Why can’t I just ignore them?

I promise this is not a hack job on Wizards of the Coast. This is not a re-hashing of the “Half” races issue. It’s also not intended to call anyone “racist,” “bigot,” or anything of the sort. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. We can’t ignore the largest, most well-recognized name in the TTRPG industry.

Most of us older fans, by that I mean anyone who owned/played the game prior to 2022, remember WotC being somewhat elite, aloof, and unavailable, but their product was pretty good. Dungeons & Dragons was the biggest name in the TTRPG industry. It still is, and Hasbro/WotC wants the franchise to become a household name. (*Note: D&D the brand, not the game itself.)

What changed?

I can point to three things I think happened to change the way I look at WotC. First, they announced “One D&D.” Second, I think the quality of D&D game product has started to slide. Last, the Open Game License disaster went down back in January. As a side note, the D&D Beyond Showcase and the Content Creator Summit didn’t do them any favors in terms of my estimation of them. Oh, and “Half” race issue aside, now they can’t even decide what to call whatever they’re doing to the game this time. (*I’ll come back to that.)

Any time T$R and now WotC announced a new or revised edition of D&D, it was almost guaranteed to tank sales on the current product. Why did they announce “One D&D” over a year and a half (or more) before it was due to be released? The day they announced the new edition, revision, or whatever they want to call it I said it was going to kill their sales until the new Player’s HandBook was released.

Then they announced Spelljammer, Dragonlance, and Planescape for 5E were going to be interim products. All I could do is cringe when I heard that news. Why plug in “new” campaign settings so late in the edition? It doesn’t make any sense.

“But it’s all going to be backwards compatible.”

Awesome. I’ll pull out my original Expert Set Isle of Dread module and run it for the new edition. What? Oh, they look nothing alike. Darn. They must have meant, “backwards compatible with the editions Wizards of the Coast made.” I’ll just pull out an old 4E module and let’s go onto the new Virtual TableTop. Oh… that doesn’t seem to work either. (*I’m speculating.)

So, it’s backwards compatible with 5E? Sorry, 5E 2014 edition. Well, if it’s all called “5E,” then it’ll totally work, right? I’m not holding my breath. It’s doubtful we won’t have to homebrew our own conversions.

Then they delivered Spelljammer.

And it pretty much sucked. The homebrew Spelljammer content on DMsGuild probably sold better than the overblown art show that was the WotC boxed set. I kept thinking about it because Into the Feywild was good. $80+ good? Not Spelljammer. Most, if not all of the critics panned it. The monster book was reportedly lackluster. There was no ship construction or space combat. They had lots of nice art, I guess.

Journey Through the Radiant Citadel came and went with barely any commentary. I looked it over. Meh. I was far more willing to by Third Party Publisher content from Kobold Press or the newest Pathfinder book.

The much-hyped Dragonlance book came out and I haven’t heard much about it. I looked it over. Yay, Lord Soth finally made an appearance in 5E. If I’m being honest, I’d rather have seen him in Ravenloft as a Realm Lord.

January 2023 was a nightmare for some of us.

The first week of January 2023 was mired with leaks and news stories about the Open Game License. The TTRPG industry as we know it has revolved around this license. Hundreds or even thousands of games are built on the D20 engine provided by the WotC OGL. It took most of the month and thousands of lost D&D Beyond subscriptions, but they finally capitulated and made the 5.1 SRD a Creative Commons License.

Is the OGL battle truly over? We’re celebrating a temporary victory. I think we’ll see some real OGL issues come up around the time the VTT comes out. Maybe the pen and paper community will be just fine. I think creating Third Party content for official current edition D&D is going to look a lot different than it does now. Is it gloom and doom? No.

The fiasco that was the OGL debacle makes me not want to trust anything WotC says officially. I’ll say it openly- CHANGE my mind, please? But their attempts at apologies for the OGL mess have fallen flat for the most part. Don’t get me started on D&D Executive Producer Guy: Kyle Brink. (I still want that wrestling match either in real life or using 5E rules.)

I’m concerned strictly about the game D&D at this point. The heck with the VTT. The heck with their marketing gimmicks such as dicelings. The heck with the Honor Among Thieves movie. (*HEY! If you want to support those things and you think WotC is cool or you want to name your child after Kyle Brink, be my guest. Not me.)

Talk to me about Dragonlance. Talk to me about Planescape. I would love to see a new adventure in print that contains Venger from the D&D Cartoon. Those are things I might be interested in. I’d even be willing to write reviews of those products should I come into them.

Again, change my mind.

Wizards of the Coast is not inherently bad.

For the record, I don’t hate WotC. I don’t hate anyone specifically at WotC. I would still sit down to tea with Cynthia Williams or pull Chris Cao aside and explain how D&D works. I think Kyle Brink is probably an upstanding guy.

However, I don’t like what I see them doing as a company right now. I’m sure the Reptilian Overlords at Hasbro are putting big goals and huge challenges in front of WotC right now. They saw those COVID 2020 numbers and thought they could make big, big money from D&D. WotC is pushing the VTT hard and whatever they’re calling this latest version of the game really hard.

Every day that goes by, I wonder what they’re going to do next.

I truly feel for BIPOC creators in the TTRPG and D&D space. They are so underrepresented within WotC and the D&D community. There has not been nearly enough done to elevate POC into prominent positions out there. Other TTRPG companies would do well to have those conversations as well.

No, WotC isn’t inherently racist. They’re the biggest company in the industry. Their goal is to make big money. At the end of the day, handing big profits for Hasbro is their primary objective.

WotC has an opportunity to set a great example of what inclusive/diverse corporate culture looks like. WotC has a golden opportunity to create an all new game campaign world where everyone has a voice. Will they get it done?

WotC has proven they are super willing to tell Content Creators and the public what they think we want to hear. Hey WotC, please prove you’re listening to us, not just phoning it in with what PR tells you. WotC please put intelligent representatives out in the community who can open a dialogue with the community. Just please, tell Kyle Brink to put the microphone down and walk away before he goes on another podcast for an interview.

WotC has been a great source of news since January. Sometimes no news is good news. Those times might be better off if they were now for WotC.

The new (not new) Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide.

I’m a fan of print TTRPGs. I love my print game books. What I want to see WotC do going forward is come out with books that are useable, look good, are statistically balanced, and won’t require us to participate in the D&D Beyond site or the new VTT. I’m hoping the 3 core books are more than nostalgia.

We love Dungeons & Dragons.

Otherwise, why would we be freaking out about pretty much whatever they do? I don’t much care for WotC or their big ugly parent, Hasbro. I truly despise large corporations and corporate cultures. I’ll never trust one again and WotC is a tiny fraction of my reasons behind it.

I’ve been heavily involved in D&D and other TTRPGs for over 40 years. I want D&D to do well. I want all of the Third Party content creators to do well. Many of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for D&D. I would much rather be singing WotC’s praises than talking mad sh🦆t about them, some of their policies, and their PR.

Love the game, not sure about the company. Thank you for being here. Hopefully this post will be something I can leave up for years to come. I would love to see D&D become a household name in a good way.