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


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Stormonu

Legend
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.

I live in the South, where I still run into that perception. However, I don't believe its even a consideration for Wotc, as their logo is on every D&D book since the buyout. If they were concerned about being tainted, they either would have sold D&D to someone else or print it under a subsidiary so it couldn't be associated with the company.

In short, I don't buy that excuse for a minute. Heck, even magic has had several demonic cards - Lord of the Pit and Demonic Tutor, to name two. Magic may not have the association, but its no different from D&D in content.
 

Pseudopsyche

First Post
First, the price premium that a M:TG themed D&D book would command has nothing to do with licensing fees. It's about communicating that the name "Magic: The Gathering" means something and has value, in the same way that "Forgotten Realms" does.

But the central issue here is brand identity. Statements such as "Magic is no different from D&D in content" would make a brand manager sad. I think it's worth asking the question, "Why is WotC releasing D&D boardgames but not Magic boardgames or Magic sourcebooks for D&D?"

I used to play Magic. For a brief while I tried to role-play duels. It didn't work. Every card has flavor and story elements, but in Magic you are ripping these creatures and artifacts from whatever plane to win a duel. That's the quote-unquote narrative. The culture of Magic (the lucrative portion) is based on tournaments, drafts, competition.

When I play the Lords of Waterdeep or Castle Ravenloft boardgames, we're vying for political power or delving into a dungeon, in the same way that in the core D&D game we're battling monsters and pursuing a quest. The D&D and M:TG brand identities are very different, and I couldn't blame WotC for not wanting to dilute them. It's not just a question of whether any hypothetical crossover product would be intrinsically profitable; it matters how it affects consumers' perception of the brand. It could be as simple as not wanting to confuse newcomers who arrive at the game store, see this crossover book, and not know what the heck kind of game Magic is.
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
This thread feels like a lot of people are imagining a past where we had all of 3E + Magic D&D.

But in reality, Magic D&D would have taken resources from another project. Considering the timeline, the most likely project would have been Eberron and the whole campaign setting contest.

Would you have rather had Magic: the Gathering D&D instead of Eberron? Perhaps it would have been better, but I think it could have easily been worse. I really like Eberron, and the setting contest generated significant excitement among the player base.

The expected gain from a M:tG D&D setting is less when you consider what would have been cut to make room for it.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
I live in the South, where I still run into that perception. However, I don't believe its even a consideration for Wotc, as their logo is on every D&D book since the buyout. If they were concerned about being tainted, they either would have sold D&D to someone else or print it under a subsidiary so it couldn't be associated with the company.

In short, I don't buy that excuse for a minute. Heck, even magic has had several demonic cards - Lord of the Pit and Demonic Tutor, to name two. Magic may not have the association, but its no different from D&D in content.

Well, like I said, the same person who has a problem with D&D has no problem with World of Warcraft. *facepalm*

The difference is that the media of today is not reporting that those who play World of Warcraft (or Magic) are also involved with satanic rituals (like they were in the 80s about D&D).
 

Weather Report

First Post
This thread feels like a lot of people are imagining a past where we had all of 3E + Magic D&D.

But in reality, Magic D&D would have taken resources from another project. Considering the timeline, the most likely project would have been Eberron and the whole campaign setting contest.

Would you have rather had Magic: the Gathering D&D instead of Eberron? Perhaps it would have been better, but I think it could have easily been worse. I really like Eberron, and the setting contest generated significant excitement among the player base.

The expected gain from a M:tG D&D setting is less when you consider what would have been cut to make room for it.

I would easily take some of the M:tG settings (Kamigawa) over Keith's home-brew.
 

First, the price premium that a M:TG themed D&D book would command has nothing to do with licensing fees. It's about communicating that the name "Magic: The Gathering" means something and has value, in the same way that "Forgotten Realms" does.

This is an interesting point.

But the central issue here is brand identity. Statements such as "Magic is no different from D&D in content" would make a brand manager sad. I think it's worth asking the question, "Why is WotC releasing D&D boardgames but not Magic boardgames or Magic sourcebooks for D&D?"

I used to play Magic. For a brief while I tried to role-play duels. It didn't work. Every card has flavor and story elements, but in Magic you are ripping these creatures and artifacts from whatever plane to win a duel. That's the quote-unquote narrative. The culture of Magic (the lucrative portion) is based on tournaments, drafts, competition.

The theme is high fantasy (or whatever the block has brought in). The theme doesn't matter to the mechanics of the game. The game is about reducing your opponent to 0 health. The game isn't a roleplaying game.

In an RPG though, setting is one of the most important things. You want NPCs, Locations, and Story Hooks. Magic has made a ton of these which are wasted upon those who only play the competitive card game.

When I play the Lords of Waterdeep or Castle Ravenloft boardgames, we're vying for political power or delving into a dungeon, in the same way that in the core D&D game we're battling monsters and pursuing a quest. The D&D and M:TG brand identities are very different, and I couldn't blame WotC for not wanting to dilute them. It's not just a question of whether any hypothetical crossover product would be intrinsically profitable; it matters how it affects consumers' perception of the brand. It could be as simple as not wanting to confuse newcomers who arrive at the game store, see this crossover book, and not know what the heck kind of game Magic is.

Lords of Waterdeep is the perfect example here. The theme of Lords of Waterdeep could have been trucking. You are a trucking company that is looking to full orders. You send your various vans (Agents) to pick up goods about town (Waterdeep), place those goods in your warehouse (Tavern), and then ship them when you have filled the order (Quest). You can invest in new business (builder's hall) or engage in politics (the Intrigue cards).

Has your perception of the DnD Brand been hurt by Lords of Waterdeep? My perception certainly hasn't. Waterdeep is a good game with a theme I very much enjoy.

I merely suggest that allowing DnD to do the same with the Magic setting is appropriate. Dancey argues that it would have diluted the Magic brand or caused some sort of brand confusion. I think this is a paper tiger.

Would it have sold? That's a better question. Though I believe that Magic, as an IP, has so much more to offer then the mechanics of reducing an opponent to zero life.
 


Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
Jack Chick is still active and revising his stuff, I kid you not.

Oh yeah, and he's going after Islam and Catholicism, too.

His website is banned in Singapore for promoting racial hatred (and, yes, I know the difference between race and religion but the two are tightly intertwined in Singapore so his site is banned).
 

First, the price premium that a M:TG themed D&D book would command has nothing to do with licensing fees. It's about communicating that the name "Magic: The Gathering" means something and has value, in the same way that "Forgotten Realms" does.

Ah, of course. I forgot for a moment that the universe is insane. (Edit: and please note - I'm not disagreeing with you, just lamenting the state of the world!)

What I mean by that is this: the name "Magic: The Gathering" has value... to WotC. To the customer, it has no value by itself - it serves only to indicate what is inside the covers. It's advertising. And in a sane universe, you don't buy the advertising, you buy the product being advertised - you don't buy Coke for the while lettering on the can, but because that white lettering tells you what is inside the can. The brand is useful to the producer, but it's really not something, by itself, that the customer should pay for.

But, of course, the universe is indeed insane - people will quite happily pay a price premium for a white t-shirt with the Nike "swoosh" on it, over an identical t-shirt without. Michael Bay gets to keep on making movies. Twitter exists. And a "Magic"/"D&D" book would have a price premium attached to it because people will pay more for the branding... even though the fear that they won't is the very argument used against making that book.
 

Weather Report

First Post
Ah, of course. I forgot for a moment that the universe is insane. (Edit: and please note - I'm not disagreeing with you, just lamenting the state of the world!)

What I mean by that is this: the name "Magic: The Gathering" has value... to WotC. To the customer, it has no value by itself - it serves only to indicate what is inside the covers. It's advertising. And in a sane universe, you don't buy the advertising, you buy the product being advertised - you don't buy Coke for the while lettering on the can, but because that white lettering tells you what is inside the can.

Some people like looking at the white stripe on their cold can of Coke.

...must, resist, New Coke jokes...
 

RyanD

First Post
I think its funny that people respond to a discussion of branding strategy and positioning by stating the premise that the problem was that we were incapable of making a great product.

Talk about .... Missing the point....
 

Manabarbs

First Post
I understand the basic desire to not cross the streams, and I think it's a reasonable strategy (for whatever I would know), but I do think a Ravnica campaign setting book would have been pretty cool, or any number of other settings. (Dominaria, despite being Magic's home for a long time, feels less essential to me.)

A Magic set using the D&D IP seems like a horrible idea to me (largely because D&D settings are poorly-assembled generic messes and Magic settings need to be really strong on environmental storytelling), but TTRPG adventures in a Magic setting sound like a blast. I've been running a 13th Age game in Ravnica and ran a Pathfinder game in the same setting before that, and it's awesome for it.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
To be clear: IMHO, if well done, I think a M:tG RPG- especially one that was designed to be compatible with one of WotC's extant RPG systems (D&D being #1)- could have been or could still be a big seller. By bridging the 2 IPs, you could have gotten some crossover sales. And as someone else pointed out, a M:tG Monster Manual could have been huge with both completist/collectors and veteran DMs.

Anecdotes aren't data, but in my group of 10+ gamers, I could predict at least 5 sales. Besides myself, most of the other guys in the group play both D&D and M:tG, and most run a campaign now and then. A new beastie is always a nice arrow to have in the quiver...
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
From a business perspective, I totally agree. But as a player and lover of both, I would love to see many of the great MTG settings and monsters expressed through D&D. I would love to own a Domanaria and Phyrexia handbook at the very least. I do think that it is a fairly simple exercise to separate the gameplay style from the lore. An MTG for D&Ders isn't going to be a card game designed for collectors and power-gamers. It's going to be a way for people to play through the long line of MTG lore with D&D mechanics.
 





MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I just want to quote myself for truth and comment on the irony.

Take this with a grain of salt, but a simple self contained -a la Ghostwalk- Ravnica campaign book or Mirrodin campaign book would have sold a lot I'm pretty sure. On my country Magic is pretty popular and I'm sure that having a 3.x Kamigawa campaign setting would have made lots of people give D&D a chance (Vampire and CoC are/or were king here, to the date D&D is very frowned upon by the same people who loved Kamigawa and love Magic overall). Something simple featuring maps, lore, key monsters and NPC stating, some prestige classes and giving the Kami domains for example, heck maybe even go and propose the cromatic colors as an alternative alignment system. No need to get gimicky or extra fancy and involve the actual cards. I mean you don't need the cards to read the novels, why would you need them to play the RPG?

Is that Theros and Ravnica next to "Reserved for Tasha's" in my shelf?
20200903_105628.jpg


(Yes, yes I know I'm yet to buy a DMG, but whenever I gather the money, something more interesting gets published)

(I'm still holding out for Mirrodin/New Pyrexia and Kamigawa)
 

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