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D&D General The Importance of "Official"

How Important is "Official" to you?

  • I will only use "official" material in my D&D games.

    Votes: 7 7.0%
  • I will use some unofficial material from specific sources.

    Votes: 34 34.0%
  • I will use a mix of official and unofficial material in my games.

    Votes: 47 47.0%
  • I use mostly unofficial material in my games.

    Votes: 5 5.0%
  • I don't even play D&D. How did I get in here?

    Votes: 7 7.0%

  • Total voters
    100
So, "customization" = 2nd-party?
More or less, but at least in the context of "products," "second-party" would usually at least imply something a bit more significant than just tweaking things. That is, "customization" implies to me something like "putting bumper stickers on a car," rather than "modifying the engine so it has better performance."

When Matt Mercer created the Witch Hunter class for Vin Diesel, that was (initially) a "2PP" thing, because he was creating something new, custom, and (in some sense) "feature complete" for use in his own game. But if anyone else were to use that "product," it would instead be 3PP. For exactly the same reason that if I am talking to Bob, I will call Bob "you" (second-person) and myself as "I" (first-person), while referring to Jane as "Jane" or "she" (third-person). If I then stop talking to Bob and start talking to Jane, Jane becomes "you" and Bob becomes "Bob" or "he." In exactly the same way, if you provide your "2nd-party product" to anyone outside your group, for them it is third-party.
 

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Laurefindel

Legend
I pretty much go by official material only, plus my own houserules (or players), but without good reasons. Obviously, when a third-party product is used as main material (i.e. a 3rd-party 5e setting), everything it contains or published in relation to it is "official" material.

I'm hoping to use many of the wilderness and travel rules from LEVEL-UP however. That'd be one of my first 3rd party purchase in a long while.
 

Official doesn't guarantee quality, but it often tends to in comparison. One bonus of official is that most gamers I run into are aware of it. That makes using and getting buy in for games easier and more successful. Im open to unofficial too.
I see no indication that WotC's material is qualitatively any better than any other professional content creator. Sadly, I do have to agree with you on the awareness issue.
 

Second parties are the people using the first-party product directly. In other words...the DM and/or players. So formally, second-party products would be anything custom made by either you as DM or made by your players.

No, Second Party are the companies that have licenses, or some other way to access the restricted IP, to make products for a game, but who do not work directly for the company. The first couple of adventures for 5E were 2nd Party because they were not done in-house (1st Party) or done with no input at all from the company (3rd Party).
 

I have a 300+ page document of house rules I use (not all of them in every game, of course). A lot of it is third party from a variety of sources, some of it is homebrew. I made a formatted document so I had something I could easily present to my players. When it's finished I plan to have it printed.
 

I mean, tables can do what they want, but clearly, they miss out on some things by sticking to official all the time. For me personally, I am all for a mix of Official and Unofficial/3PP to accomplish things that normally the official stuff wouldn't let ya do.

Example: In 3.0/3.5, if I wanted to play an Awakened Canadian Goose paladin whose main objective in life was to slay the evil Red Dragon that was plaguing the valley it lived in, I'd have to find stats for Canadian Geese and then deal with the appropriate stat modifiers and all that crap while contending if it wasn't absolutely useless. For 5E though, all I need to do to accomplish such a goal is to use 3PP setting material, such as Humblewood, and some refluffage later, BOOM: I have a Canadian Goose Paladin that is awakened. Without having to jump through a crapton of hoops or worry about being absolutely useless to play as. Going by the official 5E route, I really don't have a "Goose" stat block to use in the monster section.

If I wanted to play 5E DOOM: Then I just combine the use of the 3PP settings of Carbon 2185(5E cyberpunk) and Return to Planet Apocalypse(Fantasy DOOM 5E.). Now I have Hackers blinding demons by overloading their optics with a crapton of Spamware/Ads/Malware as they sic their Drone pet to carpet bomb them as a Sniper from the rooftop is providing covering fire against a Cacodemon.

Sure I could use both the official cat stat block and the wolf stat block along with the Tasha's Sidekick rules, but with the use of Animal Adventures, which again is 3PP rules for playing as Cats and Dog pcs in 5E, I just don't have a Sidekick character. I have a Black Cat Warlock eldritch blasting devils/demons back to hell, or a Rune Knight Grey Wolf that allows me to play out my Dark Souls dream of playing as Great Wolf Sif. Heck the 5E Blue Rose Adventurer Guide can even let me make a Giant Centipede Battle Master if I wanted.

I can play as a Drider which is something that is not officially supported by WoTC and doesn't require me to somehow reverse engineer the stat block. Win Win! (Although I kinda chuckle at the absurd dancing around the subject answer it gives for Drider sizes for the playable race version.)


I don't have much experience with Homebrewing. So a great number of unofficial/3PP that's out there for 5E really helps for that. If tables/DMs want to Homebrew stuff and work together to make something, there's nothing wrong with that too and I can see how fun it can be. I'm just saying that strictly adhereing to Official/Adventure League only can make some players/dms miss out on some great stuff.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I voted for the "mostly unofficial" option, but I would like to clarify: I house-rule just about everything, so that "unofficial" stuff is a result of my houseruling stuff, not third-party sources.

EDIT: changed my vote.
 
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I mostly use official stuff as a player if it does what I need for the character I want - and if it doesn't I ask for more.

As a dm I'll consider non-official stuff form anywhere (hence voting for option 3) but I rarely get asked about it.

I find that until you get to very high-level play the official stuff is able to cover a significant majority of concepts well enough to satisfy a significant majority of players.
 

Reynard

Legend
I mean, tables can do what they want, but clearly, they miss out on some things by sticking to official all the time. For me personally, I am all for a mix of Official and Unofficial/3PP to accomplish things that normally the official stuff wouldn't let ya do.

Example: In 3.0/3.5, if I wanted to play an Awakened Canadian Goose paladin whose main objective in life was to slay the evil Red Dragon that was plaguing the valley it lived in, I'd have to find stats for Canadian Geese and then deal with the appropriate stat modifiers and all that crap while contending if it wasn't absolutely useless. For 5E though, all I need to do to accomplish such a goal is to use 3PP setting material, such as Humblewood, and some refluffage later, BOOM: I have a Canadian Goose Paladin that is awakened. Without having to jump through a crapton of hoops or worry about being absolutely useless to play as. Going by the official 5E route, I really don't have a "Goose" stat block to use in the monster section.

If I wanted to play 5E DOOM: Then I just combine the use of the 3PP settings of Carbon 2185(5E cyberpunk) and Return to Planet Apocalypse(Fantasy DOOM 5E.). Now I have Hackers blinding demons by overloading their optics with a crapton of Spamware/Ads/Malware as they sic their Drone pet to carpet bomb them as a Sniper from the rooftop is providing covering fire against a Cacodemon.

Sure I could use both the official cat stat block and the wolf stat block along with the Tasha's Sidekick rules, but with the use of Animal Adventures, which again is 3PP rules for playing as Cats and Dog pcs in 5E, I just don't have a Sidekick character. I have a Black Cat Warlock eldritch blasting devils/demons back to hell, or a Rune Knight Grey Wolf that allows me to play out my Dark Souls dream of playing as Great Wolf Sif. Heck the 5E Blue Rose Adventurer Guide can even let me make a Giant Centipede Battle Master if I wanted.

I can play as a Drider which is something that is not officially supported by WoTC and doesn't require me to somehow reverse engineer the stat block. Win Win! (Although I kinda chuckle at the absurd dancing around the subject answer it gives for Drider sizes for the playable race version.)


I don't have much experience with Homebrewing. So a great number of unofficial/3PP that's out there for 5E really helps for that. If tables/DMs want to Homebrew stuff and work together to make something, there's nothing wrong with that too and I can see how fun it can be. I'm just saying that strictly adhereing to Official/Adventure League only can make some players/dms miss out on some great stuff.
I would venture that 3.x had FAR more material available than 5E does.
 

The main reason it almost never gets used is that it's almost never actually useful or relevant. You'd basically never hear of 2PP, because...that would be purely in-house, yet still a product of some kind? As soon as it starts being proposed to other users, it's automatically either a third-party product if it's still an add-on for the original first-party product, or it becomes its own first-party product.

E.g. while it was in playtesting, arguably, Pathfinder was a second-party product for Paizo itself, because it was product created "for" 3.5e, but only to be used internally by Paizo. But as soon as Paizo started selling its Pathfinder system on its own merits, it became a new and distinct first-party product based on the same fundamentals.

It's a bit like how there are lots of first-person games or narratives, and lots of third-person games or narratives, but very few second-person games or narratives. A second-person novel would be incredibly difficult to write and a really weird read. A second-person video game is...well I'm not even sure if it's possible, but I suppose something along the lines of Black & White might qualify, where the actual "participant" is not the player, but an artificial intelligence being given non-binding instructions by the player. (Similarly, "second-person perspective" is basically never used, because that would mean basically being at the level of having a conversation with the player character, which would be...really really difficult to employ in a gaming context.

So yeah. Technically "second-party material" does have a meaning, but it's so incredibly narrow and uncommon that there's not much need. Particularly since the vast majority of (actually-used) "2PP" is simply DM homebrew/house-rules/improvisation and thus not really a "product" proper. 2PP does sometimes actually come up in a software-design context, though, if a licensee of a particular product makes their own software for internal use that depends on the licensed product. For example, you license the Havok physics engine and then make a software module that builds off of it to provide some other useful functionality. Perhaps, for example, you build a cinematic-recording suite that can be used in any of the games your company makes as long as they're using the Havok engine; that recording suite would be second-party product as long as it stays within the company. It would become a third-party product (relative to the Havok engine) if you sold that recording suite to other people.
Second-person narrative is nearly exclusive to Choose Your Own Adventure and similar books.
 

I have two gaming groups. The one that was my home game prior to going virtual, I use a mix of official and unofficial options. The one that used to be my open-table, I strictly restrict it to official content only. Because anyone could show up and it was much easier to tell them "official material only" than to have to vet countless third party and homebrew options.
Indeed, open table games are a whole new world of curation, because you need to balance for people who haven't even heard of the game yet but might in the near future.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
More or less, but at least in the context of "products," "second-party" would usually at least imply something a bit more significant than just tweaking things. That is, "customization" implies to me something like "putting bumper stickers on a car," rather than "modifying the engine so it has better performance."

When Matt Mercer created the Witch Hunter class for Vin Diesel, that was (initially) a "2PP" thing, because he was creating something new, custom, and (in some sense) "feature complete" for use in his own game. But if anyone else were to use that "product," it would instead be 3PP. For exactly the same reason that if I am talking to Bob, I will call Bob "you" (second-person) and myself as "I" (first-person), while referring to Jane as "Jane" or "she" (third-person). If I then stop talking to Bob and start talking to Jane, Jane becomes "you" and Bob becomes "Bob" or "he." In exactly the same way, if you provide your "2nd-party product" to anyone outside your group, for them it is third-party.

That seems to be the case, at least for video games. Something like?

1st party: the company that produces a platform creates content for that platform.
2nd party: the company exclusively licenses an other company to create content for that platform.
3rd party: a company independently creates content that is compatible with that platform.

So is DnDBeyond a 2nd-party company for 1st-party WotC?
 



GreyLord

Legend
What counts as official?

Officially approved? Only material put out by Wotc? Does the original Tyranny of Dragons Campaign count as official?

For 5e I'll include houserules...does that count as official or unofficial?

Unless you are playing absolutely and only by the book, if houserules count as unofficial material, I could see a majority saying they do not stick to official sources only.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
True but there was a lotta schlock. There are still some gooood unofficial material for 5E.
I don't thing that fixes the problem with using what seems to be a specific humblewood race to make an example. Someone could point at the gunslinger brave mad scientist & so on from d20 deadlands to declare 5e to be lacking by that same logic.
 

Greg K

Hero
In terms of quality, "official" means little to me as a DM when it comes to D&D. In both 3e and 5e, I consider most WOTC supplemental material for players to be mediocre at best (mechanically and/or conceptually). As a result, when running 3e, there was very little "official" supplemental material that I would allow outside of some Unearthed Arcana options. If running 5e, there would be very little that I would allow from SCAG, Xanathar's, or Tasha's.
I even cut (or alter) PHB material.
In contrast, there is plenty of third party for 3e and 5e player material that I do like and consider much better quality than official WOTC material. For 5e, I have found plenty of good material that I would include if running 5e. Some of the material is by posters here on ENWorld. Some of it is on DrivethruRPG and DM's Guild. Other material is from Reddit Unearthed Arcana and elsewhere on the web (e.g. third party publilsher sites)
 

My goal was to provide a fun and reliable experience for the person that's never rolled a d20 before that day and the person that has been gaming for decades. And making sure they were on as even a footing as I could manage was a part of that.

Indeed, open table games are a whole new world of curation, because you need to balance for people who haven't even heard of the game yet but might in the near future.

I had a player that so very badly wanted to play a mystic...all the more so, I suspect, because it was so broken. Suffice to say, that was a hard no.

UA material is like a weird middle ground... and in theory it helps if we let it in to test it but I was burned hard by the mystic.
 

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