Friday 25 May 2012

If D&D Next Fails, It Won't Be the Fans' Fault!

Mostly an okay post, but there was a bit that stuck in my craw:

"They’re done throwing that kind of effort into a brand full of toxic fans and endless bickering about products that won’t get sold."


It wasn't the fault of fans that a toxic atmosphere was created, nor is it the fault of fans that 4e wasn't well-received.  Nor will the success or failure of D&D Next be due to anything other than the success or failure of WotC to put out a good product, market that product well, and undo to whatever extent they are able the ill-will their handling of the 4e release created.

And they have definitely taken some steps in the right direction, although I think that the NDAs for the beta playtest are a really bad idea (not required by most recent rpgs, including Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics, despite Mike Mearls' claim to the contrary), and I don't think 5e will fly without the OGL.

The systems that are doing well right now have the right combination of "good system + goodwill", and I don't think Hasbro is going to allow WotC the leeway needed to recreate the goodwill that was seen with the advent of 3e.


See this post:

I can't help but feel that some comments are pointed at things I've said.

"Every game company on the planet uses an NDA. There are exceptions of course, but those companies are exactly that. Exceptions.  Plus the two that are often mentioned, Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics, are so derivative of the SRD that there is not really much in the way of new material to protect."

Out of curiosity, what was the last time you were required to sign a NDA for a Beta Playtest other than D&D Next? Especially one described as an "open" playtest?  It is simply an untruth to state that  "every game company on the planet" requires an NDA for this sort of material.

It is also untrue that Pathfinder and DCC "are so derivative of the SRD that there is not really much in the way of new material to protect."  A funny comment, actually, when one considers the relationship between D&D Next and the rules solutions figured out by others.

Normally, one hopes that people WILL talk about a Beta. Talk volumes, talk specifics, talk, talk, talk, talk.

That talk certainly helped Pathfinder, it certainly helped DCC, and it could certainly help WotC.

AFAICT, the NDA in this case is about nothing other than who owns your comments and any ideas you might let drop. No more; no less.

So, here's the challenge: List who does require an NDA in the rpg industry.  It is easy enough to come up with who does not.  If those who do not are "exceptions", it should be easy to demonstrate this by exampling those who do.

I agree that Paizo and Goodman Games are exceptional publishers.  They are publishers who have garnered enormous goodwill from their fans.  They did this by following the tracks laid down in the early days of 3e....not just the ruleset tracks, but the fan appreciation tracks.  WotC used to be the leader in fan appreciation; now they are not.  But they would be wise to get back on that road, even if others have now gone far ahead.

It's as simple as that.


  1. "I can't help but feel that some comments are pointed at things I've said."

    Ah. No. I didn't even know who you were till you posted to my blog. Let alone anything you have said in the past.

    1. That's completely cool. I had replied to a few blogs about the NDA, and I had pointed out some of the specific problems I had seen with it. I thought, perhaps, that you were responding to the same.

      In any event, even when I disagree with you, I respect your writing, your intelligence, and your honest approach to examining questions. That's unfortunately not as common as it should be.

    2. That's cool.

      I reread that line and realize that you were not being literal, but there was an unspoken/unwritten "it is as if ..."

      Lesson for the day: Don't reply to blogs until you have had your morning coffee.


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