D&D General So...How many D&D clones/SRDs are we going to see?

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
It's far more likely CR will take up the slack than the whole of the 5E ecosystem simply pivots to one new system. Or both. CR publishes and the whole 5E ecosystem goes with them.
It will be interesting to see which way they go. If they go their own way and pull most of their fans with them I think that’s probably a good thing - the people that want to dungeon crawl can dungeon crawl, and people that want a game like CR can play that system.

On the other hand, they haven’t said much as of yet, as might just as likely double down and go onednd for whatever their next season (or whatever the relevant time unit is). Which, I presume, would be the death knell for the boycott movement.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
It will be interesting to see which way they go. If they go their own way and pull most of their fans with them I think that’s probably a good thing - the people that want to dungeon crawl can dungeon crawl, and people that want a game like CR can play that system.

On the other hand, they haven’t said much as of yet, as might just as likely double down and go onednd for whatever their next season (or whatever the relevant time unit is). Which, I presume, would be the death knell for the boycott movement.
Matt and Marisha did an interview with Linda Codega where they talk about "future proofing Critical Role." There's likely something of interest there. I really doubt they'll double down with D&D.
 

Clones, teeming in their multitudes, may not be as numerous as grains of sand on the beach, but it will feel that way. As I've said elsewhere even without this whole imbroglio over the OGL, there was an age of clones coming because a bumper crop of people who came into the hobby with 5e were reaching the point to want to try their hand a game design right when WotC was pitching an uninspired and directionless 5.5 that seemed like an open challenge to make your own "better" 5e clone. The OGL debacle just amplifies and fuels the trend and the core rules going to creative commons just steers more of those creative energies to close clones, because people have the option of using up to 100% of the existing core rules and focusing their creative energies more on classes, races, spells, monsters, etc.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Matt and Marisha did an interview with Linda Codega where they talk about "future proofing Critical Role." There's likely something of interest there. I really doubt they'll double down with D&D.
Honestly, for live play purposes, which in their case means lots of roleplay, they'd be better off with something like Dungeon World, which is already under Creative Commons. Darrington could pump out a Critical Role-themed take on the rules with supplemental information on the various continents and eras pretty easily.

I don't doubt that some of them -- ones that don't remain confused about the 5E rules, all these thousands of hours of play later, anyway -- prefer something at least as crunchy as 5E, but for their livestreams, something more free-wheeling and storygame-ish is likely a better choice. They're already run at least one Powered by the Apocalypse game, MonsterHearts, and having it be in Creative Commons for years now makes it a safer harbor to jump to right now that waiting for everyone to sort out their new licensing arrangements.
 

I think the only way a particular clone wins out as one of the several possibly successful ones is by some combination of marketing (by which I mean, winning over "D&D influencers") and just being that "good" (whatever that means). Fulfilling a particular niche is probably also important, in a divided market, particularly if it is one underserved by baseline D&D (both because some people will still want to play actual D&D and because clones will on the whole replicate the original). I also think there will be groupings of inter-compatible clones, either around a direct 5e core rules copy or some sort of modified one (I think a version that was simplified, but then had almost everything removed and more as modular options would probably have some legs). If anything actually challenges official D&D it will probably be some group of intercompatible products that are also semi-compatible with official D&D.

I think there are additional points to be won by being free, being well supported by a reliable and google optimized website and, ideally, phone app, having excellent art, and, if it comes to market the next few months, taking some stance deemed particularly virtuous in terms of an open license.

And I think the battle will actually be won or lost around 2024-2025 or later, not based on who rushes to market this year, or who has already made it to market. The people who are such 5e fans that they want a 5e clone are mostly not in a "I shall play no more 5e forever" book burning mood no matter how unhappy they are with WotC, they'll just keep playing with their existing 5e books for the near future. The battle is over what wins over the 5e fans when they are ready for a similar game that is actively supported and free of the WotC brand.

Personally my current project is to make a low-to-no magic 5e clone, with some racial options but humans only as the default. I think that roughly covers a vast swath of literary and film fantasy settings that D&D has never suited, and at the same time it involves creating vastly fewer spells, races, and monsters and hence is more achievable.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Matt and Marisha did an interview with Linda Codega where they talk about "future proofing Critical Role." There's likely something of interest there. I really doubt they'll double down with D&D.
I don’t particularly care about CR - either they stay or go with their own system. I think it’s better if they go, but that’s because I don’t think they have been a net positive for the game. Mostly because they have lead to conflicting ideas about what “dnd” is, and people tend to operate as if whichever of those ideas they hold is the “true” form of the game.

That said, I would not be surprised if things die down and they stick with the system. It is to their benefit to use a system with a wide appeal.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Honestly, for live play purposes, which in their case means lots of roleplay, they'd be better off with something like Dungeon World, which is already under Creative Commons. Darrington could pump out a Critical Role-themed take on the rules with supplemental information on the various continents and eras pretty easily.

I don't doubt that some of them -- ones that don't remain confused about the 5E rules, all these thousands of hours of play later, anyway -- prefer something at least as crunchy as 5E, but for their livestreams, something more free-wheeling and storygame-ish is likely a better choice. They're already run at least one Powered by the Apocalypse game, MonsterHearts, and having it be in Creative Commons for years now makes it a safer harbor to jump to right now that waiting for everyone to sort out their new licensing arrangements.
Absolutely. Something lighter that lets them improv cool stuff easier would probably sing with that group. I know I saw a live play with Matt playing Dungeon World, but I don't know if he'd like to run it. Even a 5E clone with a lighter touch on the rules would work well, because, as you say, they have thousands of hours in already. I don't see them going heavier at all. Several of the players already struggle with the rules (after those same thousands of hours), so it's incredibly unlikely.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don’t particularly care about CR - either they stay or go with their own system. I think it’s better if they go, but that’s because I don’t think they have been a net positive for the game. Mostly because they have lead to conflicting ideas about what “dnd” is, and people tend to operate as if whichever of those ideas they hold is the “true” form of the game.

That said, I would not be surprised if things die down and they stick with the system. It is to their benefit to use a system with a wide appeal.
That's not a new phenomenon and it's certainly not because of Critical Role. From the literal start of the hobby there have been factions of players who think their house style is the one true way. The west coast vs east coast crowds. The wargamers vs theater kids. The power games vs role players...on and on and on. They all have their preferences and all think their way is the right and proper way. Literally nothing to do with CR.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
That's not a new phenomenon and it's certainly not because of Critical Role. From the literal start of the hobby there have been factions of players who think their house style is the one true way. The west coast vs east coast crowds. The wargamers vs theater kids. The power games vs role players...on and on and on. They all have their preferences and all think their way is the right and proper way. Literally nothing to do with CR.
Sure, but the timbre post-CR is different.

Think most of their fans would be happier playing a different system.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
I also think there will be groupings of inter-compatible clones, either around a direct 5e core rules copy or some sort of modified one (I think a version that was simplified, but then had almost everything removed and more as modular options would probably have some legs).
This is, for those who don't know, how the OSR scene works. Yes, there's a bunch of differing OSR rulesets, but they are so compatible with each other, by virtue of being compatible with early TSR D&D, that people routinely use OSR material intended for a different OSR game without blinking twice, whether it's because they want a rules module that isn't offered in their main line or an adventure or monster book or just because something looks cool.

I don't think there's any need for a 5E clone to dominate the market. A compatible galaxy of games and materials will serve the players just fine.
 

That's not a new phenomenon and it's certainly not because of Critical Role. From the literal start of the hobby there have been factions of players who think their house style is the one true way. The west coast vs east coast crowds. The wargamers vs theater kids. The power games vs role players...on and on and on. They all have their preferences and all think their way is the right and proper way. Literally nothing to do with CR.
I mean Critical Role probably did innovate in terms of having a lot more people who are completely new to playing the game come in having already fully-formed ideas of what the one true playstyle is, whereas historically such ideas would develop over years of actually playing. But I think the degree to which CR shapes game expectations of D&D players as a whole has been widely overstated, in part because the occasional incidents of "total newbie gets angry at DM for not doing everything like Matt Mercer" are so striking and fit some people's "darned kids these days" narrative so well.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
... Mostly because they have lead to conflicting ideas about what “dnd” is, and people tend to operate as if whichever of those ideas they hold is the “true” form of the game...
There's always been conflicting ideas about d&d. The publicity might make that more obvious, but its not new.
 


Haplo781

Legend
And the term is important - those games were not that good (in the original heartbreaker period) and were not terribly successful. I suspect many of these new systems will go the same way.

It is already the case that people are refusing to consider pathfinder (too crunchy). Perhaps some storytelling or social intrigue system will be able to capitalize on the turmoil and the subgroup of 5e players that really don’t want to play a dungeon crawl game of any type will move to that. But other, additonal, dungeon crawl systems? The market space looks overfull already to me.
Dungeon World
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Rather than spend more money return to 2E and existing clones maybe splashes out for OSE.

Castles and Crusades, B/X clones, 2E, Star Wars Saga/D6.
 

Matt and Marisha did an interview with Linda Codega where they talk about "future proofing Critical Role." There's likely something of interest there. I really doubt they'll double down with D&D.
They have a very strong bargaining position against WotC; they’ll make their own deal and WotC knows that CR can walk away and make just as much money with Amazon in their corner - they might make it faster if they stick with DnD but only if WotC plays nice.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
People keep saying that Critical Role will strike a deal with WotC, but there's no need to strike a deal with WotC. Streaming, as long as they aren't using WotC-branded stuff, is almost certainly fair use. (Heck, even using WotC IP may well be.)

Their book publishing deals are one-off deals that should in no way tie anyone's hands, on either side.
 

People keep saying that Critical Role will strike a deal with WotC, but there's no need to strike a deal with WotC. Streaming, as long as they aren't using WotC-branded stuff, is almost certainly fair use. (Heck, even using WotC IP may well be.)

Their book publishing deals are one-off deals that should in no way tie anyone's hands, on either side.
They absolutely don't have to strike a deal. But as the best positioned organization to market a high profile not-D&D they would be foolish not to extract a deal from WotC. They may well actually be perfectly happy to stick with D&D and have no interest in publishing or promoting a competing game, but telling WotC that is just leaving money on the table.

Then again the other week we got the revelation that WotC were too grossly incompetent at public relations to realize they needed to keep Acquistions Inc., basically their longest running "brand partners" of the broader "D&D influencer" category, reasonably happy and on the dole. So who knows, maybe they'll figure out a way to blow it with Critical Role too.
 


teitan

Legend
I don't think CR is striking a deal with WOTC and I think they will come in with their own game. One thing I will note is that while their games do have a lot of roleplay they also do have a strong emphasis on COOL combats and tactical miniature play and licensees that make miniatures for them, contracts with Dwarven Forge etc. So they will probably come in with a system that is very open for roleplay, tactical without the complexity of Pathfinder, since that is why they opted for 5e over Pathfinder, and also allows for some of the cool powers that they like. It will be something free form as Campaign 3 has a lot more imaginative characters that there really aren't examples of in the D&D rules unlike the past CR campaigns. Matt and his co-developers on rules stuff for the books are definitely looking to create a new system that is simple, fast and tactical and ready to go before they even end Campaign 3. Probably previewed before the end of the year and then on full display with an EXU game next Spring or just before the release of the next season of Vox Machina.
 

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