Going Analog?

This website, this blog, is my baby. Every day for the last 276 days in a row I write articles regarding things I am passionate about. A lot of them tend to involve dice, miniatures, printed character sheets and books.


A couple of well known D&D YouTubers have suggested a split may be coming with the One D&D.

Strange for a game that is supposed to be uniting all of nerd-dom under on “lifestyle brand” banner. Of course, I’m talking about Dungeons & Dragons, the world’s most well known and theoretically most played RolePlaying Game ever to exist. Owned by Wizards of the Coast and soon to be in a new incarnation as of 2024.

We’re basically spending 2023 in a weird sort of limbo between 5E and One D&D. This even feels like the gap between 3.5 edition and 4th. (*Oh, ye dreaded 4th.) We don’t know what’s really going on with One D&D beyond what WotC tells us and the mounds of growing speculation about the game.

We do have some playtest material for One D&D, and a survey to go along with it every time. But are the developers really listening to us? Time will tell, I guess. Personally, I think the whole “book” is already in the proverbial can and WotC is spoon-feeding us tiny bits to keep everyone interested and talking about the brand.

We know WotC is planning to build a key digital platform for One D&D.

My opinion- I think WotC is subtly hinting that maybe we’re not going to see much by way of print books in the new edition. What if they had all of the rules, possibly only available in chunks on their website. D&D might start to strongly resemble Fortnite. (*The new digital D&D is slated to run off of the Unreal Engine, also used in Fortnite.)

Want to play a cleric? Subscribers pay $.99 and get a free cleric skin to go with whatever species they’ve chosen. The spiffy Marina the Elf skin is in the shop for $4.99 and you can get her staff for 500 Dragon Gems. You can get a deal on cleric spells because we need more healers for raids. (Oh, wait. That’s World of Warcraft or some other MMORPG) Everything in One D&D is likely going to revolve around microtransactions and subscriptions. They want to squeeze players for every dollar.

That’s where the “experts” say the divide will occur.

I’m not trying to start an argument with the two YouTubers I listen to quite often when it comes to RPGs. I have the utmost respect for both men even if I don’t entirely agree with their approach and apparent attitude toward the new edition of our favorite game.

The great split in D&D might possibly revolve around the new digital age we find ourselves entering in 2024. We’re getting an all new Open Game License (* Which many of us agree that “open” is not the correct term for what WotC is doing.) The great divide might be the players and maybe Dungeon Masters moving to the new digital platform and all of us who stay analog, sticking to prior editions or #OSR retroclones. (Old School Essentials, Basic Fantasy, Swords & Wizardry Light, etc.)

But, hey. Where would the TTRPG industry even be without some kind of separation and duality? I think what WotC means by not acknowledging prior editions is they don’t want to hear about anything prior to 5E. What’s worse is they are now going to have their hands in the pockets of anyone making more than $750K per year. (*So, big Kickstarter companies and bigger name publishers such as Troll Lord Games, Kobold Press, Paizo Inc, and others.) WotC wants to monitor anyone making more than $50K per year and then they start expecting a percentage in royalties as of 2024.

A lot of people are already saying, “Screw this” if that’s what the game is going to come down to. WotC doesn’t make money from all their microtransactions and web subscriptions if all of us stay on the Table Top portion of the RPG spectrum. That’s how the hobby started.

I love the Internet, but my hobby may soon be analog.

This website, this blog, is my baby. Every day for the last 276 days in a row I write articles regarding things I am passionate about. A lot of them tend to involve dice, miniatures, printed character sheets and books.

Third party publishers of D&D materials will keep going even after the the current OGL is rewritten. People will continue playing the same games offline. D&D at its core is a gaming engine. News flash- there are other engines.

One YouTuber has even gone so far as to suggest you don’t even need a gaming license to copy the game mechanics as long as you’re careful to avoid trademarked names. We can still roll a d20 to determine outcomes, have stats named Strength, Dexterity, etc. And other than changing up some nomenclature and adding a few semantics to avoid distinctive likeness, we can create our own game. This is why Pathfinder and the host of aforementioned retroclones work.

My advice is; if in doubt about the legality of anything you’re going to print- Please, please, please consult an actual lawyer first. It might not be cheap, but still less than a lawsuit. Remember, WotC still retains a crew of crack ninja elite hit lawyers who love to crush the hopes and dreams of game designers and would-be world conquerors. (We don’t want them to become Wizards of the Court or Lawyers of the Coast again. Oof.) Please don’t just take the word of some blogger or some kook on YouTube for it.

Pen and Paper gaming might be the future.

The hobby of RPGs was derived from miniatures wargaming for the most part. That meant a lot of guys created a games based around painted lead miniatures. (*Ever wonder why some of us older guys are crazy? We licked the brushes while we were painting…) They didn’t have the Internet back then. Pencils, rulers, graph paper and painted lead miniatures were the order of the day. Maybe some cardstock terrain in some cases, too. No 3D printing, no PDFs, and there were definitely no microtransactions or monthly digital subscriptions.

While virtual gaming became the rule in 2020 due to the Icky Cough-Coughs, we’re getting back to in-person games now. Thank goodness. I do some solo gaming as well as on occasion with my wife and kids. I could literally live off the grid in some cabin and be just fine with pencil and paper. I’d miss the interwebs, but yay peace and quiet.

I find it highly likely we’re going to see a lot more in-store or convention gaming between now and 2024. A lot of people might stick with 5E. We spent this long working the bugs out and playing it. Why switch over to something that is going to potentially cost a small fortune every month.

I like tangible books. I love the look and feel of dice. I haven’t bought a new miniature in over a decade. As long as my group is cool being analog? We’re probably going to stay analog. I still have PDFs that I may print off from time to time or read while I’m out of my man cave. But let me assure you they are not essential to my gaming hobby.

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you as always. Have a great day.

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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