TTRPG Conspiracy Files.

Pretend we’re playing a financial acquisition board game. Each of us is playing to win. It’s not enough to just win by a little. We have to CRUSH all opposition. Bwa Ha Ha! Yup. That’s Hasbro/WotC these days. Out to take the whole TTRPG industry under one monopoly.


I have a sneaking suspicion the Open Game License debacle isn’t the only thing Wizards of the Coast has planned for 2023.

[Editor’s Note: This was written before the OGL 1.2 preview or early draft/”playtest document” was released. More to come.]

Now, I’ll admit, I came to TTRPG Twitter from UFO Twitter. I’m no stranger to “kooky” conspiracy theories. I’ve heard credible theories and uh, not-so-credible ones. (*LOL!) I’ve put a lot of thought into what Hasbro and subsidiary Wizards of the Coast might be doing to the rest of the TableTop RolePlaying Game industry this year. Buckle up. I’m going to speculate wildly on some things.

*Fact of the Day: Did you know the term "conspiracy theory" was actually cooked up by the CIA to make ordinary people look stupid and them look like heroes? That's also why guys like James Bond and Jack Ryan look so smooth and competent in all the big Hollywood movies. The CIA wants you, the people, to believe that they're super smart and we're all just wrong about everything.

I was thinking, what is WotC doing with a whole year and change between the announcement of One D&D and its actual release in 2024? See, when a big corporation like Apple releases an iPhone, it’s been developed and ready to roll out for a year or two. The company itself is working on two or three generations ahead of what’s going on the shelf. So, that made me wonder why WotC was going to take a year monkeying around with surveys, etc.

Maybe the digital stuff was still in development. Okay, but would that really prevent the rollout of the game? The planned release(s) for 2023 are pretty mopey. The previous releases have been pretty meh except maybe Dragonlance. We were looking at a pretty lackluster year leading up to 2024’s big release. Seemed mighty odd to me that a company that was so ridiculously worried about profits was just going to slack off for the year leading up to the big release.

This is it as of January 5th, 2023.

The OGL 1.1 leak might have been intentional (or not.)

That was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I’m starting to get the notion that there are likely a ton of secrets hiding behind NDAs that we know nothing about yet. We’d be in the midst of the TTRPG apocalypse now if OGL 1.1 had been officially released and it hadn’t leaked. But was it leaked intentionally?

This goes back to what I said initially about the “leaked OGL 1.1.” If I were a mastermind at a large, fairly evil corporation, that’s exactly what I would want the public to believe. Look at the sheer amount of stress and chaos it has already caused in the industry. It’s disrupted the industry that Hasbro wants control over.

Problem-Reaction-Solution comes into play here. (*A concept originated by David Icke, btw.) Leak the deauthorization of the OGL 1.0a which most of the industry pretty much relies on. Maybe get a bunch of people to sign it. If no one responds, TTRPG Industry is cast into utter disarray and chaos, making it perfect to absorb or destroy the competition.

Solution? Come swooping in after a good week or two and tell the community that they’re valued and loved. WotC is going to listen to your valued opinion. But this was either part of the plan all along or it was adapted on the fly after 40K+ D&D Beyond subs were canceled. Hey- no plan goes off perfectly without a hitch.

BUT!- 40K+ people unsubscribed to a platform that was going to be replaced anyway. Again, was this part of the plan from Day 1? But it gets more intense from there.

Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing, and schemes.

We got a new leak more recently from WotC. D&D Beyond is going to have $30/month subscriptions, AI Dungeon Masters, and none of that pesky homebrew at lower tiers. On what we are told is going to be a Virtual TableTop powered by the Unreal Engine 5 (the same engine used in Fortnite among other video games.) Why doesn’t WotC make a video game? Heck if we know.

But maybe that leak was a scam, too. Or maybe they’re now springing all these leaks to make the original leaks look less credible. All the while a bloody witch hunt goes on inside WotC for the original OGL 1.1 leak. They (fake?) seem bitter about that first leak.

But multiple leaks that turn out to be “false” discredit any leaked information and allows WotC to spin any lies they want in the community and likely get away with it. Much like conspiracy theories- make the community look dumb, and then swoop in and look like heroes.

Another way to think of it is akin to mainstream media. WotC puts out tons of half-truths, lies, facts, false information and utter rubbish through various leaks and rumors in the community. That way, when WotC makes an “official” statement, people are more inclined to believe whatever is said. This sort of thing happens all the time with UFO investigations and regular politics.

Stuff is going to hit the fan elsewhere in the TTRPG industry before it’s all said and done.

WotC may have accidentally tipped their hats a little with the OGL 1.1 debacle. There were NDAs signed by so many creators before the start of the year by a lot of folx contacted by WotC. Some of those entities are really big fish in the TTRPG field. Kickstarter, Critical Role, OneBookShelf, maybe Patreon, MCDM, Kobold Press, Paizo, and more have all been contacted. Bear in mind, we don’t know who all was contacted or what they were told.

Hasbro wants WotC and to an extent Renegade Studios to control all or the lion’s share of the TTRPG Industry. They want the whole enchilada. We heard with the OGL 1.1 fracas that part of what they’re trying to do at WotC is run off big companies such as Paizo, Kobold, and Troll Lord because supposedly the OGL was never intended to create competition. Again, Hasbro wants the competition destroyed or controled.

So, I’m thinking about all of this in the shower the other day. What would I do if I were Hasbro? How would I take over most of the TTRPG industry and make D&D the only real TTRPG on the market?

Because remember, Hasbro doesn’t see a TTRPG community, they see a D&D community. They don’t see TTRPG players, GMs, or fans. They see D&D players, DMs, and D&D fans. Soon all restaurants will have the Taco Bell mentality. (Demolition Man. Anyone?)

There’s a lot going on behind closed doors.

I’m going to rapid fire a bunch of stuff and then I’ve got two major points for another article unless something happens in the meantime.

Hypothesis Number 1: WotC is feeding us disinformation through various shills in the community to make themselves look credible. Certain YouTubers and social media influencers have probably already signed an agreement with WotC before OGL 1.1 broke. Some of these people will say anything for free merch, etc. Influencers who didn’t sign on are being targeted and discredited by those shills.

Remember, there were several people contacted by WotC and asked to sign NDAs right before the holidays. WotC was willing to let certain people in on what was coming as long as they stayed quiet and played long. Obviously some have agreed to those terms.

Hypothesis Number 2: WotC uses various shills or agents to sow the seeds of discontent within the TTRPG Community. Get us all fighting and backbiting on one another so WotC can eventually unite us under their D&D banner, making themselves looking like heroes once again. Certain factions are prone to fighting amongst themselves within the TTRPG Community, and WotC is banking on it. Hint: WotC doesn’t see editions any more.

Hypothesis Number 3: WotC hasn’t said a whole lot about DriveThruRPG in general and DMsGuild specifically yet in regards to One D&D. Maybe it’s because of the OGL debacle. Maybe there’s more going on. If WotC cut Kickstarter a sweet deal, what about OneBookShelf? (To be continued in another article.)

Hypothesis Number 4: No AI can stand up to the Matt Mercer Effect. WotC is smart enough to know they’re going to need some help promoting and onboarding people to One D&D. What if… Just what if they rolled a truckload of money up to Matt and company to back One D&D.

Matt Mercer’s statement about the OGL disaster was pretty neutral. We know Critical Role already has NDAs in place, so they’re not going to bad mouth WotC under any circumstances. It would swing the tide of new(er) players in the favor of One D&D if Matt Mercer openly endorsed it. More on that in another article.

Hypothesis Number 5: Hasbro is going to start buying off some of the companies it can’t simply crush under heel. What if MCDM, Troll Lord, or even Kobold Press “suddenly” caved and went over to Hasbro. Smaller companies and select freelancers might even be turned over to WotC or Renegade Studios to work on various projects. DriveThruRPG and the DMsGuild could be turned into a veritable recruiting pool.

Some companies and writers have suffered already because of the OGL debacle. The entire industry is weakening. A few more serious hits and it will be vulnerable and ripe for the picking by Hasbro. If they can’t be beaten, offer them a new job.

Hypothesis Number 6: This notion of a “DM shortage” was cooked up by WotC in order to get more players interested in their AI DM scheme. Remember, Hasbro was told the brand is “under monetized” and they want more players. They want more money from players. Funny, they never said they wanted more DMs.

WotC has basically declared war on homebrew. They’re planning to make it unavailable at the lower tiers. They’re going after the OGL, which is the homebrewer’s tool of choice. It’s almost like they’re trying to force players into buying only their settings, adventures, etc. Plus as scaled down game to make it easier for an AI to run.

6.5: The DM shortage will likely continue until WotC pretends to suddenly realize that DMs actually by the majority of campaign settings, adventures, etc. At which time they will offer some sweet deals to DMs willing to run games through the new WotC VTT and promote the product line. Thus gaining a monopoly over Paid DMs.

Hypothesis Number 7: There’s likely a witch hunt going on within WotC. It might not be for whoever leaked the OGL 1.1. It might be for anyone who doesn’t fall in line with Hasbro’s corporate culture and sketchy ideals. They’re going to disavow anyone who isn’t 100% loyal.

Hypothesis Number 8: Our OGL survey comments will end up in the trash unless we’re blowing smoke up WotC’s butts. They only want to hear what a great job they’re doing. WotC wants to ensure that the fans totally 100% agree that they’re on the right track. The surveys are a simple means of trying to placate the fans and little more. WotC is going to proceed with whatever evil nonsense they had planned long before now regardless of what fans tell them. WotC is determined to fall in line with Hasbro’s desire to maximize profits and take over the entire TTRPG marketplace.

Hypothesis Number 9:One D&D is already in the can. It’s finished and ready to go. Our survey results and comments are merely a marketing study at best. No one at WotC actually cares what the fans think as long as we give them money.

Hypothesis Number 10: ALL VTTs will eventually merge with WotC’s digital platform (If they want D&D.) Indie games on the VTT platform will then put profit shares into WotC’s pocket and give them a bigger monopoly over the whole industry.

We’ll see if anything pans out.

I’m sure I’m going to be wrong about a few things, maybe right about others. None of us gets it perfect every time. This is all pure speculation based on what I’m seeing right now.

All any of us can do is explain our truth the way we see it from our authentic point of view. Sometimes we’re going to be wrong. Other times, most people will agree. Just keep fighting the good fight.

#OpenDnD
#DnDBeGone
#StoptheSub
#DnDONE emphasis on “Done.”

Thanks for stopping by. More on my kooky hypotheses as time goes on. I appreciate you stopping by.

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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