Why We Should Work With WotC

Staffan

Legend
A better word for this is Symbiotic. The key is ‘mutual’ benefit. We can see how 3pp benefit from D&D marketing, growth and brand recognition. Not so clear the extent to which WotC benefit.
WotC benefits a lot from the OGL, but not in a way that shows up in a financial statement. They benefit by having smaller and more agile 3PPs, with lower overheads and lower demands on profit margins, create niche support material that wouldn't be profitable enough for Wizards to make. They benefit by having 3PPs provide D&D-adjacent alternatives for people who want to branch out into non-D&D games – a group who tries out a 5e-based sci-fi game is more likely to keep buying 5e stuff and maybe play 5e for the campaign after that than a group that tries out Star Wars or Infinity. And at least Dancey has suggested that even Pathfinder was a long-term benefit for Wizards, because it kept players disaffected by 4e in D&D's orbit, ready to be picked up by 5e instead of quitting RPGs altogether or moving to entirely different games.

3PPs probably benefit more from the OGL than Wizards does, but Wizards clearly benefits.


People who "like the idea" are. And the concept of Dark Sun? It literally gets more relevant every year lol (unfortunately). The two biggest themes - "environmental destruction" and "individual greed and the hoarding/centralization of wealth/power" are absolutely 150% 2020s themes, way more than in the 1990s! Add in the "ultrawealthy transhumanist" angles and you're probably talking a 2030s-relevant setting lol.
This is a keen insight, but it kind of boils down to slavery being a very prominent part of the Dark Sun setting, and at the same time something of a "third rail" in contemporary gaming discourse. And this in turn leads into something I've been noodling over that I call the Wakanda vs Luke Cage fantasies (in short: in the face of real-life oppression, both the Wakanda-style vision of a better world where that problem doesn't exist, and the Luke Cage vision of a world where oppression still exists but I'm the one who can do something about it, are ways to tell great stories). Dark Sun is a great place to tell Luke Cage stories, but it sure as heck ain't Wakanda.
 

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Remathilis

Legend
For Magic? Absolutely. For rpgs? No. For several reasons. first, someone could buy out D&D from the corpse of Hasbro, just like WotC once bought it from the corpse of TSR (this of course applies to Magic too, but that one would be much more expensive and so could only be bought by some other giant corporation). But let's say that doesn't happen. There are a lot of rpgs. What we'll be left with is a much more reasonable spread with no single company dominating to the point Hasbro did. And If Hasbro dies, the OGL 1.0a lives on. There's not going to be anyone pushing that it's been deauthorized because no one other than Hasbro believes they have the legal ability to do that. As for finding games? I've never found that hard. I've had times when I felt I didn't have the time or the energy to play, but if I've wanted to play, no problem. I have lots of friends who play lots of different games, and I've introduced people who have never played rpgs before to the hobby. I've done it several times. And the last time I used D&D to do it was in the 90s.

Hasbro will not, under any circumstances, sell D&D or Magic unless Hasbro themselves are bought and dismembered. Hasbro does not sell brands. Period. They will vault it and sell retro-logo T-shirts for eternity before they ever give up either.

D&D, and Magic, are gateways for too many people. The vast majority of non-gaming attuned people think a Pathfinder is a car and Pokemon is a video game. They aren't going to carry the recognition of that either brand's name carries. The RPG market goes back to small pockets of "try this game" word of mouth, rather than something that people pick up out of curiosity or from marketing (and everything from CR to Honor Among Thieves is marketing).
 

Dausuul

Legend
There's a difference between "believing" and "accepting."
They're going to do it. They're not going to change their mind. They're willing to give the fans the benefit of the doubt and listen to some feedback, but don't believe for a second that this is going to end in any way other than the OGL 1.0a going away and the new OGL replacing it. They're hoping they can convince the majority of holdouts that the new license can be made to work.... but if they can't then the people complaining are a replaceable number of gamers. And by taking feedback and holding up the changes, they can spin the survey & its numbers to sell this as a success.

So we can either struggle endlessly against an unwinnable battle, wasting our time and effort on a hopeless fight.
Or we can work with them and make the final product better, winning the war.

Because what's the actual goal? It's not "preserve the 1.0a" Not really. It's protect 3rd Party Publishers, small publishers, and Open Gaming. And if we work at it, we can achieve that goal with WotC and the new license, ensuring the next generation of 3PP and small gaming studios has a chance.

The situation described in DND_Shorts's latest video (which is heavily sourced and has been reviewed by those sources, unless he's just lying through his teeth) paints a clear picture: This really is 4E redux. Leadership genuinely believes they can turn D&D into an all-digital game with a Wizards-owned VTT and harvest vast subscription fees from players and DMs alike.

This plan is going to fail, at gigantic expense. That is crystal clear to anyone familiar with D&D. When that happens, policy will change. We should think about this situation accordingly.

I now think the message we should be sending is, "We are leaving because of the OGL changes. You can get us back with an updated OGL 1.0a that makes it clear that it's irrevocable; or by committing to something like the ORC. Call us if you change your mind."

Then when it all goes down in flames, and whoever survives the ensuing leadership bloodbath has to salvage the brand, they might think, "Hey, what about all those folks who quit over the OGL? Maybe we could get them back." They also might not, of course; but it's at least a decent chance.

(And if WotC's plan does by some diabolical miracle succeed... then I at least would be out anyway. I'm not interested in anything like that.)
 

Staffan

Legend
Plus a lot of 3PP stuff, like Griffon's Saddle, only exists because WotC intentionally ceded that design space. WotC has had 8+ years to come out with equipment/magic item books and gone "Nah" to the idea repeatedly, despite them always being hits in earlier editions.
I'm not sure Wizards could really make an equipment/item book. I mean, sure, the Magic Item Compendium in 3.5 was a great seller (I assume). But to a large degree, the MIC was a compilation of previous material, and you can't do that unless there's enough previous material to compile. Given the rather lightweight production schedule, I'm not sure they have enough items published to make a compendium. And that would mean they'd have to write new material instead, but writing lots of little rules bits just to fill up space generally leads to lower quality rules bits than taking the cream of the crop of a few years of previous production.
 

Do we have numbers showing 5e adventures as not profitable?

It's not that they are unprofitable, they are simply not profitable enough. It's why I used the phrase "corporate brainrot": at a certain level corporate leaders get obsessed with continual growth and gains, so even minor but stable reversion is looked at as the signal to change lanes.

So I doubt any 5E adventures are unprofitable. But the problem is that they may not be enough to reach the unrealistic targets set for them.
 

This is a keen insight, but it kind of boils down to slavery being a very prominent part of the Dark Sun setting, and at the same time something of a "third rail" in contemporary gaming discourse. And this in turn leads into something I've been noodling over that I call the Wakanda vs Luke Cage fantasies (in short: in the face of real-life oppression, both the Wakanda-style vision of a better world where that problem doesn't exist, and the Luke Cage vision of a world where oppression still exists but I'm the one who can do something about it, are ways to tell great stories). Dark Sun is a great place to tell Luke Cage stories, but it sure as heck ain't Wakanda.
I think you get rid of the chattel slavery of 2E Dark Sun and replace it with "crushed beneath the bootheel"-type serfdom, where people are de facto slaves, their lives constrained and managed by the Sorcerer Lords and their enforcers, but the term slave or "enslaved person" isn't used. Again, I think that would potentially make it more relevant, not less.

It also defies any attempt to say it's "appropriation" or the like, because there's no-one who didn't have some ancestors who weren't, in the last 500 years, in some form of forced labour/indentured servitude/serfdom.

(Indeed one of the main reasons indentured servitude became disfavoured in the US over the 1700s is that the ruling elites realized the indentured people were making common cause with the enslaved people, regardless of racial/ethnic lines and this probably wouldn't end well for the elites!)
I'm not sure Wizards could really make an equipment/item book. I mean, sure, the Magic Item Compendium in 3.5 was a great seller (I assume). But to a large degree, the MIC was a compilation of previous material, and you can't do that unless there's enough previous material to compile. Given the rather lightweight production schedule, I'm not sure they have enough items published to make a compendium. And that would mean they'd have to write new material instead, but writing lots of little rules bits just to fill up space generally leads to lower quality rules bits than taking the cream of the crop of a few years of previous production.
I dunno. I feel like they could easily have hired a few talented people to put something together myself.

I think it's more about having someone in charge who has standards and a clear vision than stuff created across the course of an edition inherently being better.
 

Though - hear me out- it wouldn't be so bad if EN publishing got to sue you under the premise that the OGL is gone. That way you would get to defend yourself under the argument that the OGL is irrevocable and since this isn't so different from sueing your family so the insurance pays, discovery would go super fast and then you getba summary judgement . Then you get an affirmation that the OGL is irrevocable after all for way cheaper than fighting Hasbro lawyers. The community would pay your costs and even if things go sour, and we get a definitive precedent that the OGL wasn't irrevocable, you can always settle with EnPublishing for a dollar.
This sounds like one of those terrible sit-com plans that inevitably blows up in the face of all involved.
 

Haplo781

Legend
That's actually a myth.
That's how Ryan Dancey sold the OGL to executives, when really he wanted to ensure the game and the future of the hobby wasn't forever tied to one company.

I don't think I've hear someone talk about trying "to earn WoW money" in a decade...

WoW subscriber peaked in 2010 with a brief spike in 2014-15 and as been in decline ever since. The number of WoW subscribers in 2022 is probably really close to the number of DDB subscribers, let alone D&D players...

I think it's actually they saw the 1.0a as a potential PR disaster.
With the racism controversy of nu-TSR and Star Frontiers someone at WotC panicked that people could make a D&D compatible product that was deeply offensive, which might catch the public's eye. And angry online mobs and hysterical parents wouldn't see it was unofficial and wouldn't care it wasn't made by WotC.
They're working hard to be a respectable family brand sold in Targets and with a PG-13 movie and multiple books aimed at young readers (1 2 3 4). They don't want some bad actor 3PP ruining it...

WotC has also had recent history with unofficial NTS.

For me it's less love and more resigned acceptance.
I'd prefer if they had just kept the 1.0a and created a new license instead. I don't want the 1.0a to go away, but it seems like that's a non-negotiable demand from WotC.
I also kinda don't want flagrantly racist or sexist or homophobic content in the D&D community.

The better D&D does the better 3rd Party Publishers do. 5e 3PP have been the #2 and #3 best selling RPG products a few times now, outselling Pathfinder. Those companies are doing very, very well. And if we want them to continue to do well, the new OGL needs to be good. We need to provide excellent feedback and find the pinch points and problem areas. We need to forgive WotC for messing up, so long as they learn their lesson and establish safeguards in the new OGL so they don't do so again.
If we're not willing to work with WotC, then this time we're the ones harming open gaming...
TSR3 doesn't use the OGL and there's 0 mention of it in the leaked plans.
 

Haplo781

Legend
I think you get rid of the chattel slavery of 2E Dark Sun and replace it with "crushed beneath the bootheel"-type serfdom, where people are de facto slaves, their lives constrained and managed by the Sorcerer Lords and their enforcers, but the term slave or "enslaved person" isn't used. Again, I think that would potentially make it more relevant, not less.

It also defies any attempt to say it's "appropriation" or the like, because there's no-one who didn't have some ancestors who weren't, in the last 500 years, in some form of forced labour/indentured servitude/serfdom.

(Indeed one of the main reasons indentured servitude became disfavoured in the US over the 1700s is that the ruling elites realized the indentured people were making common cause with the enslaved people, regardless of racial/ethnic lines and this probably wouldn't end well for the elites!)

I dunno. I feel like they could easily have hired a few talented people to put something together myself.

I think it's more about having someone in charge who has standards and a clear vision than stuff created across the course of an edition inherently being better.
The "prisoners with jobs" form of slavery was more prevalent throughout history and makes far more sense for Athas than chattel slavery.
 

The "prisoners with jobs" form of slavery was more prevalent throughout history and makes far more sense for Athas than chattel slavery.
Exactly or the "You're not a prisoner, you're a valued member of the community who isn't allowed to leave the community without written permission from the lord. Which will not be given."-style (Japan had a particularly wild version of that in I think the 1500s).
 

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