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The Power Struggle for Dungeons & Dragons' Soul

Dire Bare

Adventurer
Read this article on Medium, The Power Struggle for Dungeons & Dragons' Soul.

Discuss. :)

This isn't really a new phase for D&D, but rather an intensification in some ways. The article is well balanced, discussing both limits on fans' creativity but also WotC's need to turn a profit. I personally LOVE most of what WotC is doing with D&D these days, but there definitely is a "dark side" to this golden age. Would D&D fare better under a smaller company's banner without a corporate overlord? I'm not so sure, but it would certainly be different.
 
One big point the article touches on is people who've already bought all the hardcovers not having access to that content on D&D Beyond without essentially rebuying all of it. I wouldn't want to buy everything on D&D Beyond instead of hardcover, because that means I'm tied to the internet and my computer to play. I like the freedom of being able to shut off my computer for a while and play with nothing more than dice, books, and paper from time to time.

That said, I use a VTT to play once a week or so, too, but all my D&D content is 100% offline. Even all my homebrew stuff starts out in a notebook rather than a computer file.

It'd be really nice if they included D&D Beyond codes in their hardcovers from this point forward, like what a lot of video games have done with Game of the Year editions or preordered copies.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Would D&D fare better under a smaller company's banner without a corporate overlord?
Depends on what "better" means.

Would it reach more people under a smaller company's banner? Probably not. Would it be able to leverage FLGS for organized play events nearly as well? Again, no. Would there be a DM's Guild of such magnitude that you can readily find the kind of content you want? Maybe, maybe not.

Under a smaller company, content creators would have less fear of a corporate overlord from stepping on them when they crossed a line of abuse of license. But, they'd have less of a market of fans to deliver that content to, so I'm not sure that'd be a win....
 

Josiah Stoll

Villager
I suppose I’ve always liked Pathfinder’s business model.
Like, their rules are hot garbage. But since Paizo makes all the mechanics free online after a month or two, people make pretty awesome “patches” or “mods” to fix the worst of it.
 

UnknownDyson

Explorer
I don't think it would fare better under a smaller company. D&D is the number one TTRPG and it is currently undergoing a renaissance. It is the most popular it has ever been, you don't get that with a small company. If a small company has that kind of success it ceases to be one very quickly.

While I do agree that the hardcover and online database purchases not coinciding is problematic. I also understand that the programmers need to get paid for their service. There has to be a way that the hardcover purchases can get some kind of credit toward the online purchase.

I don't believe WOTC should look the other way while people essentially steal and profligate their IP. No, they aren't going to just let you upload full pdfs of their books so that no one has to pay for them. No, they are not going to allow 3rd parties to make websites that undercut d&d beyond. When you get to that level in business that doesn't make any sense.
 
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darjr

I crit!
What company could have gone a year producing next to nothing for sale but yet be hard to the grindstone doing a FREE public playtest? Not even the second/third most popular RPG company could do it. 5e is great in large part due to that playtest and the huge number of participants.
 

Satyrn

Villager
I don't understand how not having a copyright-infringing app or software stifles my creativity, or somehow impacts my ability to DIY.

I just see this as whining about having to pay for products because WotC doesn't support piracy.
 

robus

Explorer
I just see this as whining about having to pay for products because WotC doesn't support piracy.
I'm sympathetic to those wanting to continue fan supporting discontinued (or suspended) campaign settings (for free naturally), I imagine it gets very frustrating waiting for some crumbs to be thrown in that direction. But directly competing with new (or established) products seems to cross a line. What puzzled me about the article was the apparent violation of the OGL via publication on DMs Guild. I thought the OGL only applied to products produced outside of the DMs Guild and that DMs Guild products had a much broader license to everything covered in the current edition published material?
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
I don't understand how not having a copyright-infringing app or software stifles my creativity, or somehow impacts my ability to DIY.

I just see this as whining about having to pay for products because WotC doesn't support piracy.
I think that’s the fundamental flaw in the article. It doesn’t stop you *doing* DIY, it just stops you *publishing* DIY. Back in the 70a and 80s there was no internet. Your ability to publish your own fan work was severely limited anyway.
 

Satyrn

Villager
I'm sympathetic to those wanting to continue fan supporting discontinued (or suspended) campaign settings (for free naturally), I imagine it gets very frustrating waiting for some crumbs to be thrown in that direction. But directly competing with new (or established) products seems to cross a line. What puzzled me about the article was the apparent violation of the OGL via publication on DMs Guild. I thought the OGL only applied to products produced outside of the DMs Guild and that DMs Guild products had a much broader license to everything covered in the current edition published material?
I don't trust that article to get things right - it talks as though WotC runs DDBeyond rather than it just being a licenced product - so I'm not surprised you're puzzled by another of its "facts."
 

TerraDave

5ever
I don't trust that article to get things right -
Well, and skill points, or that making 1st level 5e characters is hard...

Whats funny is that its the Beyond people that just got a slap on the wrist from Hasbro over their not-an-esports thing.

Thats a story. This, I don't think this amounts to much.
 

Retreater

Explorer
I suppose I’ve always liked Pathfinder’s business model.
Like, their rules are hot garbage. But since Paizo makes all the mechanics free online after a month or two, people make pretty awesome “patches” or “mods” to fix the worst of it.
Giving away "hot garbage" is hardly something worth receiving.
 

Ymdar

Villager
Yes, indeed. It is called D&D, where the transitory lands of the Lords of the Coast converge.
In venturing north, the pilgrims discovered the truth of the old words:
"The fire fades and the lords go without thrones."
When the link of the fire is threatened, the bell tolls, unearthing the old Lords of the Coast from their graves...
 

jayoungr

Explorer
I think the article is being WAY overdramatic in calling this a struggle for D&D's "soul." The "soul" of D&D isn't about digital tools.
 

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