Network Externalities -- Why This is Different from the 2008 3e/4e Edition Change


A thought about what's different now than the last contentious D&D edition changeover in 2007-2008, and it comes down to this --- the external network realities around the D&D game are radically, massively different.

One, the main pain point of a D&D edition change is the risk of change to your own gaming network externalities. If you don't like the current edition of D&D, it's ostensibly more difficult to find a gaming group that will work for you, especially if you don't already have one or largely game in public fora like your FLGS or organized events.

But with the rise and proliferation of video conferencing and online play the past 15 years, this concern diminishes significantly.

It's interesting to me that the outrage over OGL2 is largely centered on things other than the game. It's about fair treatment to 3rd-party publishers and the general principles of good faith and integrity demonstrated to be lacking in WotC's behavior.

Worries about the game? shrug No one seems to be all that up in arms about not being able to find a game of something they'll like.

Two, the number of available, exceptionally high quality alternatives to the actual D&D product have grown exponentially. In 2008, your gaming choices were (generally speaking) playing 4e; sticking with 3e (eventually Pathfinder) if your group didn't make the change over; moving to one of the old, long-standing skill-based systems (GURPS, HERO, BRP/Runequest, D6); or going back to an old standby that had largely fallen out of favor in the broader gaming world (Rolemaster/MERP, Shadowrun, VtM / WoD).

In 2007 the OSR was off the ground, but hardly as prevalent as now. Savage Worlds had just barely made its first Explorer's Edition revision in 2007. Apocalypse World was still 2.5-3 years away. Anything coming from the Forge zeitgeist was too niche to have any real market visibility. The One Ring 1e was still 4 years away. WHFP 3e and its spawn of FFG Star Wars was still at least 4 years away. Fate/Spirit of the Century had only just arrived on the scene in its earliest iteration, and Fate Core was still at least 5 years away. Cortex wasn't even a thing. GUMSHOE was barely a thing (rules were released in 2007, but didn't really have a published core/setting until 2010 with Trail of Cthulhu).

I walked away from actually playing D&D in 2011, but held on to my old 3e/PF gaming books for years afterward, thinking that it was likely I'd need them in the future. Somewhere around 2018 I finally realized that I didn't miss "real D&D" at all, and promptly sold my remaining 3e / PF rules (I'll always hang on to my campaign settings).

So what am I saying? If the OGL license change is causing you some internal reflection, then you're in luck, because there's never been a better time to make a change to a new system.
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I don;t know if this is true...

when lock downs started we moved to roll20 "for a few weeks" today I see little chance we go back to gaming at my house.

We now have old friends who moved away, a friend who just had a baby (I say just but he is going to be 2 soon) and a new friend from a con not in our state...

However WE also have people who would rather play PF1e/3.5 and people who would rather play 4e (also 1 crazy old man that still pitches 2e... not a retroclone full thac0 and all) but all agree on 5e as our 'good enough'

by your logic we would have broken up and gone to our own games long ago... but we are friends, and are trying through tough times to stay that way. gaming every week helps.

Edit: and none of us are hardcore 1 way or another on the OGL so that isn't splitingus like 4e/PF did

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