D&D through 4E AD&D | RPG Review 4

The following is an addendum to the preceding article, which originally appeared on Templeofconflict.com:

My thoughts raised some hackles. Some people didn’t agree with my viewpoints, but that’s okay… because that’s just what they are. They’re my viewpoints. Some people took personal umbrage to my viewpoints, like I woke them up with a bucket of moosedroppings to the face before personally pissing in their favorite bowl of cheerios. These people made me laugh a bit, but still, I was thankful to hear the opinions they had.

Then, out of the fucking west, like The Amazing Rando, comes a white knight. A guy so ballsy and so In-the-Know that you don’t even fucking understand. He read my review, liked it, and got back to me with this response.

This response is so epically full of knowledge-win that I have decided (with his approval) to post it here.

Who is this knight in fucking shining armor? He’s my high school DM who never gave up his dream to be part of the gaming industry. He and his merry band of companions have written up a system and have moved it to publication. I’ll be blasting a review of it up as soon as I get my grubby little hands on it.

I present to you, unfiltered, unedited, (but with a few comments from the editorial peanut gallery) the REASONS behind some of the fucked-uppedness of TSR/WotC.

Get your popcorn.


Interesting read. Some of your facts are a little off though.

For example, the whole “lawyers taking over and ruining the game” was well before 3rd Ed. Gary Gygax personally borrowed some money from the widow you mentioned–ironically in order to purchase cocaine which he enjoyed snorting off of hookers’ asses. [You go, Gary! -Editor] Anyway, she had required him to use his personal shares of TSR as collatoral for the loan and, after she screwed him through a loophole, that’s how she gained control of the company. That was in the early 90’s while TSR was enjoying the euphoria of a successful 2nd Ed release.

It was the widow (and her lawyers) who decided that the most profitable way to ride the high was to start pumping out lots and lots of products–that were of suspect quality. That’s why they released all those class and race handbooks, Birthright, Red Steel, and a crap ton of other stuff. Eventually they flooded the market to point where even crazy addicts (including myself) simply realized that the products were crap and not worth buying. Sales dropped crazily, product started sitting on shelves which forced stores to demand distributors take it back which forced the distributors to demand that TSR take it back which meant that TSR was stuck with warehouses full of crap products and no money to pay the printers, authors, and artists. And just like that, TSR was staring into the horrible face of possible bankruptcy.

It was time for a hero–and fortunately there was one. Peter Adkinson played D&D as a kid and continued playing into adulthood. He made some good money as a system analyst for Boeing–a job which also allowed him to meet a few other passionate gamers. These geeks started a company called Wizards of the Coast and developed the surprise hit Magic: The Gathering. Magic did so well that Adkinson was able to leave Boeing and provided WotC with the means necessary to buy TSR and save D&D. I don’t think that there can really be any doubt that D&D would not exist now if TSR had actually had to file bankruptcy. Adkinson realized that 2nd Ed was totally fubared by all of the crap that TSR had pumped out in their last year or two. So, he decided that he needed to make a clean break and start almost entirely from scratch. The end result was 3rd Ed.

3rd Ed, the d20 system, and the Open Game Liscense completely revolutionized the gaming industry–for better or worse depending upon your opinion. Personally, I thought that 3rd Ed was amazing. Did it have problems? Sure, but every game does. Did WotC make some mistakes while riding that euphoria of such a popular new product? Sure. They even made some of the same mistakes that TSR did with 2nd Ed. The problem with 3rd Ed was that they started pumping out tons and tons of source books that quickly got out of control. Before long, they realized that they needed an update to rein things in. That was 3.5. Unfortunately, they still didn’t learn from their mistakes and they rereleased all those source books again. SIGH…

Anyway, around that time, another major event happened. As luck would have it, WotC owned the rights to another entertainment icon that mysteriously went ballistic–Pokemon. Pokemon became so popular that the corporate giant Hasbro decided that they HAD to have it–and oh hey, look at that, WotC also owned the rights to the second most popular card game ever made (Magic was and still is #2 to Pokemon) and the most popular role-playing game (D&D). Hasbro made Adkinson and his partners an offer that they simply couldn’t refuse. [I need to research this... it sounds like there's some fuckery in this 'deal' they offered. Might put up an article on it if I can find enough dirt. -Editor]

As a side note, I read somewhere that Pokemon made more money in its first year than any other GAME in history has made over its entire lifetime–period. Think about that. Monopoly has been around for how long? How much money has it generated? I don’t know exactly, but I’m sure that it has done pretty well. Still, it can’t hold a candle to Pokemon. Even Magic is a red-headed stepchild (sorry :-) ) [You bastard! ;) -Editor] compared to Pokemon. I don’t know about you, but that is more than a little disturbing to me…

Anyway, once Hasbro’s corporate lawyers got involved, they could NOT believe how much WotC was “giving away” via the OGL. How could WotC even think of allowing their competitors to use their intellectual property without paying WotC?!?!?!? THAT HAD TO STOP, but how? Oh yeah. Release a new edition. That’ll do it. Oh wait. Adkinson and his fellows put that pesky phrase “in perpetuity(?sp)” in that damn OGL. Nobody could ever close that loophole–but Hasbro has some damn smart lawyers. They figured out that although they couldn’t stop people from using the d20 rules because of the OGL, they COULD put conditions on using 4th Ed.

They knew that people would lose interest in a game that wasn’t being supported any more. Gamers want–no NEED new books to page through and “Ooooh” and “Ahhhh” over. So, WotC would no longer put out any products for 3rd Ed. They would focus on 4th Ed only and people would be forced to switch in order to get their fix. And then Hasbro put a restriction on the 4th Ed version of the OGL. If a company wanted to release 4th Ed products, then they could no longer release anything for 3rd Ed. If they did, then no more 4th Ed for them.

Bam. Just like that, Hasbro’s lawyers KILLED 3rd Ed and fixed the problem–except they didn’t expect that anyone would be brave enough to say “Screw 4th Ed, we’re just going to fix 3.5 and keep putting out stuff for that.” Enter Paizo. Paizo gambled and won. They figured that there would still be an audience for 3rd Ed and they were right. If you really hated 3rd Ed [Had a lot of fun with 3.5 to be honest, it was broken, but it was enjoyable. I should have mentioned that while I was shit slinging in my review. -Editor] as much as your review seems to indicate, then I doubt you’ll care for Pathfinder. At its core, Pathfinder is still 3rd Ed D&D.

Anyway, it was fun to read your review. Thanks for sharing it with me! It brought back a lot of fun memories.

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