D&D General Kobold Press Going Down a Dark Road

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Yeah, I don't have any serious issues with the marketing in and of itself, but it was clearly written with OGL fiasco in mind, and could stand to be rewritten to be more neutral towards WotC and positively focused on their own product.
Whether or not you believe that the antagonism towards WotC is still justified after they backed down, post-fiasco it just comes across as kind of... petty? Like, ultimately, I don't think they would lose anything by rewriting it. But I'm not really their target market, so maybe they have good reason to believe otherwise.

I try and buy other systems. So I'm someone who might be interested in another game.

Here's the thing, though-

If I want to play 5e, I have all the materials. I don't need what KP is selling. And with the CC and basic pdf and all that (not to mention the books will last quite a while) I don't need more.
If I want to play "new 5e," then I'm getting 1D&D- because that's probably going to be the most prevalent in terms of market share and people. Plus, I also run games for local high school kids and I tend to run the game that most people play (D&D).

It's a very weird needle that KP is trying to thread- the desired market is for people that want to continue playing 5e, but don't want to play, you know, actual 5e (because they're going to change it somewhat), and don't want to play the "new" 5e (1D&D). Not to mention that they are excluding anyone who want to play something different!

TBF, since they don't have to move a lot of units, maybe "petty" is a good market for them- the people that want to play a 5e system, but don't want to go with BigHasbro(tm). Of course, the trouble with that niche is that there were a lot of people moving to fill it, or have already filled it.

They have a history of making good products, so I hope they pivot back to telling us why their products are awesome.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
I try and buy other systems. So I'm someone who might be interested in another game.

Here's the thing, though-

If I want to play 5e, I have all the materials. I don't need what KP is selling. And with the CC and basic pdf and all that (not to mention the books will last quite a while) I don't need more.
If I want to play "new 5e," then I'm getting 1D&D- because that's probably going to be the most prevalent in terms of market share and people. Plus, I also run games for local high school kids and I tend to run the game that most people play (D&D).

It's a very weird needle that KP is trying to thread- the desired market is for people that want to continue playing 5e, but don't want to play, you know, actual 5e (because they're going to change it somewhat), and don't want to play the "new" 5e (1D&D). Not to mention that they are excluding anyone who want to play something different!

TBF, since they don't have to move a lot of units, maybe "petty" is a good market for them- the people that want to play a 5e system, but don't want to go with BigHasbro(tm). Of course, the trouble with that niche is that there were a lot of people moving to fill it, or have already filled it.

They have a history of making good products, so I hope they pivot back to telling us why their products are awesome.
Yeah, I would say their target market is pretty clearly "people who want to continue playing something like 5E but don't want to continue supporting WotC". I don't know if that's a target market large enough to be sustainable for them (especially, like you said, with the competition in that space), but that's for them to worry about.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
So maybe this is lost on you and some people who forget that bad business almost killed D&D before WotC bought it, but yeah... we do know which one needs to come first if we want a game that's actually still around, being published and provides products that are cutting edge in technology and whose production values are consistently high. That said there is no inherent dichotomy in designing the best game you can for your market and practicing good business sense. The fact that you don't like D&D 5e means your suggestions of how the massively successful edition should be run are suspect... you're self-admittedly not a fan and you apparently think the business aspect of a business (which all rpg companies and indie developers are) should come second, I wonder how many successful companies would actually agree.
You're wrong. I do like 5e. What I don't like is the direction WotC has taken the 5e game in the last few years, and I like where they plan to take it even less. Plenty of other companies have taken 5e in directions I do like (EN Publushing comes to top of mind). I only care about what WotC does because of the settings they have legal control over and that I have personal interest in,, and because they're so over-sized in the market that the entire community is in danger of assuming that they're all that matters. I can't ignore that.

You are making the incorrect but sadly very common assumption that WotC 5e is all 5e. Absolutely not the case, and I will not allow it to be assumed if I can help it.
 

Just seems like it adds up to getting players to be more invested in the game, which seems like a good thing to me.
maybe, if you are finding your players are not invested this may be the answer, since that is not a problem at our tables (normally) I don't know... my advice to someone asking how to get there players more invested would not have ever been "bring in more books" but you may be right.
 

teitan

Legend
While I disagree with your stance I respect that is your opinion and/or experience.

However, this doesn't make sense to me. How does the change in the prominence of feats (and that is all it is - no functional change) sell more books? I fail to understand this argument.
Simple, by removing them as an optional rule it increases the demand for more so people will buy later supplements for more feats. It’s the return of the 3.x/4e grind. Probably on a lesser scale but the bean counters are back to looking at D&D. Were you around for the Silver Munches during 3.0 before the 3.5 announcement and the major shift in approach to D&D supplements that resulted? Bean counters like crunch, not fluff.
 

Reef

Hero
You're wrong. I do like 5e. What I don't like is the direction WotC has taken the 5e game in the last few years, and I like where they plan to take it even less. Plenty of other companies have taken 5e in directions I do like (EN Publushing comes to top of mind). I only care about what WotC does because of the settings they have legal control over and that I have personal interest in,, and because they're so over-sized in the market that the entire community is in danger of assuming that they're all that matters. I can't ignore that.

You are making the incorrect but sadly very common assumption that WotC 5e is all 5e. Absolutely not the case, and I will not allow it to be assumed if I can help it.
So, if your goal is to spread the word of all the good 3pp products, in order to stop the dominion of WOTC 5e, wouldn’t it be more productive to post actual specifics about those products? Start a new thread?

Right now, all I know is that you dislike WOTC 5e (because you tell us constantly). I know nothing about all these other products you think are superior. All those great Psionic books you have? I’d love to hear how you’ve used them in your D&D games.

Anyway, to me, it seems like that would be a better way to avoid “everything is about WOTC” problem you seem to be having.
 

Simple, by removing them as an optional rule it increases the demand for more so people will buy later supplements for more feats. It’s the return of the 3.x/4e grind. Probably on a lesser scale but the bean counters are back to looking at D&D. Were you around for the Silver Munches during 3.0 before the 3.5 announcement and the major shift in approach to D&D supplements that resulted? Bean counters like crunch, not fluff.
I will say I feel we do not have enough feats in 5e, so if this change increases it that would be good.

but I ALSO thought 4e and 3e had too many... so this needle is hard to thread
 

Definitely balance should be a consideration. But some people judge material based on whether it's comparable to a champion fighter, and others if it's comparable to a hexblade paladin or a chronurgy wizard. There's really no standard that fits everyone, so you inevitably hear balance complaints about any 3pp product.

Now, you hear the same things around WotC's stuff, but there the reaction is "Well, I'd edit or ban the parts I don't like, but still leave the rest." 3pp will get tossed if there's any aspect that feels even slightly off.
Which still, to me, is a completely unjustified double standard. The one and only difference between the two is that you may have already read the WotC content. But if someone brings Tasha's to a table that hasn't bought it yet, there's literally nothing different between it and 3PP: both have dubious playtesting, and baseline 5e is, shall we say, erratic about power levels.
 

Thanks Ruin Explorer!
In fact, I kind of wish folks would start a new thread to talk about all of these issues and maybe just lock this thread since it's gotten so wildly off topic.
The idea that whatever the majority of respondents to a popularity poll like is automatically what is best for the game is a false equivalency, and unfortunately such a pervasive one that it's proponents cannot even see another way of looking at things.
What is best for the game and best for WOTC or not necessarily the same thing.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
But unless you regard all marketing and opinion as "lacking in trustworthiness", which y'know, fair if you do, I don't think there's anything particularly egregious about KP's statement. And if you do regard marketing that way, then the entire D&D Direct we just have from WotC should be characterized as "dishonest".
It isn't that it's marketing, because obviously it is, but it is bad marketing. I play 5E, and use third party stuff, notably Kobold Press. I've been interested in checking out Black Flag as a supplement to my table, so leaving a bad taste in my mouth is counter productive to their goal of selling me stuff.
 

mamba

Hero
But it's not game design 101. So we know what comes first.
It has to, if you focus on game design over business you either sell a lot less, or go out of business. Neither is desirable for WotC.

TSR kinda did game design over business because their creative side was shielded from the business side, and even the business side had no good idea about the business, resulting in products where every sale is a net loss because the sales price is below the manufacturing cost (nevermind the effort to create it).

While you will probably argue that we got some great products out of that, you cannot argue that it worked out great for TSR ;)
 

I will say I feel we do not have enough feats in 5e, so if this change increases it that would be good.

but I ALSO thought 4e and 3e had too many... so this needle is hard to thread
4e did have excessive amounts of feats (and powers), but not to the degree most folks think. 3e absolutely had an excess of feats, and PF continued that trend. Two thirds or more of 3e feats could be eliminated without negatively impacting the game at all. The same cannot be said of 4e, mostly because a lot of 4e feats are simply narrow-but-useful, or categories (e.g. all the dozens of armor or weapon proficiency feats.) Probably the only feat category that never justified its existence in 4e was Teamwork feats. In theory they're a great idea, in practice they're never good enough to be worth spending a feat on, and if they were they'd probably be OP.
 

mamba

Hero
The idea that whatever the majority of respondents to a popularity poll like is automatically what is best for the game is a false equivalency, and unfortunately such a pervasive one that it's proponents cannot even see another way of looking at things.
oh I agree, popularity is not everything, but it sure is something you should consider.

Also, how would you want to measure good design? Ignore outside input (not ask for it) and go with your gut feel? I assume that lead to 4e, something they want to never have to go through again
 

Imaro

Legend
You're wrong. I do like 5e. What I don't like is the direction WotC has taken the 5e game in the last few years, and I like where they plan to take it even less. Plenty of other companies have taken 5e in directions I do like (EN Publushing comes to top of mind). I only care about what WotC does because of the settings they have legal control over and that I have personal interest in,, and because they're so over-sized in the market that the entire community is in danger of assuming that they're all that matters. I can't ignore that.

You are making the incorrect but sadly very common assumption that WotC 5e is all 5e. Absolutely not the case, and I will not allow it to be assumed if I can help it.

So you like Level Up... I mean we can get into wordplay pedantry but let's not, I think we both understand who owns Dungeons & Dragons 5e and who publishes official Dungeons & Dragons 5e product... Whatever your opinion is on what is 5e and what is not is irrelevant.
 

Folks, let me reiterate, and expand on, what I said earlier - I think this is really a case of misreading and/or misunderstand the FAQ.
And I don't mean that to sound negative! I can absolutely see how it could have been misconstrued.

But there really, honestly, was no intent to mislead or be dishonest. As others have said, including me, marketing and messaging is a difficult and nuanced thing, and we hear those folks who feel that the statements being referred to were not as clear as we intended - we honestly do! We are ALWAYS listening, both to our fans, and those with critiques, and we are always striving to be better.

Our point was very simply this:
The current 5E Players Handbook, Monster Manual and DM's Guide will not continue to be in print once the new version, or edition, or whatever it is being called is released. Those 3 books will still be available in stores as long as their current stock remains, but they will be more and more difficult to buy over time, and eventually those hardcovers will be very tough to find

Wizards seems to taking a more digital, subscription-based model. This does NOT mean we were in any way trying to imply they would not sell the new books in print! In fact, there is no indication that they will not still sell the books for the new (edition / version / incarnation, etc.) in physical format, but they are absolutely going more heavily with the digital, subscription-based model

The point of the FAQ is simply to say that the new Project Black Flag books will be produced in beautiful hard cover, as well as PDFs and VTT, and there will be no subscription-based model.

Again, we get that some folks did not get that from what we said, and we acknowledge that we could have said it in a way that made it more clear. Bottom line is this - we are working extremely hard to make something truly great that is firmly routed in the 5E game many of us love, while at the same time improving those aspects we (and many others) feel need to be improved. We hope that many of you love what we do, and having seen what's happening 'behind the curtains" I really think you will! But for those that end up not liking it, or deciding to play a different game, or playing both, or whatever - it's all good! The main thing is play what you want and have fun!

I would just ask that folks maybe consider not continuing to ascribe such nefarious or otherwise disingenuous motives. Kobold Press is made up of an extremely talented and dedicated group of people the LOVE gaming and love 5E, and really the main motivation is to make a game that folks love :)
 

Imaro

Legend
What is best for the game and best for WOTC or not necessarily the same thing.

I'd love for someone to give me a defintion, outside of what I want, for this mythical "What is best for the game". Even avcoiding sales and revenue and profit... D&D 5e under the guidance of WotC has garnered an unprecedented number of people playing the game and brough more recognition to the game than any other time period with the possible exception of the 80's... so I'll ask what determines what is best for the game?
 

It has to, if you focus on game design over business you either sell a lot less, or go out of business. Neither is desirable for WotC.

TSR kinda did game design over business because their creative side was shielded from the business side, and even the business side had no good idea about the business, resulting in products where every sale is a net loss because the sales price is below the manufacturing cost (nevermind the effort to create it).

While you will probably argue that we got some great products out of that, you cannot argue that it worked out great for TSR ;)
But one can argue--in fact, you just DID argue--that "the business side had no good idea about the business." That seems to be the significantly greater problem there. TSR ran itself into the ground because of faulty business ideas (and a certain amount of active malfeasance, AIUI) completely unrelated to game design.

We can also give an example of the reverse: a company that ruthlessly prioritized business above all else, which profited only in the short term, only to suffer for it long-term. Walmart. They took the stance that absolutely all costs should be reduced as much as possible: everything from demanding lower prices from their vendors (which killed Rubbermaid as an American business; they couldn't afford to sell at the prices Walmart demanded without resorting to overseas labor), to exploitation of transportation workers, to dropping employee compensation and benefits through the floor. And for a while, things were great! They made massive profits and expanded all over the country.

Unfortunately, this absolutely cutthroat attitude, plus their reputation as a terrible place to work, bit them in the butt hard starting about a decade ago. Their employees didn't care about keeping a job everyone knew was a last-ditch "I had to find work somewhere" job, so stores weren't getting cleaned, shelves weren't getting stocked, customers weren't getting prompt and friendly support, etc. Customer satisfaction dropped into the sub-20% range at many stores. And at the broader level, communities revolted against the possibility of Walmart moving into their area; in my own city (not exactly a "big" city, but not a small one either), there was an active campaign to deny Walmart the permits they would need in order to build their shopping centers. It took years of effort, millions of dollars, and they ended up getting only a fraction of what they'd hoped for.

It is just as foolish to prioritize business absolutely exclusively as it is to prioritize product absolutely exclusively. Thus, we are left not with a black and white "well obviously you dump design entirely and do whatever makes money right now" position, but one that requires nuance and careful thought. And, importantly, one that can argue that maybe, just maybe, WotC made the wrong call on a few things--not everything, as I'm sure you'll be eager to assume I'm saying, but on some things--and would have done better with a different arrangement.
 

Imaro

Legend
Wizards seems to taking a more digital, subscription-based model. This does NOT mean we were in any way trying to imply they would not sell the new books in print! In fact, there is no indication that they will not still sell the books for the new (edition / version / incarnation, etc.) in physical format, but they are absolutely going more heavily with the digital, subscription-based model

I'm with you all the way to here... As long as WotC are offering what they've offered non-digitally how are they going more heavily with the digital, subscription-based model? Is it going to be an option...yes but it was an option to the same extent for 5e as well.
 

mamba

Hero
Are you a fortune-teller? Are you Nostradamus? Are you James Cole, the protagonist from 12 Monkeys, sent from the future to Ruin-splain to us mor-ans how the future must happen?

Because if you're not, I think you probably need to be a lot less derogatory in your comments when you are talking about things that (1) haven't happened yet, and (2) have had no official announcements.
or we go by past precedence. Volo went out of print when Monsters of the Multiverse was released. I cannot get anything 4e, 3e, etc. in print (not used or POD).

While it may not have been announced, I have every reason to expect that the 2014 PHB, DMG and MM stop being printer in 2024, heck maybe even late 2023, depending on inventory.

Are you saying you expect WotC to offer both in 2025 and on?
 

Epic Threats

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top