D&D General "As a whole, 3rd Party Products Make D&D Better." (a poll)

True or False: "As a whole, 3rd Party Products Make D&D Better."

  • True.

    Votes: 204 88.7%
  • False.

    Votes: 26 11.3%

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I don't know how anyone can answer this question as "no", unless they are reading it as "the personal use of third-party products in my game have made D&D more enjoyable for me." I find that hard to relate to, but at least I could see it being true for some people.
I voted no as I do not believe that the industry is better by everyone makeing d20/D&D products... I don't believe D&D is better for it either.


I don't mind 3PP at all. Do I believe that some 3PP is better than others or can help fulfill things in the current 5E that official material doesn't? Absolutely.

Humblewood/Animal Adventures is great for wanting to play Awakened Animal characters.

Blue Rose: Adventurers Guide 5E pretty much has rules for playing as a Tiny creature (pretty muchish) and how to reflect that nature with the STR score.

Kobold Press is Kobold Press and usually has great stuff all around.

Ruins of Symbaroum has a slightly better Fighter and some interesting subclasses for it. (One of them is a Blacksmith technically).

Adventures in Middle-Earth 5E/Uncharted Journeys(Vault 5E) has/is going to include Journeys/Exploration.

Adventures in Rokugan has apparently THE BEST martial in 5E according to a number of peeps with the book.

Explorering Eberron has Playable 5E Gnolls.

Just some examples.

Art Waring

3pp support is crucial for a variety of reasons:

Monopolies stifle creativity: Competition is a very good thing for the industry. When DnD dropped from the number one slot and was replaced by pathfinder for a few years, it served as a wake up call for the company to reassess their approach to 5e. Without competition 5e as it is today simply would not exist in its current incarnation.

3pp Support Keeps the Game Healthy: In the game industry, you can see that some games have a robust modding community, which keeps the game evolving and keeps the community engaged. Wotc isn't interested in innovating, they are invested in maintaining the status quo, because innovation requires risk.

----> Everyone Starts Out as a 3pp: Even TSR started in a basement. Every gaming company that exists today had to start somewhere, and often at the bottom. If folks keep disregarding that in order to become professional, 3pp creators have to start somewhere, then you are essentially saying that 3pp creators can never become professionals.

3rd party adventures? Yes, good idea, especially since some of the WotC adventures are "meh" at best.
3rd party PC options or monsters? No thanks. Not at our table.

As a DM, I shiver with the thoughts of having to read 3rd party content, figure out if it is sufficiently balanced and whether it can be abused. I'm already banning other official books at our table because the options are becoming overwhelming. I have no problem with 3rd party content on the market. Good for you, we live in a free world. But please keep it off my table.


I voted no as I do not believe that the industry is better by everyone makeing d20/D&D products... I don't believe D&D is better for it either.
I'm better off for it though -- I don't have to rely on WotC's designers and their house style and aesthetic choices. I can seek out compatible systems and adventures and monsters and so on that fit my preferences, and still take advantage of the existing network of D&D players.

Yet I remember reading many times how DMs disallow 3PP in their games; strange...
I just had this talk at my table (not me DMing in this case) where we talked about what it would take to start using DM guild things. The basics is it COULD in small doses be doable... but not without risking playing favorites. As such we are not useing third party anything execpt behind the screen (and even then it is mostly just monster books)

Sturgeon's Law applies to everything, but some 3rd party material is just outstanding.

There's also a market for content WotC won't cover for family friendly reasons, like serious horror.

Heck Critical Role is a great example of a product WotC probably loves but can't completely endorse because of all the F Bombs and sexual references.
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To me it depends on the type of content. In terms of character options, spell options, etc. I am not interested in unofficial content because it has little guarantee of being meaningfully playtested, and when it isn't unbalanced or out of sync with familiar or typical 5e mechanics it often falls in a trap of being too conservatively "the kind of thing WotC would definitely publish" to be interesting. In any case there is so much official content here for the amount of characters anyone will ever actually get to build and play that I'm just not interested in searching out which unofficial options seem of equivalent worth and adding them to the mix.

But then there are monsters. The 5e Monster Manual involves pretty anemic monster design created before anyone really had a sufficient feel for how the game played, so although WotC's monster design subsequently improved, I would rate 3rd party content as better on average because a much larger percentage of it was made by people who had a feel for how monster fights go in 5e D&D as actually played.

Most importantly, there are adventures. WotC's short adventures are mostly fine (currently running my 3rd and 4th groups through Lost Mines of Phandelver and still love it as a product), but the full book affairs are (almost) all just horribly compromised by having too many cooks not really knowing what each other are doing, and probably working on pretty hard and fast deadlines. "Compromised" is the best word in general because they also seem to (presumably) be heavily reworked in response to input from the marketing and legal departments, and sometimes also a cultural sensitivity reader, and likely in response to what other teams working on other adventures are doing. Or else they just have too many authors in order to get giant books written in short spans of time. Whatever the cause the results tend to be undigestable, messy adventures full of vestigial elements from earlier versions that don't really cohere or make sense, that are just way too much work for the DM. The only real selling point of official adventures for me at this point is that, if you run them on a VTT you can google image search basically any location ever mentioned in the adventure and find a battlemap someone has made or at least picked out specifically for that location.

So ultimately I voted true, primarily because I think the major official adventures are simply no longer functional products.


Welp, if the "OGL" (scare quotes are important when referring to Orwellian language) leak is to be believed we know how WotC would vote in this poll. :p
I don't think WotC's thinking has changed on at least one aspect of 3rd part products: they don't want to make 32 page adventures and a hundred settings. If WotC was trying to eliminate 3PP material entirely, they wouldn't be negotiating with the likes of Kobold. They want someone to produce that stuff, they just want to control it more than they have in the past.


On the whole, the money I have spent on WotC/TSR products (or licensed products like DDM minis) have given me a huge return on my investment in terms of fun per dollar. I include things like DNDBeyond in that calculation. So much of what I buy from the official source is critical to my gaming and gets used a lot. Note that I do not tend to buy a lot of adventure paths.

On the flip side, my 'enjoyment per dollar' on 3P products is muuuuuuuuuuuch lower. There are a lot more busts, and these 3P products tend to not be as cohesive with the official products, making them feel a bit out of place ... and it is very rare that 3P products provide me with something that I could not match in quality with homebrew material.

To that end, I voted no. It isn't that there is no value to 3P products - but the enjoyment per $ spent has just been so much less as to make it generally a bad idea.


Odyssey of the Dragonlords. I mythic Greek style setting and adventure
1/2 Greek, 1/2 Game of Thrones.

I am playing it and we're now 11th level. It is a fine adventure, but there are some balance issues (I'd modify one of the early encounters rather than run it as is because there is a high chance for PC death unless they use strong tactics). I feel like we're still a ways from the end at 11th level.

My biggest complaints:

* There are some things that are telegraphed, but the adventure apparently does not think the PCs will figure it out. It was weird to all of the players when the DM told us the advanture had no advice for the DM when the PCs figured out the 'secret'.

* There some 'additional features' for PCs that end up feeling a little flat. The DM can - and I think should - enhance them by better incorporating them into more areas of the adventure.

* It is very thematic, and you can see there are a lot of potential hooks in character design, so you feel like you're leaving a lot on the table when you make your choice... but then those opportunities seem a little flat in the game.

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