Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Interesting Times - Part 2


As more came out about the OGL situation and various responses to it I thought most of it was pretty encouraging including WOTC's final back-down on the whole thing. A bad decision was made, the people/customers spoke, and the decision was altered based on this. That's how it's supposed to work, right? Ideally you stay in tune with your fans well enough to avoid the whole bad decision thing in the first place but sometimes companies think they know better or that people will just go along with whatever they decide. In this case I expect there will be some long-term damage but the general outcome is looking pretty good.

Even as this was taking shape though I was seeing a lot odd takes. In particular I saw several versions of "well now with the ORC/Black Flag/C7d20/etc. we can finally have an alternative to D&D" 

Say what?


I was seeing this mostly in comments on social media posts which just reinforces my opinion on the usefulness of those as a forum for discussion. 

How does someone play D&D for any length of time and not hear about Pathfinder ... of any edition? If you knew enough to care about the OGL kerfluffle how do you then -not- know about the vast majority of games released under it which are someone's version of D&D? I hardly ever see a conversation about D&D anymore where "OSR" does not make an appearance in some way. Outside of all of those there are Conan and Lord of the Rings (5E-flavored and non-5E flavored) and Forbidden Lands and Runequest and fantasy options for Savage Worlds, GURPS, and Hero. Dragon Age? Warhammer? Pendragon? Legend of the Five Rings? Palladium Fantasy? Chivalry and Sorcery? Some of these are fairly new and some have been around for decades. 

This ignores all of the non-fantasy options out there too that I went on about last time

We knew about a lot of other games out there back when our only sources of information were Dragon magazine and the local game stores. How does one remain ignorant of these things 25+ years into the age of the Information Superhighway? Going back to the days of 3rd edition WOTC itself published a different RPG with Star Wars  -surely some of the people playing now were around for that? Let's not even mention when TSR published multiple other RPG lines from old west to superheroes to sci-fi to post-apocalyptic alongside two -different- versions of D&D.

I suppose it boils down to a question or maybe a viewpoint - is your hobby "D&D" or is it "roleplaying games"? That's been a potential division for as long as I can remember but I always felt like the trend was for people to start with D&D and then branch out as they became aware of other options and things caught their interest or addressed shortcomings they found in D&D. I'm wondering if that flow is not as present these days. Maybe for a lot of people the pull of D&D is more of a social thing than recognizing the coolness of the RPG concept. 

I don't know. It's disheartening to some degree to think that this big influx of newer players over the last 9 years may stay in that "casual" state, never exploring beyond the current version of D&D. This light attachment does make me wonder how an edition change will go over with them. "Oh there's a new Player's Handbook? Can we just keep playing what we have"? I suspect that will be a common conversation next year. 

When you do something like a new edition of a game system it's an opportunity for players to look around and see what else is out there. When a new version of 40K is released there's always a fair amount of chatter about other miniatures games, for example. I hope that this mis-step by WOTC and Hasbro has at least started some conversations and exploration of things that might come into play when someone's current campaign wraps up or when "OneD&D" launches and people are thinking about making a change anyway. Time will tell I suppose.

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