1976 Strategic Review says as much, calling Alarums “far and away the best D& D zine,” and giving it the highest rating among the fanzines it reviewed. Aside from merely circulating rules, Alarums analyzed and criticized them, in keeping with the culture of “mail comments” on prior issues that it inherited from the APAs of science-fiction fandom. Nowhere else at that time did proposed emendations to Dungeons & Dragons confront such a responsive and outspoken audience. Lacking the space constraints that winnowed submissions to the Strategic Review down to the Darwinian finest, Alarums gamely printed ideas no matter how thoughtful or unconsidered— only in the next issue, in the mailing comments, did the community’s approval process begin...

    In this manner, Alarums' purpose was similar to the goals of the Open Game License (OGL):

    When he first heard inklings of Alarums, Johnstone expressed his wish that it might serve as a venue for perfecting Dungeons & Dragons; through it, he hoped, “we may be able to arrive at a truly intelligent version” of the game. [APA-L:# 522] This “truly intelligent version” would presumably incorporate the many fixes favored by Los Angeles area fans.

    Thanks to Peterson's scholarship, we now know that Gygax incorporated quite a bit from other contributors:

    Chainmail itself drew on a two-page set of rules developed for a late 1970 game run by the New England Wargamers Association (NEWA), which were designed by one Leonard Patt. Patt’s system shows us the first fantasy game with heroes, dragons, orcs, ents, and wizards who cast fireballs at enemies, though his contribution today goes entirely unacknowledged.

    Dancey was convinced that what made D&D great in its early days could be replicated again. He got his chance at the turn of the century with the OGL.

    Opening the Gates

    Dancey's plan was to strength D&D's dominance in the RPG market by sharing the content with as many publishers as possible:

    The logical conclusion says that reducing the "cost" to other people to publishing and supporting the core D&D game to zero should eventually drive support for all other game systems to the lowest level possible in the market, create customer resistance to the introduction of new systems, and the result of all that "support" redirected to the D&D game will be to steadily increase the number of people who play D&D, thus driving sales of the core books. This is a feedback cycle -- the more effective the support is, the more people play D&D. The more people play D&D, the more effective the support is.

    From a marketing perspective, it worked. Shannon Appelcline explains in Designers & Dragons - The 90s:

    What was surprising was the huge boom the d20 license caused in the RPG industry — though it wasn’t immediate. There was initially some skepticism about the d20 license, too. Given TSR’s litigious relationship with third-party producers of D&D material, some publishers actually thought that it was a trap (!). However the more courageous (and ultimately successful) publishers proved otherwise by late 2000 and soon everyone was jumping on Wizards of the Coast’s bandwagon to produce their own d20 supplements. There were just three d20 sellers at the 2000 Gen Con Game Fair — Wizards, Green Ronin, and Atlas. Ryan Dancey estimates that number had climbed to 75 by the 2001 Gen Con Game Fair; by 2002’s Gen Con, practically everyone was selling some d20 material.

    Dancey believed that, just like the GPL, the OGL would make the overall system better:

    The other great effect of Open Gaming should be a rapid, constant improvement in the quality of the rules. With lots of people able to work on them in public, problems with math, with ease of use, of variance from standard forms, etc. should all be improved over time. The great thing about Open Gaming is that it is interactive -- someone figures out a way to make something work better, and everyone who uses that part of the rules is free to incorporate it into their products. Including us. So D&D as a game should benefit from the shared development of all the people who work on the Open Gaming derivative of D&D.

    That's not how things turned out. Faustus von Goethe explains in the D20FAQ:

    The OGL is modeled on the GNU Open Software License, but the Open Gaming License has several glaring differences from the GNU's copyleft, most notably that the GNU software foundation distributes all of their Intellectual Property (IP) under their license with the belief that sharing in this fashion promotes a stronger industry, while Hasbro used the OGL to define a very small subset of their IP that could be used as “open”, with market dominance being their stated objective. More importantly, Hasbro inserted clauses into the OGL that made it virtually useless for fostering a GPL-type community.

    Mike Mearls, current D&D brand manager, explains what went wrong:

    We never saw a sustained effort to improve the fundamental rules of D&D, and it's debatable that any such improvement would be embraced as such by enough end users...The crippling problem for open gaming is that no one can agree on what problems need to be fixed, no one can agree how to fix the problems that have been agreed on, and publishers want to profit from offering those changes. In essence, gaming ran counter to three of the biggest benefits offered by using open source.

    Eventually, the iterative improvement did come about thanks to Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder, as described in Designers & Dragons - The 00s:

    Enter Paizo designer Jason Bulmahn, an architect who joined Paizo in 2004. While working for Paizo, he’d also been freelancing books for Wizards, but (unsurprisingly) found that work coming to an end in 2007 after Wizards’ 4E announcement, meaning he had some free time. In October 2007, he decided to use the OGL to create “an easy PDF document with some rules revisions.” He called it his “3.75 Rules Set.”

    Pathfinder's widespread adoption finally fulfilled the promise of an evolved version of the game. But the road to Pathfinder was littered with the corpses of failed companies.

    The Wreckage Left Behind

    The promise of the Open Game License burned bright and fast:

    Ultimately, a glut of products, many of which were knockoffs, re-compilations of previous work, or of very poor quality resulted in the devaluation of the brand. This reached a point of critical mass during the winter of 2005-2006 when the market was so glutted with D20-based products that were not selling that several key distributors went out of business. At this time, gaming stores stopped carrying the vast majority of third-party products (with the exception of a few proven products from a very top tier of publishers). By 2007, in conjunction with the planned D&D 4.0 release, Hasbro marketing representatives went on record as stating that the D20 brand “had become effectively worthless.”

    Appelcline explains when the first cracks began to appear in the market:

    The first event came about due to a single book, the Book of Erotic Fantasy (2003), published by the Valar Project. Just about everyone was still publishing using the d20 mark at the time, as it was considered much more salable than a more nebulous “OGL” brand, and Valar wanted to partake of that perceived cornucopia. However, Wizards of the Coast — perhaps growing more wary due to its corporate overseer — felt like a sexual roleplaying book might damage their own brand. So, before Valar could publish, Wizards quickly changed the d20 license to require that publications meet “community standards of decency.” Valar simply moved their book over to the OGL, and was probably better off for the all of the free publicity that Wizards gave them. The other d20 publishers, however, had to look at the event with much more trepidation, for it became suddenly obvious how much control Wizards had over them.

    WOTC suddenly realized that a model that was supposed to bolster sales of the core D&D brand could also harm it. Wizards also transitioned Dungeons & Dragons from 3.0 to 3.5 with little warning, stranding publishers with product that was suddenly perceived as incompatible with the new system.

    Lots of 3.0 books sat on shelves. Meanwhile, consumers became more careful in making their 3.5 purchases, as they were simultaneously being forced to repurchase many of their core books from Wizards. This caused a cascade effect, and probably contributed to the downfall of consolidation companies like Wizard’s Attic, Fast Forward Entertainment, and Osseum — who in turn took more gaming companies with them when they went down. It also poisoned the d20 trademark: retailers began to see it as a liability, therefore it became a liability for publishers.

    The industry took a dive. It was becoming clear that WOTC had lost interest in sharing the brand with the community. It would be some time before the company would release another open gaming license.

    The Game System License

    With the Fourth Edition of D&D came the Game System License (GSL). It included language to prevent another Book of Erotic Fantasy as Brandes Stoddard explains at Harbinger of Doom:

    WotC announced that 4e, and shortly after announced the GSL. This much-maligned license was, as I've suggested above, much stricter in what third-party publishers could and couldn't use. Initially, it also cost $5,000 to use, sort of like devkits for game consoles. This fee was roundly lambasted, and rightly so; such a fee would be an insurmountable barrier to entry for a great many third-party publishers, who were writing more for the love of doing so than because of the great profit margins. Charging that much money and offering a much more restrictive license than the OGL might have been reasonable from WotC's perspective, somehow, but a lot of big fish in the small third-party-publishing pond balked at this. Their expectations had been set in the era of the free-for-all OGL. The horse, as they say, was out of that stable.

    The license was tweaked after its released, but it wasn't enough. Publisher after publisher gave up on the license, in part because the GSL could prevent publishers from using their original OGL material. Mxyzplk explains on Geek Related:

    They kindly say you can continue to publish under the OGL (duh, that’s anyone’s legal right), but also you can “convert” your material to the GSL after which you can’t publish stuff in the same line (“as reasonably determined by Wizards”) under the OGL. If you’re a licensee you can’t publish anything that features “the same or similar title, product line trademark, or contents” as a licensed product. The contents thing may be the real hook here, so no rebranding of Freeport as something else and reusing material. (Or, by this clause, reusing art across lines, which is a big deal for most third parties; they reuse art liberally in their lines.)

    In short, the GSL went the opposite direction of the OGL, becoming so restrictive that nobody wanted to use it. So they didn't. But that didn't stop them from publishing compatible content under the OGL. Appelcline again:

    If the GSL was intended to get third-party publishers to create adventures and other supplements that wouldn’t have been cost-effective for Wizards, it was indeed a total and unmitigated failure. Worse, Wizards set themselves up for the exact problem that the d20 license had resolved in 2000: third-party publishers releasing D&D products in an uncontrolled way, without the need for a license — as had been done by Mayfair Games and others in the ’70s and ’80s.

    By most measures the GSL was a failure. Ironically, it made the OGL even more of a success, fueling the Old School Renaissance. It wasn't until this past January when Wizards tried again.

    The OGL Returns!

    Wizards released a new System Reference Document along with a new Open Game License, which is similar in format to the original OGL. The new document includes much (but not all) of the Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. What it doesn't allow is publishing in WOTC's established setting. For that, WOTC released something new, the Dungeon Master's (DM) Guild:

    The Dungeon Masters Guild is a new program that allows you to create content (adventures, monsters, backgrounds, etc.) using Wizards of the Coast intellectual property (IP) and to make some money while you’re at it.

    The DMs Guild allows authors to place Dungeons & Dragons-compatible content in the Forgotten Realms and sell it at a 50% royalty via OneBookShelf. What this means is that the DM's Guild channels the creative output that caused the glut the first time, with several important controls:

    • It's electronic, so there's no danger of clogging physical distribution channels, creating too much inventory, or having a back catalog that doesn't sell.
    • It's managed by OneBookShelf, the company who owns DriveThruRPG and also manages D&D Classics. This ensures that there are established content and distribution guidelines -- or to put it another way, the DM's Guild is essentially one giant friendly local game store (FLGS). This includes the ability to be rated by customers.
    • It can be curated by WOTC. The content can be leveraged by WOTC for other products s et in the Forgotten Realms like the Neverwinter MMO and Sword Coast Legends.


    This time around, WOTC is using the carrot over the stick. For those who prefer to simply use the rules without indicating compatibility and using the D&D brand, the OGL is still available. But for authors who are looking to elevate the visibility of their writing and potentially work for WOTC in the future, the DM's Guild seems like a good compromise.

    Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, and communicator. You can follow him at Patreon.
    Comments 81 Comments
    1. BryonD's Avatar
      BryonD -
      Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
      It is still funny. We sit here spouting all sorts of stuff about the industry, and yet can't agree on something so basic as how much content we need.

      And we still pretend like we *know* something? That is hi-larious!
      "We" are complete idiots.
      There are some well informed and or simply well considered individuals among "we".
      But "we" are still complete idiots.

      Edit - It kinda mirrors the noise to signal of OGL content itself. The bulk sucks and there are plenty of easy ways to throw stones. But the strong stuff makes up for it many times over.
    1. cimbrog's Avatar
      cimbrog -
      There won't be another glut, at least not a damaging one like there was before. The online glut never went away but a digital product can sit on the shelf indefinitely since, unlike a physical book, extra copies don't cost any extra. And there are tools for reviewing and rating online items that aren't as easily available on a bookshelf. The problem with the d20 glut was that it was initially physical and ended up doing some economic damage to the hobby. The "glut" itself never actually ended, it just moved online where it could be better managed by buyers and publishers.
    1. Mark CMG's Avatar
      Mark CMG -
      Quote Originally Posted by BryonD View Post
      There are some well informed and or simply well considered individuals among "we".

      It's a cross you and I bear, BryonD, when we're not being idiots.


      As for the glut, I hope some of the more well-informed folks will help me clear out some of my virtual warehouse space in the tail end of this year's GM's Day sale while some of the items are just One Dollar (a few at half off)!

      http://www.rpgnow.com/browse/pub/457...Mountain-Games
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
      It is still funny. We sit here spouting all sorts of stuff about the industry, and yet can't agree on something so basic as how much content we need.

      And we still pretend like we *know* something? That is hi-larious!
      I know how much content that I need. It is not relevant how much "we" think is needed.
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
      Nothing personal, but the idea that somehow you'd get collective action like that strikes me as funny.

      Unless you have a D&D Content Developers Union to enforce policy, there's no clear benefit to any individual developer to *not* produce content. "For the good of all," is cold comfort when you see Fred's pdf's selling, and you're sitting on a good idea.
      I'm not arguing, but I will point out that I find laying the responsibility on Wizards to police us to be at least as funny.
    1. Kite474's Avatar
      Kite474 -
      Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
      You assume, of course, that @Kite474 represents the conventional wisdom.
      Buddy I am anything BUT conventional *insert leopard print underoos joke here*
    1. Cergorach's Avatar
      Cergorach -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      I don't think there will be a print book glut. Publishers won't be so eager to jump on the bandwagon this time round, having been through it once before. So I think what we'll get is a smaller number of solid third party publishers.

      For PDFs, yeah. Absolutely. All that stuff that used to be peoples' free house rules and blogs and stuff is making its way to DMsG.
      Pretty much this.

      I think the problem was never the overwhelming number of pdfs, those don't cost money to print and stock (but they do cost money to make). The problem was that retailers and distributors got stuck with a ton of unsalable product in print form.

      These days, Kickstarter solves a lot of issues for publishers and customers, they see directly whether their product sells enough to print or not.

      Tablets are way more available then during the D20 glory days, so many people are happy enough with a pdf, often no reason to print a physical book.

      Another point is that there was a TON of D20 crap, but also a LOT of good stuff, that you can quite easily use for a new version of D&D/Pathfinder/clone. Heck, due to the OGL, folks are free to adapt the rules sections in those older products to newer OGL systems and publish them without any legal repercussions (as long as they follow the OGL correctly). Often of course as a pdf...

      The OGL was never gone, Pathfinder, the Green Ronin systems, a couple of D&D 'clone', etc.

      But to be honest, I don't think things will get as crazy as during the D20 glut. Many folks still play Pathfinder and nothing has changed there, D&D5E is popular, but I don't think even close to as popular as 3(.5)E ever was... Again due to Kickstarter and tablets the market has changed drastically, good games/ideas/products are no longer limited by the realities of production cost and distribution...
    1. Nylanfs's Avatar
      Nylanfs -
      Just look at Oathbound and almost all of Bastion Press's books, those were pure gold.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Quote Originally Posted by BryonD View Post
      "We" are complete idiots.
      There are some well informed and or simply well considered individuals among "we".
      But "we" are still complete idiots.

      Edit - It kinda mirrors the noise to signal of OGL content itself. The bulk sucks and there are plenty of easy ways to throw stones. But the strong stuff makes up for it many times over.
      That raises an interesting question, at least to me. Does it make up for it? Say Sturgeon's Law that 90% of everything is crap applies here. Not a huge leap IMO. Does that 10% actually make up for having to sift through that much chaff? At what point does the chaff just drive people away?

      How many bad experiences at the table does a good experience make up for?

      Hey, I was, and am, a big 3pp supporter. My 3e library, apart from a couple of WotC books, was mostly 3pp. And, most of it wasn't very good, and most of it never saw the light of day at my table. Sure, there were some fantastic gems - I got a solid two and a half years of play out of the World's Largest Dungeon. Fantastic. But, my Scarred Lands collection just gathered dust most to of the time, despite trying to run two campaigns in the setting, simply because most of it was crap. Poorly designed setting - the maps often didn't match the text (yes, let's have the hub of trade for the continent be in a location which is virtually impossible to travel to O.O ) with very poorly designed mechanics.

      I have to admit, I'm largely burned out on it. I just don't have the time or energy to go dumpster diving to find that one nugget that I might use in my game anymore. I mean, good grief, I supported the Primeval Thule Kickstarter on the basis of the Fantasy Grounds support. It's been over EIGHT months now and we've still not seen any movement on that.

      If WotC pulled this kind of crap, they'd get crucified. But, because it's a 3pp, I'm supposed to smile and eat it and keep right on supporting 3pp's? Bugger that. Last time I will ever support that company. And I'm far, far less inclined to support anyone else either. At least when I buy a WotC product, I know what I'm getting.
    1. Ancalagon's Avatar
      Ancalagon -
      Quote Originally Posted by BryonD View Post
      It is true that it is difficult for the noise to get through the signal.
      But the "glut" makes the signal exist.
      Twenty-five years ago this product would have been unlikely to have ever seen the light of day.
      It might have. And if it had it would have been in a much better competitive position.
      But the reality it that the odds would have been deeply against it.
      Well... He published a setting. I could do the same (a setting/campaign). The only thing stopping is me (seriously, arc 2 has over 80 000 words). But just because I can doesn't mean I should. It *could* be garbage! People are notoriously bad at self-evaluation after all.

      25 years ago someone (an editor) would have read his product and go "this is awesome! we'll publish it!!!" and read mine and go "eermmm... thanks but no thanks". Now the barriers are gone, which means he can published and so can I and so can 100s of other would-be authors who should have kept their house rules and settings to themselves...
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      That raises an interesting question, at least to me. Does it make up for it? Say Sturgeon's Law that 90% of everything is crap applies here. Not a huge leap IMO. Does that 10% actually make up for having to sift through that much chaff?
      That will depend on the individual. Some people will look at the sheer mass, decide it's not worth the effort, and walk away. Some people will look at specific recommendations (as in this month's UA), look at those, and ignore everything else. And some people will wade through the stuff.

      For me, the existence of that stuff is a boon, even if I don't look at much of it. Because there are some things that WotC simply would never publish by virtue of their place in the mass-market, and some of it is potentially interesting. For example, if someone were to do a proper "mature themes" setting and/or adventure path, and do it well, I'd certainly be interested. The existence of the OGL and/or DMs Guilde certainly doesn't guarantee that... but it does at least make it possible where it wouldn't be otherwise (within the context of D&D that is).

      Sure, there were some fantastic gems - I got a solid two and a half years of play out of the World's Largest Dungeon. Fantastic. But, my Scarred Lands collection just gathered dust most to of the time, despite trying to run two campaigns in the setting, simply because most of it was crap.
      But, equally, I'm sure there are people who loved Scarred Lands and found WLD desperately dull. Having both available means that you both win.

      If WotC pulled this kind of crap, they'd get crucified. But, because it's a 3pp, I'm supposed to smile and eat it and keep right on supporting 3pp's?
      No, you're not "supposed" to do anything. Support 3pps or don't - it's entirely your choice.

      But there's a distinction between not supporting them and being opposed to their existence.

      At least when I buy a WotC product, I know what I'm getting.
      Do you, really? Because you don't have to go back very far before you find crappy products produced by WotC - 3e and 4e had plenty, and even 5e products like the "Tyranny of Dragons" storyline and the "Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide" have been criticised.
    1. BryonD's Avatar
      BryonD -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      That raises an interesting question, at least to me. Does it make up for it? Say Sturgeon's Law that 90% of everything is crap applies here. Not a huge leap IMO. Does that 10% actually make up for having to sift through that much chaff? At what point does the chaff just drive people away?

      How many bad experiences at the table does a good experience make up for?
      IMO you have made a bad leap right there.
      A bunch of crap out there does not mean there are bad experiences at the table.
      WotC and Paizo have plenty of "crap" they have put out. Not claiming equity in the %s, but crap is crap. Recognize it. Don't let it get to the table.


      I have to admit, I'm largely burned out on it. I just don't have the time or energy to go dumpster diving to find that one nugget that I might use in my game anymore.
      I get this. But you don't have to do all the digging yourself. I've been quite vocal about lack of WotC content. Now we have OGL and I'm happy. But I've bought almost nothing.
      I'm waiting for things to play out a bit.
    1. BryonD's Avatar
      BryonD -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ancalagon View Post
      Well... He published a setting. I could do the same (a setting/campaign). The only thing stopping is me (seriously, arc 2 has over 80 000 words). But just because I can doesn't mean I should. It *could* be garbage! People are notoriously bad at self-evaluation after all.

      25 years ago someone (an editor) would have read his product and go "this is awesome! we'll publish it!!!" and read mine and go "eermmm... thanks but no thanks". Now the barriers are gone, which means he can published and so can I and so can 100s of other would-be authors who should have kept their house rules and settings to themselves...
      I agree with your assessment of self-evaluation.
      But it is irrelevant.

      Human nature is human nature.
      25 years ago an editor "could" have read his product. That editor "could " have read my product. And that same editor could have read any of the 100s (1000s, 10,000s) of others. He had no interest in bothering.
      A ton of good signal from 25 years ago went into files drawers for 10 years, then found their way to a landfill. Several tons of noise dig the same.
      Good stuff has a much better shot at seeing the light of day today than it did 25 years ago. That doesn't make it good now, just improved.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Quote Originally Posted by BryonD View Post
      IMO you have made a bad leap right there.
      A bunch of crap out there does not mean there are bad experiences at the table.
      WotC and Paizo have plenty of "crap" they have put out. Not claiming equity in the %s, but crap is crap. Recognize it. Don't let it get to the table.
      There's the trick thought isn't it? Recognising the crap? Sure, for those of us who've been playing for umpteen years, fair enough. But, even then, depending on the length of the product we're talking about, it isn't always that easy. Stuff slips through. That module mislabeled an encounter and now the DM is stuck in the middle of the session trying to parse out exactly what's supposed to happen. That power in that book didn't look like too big of a deal until it got combined with that other bit from that other book and the player makes a wild jump in power level. Polymorph is probably the best example of this. Polymorphing into a 3e troll isn't that big of a deal. Polymorphing in that troll from Monster Manual 4 which had all these other abilities suddenly becomes an issue.

      So, we saw a bunch of polymorph nerfs.

      Because there is virtually no oversight, 3pp are often barely play tested and not everyone is going to recognize a bad idea instantly (or recognise how idea X combines with ideas Y and Z to be far over the top) it's not all that difficult to get burned.

      I'm really not sure how to get around this though. Time I guess. You're right on that one @byronD. Wait for the dust to settle and see what floats up.
    1. Olaf the Stout -
      I agree with others that an online glut isn't anywhere near as bad as an in-print glut. Online glut that doesn't get bought costs the distributor/retailer basically nothing. That's a much different scenario compared to the 3E glut when there were shelves full of product that didn't sell.

      Now the DMG just needs to figure out a better way to sort their products out into the various categories (i.e. adventures, feats, classes, backgrounds, magic items, etc.) and a better way to separate the good stuff from the bad stuff.
    1. Uchawi's Avatar
      Uchawi -
      If I enjoy a product and want more of it then I don't see glut as a problem. I would imagine as long as the company continues to make a profit, then a glut is good. So it comes down to an individual choice of a purchaser as to how simple you want the game to be, and the DM is focus of that argument.
    1. Bedrockgames's Avatar
      Bedrockgames -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      There's the trick thought isn't it? Recognising the crap? Sure, for those of us who've been playing for umpteen years, fair enough. But, even then, depending on the length of the product we're talking about, it isn't always that easy. Stuff slips through. That module mislabeled an encounter and now the DM is stuck in the middle of the session trying to parse out exactly what's supposed to happen. That power in that book didn't look like too big of a deal until it got combined with that other bit from that other book and the player makes a wild jump in power level. Polymorph is probably the best example of this. Polymorphing into a 3e troll isn't that big of a deal. Polymorphing in that troll from Monster Manual 4 which had all these other abilities suddenly becomes an issue.
      .
      I don't know. I think broken mechanics have existed for a while in the hobby. The plethora of splat material was certainly daunting at times during 3E but in all honesty most of the problem I had with that stuff game from official WOTC products, not third party products (because everyone I knew that gamed pretty much assumed the official seal meant it had more validity, whereas a third party splat book the GM would always take a closer look at). In the end though, this was always something the GM needed to vet and the group needed to negotiate before play. I would kind of prefer to have access to a larger range of material, some of it with varying ideas of what constitutes a well balanced game/supplement, than have everything go through a quality control system to eliminate the possibility that some people are having overpowered experiences at their table.

      In terms of a module having an issue, really the GM is supposed to read them before play. I know some GMs don't but as far back as I can remember they almost always would recommend a read through before running and that seems like good practice to me. If the module has an error on an encounter (which can definitely happen on a printed product----even one that was put out by TSR or WOTC), then you want to each that and work around it before play begins.

      Again though, I have to reiterate, my biggest issue with the glut, came form the decline in quality from WOTC products themselves, not he third party material (which was obviously very varied and less consistent in quality to me as a consumer).
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      People complained that WOTC didn't make enough material and now you can get all you want, people still complain? Make up your minds! :P
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      People complained that WOTC didn't make enough material and now you can get all you want, people still complain? Make up your minds! :P
      Wait, did WotC make something new?
    1. Ancalagon's Avatar
      Ancalagon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      Wait, did WotC make something new?
      Exactly - there is a need for curated, or peer-reviewed or whatever you want to call it, material. Of course, it's not a guarantee of greatness, or a requirement. But it does reduce the amount of chaff.
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