Where 5E of the World’s Most Popular RPG Loses Me. Part 4.

If WotC/Hasbro wants to cut Third Party Publishers and indie creators out completely, that’s on them. I doubt they’ll care. At this point in 5E, I’m not sure it’s considered a loss for WotC in the slightest. There are so many supplements and modules for 5E- all unofficial, all homebrew, and all fan creations.

This might be the final article on this topic for now.

This one is not part of the open letters to Wizards of the Coast. Honestly, I doubt they care what I have to say anyway. It doesn’t fit into their paradigm of what the new One D&D will look like very well. I’ve never been one to blindly agree with much of anything or anyone.

However, I’m enough of a D&D fan from way back in 1982 (Born in 1972.) to call out some things that really kinda stink about 5E and their One D&D ideas. But it’s not what they (WotC) wants to hear. I gave up on trying to become a writer for WotC ages ago, which might be a good way to influence the game if I could stomach their corporate culture.

Disclaimer: Statements expressed in this article are strictly my opinion. If you disagree or have a different opinion, that’s okay. I’m not an expert on everything. I’m not always right. I’m just writing from my experience as I know it. Your mileage may vary.

I haven’t discussed where I think DMsGuild/DriveThruRPG are going to end up in the new order of One D&D.

I think WotC has made it pretty obvious that they want nigh onto total control of their products both electronically and physically. It’s my opinion that they want to be the only ones really profiting from PDF and Virtual TableTop (VTT) sales. I keep wondering where that will leave all of the thousands of third party content creators.

I noticed something else interesting a while back. Roll20, a VTT company joined with OneBookShelf, the company in charge of DriveThruRPG, DMsGuild and other fan sites who sell PDF products. Roll20 is one of the biggest companies in VTT products if not the biggest.

If I were taking bets, one of two things are going to happen. Either WotC is going to buy OneBookShelf/Roll20 outright. When this happens, indie RPG creators will be flooding other platforms like swarms of fire ants. Other VTTs will probably dry up. Any third party D&D or even some indie RPG content will then be owned by WotC. Good luck ever profiting from or sharing our own ideas ever again. One D&D… Even the name suggests it.

OR, possibly worse. WotC will not release an Open Game License for One D&D. Third party producers can still make content for 3.0, 3.5 and 5E, though. It’s still (supposedly) “compatible” with the new not-an-edition. At least all of us Old School Renaissance guys are safe. We know WotC has no regard for us or any edition prior to 3.0.

Eventually I see WotC putting the squeeze on Indie and Third Party Publishers either legally or by controlling the market. Those third party products don’t put money directly into WotC’s pockets. Likewise, WotC could very easily make it so the official products are not compatible with any VTT but their own. After a while the VTT market goes to pieces.

If WotC/Hasbro wants to cut Third Party Publishers and indie creators out completely, that’s on them. I doubt they’ll care. At this point in 5E, I’m not sure it’s considered a loss for WotC in the slightest. There are so many supplements and modules for 5E- all unofficial, all homebrew, and all fan creations.

No worries, those old 5E homebrew supplements will still be “compatible.” Yeah, right up until they’re no longer compatible without a ton of conversion work. I can already hear the sales plummeting on indie creations.

I think the biggest mistake so far with One D&D has already happened.

The entire D&D community is in this sort of freaky limbo since the announcement of One D&D. Supposedly it’s not a new edition, but we all know it’s really a new edition no matter how they phrase it. They don’t want to kill sales on 5E products until 2024.

Have you (dear reader) seen the Spelljammer books yet? <cringe!> Even the known WotC cheerleaders on YouTube are saying to leave Spelljammer alone. It doesn’t fill me with hope for Dragonlance or whatever their Planescape reboot is going to be. I’m not dropping $50-$75 per setting book just to be disappointed. And did WotC forget they announced their new not-an-edition for 2024? Why do I want to invest in something that’s going to be dead as soon as I pull the shrinkwrap off?

And another thing- look at all of the awesome old campaign settings that never got a reboot in 5E. At this point it would be pretty much pointless to drop any more reboot settings or new settings until the new PHB, MM, and whatever they pass off as the DMG come out.

I think what One D&D really needs is a brand new setting all its own. WotC would be smart to make a clean break from previous books. It fits with their
We-don’t=see-editions attitude. Or put the core books out as a generic fantasy game and then start dropping settings, probably Forgotten Realms first. (Since the cults of Ed Greenwood and RA Salvatore just won’t let it rest.)

Ironically, I’m still throwing money at Hasbro.

Power Rangers, GI JOE, and Transformers RPG are all produced by Renegade Studios who are owned by Hasbro. You know? The same company that holds the reins of WotC? Essence20, the system that powers all three games, shares similarities to D&D without being directly compatible.

It surprises me Renegade and WotC aren’t the same company. I guess someone higher up the McCorporate Food Chain must have decided they didn’t want all of the Vampire the Masquerade publicity bleeding over onto D&D. From a certain point of view, Hasbro already owns a big hunk of the RPG Industry and if I had to guess, they’ll keep absorbing or steamrolling their competition.

Hang in there for Part 5 of this series. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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