Chad Perrin: SOB

7 July 2008

how Wizards of the Coast is getting away with “murder”

Filed under: RPG — apotheon @ 11:56

This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.

Bear with me. There’s a lot of set-up before I get to the point.

Suspension of Disbelief

I know, I know . . . a fantasy roleplaying game isn’t the most realistic basis for a setting. In the real world, people don’t fire lightning bolts out of their fingertips. In the real world, gigantic, winged, talking, firebreathing lizards don’t hoard gold in remote caverns, occasionally popping up to demand tribute in the form of virgin sacrifices (and how do they know the women are virgins, anyway?). In the real world, there’s no such thing as a bear/owl hybrid that always fights to the death — or, for that matter, any animal that always fights to the death.

These things work within the context of an FRPG, though. They work because they fit within the common set of assumptions that form the basis for the game setting. They’re the reason it’s called “fantasy”, after all.

Some of the otherwise difficult to believe characteristics of a game world must be presented as specific rules, and those rules must provide some kind of internally consistent rationale for how and why they work the way they do. If you accept the founding assumptions of the gameworld, you should find the way the rules operate, and the way certain aspects of the setting and behavior of its denizens play out, entirely believable. It is this ability to rationalize setting details and game mechanics that we call “suspension of disbelief”.

FRPGs must abstract away a lot of realistic detail in their rules systems to make themselves playable, of course. For instance, the system of saving throws has never been entirely realistic, even given D&D’s fantastical premises. The idea that there is a basic probability that determines whether a fireball affects you as much as everyone else or affects you exactly half as much comes across as a trifle arbitrary. The spell lists and memorization paradigm for spellcasting, with arbitrary numbers of spells you can cast per day from among arbitrarily determined “spell levels” is so thoroughly abstracted from any reasonable kind of believable in-game rationale that literally dozens — if not hundreds — of competing FRPGs have risen and fallen in the RPG market almost entirely on the strength or weakness of their attempts to fix that little problem with suspension of disbelief.

Frankly, many of these problems arise because there’s a need for something like “game balance” — a concept whereby nobody too badly outclasses anyone else by default, assuming the same character experience level (another arbitrary and mostly unbelievable game mechanic). Spell levels, per-level limits on spells that can be cast, the need to “memorize” spells, and so on, are largely mechanisms for balancing dramatic magical variety against magical power so that a wizard can actually coexist with a swordsman without one character totally overshadowing the other, without either player feeling like his or hers is the useless redundant character. Many of these rules were created in the early days of gaming, as modifications of the tactical wargame approach to game systems, and have remained largely true to their roots because people still liked playing the game even if the rules weren’t perfectly suited to this new (relative to tactical wargames) and evolving gaming paradigm.

A new RPG may not solve all the suspension of disbelief problems of a preceding game — and that’s fine. Even if the purpose of creating a new game is little more than just creating an official collection of previous house rules that improve on the game mechanics’ support for suspension of disbelief can rely on a few old familiar rules that aren’t anywhere near perfect, and the game may still be a significant improvement on the original for most purposes.

One thing that can spell doom for a new RPG is introducing new problems with suspension of disbelief. Even if your game does a remarkable job of fixing up most of the internal contradictions and arbitrary power limits that make it difficult to suspend disbelief, introducing new internal contradictions and arbitrary power limits that create new problems with suspension of disbelief can just destroy the viability of the game. People have become used to ignoring the old, familiar problems with D&D’s game system, and find it easier to suspend disbelief in the face of such problems than new problems that might crop up and surprise players with their unfamiliarity.

There are exceptions to this “rule” that introducing new problems with suspension of disbelief pretty much guarantees commercial failure, of course. D&D 4E is one of the examples of this — and possibly the best example. In the case of D&D 4E, of course, the reason for the exception is the fact that it bears the D&D name.

Business Decisions

Dungeons and Dragons is the original RPG. Even more, there’s a general perception of an unbroken line of development for D&D from its earliest days, from TSR through the company that bought it (Wizards of the Coast). This might be weakened somewhat if WotC had just bought the game, and not the whole TSR company, and TSR continued to exist as an independent game company — and the transition from TSR to WotC did weaken this perception somewhat, though not much more than simply replacing the CEO of TSR would have done. In fact, transferring control of TSR from Lorraine Williams to Peter Adkison may have helped in many respects, because Adkison was an enthusiastic fan of D&D while Lorraine Williams took pride in the fact she had never played the game and was rumored to have decreed that no D&D playing would be allowed in the offices under any circumstances (including playtesting).

Excuse me while I ward off the evil eye. I don’t want to be struck down for invoking the dread name of Lorraine Williams.

Anyway . . . because it’s the new “official” D&D, 4E won’t lose anywhere near the kind of market share and fanbase goodwill it would otherwise have likely lost for its blunders. Just as there was from AD&D to AD&D 2E, and from AD&D 2E to D&D 3E, there will be a gradual mass migration to D&D 4E. I believe there are enough major mistakes being made, however, that the migration will not be nearly as complete as WotC will hope. While some of the most egregious such mistakes are not related to game mechanics, the vast majority of them are, and this will play a part in whittling down the fanbase.

Part of the reason for this danger to D&D’s dominant market share is alternatives. There are now, in a way there never really were before, alternatives to “upgrading” that provide not just an equally palatable substitute for many, but an actually superior replacement. The most notable of these may be the new Pathfinder RPG, which you can actually download in its Alpha test release as a PDF, for free — and you’ll be able to do the same withe the more complete Beta test release after this year’s GenCon. While many gamers will simply stick with 3E for a long time, eventually drifting into either 4E or essentially unrelated games (Traveller, maybe?), or even into not playing RPGs at all when it simply becomes too difficult to get together a group who haven’t moved on to newer editions of D&D, many others will choose Pathfinder or some other alternative instead. Pathfinder itself is basically the spiritual successor of D&D 3.5, in fact; those who most liked 3.5 but still want a game that doesn’t stagnate both commercially and socially will probably find Pathfinder an inviting proposition (if they give it an honest chance, of course).

I’m convinced that a lot of what WotC and Hasbro are doing is, from a business standpoint, downright stupid — completely aside from the things they’re doing that are essentially damaging the game as it exists in the hearts and minds of its long-term fans. Some of it isn’t as stupid, of course, but some of it just seems downright moronic. I’m also convinced this will not damage D&D market share enough that anyone can use declining market share as a strong argument that these decisions are that stupid. About the only way that would work out is if the OGL game ecosystem ends up essentially taking over D&D’s dominant market position in the near future, and I think it will take a few years for that to happen if it happens at all. In the midst of all the damage WotC and Hasbro are doing to their D&D business, they have one huge advantage that nobody else has: the D&D brand.

Getting Away With Murder

Many gamers seem to be looking at 4E as something akin to murder, where the D&D they’ve known and loved for thirty years is the victim. Regardless of that, it’s blindingly obvious that the WotC/Hasbro collective is trying to “murder” open gaming as a potential source of competition for dollars and market share — and considering how many of us believe the OGL is in many ways the best thing that has happened to RPGs in decades, that can really sting. The power of the D&D brand, however, means that — as far as WotC/Hasbro will be able to tell — they’re going to get away with it. As Monte Cook once observed, it might be generous to suggest there’s an RPG industry at all aside from D&D.

This is a short-term analysis, of course. Longer term, a lot of things can change. Just as in the software industry, I think that in the long run the closer something is to a Copyfree state, the more successful it will be — all else being equal, of course. That means that games published under licenses like the OGL have greater potential for long-term success, especially if efforts like the Free RPG Community, the Open Gaming Foundation, and OpenRoleplaying.org gain traction. Pathfinder RPG, if it is commercially successful (at least enough so that it would be carried on by a gaming community even if it were commercially EOLed), could give that sort of thing a big boost.

It’s even possible that, largely on the strength of it being truer to traditional D&D flavor while still advancing the state of the art in D&D game mechanics, Pathfinder might gradually usurp D&D market share and mindshare. That would require a strong following for PRPG relatively early on, so that there’s a solid base, and that people tire of 4E’s differences from 3.5, of course. PRPG needs to be successful enough to survive and become a sustainable game of its own before that can happen, barring nigh-miraculous shifts in distribution of market share in the next couple of years.

. . . but, at least as far as the business analysts are concerned, I’m sure WotC/Hasbro will “get away with murder” this time around. Time will tell, I suppose.

15 Comments

  1. I think PRPG will work out fairly nicely, but I don’t think it’s going to be the D&D killer we’re looking for. Paizo does too much business to want to alienate such large market share. At the very least, I don’t see them gaining significant market share for at least 10 years.

    Comment by Joseph A Nagy Jr — 8 July 2008 @ 07:15

  2. Suspension of disbelief… heh. That was part of the huge problem with 4E that my husband was really annoyed with—as was I. You can make certain concessions to the rules, play balance, etc. and still suspend disbelief, but 4E threw suspension out the window, then went outside and stomped it into the sidewalk for good measure.

    Okay, I’m getting a grip on myself so I won’t spend several paragraphs on your blog ranting about all the ways in which they ruined willing suspension of disbelief for me… =)

    Unfortunately, getting significant market share away from D&D, or replacing it in any real sense, is about as tough as doing the same thing to Warcraft in the MMO market. And for the same reason: it takes a certain investment of time & money to maintain the hobby, and you want to be on the same system your friends are so you can play together. If you can’t afford to try out or play all the new ones that come along, or even the most significant ones, then you’ll stick with the one or two you know you can play with your friends.

    Comment by heather (errantdreams) — 8 July 2008 @ 09:11

  3. Joseph:

    Paizo does too much business to want to alienate such large market share.

    Um . . . what? I’m not sure how Paizo would alienate any market share by building enough market share to effectively supplant D&D. I agree that it’s unlikely Paizo will be the “D&D killer”, but I don’t understand your reasoning.

    heather:

    Okay, I’m getting a grip on myself so I won’t spend several paragraphs on your blog ranting about all the ways in which they ruined willing suspension of disbelief for me…

    Actually, I wouldn’t mind if you did rant about it here. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on the matter enough to properly review 4E at some point, but have been having trouble doing so. Maybe some outside viewpoints will help in that regard.

    More likely, I’ll just end up mentioning one part of my problem with the game at a time, in essays about related matters, rather than eventually reviewing 4E as a whole. At least, that looks more likely right now — judging by the way I did exactly that here.

    Unfortunately, getting significant market share away from D&D, or replacing it in any real sense, is about as tough as doing the same thing to Warcraft in the MMO market.

    Actually, I think it’s easier to “replace” WoW than D&D. For one thing, a real RPG weathers the vagaries of time better than a computer game. For another, while WoW might have a larger active customer base, the pencil and paper RPG market is slower to change. A third point — D&D has about 35 years of history, brand recognition, and customer loyalty behind it.

    Comment by apotheon — 8 July 2008 @ 11:54

  4. Good point—I guess they’re parallel situations, but different in their intensity.

    In a nutshell, they ruined the suspension of disbelief by resorting to MMO methods—and things that work in CRPGs because we’re used to seeing them on the computer screen just don’t work in our old friend D&D. Many of my favorite examples come from the various powers, but they aren’t the only culprits.

    Take, for example, one of the warrior class powers. The warrior can ‘mark’ an opponent such that if they attack any other target, they receive a penalty. The really ridiculous part is that they could have justified this in a milieu-appropriate manner. All they had to do was call it ‘engaging’ the enemy, and said something about your flurry of blows being so fierce that it’s difficult for your opponent to face and attack anyone else. Instead you’re ‘marking’ your opponent, and that’s the only explanation given. It sounds like ‘hunter’s mark’ in Warcraft, where there’s a big red arrow over your target.

    Or how about healing surges? The rules specify that you can’t simply carry a sack of rats around so you can club one in order to get a healing surge. The only justification given? That you can’t get a healing surge from a target that isn’t a challenge. It’s a very MMO justification, like those abilities in Warcraft that don’t get triggered by killing a ‘gray’ creature. Instead, why don’t they simply say that healing surges are triggered by the adrenaline brought about by fighting for your life? That would accomplish the same thing, but actually make it fit the context.

    Here’s my favorite relevant quote from my husband’s review:

    As another examples, 17th level warlords have access to a power called, “Own the Battlefield.” The description is, “Like a puppet master, you position your enemies exactly how you want them,” and the effect is to slide every enemy nearby a certain number of squares on the battlemap as the warlord sees fit. I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I read it, trying to imagine how I’d describe it to a group of players. “Okay, you use ‘Own the Battlefield,’ huh? Uhh… ok… well… alright, I know it’s supposed to be based on your mastery of the field of combat and tactics, but there’s absolutely *no way* those spellcasters are foolish enough to just impale themselves on your melee line like that. I guess holes open up in the ceiling and strings come down, attaching themselves to your foes on the battlefield. They fight at the strings to no avail and are dragged where your Warlord capriciously points. Once your adversaries are repositioned, the strings retract back into the stone ceiling and are gone.” Sorry, but I just can’t make this ability make sense. I understand the idea is to give Warlords the ability to shape a battlespace using their leadership skills and tactical knowledge, but the way it was mapped into a rule just breaks my suspension of disbelief.

    I’d have to go through the book line-by-line to find every possible example, and it would take up pages and pages. They put a ton of rules in there that are bald play-balance fixes without any evident attempt to make them fit into the context of the game and game world. Because of that, actually playing the game ends up yielding these ridiculous circumstances that break believability.

    Comment by heather (errantdreams) — 8 July 2008 @ 12:47

  5. Right now Paizo still sells D&D products, including 4E (I’ve gotten email circulars for 4E from them, as well as having seen it on the site). I just think that while they want to create alternative to 4E for their customers, at the same time they have no desire to completely supplant what WotC/Hasbro is doing because it still brings in a great deal of money for them.

    Comment by Joseph A Nagy Jr — 8 July 2008 @ 06:17

  6. Paizo has an online store that sells 4E products — but what Paizo creates is 3.5 and PRPG stuff. Since PRPG is intended to be 3.5-compatible, that means that 3.5 stuff created by Paizo is also PRPG stuff.

    Comment by apotheon — 8 July 2008 @ 09:01

  7. Heather, thanks for your point there. The one thing that was really missing in this blog post (that kind of just made it feel hollow) were actual examples of the alleged suspension-of-belief-defying aspects of it. I wonder if the stuff you’re talking about is the same stuff he’s talking about?

    Comment by Cyde Weys — 9 July 2008 @ 08:28

  8. I think two things particularly struck me about the breakage of suspension of disbelief (SoD): First, that much of it, as I mentioned earlier, stems from the fact that the writers seem to have taken a great deal of inspiration with respect to play-balancing from MMOs. This isn’t all bad—in some ways it helped to make the rules simpler and easier; for example, I like the revisions to the skill system. But we’re willing as gamers to suspend disbelief in video games in ways that we won’t in tabletop.

    Second, that much of it was also due simply to a poor quality of writing that I was very surprised to see from WotC, particularly in a major edition of D&D. They have a real budget. They have a long-standing stable of pro gaming authors. I can only think of a couple of reasons for the writing to be so slipshod: Perhaps Hasbro dictated that the game be written in a manner to be compatible with MMO needs, for future product reasons. Perhaps the development team was forced to work on such a tight deadline that they didn’t do as much editing as they should have. Or perhaps there was a shakeup at WotC that caused many of their best writers to move on.

    Regardless, some of the major design decisions undercut the SoD, but also many of the small details—most of which would have been fixable—wrecked it as well.

    I’m mystified as to how this book made it out the doors in this shape.

    Hey Cyde—just looked at your blog and saw you graduated from Univ. MD, College Park. That’s just up the road from me—literally!

    Comment by heather (errantdreams) — 9 July 2008 @ 09:51

  9. Cyde Weys:

    Yes, heather’s examples are exactlyt he sorts of things I was talking about.

    heather:

    This isn’t all bad—in some ways it helped to make the rules simpler and easier; for example, I like the revisions to the skill system.

    I’m not such a fan of the way 4E does skills — restricting each character to a very limited set of skills (s)he can learn (e.g, Warlocks only get to choose from a list of eight skills — because, of course, all warlocks in the world must have grown up and lived under almost identical conditions). Worse, without spending feats on skills, you can’t even focus your energies on being better in some skills you have than others — and you essentially can’t be entirely unskilled in anything at all. One of the most annoying things about 3.5 skills was the ridiculous amount of math involved, where the max level of your class skills was your Level + 3, and for cross-class skills was half that (leading to the absurdity of half-levels in skills), and it’s nice that 4E did away with that. Unfortunately, 4E introduced some more unnecessary and annoying math, with half your experience level added to your skill check bonuses. I find bonus calculation that uses division to be particularly odious, especially since you then have to start worrying about rounding mechanics.

    By contrast, a system I quite like (and is a great improvement over 3.5’s skill system) is that in Pathfinder RPG Alpha 3. Like 4E’s skills, it consolidates a lot of them (I was amused to see that 4E and PRPG both combined Move Silently and Hide in Shadows into a single skill, Stealth) to simplify some of the needless complexity of the skill list that existed as only a holdover from original Thief class abilities. It also significantly simplifies skill progression, as does 4E’s — but without stripping it of all its customizability. The way skill levels balance out has shifted somewhat from they way they did in 3.5, but not in a way that made them at all problematic. Progression is the same as in 3.5, with a base number determined by class and modified by Intelligence, but without the multiplication at first level (giving the first math-simplifying change), which isn’t needed now that many skills have been consolidated. Rather than doing an arithmetic song and dance involving max level bonuses that have to be continuously recalculated, including division by two, to differentiate between class skills and cross-class skills, Pathfinder simplifies it by just saying that the max is equal to your level — with a one-time +3 bonus to any class skill.

    All things considered, this makes the skill system’s bookkeeping at least as simplified as 4E’s, if not more so, but doesn’t sacrifice flexibility and personalization the way 4E does — which, by the way, also contributes to greater issues with suspension of disbelief in 4E.

    Or perhaps there was a shakeup at WotC that caused many of their best writers to move on.

    Actually, from what I understand, there was a major shake-up in the year or so immediately following Hasbro’s acquisition, where a bunch of the (at that time) old guard drifted off to work for other companies, et cetera. While that brain drain was in some ways kind of a one-time event (but over the course of some time, rather than all at once), it didn’t completely go away; it just slowed down a whole lot. This, at least, is the impression I get from reading some of the online writings (on personal websites, in discussion forum posts, et cetera) of the people who left.

    Comment by apotheon — 9 July 2008 @ 12:12

  10. I’m not such a fan of the way 4E does skills

    I’m sorry, I should have been more specific. There are certain aspects to the new system that I like, such as grouping several related skills together rather than having you make separate rolls for a handful of things at once. There are also aspects to it I don’t like, such as the ridiculous challenge system.

    Comment by heather (errantdreams) — 10 July 2008 @ 09:20

  11. Sounds like we’re on the same sheet of music, then.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 July 2008 @ 09:34

  12. To my mind the problem with 4E is not mechanical but rather a blandness of flavor:

    Many spells that don’t do damage have been deleted. If the spell had “Charm”, “Dominate”, “Speak with”, “Create”, “Summon”, or “Animate” in the title, it’s probably gone. There are polymorph effects, but none of them actually let you change form like the old polymorph. Attack spells that don’t target the opponent directly but instead target his items such as Grease, Shatter, Warp Wood, Heat Metal, etc mostly have been removed.

    This is further aggravated by the fact that the only ways to harm an opponent appears to be hitpoint-damage and conditions like stunned, slowed, petrified, etc. Even with conditions, there is almost nothing provided for in the class abilities, that doesn’t add up to attacking an opponent for damage: Say you are a cleric; what do you do in combat? Attack for damage and maybe allow an ally to heal as a side effect. You’re a fighter; what do you do? Attack for a bit more damage than other people. You’re a rogue; what do you do? Attack for damage in a sneaky way. You’re a warlock; what do you do? Attack with spells for Damage and maybe a inflict a condition on your target as well. Your a ranger; what do you do? Attack for Damage with two weapons or a ranged weapon and maybe move as a side effect. Your a warlord; what do you do? Attack for damage, and give allies opportunities to… you guessed it… attack for damage. Wizards are a little less stuck in his paradigm, but if you were the kind of player in previous editions of the game that focused on spells like Grease, Darkness, Animate Rope, Pyrotechnics, Speak with Animal, Reduce Plants, or Stone to Mud… you know things the changed the nature of the encounter, but didn’t necessarily do even one point of damage… you’ll find 4E very stifling.

    There are a lot of changes to the underlying mechanic that are mostly to the good, more streamlined, in my opinion. However, fearing a loss of market share to online games like World of Warcraft, the D&D designers have imitated the combat-is-everything paradigm of such online games rather than emphasize what makes a tabletop game different… better… than a MMPORPG. If you’re the kind of player who likes rolling dice and seeing the bad-guy go boom, 4E is an excellent and very well balanced system. However, they have sacrificed much of the versatile and open-ended flavor of the game in order to achieve that balance. Simultaneously they risk pigeon holing 4E into a paradigm that it is unlikely to be able to compete in vs. much more specialized products: the paradigm of World of Warcraft.

    However, the 4E is not without redeeming features: Rituals granting some of the more un-bounded magical effects to ALL classes is a Great Idea. Also the Tiering system (Heroic, Paragon, Epic) adds to play balance and flavor in many subtle ways. The more I read the system, the more I am struck by how well designed and thought-out the various class abilities are. If subsequent expansions to the rules add more utility powers unrelated to combat to the existing classes and more rituals, much of what was lost in the way of flavor and versatility will be regained. In that regard, the 4E books that have been released to date may be intended to only be a minimalist scaffold on which more rules will be layered. In past editions of D&D, new rule books have been added until the system became unworkable. The minimalist quality of the existing 4E books may be intended to get in front of and compensate for that trend.

    I think 4E is a good system for the Living Campaigns, like the soon to premier Living Forgotten Realms, but that 3.5 will remain the system of choice in home games for many years.

    Comment by Lucretius — 10 July 2008 @ 11:24

  13. To my mind the problem with 4E is not mechanical but rather a blandness of flavor:

    I’d say that’s “a problem”, not “the problem”. Calling it “the problem” implies there’s only one.

    Many spells that don’t do damage have been deleted. If the spell had “Charm”, “Dominate”, “Speak with”, “Create”, “Summon”, or “Animate” in the title, it’s probably gone.

    You can probably blame that on game mechanics decisions. They’re not easily adjudicated by software, so they’ve been cut out of the books. After all, they need their D&D Insider to be able to handle the whole game.

    Game mechanics have a strong effect on game flavor. The WotC/Hasbro collective doesn’t seem to care nearly as much about that as it does about its plans for new revenue streams, though.

    As far as I’m concerned, there are only two reasons to care about game mechanics:

    1. The wrong system can slow down play horribly. Simple and fast is better, all else being equal.

    2. The wrong system can completely hose up the flavor of the game.

    WotC seems to have improved on #1 slightly with 4E, but at great cost to #2 — far too much cost, in my considered opinion.

    However, fearing a loss of market share to online games like World of Warcraft, the D&D designers have imitated the combat-is-everything paradigm of such online games rather than emphasize what makes a tabletop game different… better… than a MMPORPG.

    . . . which pretty much seems to be the real source of the problem. I definitely agree with you there.

    Rituals granting some of the more un-bounded magical effects to ALL classes is a Great Idea.

    Sure . . . if you want everyone in the game to be a ritual spellcaster. I kinda like magic to be a little less common than that, in my games. Sucks all the wonder right out of it.

    Also the Tiering system (Heroic, Paragon, Epic) adds to play balance and flavor in many subtle ways.

    It also sucks a lot out of it, with the elimination of things like Prestige Classes. Of course, that wouldn’t fit into the simplified mechanics of an MMORPG, so I can see why they did that. I just don’t see how they could have thought this was a good idea if they actually spent any time thinking about it.

    The more I read the system, the more I am struck by how well designed and thought-out the various class abilities are.

    Within the limits of an MMORPG-like system, that’s true. Otherwise, it’s just maddening.

    If subsequent expansions to the rules add more utility powers unrelated to combat to the existing classes and more rituals, much of what was lost in the way of flavor and versatility will be regained.

    I don’t foresee WotC doing anything that might make D&D Insider any less enticing to gamers. If it simply won’t support some of the rules people want to use, those people will not use it as much — which would do serious damage to the new revenue stream WotC/Hasbro came up with.

    In past editions of D&D, new rule books have been added until the system became unworkable.

    Only if you use everything. Most of us did some picking and choosing, based on what would best fit the flavors of our campaigns.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 July 2008 @ 03:30

  14. A well written blog (as are most of yours) and some thoughtful comments as well.

    WotC has pretty badly mismanaged this whole thing such that even IF the 4e rules were fantastic (which they’re not) they’d have started off on the wrong foot. I wanted to be excited about 4e, but I’m pretty disappointed, as are all of my gaming group. We’ll be playing 3.5 (or perhaps Pathfinder) for the foreseeable future. All praise the OGL though…for without that, our options and prospects for morphing 3.x into various other forms that keep it alive and viable would never have happened!

    Comment by The Desert Yeti — 18 July 2008 @ 04:51

  15. A well written blog (as are most of yours) and some thoughtful comments as well.

    Thanks for the comments, and welcome to SOB. I appreciate the compliment.

    All praise the OGL though…for without that, our options and prospects for morphing 3.x into various other forms that keep it alive and viable would never have happened!

    Agreed! I’ve said before that the OGL may be one of the most important things to ever happen to the RPG industry.

    Comment by apotheon — 19 July 2008 @ 12:00

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