D&D 5E Something to consider about Grognards and the OGL...


I've played D&D since 1979. I've spent over 10,000 hours at the table, and more than that planning, on message boards, painting minis, and just talking about the major hobby of my life. I've used the game to create fun for my friends, my family, and perfect strangers. I've used it to create fictional campaign settings filled with inside jokes, to slow build revelations (one in particular was nearly 40 years in the making), and invest decades of my creative juices. D&D is the cornerstone of something that is very personal, very meaningful, and very important to me.

Yes, I can lift and shift most of that and use it in a new system. I've done that in every edition after all. However, even if I do so - there is a real emotional attachment to it being D&D. When people asked me about it, I did not describe it as an RPG game - I said it was a D&D game. And, as much as I defined it, the things that took place in D&D also shaped and defined me in so many ways - in terms of fostering creativity, in making friendships, and in teaching life skills. Despite how much the game has changed - it has always been D&D, and I've had a 'next D&D game' on my schedule every moment of my life since the early 80s. I've long imagined a day when I was retired in a community sitting around a table with 4 or 5 people playing D&D. It has been a huge part of my past, present and the vision of my future.

So now, when everyone talks about murdering the game, about the death of D&D, about where to walk to when stepping over the corpse of D&D - remember that there are people that have a real emotional investment in D&D - and no matter how this shakes out, they're taking a huge hit these days. Even if a 3rd party comes out with an amazing game - far better than any edition of D&D has ever been - some of them are going to feel the loss of the name D&D, and the continuity of their experience over the decades.

This isn't going to be how everyone feels - but some of us are feeling a real pain over this situation. I'm just asking people to consider that when they write about the situation.

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B/X Known World
I started playing with Moldvay Basic in '84, switched to AD&D shortly thereafter and stuck with AD&D until 4E (skipping 2E and 3X), played the heck out of that, and played 5E since the play test. I've also played every other RPG I could get a group for that was even half-way interesting to me in that time. I've also had (almost) monthly games of D&D since '84.

So while I can appreciate your stance, I don't share it. I'm not attached to D&D as a brand. I'm attached to RPGs as a hobby. Though D&D was the first, it's not the only. To me, that special something was never D&D, rather it was always RPGs in general.


Well said! It really bothers me when D&D is conflated with Hasbro or WotC, or even TSR (which is still the first corporate name that comes to my mind when I think of D&D, because I too started in 1979). D&D is a lot bigger than the current owners of the trademark, and this is not even close to the first controversy that it has weathered.

I've written about this before: I sponsor the D&D Club at my school. When I think of D&D, I of course think of my own history with it, but these days I primarily think of the incredibly positive impact it has had on a lot of kids that I have worked with and often for whom I was their first DM. These are prevalently kids without big social groups. Many of them are neuro-divergent. There's a huge overlap with the Pride Club. This is a game that brings together a lot of people who really need friends and connections.

Attacking WotC/Hasbro/Paizo/whoever - I could care less. But attacking D&D feels personal.

I am not saying you are wrong for having an emotional attachment to a name or brand. Lots of people remain fiercely loyal to a sports team, even though over time it changes players, coaches, uniforms, stadiums and even cities - literally the only thing that remains the same over time is the name. So you are hardly alone.

But of course what you valued about those experiences you described had absolutely nothing to do with the particular brand or set of rules your were using at the time. Giving up a particular brand of RPG (if you choose to do so) doesn't mean turning your back on that history or giving up on those future plans. It just means changing the label you use to categorize them. As usual Bill Shakespeare said it best: a rose by any other name smells as sweet. Those experiences are just as powerful and meaningful to you whatever label you use.

At the end of the day "Dungeons & Dragons" is a IP owned by a corporation. The community who put their passion into the game never had any say over how it was used. What the community does control is the love, passion, and creativity we have poured into the game. I think now more than ever we need to make clear that no corporation can own that.


I started in 1981. For me, the term "D&D" isn't just a version of a game, it's a community. Because it's what we all rallied around in the 80s during the satanic panic. it was the sense of belonging as a kid when every other group wouldn't have us. So I agree with the OP, for me, it means more than just a game. Even when I kept playing AD&D and ignored 3e and 4e, I was still part of the D&D community, not just the RPG community.


CR 1/8
If we switch over to Pathfinder or any other system for medieval fantasy roleplaying, I will happily call my game "D&D", and good luck to anyone disagreeing.
Yep. We played PF1e for 10 years, and it was always "Are we on for D&D next Sunday?"
A nephew saw my Old School Essentials books the other day and asked about them. I said "Oh, those are D&D books."
And next time I teach D&D, I'll likely use Bugbears & Borderlands.

So yeah: D&D is whatever we say it is, not what has the correct "ampersand" on it.

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