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A Proposal & Petition: Say YES to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS / Say NO THANKS to D&D NEXT

I want to state right off that this was one of the most difficult blogs I have ever written since I started publishing on my Neuroglyph Games site.  I have literally spent several weeks pondering whether or not to take this course of action, and have been greatly concerned that it might be viewed as a discourtesy to the D&D Next design team.  While I deeply respect the talented designers and writers devoted to our favorite role-playing game over at Wizards of the Coast, nevertheless, I feel that the current course set by creating a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons is both misguided and potentially dangerous to the future of the game.

Therefore, I feel compelled to take action in the hopes that like-minded gamers will join with me to inform Hasbro/WotC that there is an alternative to simply releasing a new edition of the D&D RPG.  This alternative publishing model allows Wizards of the Coast to become a Content-Provider for Dungeons & Dragons which can benefit all D&D gamers everywhere – and for all editions of the game!

A Proposal: Resurrect & Support All Editions!

In an open letter to Wizards of the Coast in May 2012, the UAD&D blog made a well-written and passionate appeal to reconsider the D&D Next project:

Stop trying to tell the people what they want and instead, give them what they want. If people are currently playing four different systems of D&D (and they are: Rules Cyclopedia (including Basic, etc.), AD&D (both editions), 3/3.5 and 4) then obviously what they want is four different systems.

The blogger further urged Hasbro/WotC to reconsider a new publishing model to “…become a content provider”:

Create modules, gadgets, computer programs, games, worlds.  Sell monster supplements, new editions of old books with fixed-up artwork, modules, pre-generated characters, maps, rulers, minis, grids, movies, notebooks and lunch boxes.

After reading the UAD&D blog, I pondered the ideas put forth for quite a while – in fact I went back and created a PDF version of the blog and kept it on my desktop for weeks, just so I could re-read sections without having to jump on the web.  And the more I read, the more I felt that the author had really come up with a great way to satisfy the question burning in the minds of those running Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast:

“How do we unite the masses of D&D fans, and get them to buy our products again?”

Comparing the two publishing models, one where you simply bring back support for all the editions and publish for every D&D gamer, and the other where you cancel support for yet another edition and create a new game (ie. D&D Next), it’s hard not to get a sense that the former model is far more inclusive than the latter.  Presenting old and new material for all D&D fans, regardless of their edition of choice, offers absolutely no risk of alienating fans or to pit them against one another in an edition war.  But creating a new system (ie. Next) has the automatic risk that it will not have appeal to some portion of the D&D fan base, and offers the potential for another edition war, even if it is proclaimed as the edition “everyone can play”.

And beyond making old content available again for older editions, the idea of converting content from one edition to others should be an exciting prospect.  I myself have lamented that settings like Greyhawk and Dragonlance were never converted to D&D 4E.  And as a fan of Planescape, I would have liked to see how that setting could have been fit into 4E’s new cosmology.  And many of the more later edition settings might be of interest to gamers of AD&D or 2nd Edition, but unavailable to them because they chose to stick to a rules system they enjoyed best.  Considering that there are so many campaign settings and modules that were only published for a single edition, or maybe a couple editions, it seems a shame that fans playing the “wrong” edition might never enjoy playing them.

And then there is the prospect of new content being developed for various editions.  Aside from the potential of new campaign settings and new adventure modules which can be written for one edition, and then converted and published for all editions of D&D, there’s even more content that can be developed here.  New character classes, spells (or 4E rituals), and magic items can be developed and added to all editions of D&D, converted from one rule set to another with a little effort.  For later editions like OGL/3.5 and 4E, new feats, prestige classes/paragon paths, and templates/themes can be developed and added to continuously expand game options.

And obviously, the numerous OGL/3.5 fans and Pathfinder converts who have refused to transition to 4E is a sore spot with Wizards of the Coast, representing a substantial loss of revenue and support for the current edition of D&D.  Clearly, WotC wants to appeal to some of those fans lost in the OGL/Pathfinder/4E edition war, but is creating a new edition going to fix the problem?

Again, there is a risk that D&D Next might not be appealing to enough of the OGL/3.5 or the Pathfinder gamers, which means that it has merely created another schism in the fan base and community.  On the other hand, if WotC were to offer full support to OGL/3.5 again, offering conversions of older edition products and the promise of new products, how could even the most fickle fan not perceive this as a “good thing”?  And considering that Pathfinder is essentially an OGL product, new products released by WotC for OGL/3.5 might end up being purchased by Paizo’s customers, even if they stick with current Pathfinder rules.

And finally, offering a new Gaming License to write content for all D&D editions will be a boon for freelance writers, 3rd Party Publishers, and Wizards of the Coast as well..  Support and licensing for all editions means a true renaissance for the Dungeons & Dragons game, bringing new ideas and products to the gaming community, as well as creating freelancers which can be tapped by WotC to work on new products and supplemental material.

A Petition: Say YES to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS!

After only four years since last edition of Dungeons & Dragons (4E) was released, Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro have made the decision to stop supporting it, despite its popularity with numbers older gamers as well as a noteworthy population of new gamers.  As a replacement, it has been decided that a new edition of D&D would be designed for the gaming community, based upon a retro-clone model, despite a glut in the game market of heroic-fantasy-D&D-like retro clones.  Furthermore, DDI support features which had been promised for the current retiring edition, such as the Virtual Table Top (VTT), Character Visualizer, and Encounter Builder, have all been postponed indefinitely or cancelled, in a move which was inherently detrimental to brand loyalty.

WotC has made promises that this new ”Next” edition of Dungeons & Dragons will unite “an audience that had been divided by differences in editions and play styles…” by designing “…a version of D&D that all players could experience and enjoy.” (D&D Next: Interview with Mike Mearls at GeekNation, June 2012). While intrinsically this is a worthwhile goal, nevertheless it is hard to deny the probability that if D&D Next fails to unite the fan base, it is destined to fracture the Dungeons & Dragons Community once again, as the release of 4E did by disenfranchising the OGL/3.5 fans.

Poll data released by Wizards of the Coast and EN World have reported that approval ratings by the playtesters of the new edition’s rules are only registering at less than two-thirds (~60%).  And this says nothing of those gamers in the D&D Community which show so little interest in D&D Next that they have not even bothered to sign up for the playtest and contribute to the development of the new edition.  Further, recent threads on the D&D Community Forums Anyone Else Having Trouble Keeping Players Interested? and EN World Forums Losing Interest & Are You Still Playtesting? suggest that enthusiasm for the proposed Next edition is already waning, and more than a year before its release date.

It appears that retiring yet another “current” edition of D&D in order to make way for a new edition is not the way to unite the Gaming Community behind the Dungeons & Dragons brand and product line.  So rather than a new edition, let’s urge Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro to bring back corporate support for ALL EDITIONS of Dungeons & Dragons – D&D, AD&D, 2nd Edition, OGL/3.5, and 4E – and give all D&D fans access to the massive product library from the past, and going forward into the future!

Hasbro/WotC – give D&D fans everything they want from current and past editions, and profit from a new publishing model that doesn’t require a new edition!

Product Suggestions for a Content-Provider Publishing Model:

  • Re-publish core rulebook and sourcebooks for all previous editions of D&D.
  • Re-publish all old D&D supplemental content such as modules and settings for all editions.
  • Re-publish old issues of Dragon and Dungeon Magazine in POD or eBook formats.
  • Use POD and eBook formats such as EPUB, PDF, and Kindle to release the vast library of D&D content without stock overhead.
  • Convert modules and campaign settings originally published under one edition, and publish them under all other editions.
  • Combine all material from the current 4E edition, including errata and Essentials materials, to create more streamlined version of this edition to be re-published.
  • Sponsor DDI support for all four editions, including Character Builders, Monster & Encounter Designers, and Rules Compendiums.  Allow fans to buy subscriptions to each support program separately, or to subscribe to bundles, or the entirety of DDI support, as desired.
  • Implement the use of new technology in all editions of D&D, either through internal development or outsourcing.  Publish Player and Dungeon Master apps for palm devices, tablets, and smart phones.
  • Release new content for all editions in Dragon and Dungeon Webzine articles, allocating percentage of pages in proportion to DDI subscriptions for each edition.
  • License all editions under a new agreement to encourage 3rd Party Publishers to support all editions of the game.
  • Design and release of new supplemental content (modules, sourcebooks, campaign settings, etc.) can be published for all editions – one product sells to four consumer groups!

In Conclusion…

Again, I cannot stress enough that I do not want to offend or disrespect the developers and designers at Wizards of the Coast – they do some amazing work on D&D products, and the hobby has benefitted from their efforts over the past several years.  But although I am truly a lifelong fan of D&D, I cannot profess to being a fan of Hasbro/WotC enough to want to buy D&D Next just because it has a Dungeons & Dragons logo on it.  I feel quite strongly that the best way to perpetuate Dungeons & Dragons into the future is to support all of the fan base, current and past, and to assure that they are not disenfranchised by removing corporate support and retiring their favorite editions.

So I urge readers here to consider my petition.  And if you think it’s worthy, please go to CHANGE.ORG [Wizards of the Coast: Support all current and past editions of Dungeons & Dragons!] to sign and lend your support for a vision of D&D that includes all fans and all editions – past, present, and future!

Supporting ALL D&D EDITIONS means supporting ALL D&D FANS!

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


37 Responses to “A Proposal & Petition: Say YES to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS / Say NO THANKS to D&D NEXT

  1. Geek Ken says:

    What blows my mind is that WotC will be reprinting the 3.5 books [ ]. I’m with you. Why not work on getting new books out of different past editions of D&D and just add additional titles? Make 4E = Basic D&D, 3.5 = Classic D&D, 2e/AD&D = Founder’s D&D. Why try and grind out a ruleset taking bits from everything before as an entirely new edition?

  2. Arbanax says:

    Personally I’ve enjoyed 4e and am also enjoying play testing 5e (yup still play testing it) but I think that, in an age that prides itself on choice, what you’re saying makes sense. After all if people want to buy stuff, why shouldn’t WOTC sell them it! That sounds like a no brainer.

    After all recent history has proven fans can be quiet conservative and protective over their favourite edition. Such that they don’t make the jump and never will. If time has proven that to be the case, then what you are saying makes perfect sense. Why force the issue, sell them what they and many other want. Make use of the popularity of retro clones by selling old modules to new folk.

    I’ve often thought that the apple model of being a closed system within which you allow others to innovate and you approve their stuff to sell on through your web site is a great idea, or POD or through FLGS.

    But also, this means there is less pressure to get the next edition out stat, more time means more opportunity to test it and get a ground swell of fan support, not in competition with but as a way to allow players of any edition to play together at one table. This then might finally be a way forward without causing further fracture.

    I’d like to sign up the petition, but because of what I’ve said above, its a bit of a blunt instrument to get my point across. But I do support what you’re saying, whilst still maintaining my support for a potential supplementary edition DnDNext could be to accompany rather than rival previous editions in your suggested ecosystem.

  3. I think the biggest reason to support this – for me at least – would be to see all the supplements that were only available for an edition or two, opened up to the whole D&D playing world. I know in my society there are people who steer clear of new editions, for that very reason, to the point that they’ve never even bothered playing them since they con’t play in their favourite universe.

  4. César says:

    I agree with your idea. It´s the best choice, would make everyone happy and bring the customers back.
    But it´s too much for WotC. They could do it, but they would need a better business strategy than they had in the last… 5 or 6 years? The one that started with the 4e previews (”Why you game suck and you should move to 4e…”) and they are still using (”Why you game suck and you should move to 5e…”)?
    That would be great, I would buy a lot of books from WotC and that would make every player I know happy. But I don´t think that will happen :(

  5. Androlphas says:

    A very bold, yet honest and heartfelt petition. I’m sure many (myself included) feel as you.

    I was thinking the other day that my fandom for the D&D franchise (not the game) has started to wane in a similar manner to the way my fandom for the Star Wars franchise waned after the prequels and New Jedi Order book series.

    Coming from someone who loves the D&D brand (even 4e), this is not good at all, but your idea is a great one! Take heed WotC!

  6. dmStringer says:

    While I agree with you that re-publishing the older edition material would be good not only for WotC but also for the D&D community as a whole, my main reaction to your petition was: why does it need to be an exclusively “either / or” proposition?

    If the designers at Wizards feel strongly that the game can benifit from Next, what is stopping them from ALSO ramping up support (especially in the form of POD or ebooks) for the older editions at the same time?

    My 2 cents.

  7. Tricky says:

    This is only viable in non-physical formats – the astronomical costs of printing the majority of past-edition material, and then hoping that the audience for each exists in numbers large enough to recoup losses represents an extreme risk.
    This is a case where Hasbro/WOTC would be better served investing in, or using currently available ebook printing services like Expresso: no digital copies widely available for exploitation, printing on demand, and no backlogged warehouses stuffed with the least popular offerings.

  8. Jack says:

    It’s occurred to me that contrary to what many people seem to think — such as Arbanax above — I don’t think this is a matter of one system being “better” than another, or gamers being “conservative” or protective of their favored system. The fact is that although these systems have similar goals and a shared fantasy, we are actually talking about *different* games. Sure it’s all about Fighters and Wizards killing dragons and robbing dungeons, but the rules sets for OD&D, AD&D, 4e and all the rest are quite different, and that difference has an effect on how the games are played — and some players are going to prefer the experience that one system provides over another, and their preference may shift depending on what their goals for the campaign are, or how rough of a week they’ve had at work, or what they had for lunch. And that’s OK.

    WotC sees that the market is fractured, and they’ve decided that the answer is to try to reunite the community under their product. Instead they should focus on how they can serve the various factions, and they’re arguably the best situated to meet our various needs because it’s their brand (inherited from TSR) which is the root that we all branch from.

  9. Philo Pharynx says:

    I don’t think this is realistic. It would take a lot of work to get the old content in to an e-publishable state. Some of the old content would sell well, but a lot of it is going to have a smaller audience, and they’ll need to charge more to cover the costs.

    WotC has done a lot of small-scale conversions of products from one edition to another. They often haven’t sold well. To do a large scale and convert material into all editions will once again be a lot of work. And it will make a few people happy. I don’t think it will make enough people happy to be worth it. After all, how many people are going to buy four editions of the same book?

  10. William says:

    What about those of us who WANT a new edition? There are those of us who do want a new direction for D&D. I loved fourth edition, and I mean LOVED. I ran two campaigns to 30, and a weekly encounters group. But there are somethings that fourth doesn’t do for me, that older editions don’t do either. Even if only 60% of the polled population are positive, that’s still a clear majority. Governments are elected with less decisive results and declare a mandate has been given them. I’d say a clear mandate has been given to the design team here. What do you say to the people who want a new edition? How should wizards support us?

    While I can’t help but admire the ideals (All D&D players should be supported and united) behind this petition, the realist in me is forced to ask what you hope to accomplish? A massive company like Hasbro and Wizards is not going to back down on this. They made a gigantic media announcement. They have put a sizable amount of capital into the design and development of D&D Next. Furthermore you’re talking about a financial system that simply will not bring in the same amount of money that a new edition will. Going back to your 60% number, will 60% of fans buy a new version of Dragonlance? A third Martial Power? A OD&D version of Keep on the Shadowfell? For the amount of resources this will cost, will there be a profit margin that Hasbro will find acceptable? Products like those you propose are traditionally not high sellers. At the end of the day one thing we need to remember is that D&D is a Product that is owned by Hasbro. If it does not perform, we are in danger of not getting any more of it. A new edition (specifically this new edition) gives Hasbro what they want, 60% of the fans what they want (Possibly more if the modular system works the way they want) and gives us the best chance for a continuation of D&D into the future.

    TLDR; I respect the spirit of your petition, but think that it is a little naive when dealing with corporate business.

  11. Beowulf says:


    There doesn’t need to be an “Instead of” here. They could do this before, during, or after the release of 5th Edition. 5th just becomes another choice.

    Another problem is the difference in some of the campaign settings. Forgotten Realms was destroyed for 4th Ed. It would be difficult to write content that would fit nicely into the Old or the New equally well.

    I actually like this idea from a customer perspective, but I think it may be unrealistic from a business standpoint. No single customer is going to buy 4 or 5 different versions of the same content. When you go back past 3.0, while there are still some AD&D players out there, I can’t see sales of these books paying for the production costs, unless all the content was digital only and even then that might be a stretch. The same would be true for software developed for early different editions.

    The smart business move on Wizard’s part is to buy out Pathfinder and terminate the OGL. Start with Pathfinder as a base, make some tweaks, if there is some really choice stuff in 5th (I’ve not seen it), rebrand it, and there you go. You want to play a fantasy RPG with anything like this flavor? It’s dungeons and dragons or nothing. Problem solved.

  12. GamerSeuss says:

    The problem with this approach is 2-fold…

    First, the fact that WotC has decided that to combat piracy on the net, they don’t want their books to be available in PDF/epub formats. Although I see this as a major marketing snafu, it is the current stance of the brand.

    Second is the fact that the OGL actually lost business for the D&D Brand. It sold, and sold a lot, but that was mostly for the 3rd party providers. In essence, the OGL put WotC in direct competition with its own Brand. Part of the reason that they moved on to 4e, was the fact that D&D was losing market shares like a soldier hemorrhaging blood on the battlefield, and it had to stop.

    Finally, the Pathfinder subset of the OGL/3.x crowd are rather burned on the WotC/Hasbro brand name, so would be very unlikely to do more than support the other 3rd party products covered by a revitalized OGL, instead of those with the WotC seal on them.

    The reprinting of the older out of print edition books is not a bad idea. Neither is the rebuilding of content to cross editions. The problem is, with WotC’s refusal to do electronic publishing of the books, the cost involved in shelf-space for the different editions is going to be staggering. POD might work, however.

    Also consider, many of the older books now exist already in bootleg PDF format despite WotC’s efforts to cut down on piracy, which means if you really just wanted that old PDF, you would just have to find a torrent for it. Shoot, some of the stuff is old enough to qualify for Public Domain status as its been out of print long enough.

    In conclusion, although I love the direction this goes in some ways, the DnDNext project has more likely viability than this does. WotC is already experimenting with reprinting older books (1e for the Gygax Foundation and now 3.5 reprints)

    Also, a note….I love love love 4e, however, I would have no interest at all in buying reprint books of 4e that integrated all of the Essentials changes into them. I am a big fan of the Pre-Essentials 4e game, but anything going along with your plan would necessitate either integrating all of 4e and Essentials together, or yet another split in product lines. No Thanks

  13. Well, maybe the age of Corpo-D&D needs to come to an end. I don’t care about Hasboro’s profit margin, and neither do most of the people that play D&D; the only thing we care about is our game, our experience with it, etc. Why SHOULD we be concerned with whether or not the people at Hasborough are going to make money with D&D?

    Maybe you forget the days when D&D was a hobby rather than a product, where people produced it together in a spirit of community (yes, even though Gygax could be authoritarian… check out that letter that’s been going around ENWorld and Dragonsfoot). I don’t play D&D to make it profitable for someone else; if they can’t capitalize on it and maintain the integrity of the product they should just STOP MAKING IT. Release the IP and let little people that actually care do the work.

  14. guest says:

    This is common sense and the only way they’re going to get any money from me. Well, I might pick up the 1e PHB. Fist time they’ve had my business in 10+ years.

    @Geek Ken
    Good idea but bad examples for names; those names specifically would muddy the waters horribly. ‘Classic’ and ‘Basic’ both mean B/X, BECMI and etc. Plus calling 2e “Founders” would be ironic considering it was the first that neither were involved in. making.

  15. Jester David says:

    While I love the idea of reprinting older content and hope that we’ll see Print on Demand modules and Campaign settings very shortly I believe WotC will stop short of reprinting whole editions.

    There’s one GIANT catch with this. It leads to the firing of most of the D&D staff.
    You don’t need a full team of 10-30 people (or more) when you’re reprinting old books. You need an editor, a specialist in each edition to update content, an art director, and a couple people to manage the technical side. That’s IF new content is desired at all, when it’s easier to dump all that staff save the people managing the uploads of the books.

    It leads to no new content being made, because it’s just not profitable to write a book for a quarter of your audience. And while the game doesn’t die, it’s not really living any more.

  16. William says:

    @Joshua Graboff
    With all due respect, the age of corporate gaming is here and there’s no putting the lid back on the can. The reason you need to care about Hasbro’s bottom line is because if they don’t do well, they won’t keep D&D around. They’re just as likely to sit on it before having a different group attempt a relaunch rather than sell it. The track they are on right now with Next seems to be a good one. They are capitalizing the brand and they have put it in the hands of a group of people who obviously care a great deal about for the past and future of the game. At this point, in a world where a corporation owns D&D this is as good as we can realistically expect it to get. An open playtest devoted to getting it right, designers that care, and a company that wants the game to be good. They may only care that it’s good so it sells, but you don’t do such a long development process without quality being one of your concerns.

  17. @Jester – I think you missed the bullet point where there is plenty of new content that can be applied to all editions. Many new campaign settings, new modules, and new sourcebooks can be written and published four ways for four editions. And I would not assume that there would be people out of a job at WotC – if anything, you might need a larger staff, as you would need expert teams for each edition in R&D.

    @GamerSeuss – the perception that every ebook will be pirated is a problem WotC needs to overcome. The Amazon, Kindle, and other companies sell tons of ebooks of novels and textbooks, and you don’t see them quailing in their boots over pirates. It’s why there needs to be a shift in their corp-think. And even if they refuse ebooks, POD is still an economical prospect, and the end-reader gets a hardcopy that no pirate can get.

    @Beowulf – I think the time of WotC buying out Pathfinder is long past – I doubt Hasbro would even bother. And there is no need for 5E if all D&D fans are playing the editions they love.

    @William – That 60% approval is not the fan base, it’s 60% of the playtesters, which is only a small fraction of the fan base. If you can’t even get 2/3 of your playtesters to sign off on the core rules, then what hope do you have of making the whole fanbase happy? Publishing D&D Next by itself is destined to split the fan base up again, and potentially start another edition war – none of which is good for the hobby.

    As to what I hope to accomplish – I do hope to change the minds of WotC and Hasbro, and make them realize that their model of deposing the current edition and disenfranchising the players when they make a new edition is inherently destructive to their fan base and weakens brand loyalty. They need to take care of all their fans, not just the ones who will jump to a new edition out of fear of WotC packing up their toys and going home. If fear of not meeting Hasbro’s profit expectations is even a tiny bit of your motivation for wanting to buy D&D Next, then you’re a awfully naive consumer.

    There are fundamentally only two ways of changing corporate trends – petitions or boycotts. I think my petition is the most constructive and least painful of the two.

    I think it comes down to this: Don’t gamble if you can’t afford to lose. WotC is gambling on the fact that IF a new edition will attract a large enough percentage of the fans to buy new books, it’ll satisfy Hasbro’s bottom line for the IP. But there are already 100% of the fans playing an edition they love, just spread across several unsupported editions. Giving 100% of the fans support for their editions again guarantees that you’ll be selling to 100% of the D&D fans. It’s hard to lose at 100% odds.

  18. Jester David says:

    Question: Which edition stays in stores? What products stay in stores
    Even if they only carried the core books, you cannot ask vendors to stock four times the product for potentially fewer sales of each individual book. Likewise, even the largest game stores would be unable to carry “everything”.

    The solution is the one WotC has been very reluctant doing: handling money themselves and setting up an online store. When they sold PDFs they did it through other websites. They didn’t even do that for DDI and outsourced the finances. They don’t even sell their own books at GenCon.
    They seem dead set against competing with their stores and doing things themselves. So setting up a massive Print on Demand publication business is anathema. That restrictive online presence just further ghettoises the game. No one will stumble across D&D: they will have to go looking for it online to purchase.

    Your response to my comment was the reiteration that “they can publish books for all editions!” I can see that working for DDI (which they’re slowly killing) but not for books. WotC has been shrinking their hardcovers and seems comfortable with the teeny-tiny 160 p products. If that’s shared equally among editions, every person that buys gets 40 pages they can use for $40 (a buck-a-page!) and 120 pages they cannot.
    That’s unless the rule content is very small, which is unlikely to satisfy players.

  19. @Jester – I think it’s clear that WotC will have to change how they do business, and that means getting over their obsession with appeasing brick-and-mortar stores. Paizo has been selling their own products in both stores and in their own online shop for years, and no one complained to them – and they are outselling 4E. Not to mention, they also sell 3PP product for both Pathfinder and D&D. And using POD is essential to making the model work, as well as using ebooks. Again, I find it somewhat ironic that Paizo is beating the pants off WotC in sales, and they sell their core rulebooks in their own store – in PDF, POD, and hardbound – and they don’t seem to fear the pirate bugaboo that Hasbro seems so paranoid about.

    As far as what goes into B&M stores, well that’s a decision for a marketing team. But I think it’s pretty logical that WotC could present the whole catalog, and offer stores a discount on POD, and let them decide what to stock on their shelves! The B&M stores know what their clientele is, and know best what will sell to their local community. Stores with large Pathfinder clientele would likely start by stocking predominantly OGL reprints and new material released for 3.5. Stores with large populations of hipsters who want to play “retro” D&D would stock OD&D, AD&D, and 2nd Edition reprints and new content designed for those editions.

    The point is that you seem to be stuck, along with WotC, on the old model of book sales, while other companies – notably Paizo – are not, and they are thriving. You can try and poke holes in my petition all you like, but its hard to argue with a successful business model that is winning in the RPG marketplace.

  20. Bob says:

    I am not sure what keeps you from playing your favorite version right now? I get the impression this is more of a plea from a 4e player than about other editions (glut of OSR? really?).

    I am happy they reprinted the 1e books. I still play AD&D and will continue doing so. If they make available other books from that era I will buy them also.

    Looking forward to what 5e brings to the game. Maybe I will play it, if not I have AD&D. I just know that 3e and 4e are not D&D for me.

    Denial, anger, acceptance. I long ago went through these phases when they changed the game. 4e folks will also.

  21. Sal says:

    I see the appeal of this idea, but I don’t think it will work.

    Specifically, I’m afraid that trying to actively support 4+ editions of the game at the same time would be spreading WotC’s resources too thin. It would, I imagine, be a form of business suicide.

  22. @Sal – I dunno… seems like dumping all your current player base (ie. 4E, and 3.5 before that), and making a new edition that really does not speak to their play style sounds a whole lot like corporate suicide to me. Converting a single adventure concept into 4 editions and making it available POD and ebook sounds like a great way to reach ALL D&D fans and with no warehouse overhead.

    @Bob – Strange, but from what you said, it sounds like you’re a D&D fan that would be in favor of the petition, not against it. I think it would be awesome for you to have access to new products again for your favorite edition. As for the denial, anger, and acceptance – I’ll save that for after I’ve fought the good fight, and at least tried to make WotC see that other publishing models are not only possible, but profitable.

  23. Jester David says:

    Sorry to keep arguing. It’s a good idea and it’d be interesting to see it work. But it’s in my nature to be a devil’s advocate.

    So here’s another potential logistical problem:

    It’s a two-part problem. First, most people wishing to play an older edition already have the books. Some sold them when a new edition emerged, but many did not. I still have all my old 2e products (although my Tome of Magic has gone missing). So the audience is very, very limited. As many retailers cheaply offloaded older edition books after a new edition came out, many people looking to buy those products found it easy and cheap.
    Secondly, as a result of the above, it’s easy to find older edition core books online. Checking eBay I can get all three 3e core books for a hair under $30. Plus shipping (I wonder if there’s a Tome of Magic anywhere).

    Now, even if PoD books sold directly from WotC are significantly cheaper to make and buy than newly printed books found in stores, they’re still going to be more expensive than copies from eBay. Brand new, my 256p 2e PHB cost me $24CAD. Used I could get one for <$10. The 4e MM1 (at 288p. the closest I could find in thickness) runs $41CAD. Unless PoD *quarters* the price then eBay is just going to be cheaper.

    PoD is probably a great idea for modules and other quick to produce products that are difficult to find cheaply and of high quality, being more easily damaged. But core books? Unlikely.

  24. Philo Pharynx says:

    “Giving 100% of the fans support for their editions again guarantees that you’ll be selling to 100% of the D&D fans. It’s hard to lose at 100% odds.”

    So manifestly untrue. What they’d be doing is selling lots of products to niche markets. Assume that most people are interested in one edition, with some playing two or more. That means that each product will be bought by perhaps 25% of the market if you attract every possible person in your audience. Then you subtract people that already have an edition, pirated it during the no-pdf years, are just players and won’t buy GM-focused stuff (like monster books and adventures), can’t afford to buy everything they want, just aren’t interested in that specific product, etc. You would end up with perhaps 5% of the market.

    Yes, in aggregate you will reach 100% of the market, but by doing much more work.

    Another point is how slowly these products would come out. The older products will take a lot of work to come out in a quality edition (I’m going to assume that they aren’t going to release cheap scanned copies for lots of reasons that should be obvious but I’ll go into if people want). Either they hire lots of people to do this, raising their expenses and the prices they need to charge, or they will come out slowly.

    @Joshua Graboff, this has already happened. Between Pathfinder and the retroclones, most people can find an edition they want to play for a reasonable cost. 4e players are the only ones who don’t really have any 3rd party options. As to Hasbro giving it up, that’s just not going to happen without somebody giving them a big chunk of money.

  25. @Philo – I’m not sure where its fair for you to get to toss around numbers like “5% of the market”, based solely on a string of suppositions, while accusing me of being “manifestly untrue”.

    I know from personal experience that converting an older edition module to 4E means all you’re doing is re-doing the encounters, skill rolls, and treasure parcels – it took me about 4 hours to redo Hommelet and the Moathouse from Monte Cook’s “Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil”. That’s because the fluff text, descriptions, maps, and illustrations remain the same, and I can’t imagine myself being that much faster than a WotC staffer. So really the “more work” argument doesn’t fly for me – every D&D content product (modules, settings, etc.) can be converted and sold to every rules edition with less work than bringing a new work to life. And new works can be handled the same way, and that means alot of products out there for the entirety of the D&D gaming community. How you feel this won’t make money boggles me.

    Honestly, I get you don’t agree with me, and you don’t think my idea will work. That’s your opinion, I have my own. It seems pretty obvious I can’t change your mind… and just so you know, I’m not changing mine either.

  26. Ablefish says:

    Man, your articles are getting harder and harder to read, eic. As soon as I hear the owner of a blog say he’s not changing his opinion, then is there any point in readers engaging you in conversation?

    I’m curious, did you read the WOTC thread you linked to in your petition? Or was the title convenient? The thread itself was actually an interesting conversation with people sharing their playtest experiences, some good, some bad. Several posts complained about not getting more material soon enough – which, to me at least, does not “suggest that enthusiasm for the proposed Next edition is already waning, and more than a year before its release date.” People want more material to test, more options, more polish.

    And you know, if it was so easy to convert Hommelet and the Moathouse, then I can’t imagine what you’re so concerned about. Even if another 4E book was never published, you should be able to provide your playgroup with enough material for 4E to last you decades – there is a ton of 3rd party product out there.

  27. Dave Wainio says:

    Heh, I finally figured out the best way for me to personally deal with the Hasbro D&D marketing strategy and rule systems.

    I quit. My 4E campaign is done, all my gaming stuff goes on the market at the next con, and even our company (Three Sages Games) is for sale. (National distribution contracts, established yealry sales, around 10K retail in product on hand, good price – anyone that wants a turn key, game company-in-a-box to launch your own titles then drop me a line ( .

    There are many things out there that I find entertaining. D&D is not much one of them anymore.

  28. Hunterian7 says:

    Ending 4th edition less than four years after its release has turned me off to D&D Next- no matter what. I dropped my DDI subscription after nearly four yers of support. Every time I like one of their releases they end it- D&D minis skirmish, D&D minis, D&D adventure system (when are they going to release one after the Legend of Drizzt? My guess is never), 4th edition and I’m not investing in D&D Command since it will be dropped in 6 months. I’m sick of getting burned by WotC. Sucks, too, because I’m not a fan of Paizo either.

    So, Warhammer 40k is where my dollars are going. Even though they release a new edition every four years it’s either partially rule book retro-active or even better than before (hello 6th and full color). Also, I know that they will be releasing 40k minis for the near indefinite future.

    I hate Mike Mearls- I hope he fails. For he is the very man who killed 4th edition to try and unite the fan base- what a fool…that ship has sailed. We have a two-headed hydra and he’s soon to give us a three headed one.

  29. @Dave – I’m sorry to hear about you packing in the 3PP gig. Announcing Next this soon has hurt the already failing 4E GSL market, and burned alot of bridges with freelancers. Sadly, I doubt WotC cares about that.

    @Ablefish – Did you honestly expect me to change my mind and cave in, declaring my petition null and void simply because a few commenters here disagreed with my ideas? I might also add that most of my ideas for this petition came from a blogger who claims to be both a gamer and a corporate consultant who points out some very big holes in the current WotC marketing strategy. And if you read my blog, as difficult as you claim it to be, you’d have seen that I reached the decision to create this petition after what amounts to a couple months of serious deliberation with conscience, as well as with close friends. I certainly would not post a petition lightly or frivolously – I did it because I believe in what I’m saying. If my convictions bother you, then just shrug them off. Clearly you have already signed on to buy up another set of rules from WotC, regardless of how good or bad they are. You’re just the kinda consumer Hasbro enjoys. But you’ll have to pardon myself and my fellow petition co-signers for wanting something more from WotC.

  30. Ablefish says:

    Nope, didn’t necessarily expect you to change your mind, but I also wouldn’t expect someone who’s apparently trying to engage a large audience in a discussion to openly admit that their mind is closed.

    And please, it’s a little childish to label anyone with even a moderate opinion as a Hasbro fanboy, implying that because they haven’t come to the same conclusions as you, they’re just a mindless corporate shill. Seriously, I understand you have convictions, but sometimes its like you’re trolling your own site.

  31. @Ablefish – You seem to confuse conviction with closed-mindedness. If anything, I consider my mind as quite open – open to embrace another publishing concept and marketing paradigm for WotC and D&D that isn’t rooted in the 1980s. I’m open to other opinions – Philo and I went back and forth several times on issues before I made the statement which you took exception to – I’m willing to hear other opinions as well, but again, don’t expect that I will give up on the petition simply because a few of my fellow gamers disagree with it.

    And for the record, I don’t consider your comments to be very “moderate”. Despite a calm and well-mannered blog/petition, you accuse me of having a blog that you find “harder and harder” to read – which I assume means you don’t like my points of view regarding Next – and that I did not read the posts in the thread I quoted but merely used the title thereby questioning my veracity. And further you told me that I should just accept that no further 4E material is published, I can just accept it and move on. Which one of these quite provocative statements should I take as moderate?

    If you find my blogs and responses to comments so obnoxious that you consider me “childish” and my writing as “trolling”, then you don’t have to read some of my blogs. No one forced you to come here and read and no one requested your comments – the internet has no doors, so you’re free to leave anytime you like. However, while I do value all my readers, I think I have offered the gaming community quite a lot over the past two years, with content pieces, gaming news, and a ton of product reviews. So if occasionally I do take on the role of gaming industry critic, that’s part of what I think is important enough to blog about too, and you can freely just skip over those if you find them offensive.

  32. Ablefish says:

    Hmmm, you’re probably right. It may be time to drop your blog. The same thing happened when 4e came out. A bunch of blogs I was following got really worked up over the idea of change and became quite extreme in their reactions to everything for a while. Life’s too short. I’ll check back in a while and see how your edition war is going.

    In the meantime, I’m just going to keep playing 4e, play testing 5e, and make a decision when 5e is out if we’re going to make the change.

  33. @Ablefish – Well I’m sorry to lose any reader, even those that don’t agree with my feelings about Next. But to be clear, I am not trying to start an Edition War. I am simply petitioning WotC to embrace all Editions, and to stop placing the process of publishing new sets of rules over the publishing new content. I’m pretty sure I ever read a dissenting anti-4E blog that actually offered a constructive suggestion to WotC other than to stop the release of 4E. It’s unfortunate that you would consider what I have done here as a similar “extreme” position.

  34. Alton says:

    I am still on the fence about the whole Next thing. I tried it out, it is clean, nice and convenient. It really seems to touch on all the editions. It seems to cater a little bit to everyone. I like that. Too many editions, too much division.

    On the other hand, your idea of republishing all the books, or even new content is a good one, but I think it would be costly. Print a new monster manual for 1st, and 4th will be crying out for something new, and when they get their monster manual, 2nd fans will be crying out etc…

    Wizards are being smart with this edition. think about this: everyone gets to playtest, so that means (in a lot of cases) you stop playing your current edition game to try out this new game. OK, so you try it and you don’t like it. You go back to your original game. One month or so later, WotC comes back and says “oh come back and try this. We revamped some of the rules etc…” So they stop their game again and try it out.

    Whoa! this time the game is cool, lets play it for a little longer and see how it works. Now we totally forgot about the edition we were playing cause this new one it to their liking. This happened to us from 3.5 to 4th. We told ourselves, lets play 4th and then come back to 3.5 and back to 4th and then 3.5. We never looked back. hehe!

    I don’t know what to think and I am just one of those players that goes with the flow. Eventually WotC may get it right. Maybe some day the gaming community will be reunited, or the company may go under – to which we will have decades of material to go through. I will play Next if or when it comes out. I am just that type of player.

    Just my two cents.

  35. Alton says:

    Just a little something to back up what I am talking about in the previous comment in relation to being smart in the way they are playtesting things. Newbie DM states that he completely stopped playing what he pas playing to playtest.

  36. @Alton – I don’t want to sound like I’m snapping back at you but I still don’t understand how gamers keep saying how costly it is to produce the same item, but write it for all four editions. It will require that WotC handle their publishing model differently – going to PoD and PDF for most of the releases – but that is a cost-saving feature, because PoD and PDF cost no overhead to stock!

    Let’s take your new monster manual concept. Let’s say that they’ve aready brought back Dragonlance setting for all editions, and now they are creating a new special monster manual aimed at DL fans – fans I might add who are currently playing all four editions. So they write a monster manual with new draconian threats and draconic monsters and other cool stuff, completing all the descriptions, fluff text, monster lists, pics, and appendices. Now so far, all that material is usable for all four editions – monster descriptions, fluff text, etc are edition neutral information. So then then all that has to be done is for the design teams – and here I’m imagining probably four teams for four editions; each one individually smaller than the current R&D team but if combined making a team slightly larger than the current R&D size – and they run stats and powers for the monsters. So the end result is four brand spanking new Dragonlance Monster Manuals, usable along with the Dragonlance setting, which is now available to all editions of the game. You sell it as a PDF and PoD, with no overhead cost, and you’ve just targeted 100% of the D&D community, plus Paizo and retro-clone gamers who want some DL monsters to add to their game.

    I just can’t see how can the content-provider publishing model I’ve put in my petition could ever be more expensive than the one which has not changed since the 1980s. The same model where WotC only produces products for those D&D gamers willing to jump to a newest edition (a fraction of the gaming community) and ignores the rest of the D&D fans. And then prints out hardcopy manuals which cost money up front, and which could potentially end up collecting dust on store shelves or in a warehouse? I just don’t get it.

  37. Marlett says:


    This isn’t about paper.. that is absolutely irrelevant to the issue at hand. It’s absolutely true that no one will ever come and pull your books off the shelf.

    This is about supporingt gaming products digitally – which many of us use to keep and maintain our campaigns. For example, WotC has stated that the 4e character builder will be maintained, but for how long?

    IF WotC would make and keep a robust digital system (at the very least a character and monster builder – kept up to date) that supports all editions, then everything falls into place.

    A good chunk of our books over the years have been fluff content. The crunch is what gives us the base rules, monster stats, items, etc.

    If WotC would give digital support to the crunch of all 4 current editions, then new product could be written largely as fluff – much as upcoming products this year are already….

    Take for instance the 2nd Ed. Volo’s Guides. I loved them personally – it gave a huge feeling of depth for areas without having to make up a metric ton of inns, people, etc. They are what I’m looking for in terms of “new” WotC releases.

    For those DMs who wish to create and run their own settings, then the digital crunch would be enough for them.

    Just imagine if you had a full digital suite to plan, create, and even run your campaigns that would envelop every edition – without having to move to Next to do so.

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