Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

WotC: In the Name of the Game...

There's been a lot of talk about WotC and the OGL. I won't go into that since it's being debated by enough already. But what does stand out to Robyn and I is an attempt (nothing new, by the way) to hoard, indeed own, the native creativity of its customers. Tabletop roleplay isn't a new car or a can of Diet Coke. It's a set of written rules to a game where the action takes place inside the participant's heads and can be easily homebrewed by the creative types who play them. I'm guessing Wizards wishes it wasn't...

The concept of the game is the game. Once exposed to the division of labor between the players and referee, the idea of classes or skills, hit points, armor and equipment, and advancement tied to in-game success, you have what you need to either reconstruct a game or create something entirely new. Add monsters and treasure and you're on your way to something all the better for a sense of ownership. Most of us like buying and houseruling the work of others; but even this drinks from the same bottomless well of inspiration...

You can monetize this to a point; but I get the impression that WotC, perhaps like TSR before it, failed to recognize what they're selling - and the limits of monetization.

You can't stop houseruling; you can't stop the creation of original systems, and you almost certainly can't market a subscription service selling not only what its customers could do themselves, but what they inevitably will be doing just by approaching the hobby for what it is and what makes it so appealing. The genie's out of the bottle, and barring the collapse of civilization and its collective experience, our gaming hobby will thrive. Fantasy roleplay grows sideways into endless new directions, carried not by companies, but by its players...


  1. I'd argue that T$R very much understood what they were selling and the fragility of it, which is why they often acted as they did. Out of fear.

    The current WotC management on the other hand have no understanding of what they are selling. Both in D&D and MtG which is why they are actively destroying both properties.

  2. I ask a friend if they would pay 30 dollars (the alleged top tier of d&d beyond.l) she said it depends on the game, when I added you can do the game they are selling for free, she flat out said no.

    She doesn't even play RPGs, and it says allot about the alleged changes to d&d beyond that if a non player who knows finances on a basic level, why do does WotC think people will buy what they can get for FREE? Unless they actually think people are stupid.

  3. It seems strange to me that they think their top tier could command twice what a monthly subscription to, say, World of Warcraft runs. Like, all the OGL stuff aside, what are they planning that could possibly be worth that?

  4. From all of this mess, many of us have a mountain to climb. I'm volunteering to help proofread some of the Basic Fantasy books to change the license over to Creative Commons. There is a part of me that also says the actions of WoTC is only half about money. The other half is power - the power to push others around...

  5. "a game where the action takes place inside the participant's heads and can be easily homebrewed by the creative types who play them. I'm guessing Wizards wishes it wasn't..."

    That's exactly what they're trying to "fix" with their "Digital Experience™" isn't it? They're putting the game OUT of the participants' heads. They will also ban homebrew at the lower subscription tiers, and implement an AI DM bot. Pretty pathetic, if you ask me.

  6. Wizards has no interest in maintaining the tabletop RPG. They would rather all of us leave them alone.

    Look at who they brought in: Microsoft people who are experts at microtransaction games.

    They will create a walled garden where people will log in, play for ten minutes, and then log out. And if you don't pay to win, you won't want to play.

    Attendant to this will be a lifestyle brand. Think Disney or the NFL. You will want to "be a part of something" even more than you will want to do it. Maybe not you and me, but generally.

    And just like the NFL, Wizards doesn't care if you play their game or not, just as long as you have the red ampersand on your hoodie.

    1. I think the Biggest difference between the NFL and WotC is while yes, they sell a product, the teams will go out and help the communities and be apart of them.

      Granted, you have your Vegas raiders, your LA Rams/chargers and your Washington commanders who are scummy and treat people like dirt. But then you have the Bills, the Packers and the Steelers, who go out of there way to be apart of the towns they're in one way or another.

      Also to be topical, if WotC was in charge of the NFL, I feel like we would have seen how the Bills and Bengals game, because they would have forced it to continue after the Hamlin play. At Least Goodell had the decency to stop the game.

    2. They'd be better off making a (decent) D&D MMO instead.

    3. WotC even with their last public statement to listen to feedback, still don't promised that things previously published under OGL1a will remain safe forever. They may still deauthorize it. And this again still says nothing about what publishers who used OGL1a should publish under in the future. It is still scum and villainy while trying to look as chummy and smiley.

  7. I've recently discovered Pits & Perils to then gravitate toward the game. I do like the ideas that drift away from the usual retro-clones that aim for their editions. Though after learning what the OGL and the whole talk is all about. To the authors, will this affect your game in anyway or does the future carry that answer?