Wednesday, August 11, 2010

'Bout That Time Again....Drama!

Ah, it's been awhile since the latest dust up that lets gamers get all indignant and go on about suppression of freedom, oppression of free choice, and dire conspiracy theories....but enough about whether Edition 5.0 is reality or not....

The publication of the module "Insidious" by Die Cast Press has finally penetrated the blogger consciousness and the result is the typical S-storm such events bring. The main point of contention seems to be the use (front and center) of "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" on the cover, while availing themselves of the OGL at the same time. Reactions at Grognardia and The Underdark Gazette from the common folk seem to be full of doom and gloom that this gives "THEM" the ammo they need to finally awaken the ghost of Lorraine Williams and come at the OSR, retro-clone movement, and anyone with even a thought about publishing a D&D compatible item with both guns blazing (Yes, there have actually been comments about C&Ds, carpet bombing, IP and's 1994 and T$R all over again!!!).

Unless the WOTC police are coming to my house to pry my 1E and 2E books out of my hands (ok, they can have the Wilderness Survival Guide, but that's it), it shouldn't affect me one bit...nor should it affect the die-hards who have been slogging through these dramas for the last 30 years. We have been creating, self-publishing and sharing material before the Lorraine Williams driven internet purges of the '90s (btw, how did that work out for them? Sure shut down those ruffians for good!!!) and will continue until they pry our solar powered cognition memory boards out of our cold, dead hands sometime in 2050 or so....

Some observations:

1. This is a genius marketing move by Die Cast. Either nothing happens to them and they sell tons of modules due to the publicity of marketing a (gasp) ILLEGAL module, or they get a C&D letter and promptly stop publishing after having sold tons of modules due to the publicity...while holding back a handful of copies for collectible purposes (think a 2010 version of an Orange B3). Props.

2. Maybe Rob Kuntz was right when he said (during the Kask/Raggi flap) one didn't even need the OGL to publish compatible material...

3. Didn't Kenzer just publish a "compatible with 4E" box set awhile back? Anything happen to them?

4. If Hasbro was going to go after "everyone" as the result of this, even those legally abiding by the OGL, wouldn't they start with Paizo? Aren't they the only ones really making any money off this stuff? You know, Paizo, the guys who just won a dozen Ennies....yeh that'll happen.

5. And why all the sad faces and wringing hands from the guys who are diligently following the rules? The one guy that steps outside the lines is going to finish you all off? Sounds like a pretty precarious deal you got there....should have kept publishing under the table stuff using Microsoft Publisher on the home computer. Oh, wait, you could STILL do that even if tomorrow WOTC told everyone in the world to stop writing your own stuff, we really mean it....

6. Reminds me of the time way back when, I admitted on an online forum that I used to photocopy Dragon magazines back in the 80s and give them to friends....which prompted lots of "seruz biznez" posts about what an awful pig I was by breaking the law like that. While our hobby attracts some of the most intelligent, creative and imaginative guys in the world, it also seems to be a magnet to the most overly anal retentive, finger pointing, tattle taling, hyperbole spouting conspiracy theorists ever.

7. As I understand it, the OGL is for perpetuity. As in forever. Right? So when the Negative Nellies drone on how this will make things more "difficult" for publishers using the OGL, what are they talking about exactly?

8. Just THINK of all the good will WOTC would engender to gamers should they come down on the OSR like a ton of bricks. Why, look at the reverence and respect gamers even today hold a figure like Lorraine Williams after her actions of the 1990s. One can only imagine, with the preponderance of blogs, internet forums, and you tube personalities of today, how such a well-intentioned public relations move such as this would endear the failing 4E even MORE to gamer nation!

9. Man, the OSR sure has gone respectible. I remember when the OSR was a bunch of scruffy dudes with hand drawn maps, photocopied rules sets, and badly drawn artwork trying to set the world on fire. Now they are the "suits" with the haircuts and ties and pinstripes driving 55 in their Volvos. Hey, I understand, I know a lot of guys who stood in line with me for Clash tickets back in 82 that love a good Dave Matthews Band hoedown these days....

10. Everyone is just mad because they didn't think of it first (See Post #1)......


  1. So, its pretty clear that I'm officially the only person who actually liked the Wilderness Survival Guide...

  2. Yes Joe, we've been wanting to break the news to you for quite some time.....

  3. Me, I'm having pie-in-the-sky fantasies about WotC not reacting to this and subsequent legal decisions forfeiting their claim on D&D as a trademark. :)

  4. Which would be way cool, I agree Will. I think the reaction from corporate will be something between that and sending Beams of Annihilation forth in a cleansing fire across the sea of OSR publishing, as so many seem to think (and secretly hope, for some odd reason) will happen. Yeh, ONE GUY is going to bring everything to a crashing halt. I seriously want to get on a few blogs and tell these crybabies to grow a pair.

    Why do I keep flashing to Animal House and the "It's not over until WE say it's over!" line? You can publish your own D&D stuff as much as you want regardless of what anyone says; we were doing it in the 80's on photocopiers at the local Kinkos, in the 90's during the worst of the Repp/T$R crap, and way before the OSR came about in the last few years.

    It was only a matter of time before someone pushed the envelope, although I always thought it would be some joker coming out with "The OSR Book of Bitches with Big Jugs" or something offensive like that to get everyone up in a tizzy. The idea that ONE GUY can end everyone's fun in this case is ludicrous. Unless WOTC can come to your house and pull out the plug of your computer there isn't a thing they can do about your creativity, imagination, and ingenuity in writing and distributing your own gaming materials.

  5. More schtick! It's still schtick! Is the freaking module any good? BTW, Thorkhammer at DF has been outside the OGL the whole time. I wouldn't want to be the first guy to wake the legal beast but I think we are still far from that....there's no money in it yet. So schtick is getting bolder.

    It's unfortunate we are never writing about how truly great and ground breaking something is....a product to stand on its own two feet and take off. There have been some interesting and even good products but it still feels 'garage.' Given time eh?

    I've got to go now....working on something in the garage!

  6. There are a few reviews of Insidious out there, but personally, I think it's a very good first shot. It's advertised as "Ready to Run" and for all intents and purposes it is that, with pre-gens, and a basic plot that nevertheless has a few twists. Good introductory adventure; if it was mine to re-write the only change I'd like would be a bit more detail on the village of the adventure. Some more descriptions of the taverns, inn, church, NPCs, etc and you could have the beginnings of a nice setting for future releases.

  7. Badmike said: "Maybe Rob Kuntz was right when he said (during the Kask/Raggi flap) one didn't even need the OGL to publish compatible material".

    Yes. I have stated that there and elsewhere before. And yes, Kenzer did publish 4E compatible material, and it was marked as such, such as was done in the day with Mayfair's compatible offerings (their little red osc. triangle inset "disclaimer").

    However, the way I see it is thusly: If the makers of this module did not disclaim the use of the trade name on the cover like Mayfair and Kenzer did, they are already in violation of the IP law. Other cases could be made even if they claim Fair Use, such as, the actual Trademarked name being used to sell what is essentially a D&D product in the consumer's, retailers and ultimately in the court's eyes. The use of the OGL inside the work again deepens the matter even more, but this is really an afterthought if they did not follow the route that Kenzer took.

    They could draw a C&D order if this comes to WotC's attention; and yes, WotC will be forced to do so or to allow a precedent to stand which could erode their claims if further and future breaches of this sort happened.

    As far as it having a negative impact on other products in this niche of a niche market: hardly likely. As it stands the OGL is out there permanently and cannot be taken back or rescinded by WotC. It was released from their legal keeping with usage clauses. Their right to control its use is limited and as explained in the license accompanying it.