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Ryan Dancey: This is why there was no M:tG setting for D&D

I believe Mark Rosewater referred to the Weatherlight Saga as a failure.

Having played during the Weatherlight Saga, I can tell you the story was a massive failure. Competitive players just didn't care what Gerard did. I cared about making my opponent's life total zero.

I didn't look at the Weatherlight Saga until I started on the idea to run a Magic the Gathering inspired game about a year ago. When I did, I found it to be an interesting (if generic) destroy the world plot. It meshed with my desire to run a save the world style game.

Magic and DnD are the two games that brought me into the hobby. I don't play magic anymore (that hobby is for young men with more time and fewer responsibilities). But having done my research into it, I think it would make a fine setting and a great addition to DnD. The setting won't be everyone's cup of tea, no setting is.
 

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I don't think WotC's decision was wrong at all. But what about the players who cross between the two games? I can certainly see a Magic campaign setting doing reasonably well. It's not like the two markets are non-intersecting sets.

They do intersect, but I wonder by how much. My guess is it's not a lot. The setting couldn't rely upon the Magic community supporting it. The setting itself would have to be quality for it to succeed, but that's true about any setting / book.
 

I played both magic and DnD when WotC purchased TSR. The fear was (at least at the local shop) was that MtG would become the default setting for Dungeons and Dragons.

I am confused by the way that you are arguing that WotC should have done some work to merge the MtG and D&D products, while at the same describing the general atmosphere of the customer base as "fear" of merging the MtG and D&D products.
 

I am confused by the way that you are arguing that WotC should have done some work to merge the MtG and D&D products, while at the same describing the general atmosphere of the customer base as "fear" of merging the MtG and D&D products.

At the time, people I was around thought that WotC would surely make Dominaria the core setting of Dungeons and Dragons (and thus, hurting the brand). Elves would all be Llanowar Elves, goblins all from the Mons tribe, Dragons would be Shivan Dragons, etc.

Obviously that never happened. With hindsight and nostalgia, I regret that a Dominaria/Magic setting never emerged. Dungeons and Dragons has room for lots of different settings (Eberron, Dark Sun, Spell Jammer, etc). I would not have wanted it to become the base setting, but I would have enjoyed seeing it.
 

At the time, people I was around thought that WotC would surely make Dominaria the core setting of Dungeons and Dragons (and thus, hurting the brand). Elves would all be Llanowar Elves, goblins all from the Mons tribe, Dragons would be Shivan Dragons, etc.

This is exactly the brand dilution that Dancey was talking about, and it's a very real problem. Even if Magic was just a campaign setting, elements would bleed together. The closer two pieces of IP are to each other, the harder it would be to keep them separate.

It's also one of the reasons why they projected that sales of the crossover would be low: fans of both sides would eat it up, but others would completely shun it. The backlash from the crossover might even hurt sales of other books.

IMNSHO, the only way that Magic could have been successful as an RPG is if it was a completely separate d20 product, like Warcraft.

Dungeons and Dragons has room for lots of different settings (Eberron, Dark Sun, Spell Jammer, etc).

This is arguable. Many people attribute the downfall of TSR to over-reliance on campaign settings, which splintered the fan base and raised overhead. Lots of players may have interest in lots of different settings, but that doesn't mean that publishing all of them is financially feasible for a single company. I would posit that inability to find the right balance of campaign settings is basically the heart of D&Ds current crisis.
 

RedShirtNo5.1

Explorer
I just wonder when Scott Rouse's confidentiality obligations will expire. I hope some day we can get this level of insight into the internal decision making process of WotC in the 4e era.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Actually, this was my experience as well (I was going to use a modified 3.5 rule set that included color for alignment and mana for spells and special abilities like Trample, Deathtouch, Lifelink, and Haste). Group elected to do Dark Sun instead (also 3.5, also DMed by me). My group didn't like all the changes to the core rules I was trying to implement to give the setting a Magic feel.

Which is one reason I went with HERO. With it, I could have mana-powered magic, COLORED mana; the ability to gain mana from land or other creatures; balanced casters & warriors...

I found that the most interesting challenge was getting things like Slivers to work properly.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
IMNSHO, the only way that Magic could have been successful as an RPG is if it was a completely separate d20 product, like Warcraft.

That would probably have been its best niche, but I doubt WotC would have wanted to dilute things further with yet another game to compete for consumer dollars within their own shop. And that means they'd have to have licensed out Magic intellectual property - and I don't see them doing that.


This is arguable. Many people attribute the downfall of TSR to over-reliance on campaign settings, which splintered the fan base and raised overhead. Lots of players may have interest in lots of different settings, but that doesn't mean that publishing all of them is financially feasible for a single company. I would posit that inability to find the right balance of campaign settings is basically the heart of D&Ds current crisis.

I don't really think a right balance of campaign settings would fix the issue's currently bedeviling D&D's brand. It's a rules schism behind much of that more than a setting schism. Even in the days of Greyhawk gamers, FR gamers, Dark Sun gamers, you still had all of those players buying the same core rules. That is no longer the case and may not be the case for D&D Next (we'll see how well it does).

All that said, and though I acknowledge that the idea that too many settings split the market to TSR's disadvantage, I think there may be ways to support more than one campaign setting. In the 3e era, the Living Greyhawk campaign supported GH while the main product lines supported Forgotten Realms and Eberron. Granted, that's farming things out a bit but it may be a positive model to follow, particularly if there are inexpensive ways for the living campaign support materials to eventually filter out to everybody (something Living GH didn't do).
 

Kinak

First Post
I'm so glad we're in a hobby where we can get answers to questions like this, particularly without it being a he-said she-said dramafest.

The reasons he gave sound reasonable to me and would probably sound even more reasonable to the people responsible for shepherding both brands. Add in the fact that, as a couple people mentioned up-thread, the D&D community was pretty freaked out about WotC buying things at the time and there was certainly the chance that it would blow up in both brands faces'.

Sharing content like that also weakens the boundaries between the brands, making them harder to break them apart for legal reasons or selling them off.

That said, a Magic: the Gathering setting guide that could double as the backdrop for a D&D game would probably have found its way onto my shelf. I'm not sure how well their idea of a MtG monster manual would have done, though.

Cheers!
Kinak
 

n00bdragon

First Post
If that "Asses Monsters and Friends" thing was reason they didn't do a Magic: the Gathering campaign setting it was an amazingly dumb reason. If that's the reason they STILL aren't planning to do it I am stunned and discouraged at the current leadership of Wizards of the Coast. If Magic doesn't want its image polluted by the troubled D&D brand that makes more sense.

See, it's not like Magic has had ANY problems with using D&D's image and brand. Zendikar block a few years ago was basically "D&D: the Gathering".

"Magic: the Gathering" as a campaign setting would probably be rather dull, but visiting the various planes that Magic does would be amazingly good cross promotion for both sides and, assuming D&D pulls out of its funk, the RPG materials would sell like hotcakes. Look around the internet and you'll already see people all over the place building custom campaign settings around Zendikar, Ravnica, Innistrad, and Mirrodin as these were some of the most evocative and "D&D-able" settings ever. I've personally run an entire campaign set in Innistrad. None of the players had played Magic before but they loved it and one even decided to give the game a whirl because of that. Heck, Pathfinder is almost a straight ripoff of Ravnica with its guilds and what not.
 

Tovec

Explorer
That would probably have been its best niche, but I doubt WotC would have wanted to dilute things further with yet another game to compete for consumer dollars within their own shop. And that means they'd have to have licensed out Magic intellectual property - and I don't see them doing that.

I don't really see that as true either.

As a brand, if it were true they would have no reason to create either d20 modern or star wars d20 (at least SAGA). Don't those dilute the brand too? As long as the MtG setting is consist with what monsters it needs as the regular DnD settings I don't see this as a valid argument. Especially since they already own magic and don't need to rent it out like they would star wars.

Were they losing money .. to themselves and having to fight to compete.. with themselves for consumer dollars with star wars as well? I don't really think so, those who like the classic DnD rules bought them and those who liked star wars would pick up the saga book. I'm assuming magic would have something related to that, its own systems and subsystems.

Step 1, release setting book to test the waters. Step 2, release material to turn DnD classic rules (or replace those rules) with something more like the summoning and powers in line with MtG. Step 3, profit.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I really don't buy the reasoning other than an over-protective attitude of not wanting D&D to "mess" with Magic's success. Heck, D&D did a Diablo crossover, I can't see that a Magic crossover product or two would have hurt.

Of course, I would never have bought it. I loathe MtG.
 

Kinak

First Post
Look around the internet and you'll already see people all over the place building custom campaign settings around Zendikar, Ravnica, Innistrad, and Mirrodin as these were some of the most evocative and "D&D-able" settings ever. I've personally run an entire campaign set in Innistrad.
Yeah, I'd cheerfully take any of the four you listed. Well, I'd probably do Ravenloft instead of Innistrad, but I'd also add several eras of Dominaria to the list.

Heck, even Fallen Empires could make a great "stand against the rising tide of darkness" game. Weatherlight stuff aside, the settings tend to be wide enough to tell multiple stories, but aren't crammed with the details in dozens of supplements.

Hmm. They're actually sort of built for a Planescape/Spelljammer World of the Week game: simple hooks, with a couple of obvious things going on, clear factions, and a few secrets to dig up if you decide to spend the time.

Heck, Pathfinder is almost a straight ripoff of Ravnica with its guilds and what not.
Could you unpack this? As a fan of both Pathfinder and Ravnica, I can't even guess what you're saying the parallels are.

Cheers!
Kinak
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
I really don't buy the reasoning other than an over-protective attitude of not wanting D&D to "mess" with Magic's success. Heck, D&D did a Diablo crossover, I can't see that a Magic crossover product or two would have hurt.

Of course, I would never have bought it. I loathe MtG.

A relative of mine (who knows nothing about D&D other than the name) today still believes D&D is related to satanic practices, but has no problem with his kid playing World of Warcraft.

The D&D brand has baggage from the 80s that Magic simply doesn't have.

Yes, it's stupid, but the perception is still out there.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
A relative of mine (who knows nothing about D&D other than the name) today still believes D&D is related to satanic practices, but has no problem with his kid playing World of Warcraft.(snip)

My mum is the same. She still thinks that about D&D... while my niece/her granddaughter plays Skyrim in front of her. ;)
 


This is exactly the brand dilution that Dancey was talking about, and it's a very real problem. Even if Magic was just a campaign setting, elements would bleed together. The closer two pieces of IP are to each other, the harder it would be to keep them separate.

The fear was Magic co-opting the DnD brand. Dragons would be Shivan Dragons instead of Red Dragons. Elves would all be from the Llanowar tribe. Merfolk as a standard race, etc. Those fears, as I said, were obviously unfounded.

Magic has a rich setting and history. It has numerous interesting planes: Mirrodin, Phyrexia, Kamigawa, Dominaria. It has a rich history, especially on Dominaria. It has interesting characters: Urza, Nicol Bolas, Yawgmoth, Karn. It has unique mechanics that should be introduced into the rules of any setting: Color for Alignment and Mana for Spells and Special Abilities.

It's also one of the reasons why they projected that sales of the crossover would be low: fans of both sides would eat it up, but others would completely shun it. The backlash from the crossover might even hurt sales of other books.

This is operating from a position of fear. If the product is good, people will embrace it.

IMNSHO, the only way that Magic could have been successful as an RPG is if it was a completely separate d20 product, like Warcraft.

This is what I'd like to have seen from WotC. I think the setting would use two major rules modifications from the 3.X core to capture the feel of Magic.

Color: Use the five colors for alignment instead of the Good-Evil Law-Chaos axis. The Color Pie provides an excellent alternative alignment system and allows you to build upon one of the major tropes of Magic. Instead of Protection from Good / Chaos, you'd have Protection from Blue or Red.

Mana: Mana must play a role for every class. It must power spells, special abilities, and artifacts. Wizards and Fighters should both need and want mana to power their abilities.

If you can nail those to things, most of the setting work is already done for you. The base setting would be Dominaria pre-Weatherlight Saga. The art is all their (presumably WotC owns all the Magic Artwork). Assuming any level of success, I'd introduce more Planes as time goes by (either as source books or in Dragon). I'd support the game by releasing adventures (either stand alone or paths) in Dungeon (my goal would be a Magic adventure in every other issue or about six a year).
 




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