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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck

D&D 4th Ed vs. Open Gaming 243

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
I'm no expert in this subject, but mxyzplk has written a good summary of the issues affecting open gaming and the upcoming release of 4th Edition D&D. The open licensing associated with the 3rd Edition spawned a number of successful 3rd parties and add-ons that made the system far greater than it might have been otherwise. I've attached his writeup on the subject below, and you should really read it if you are interested in D&D, Gaming, or trying to apply 'Open' licenses to things besides code.

mxyzplk writes "Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast shocked the role-playing game industry today by announcing that anyone wanting to publish material for the new Fourth Edition of D&D, expected out in June of this year, must forgo open licensing entirely as part of their new Game System License.

With the launch of the third edition of the popular game eight years ago, Wizards had sponsored an open licensing scheme. This license, called the Open Gaming License, or OGL, was a kind of open source license designed for game publishers. The result was an explosion of third party game companies supporting D&D and establishing their own game lines. Many of these companies became quite large and successful, notably Paizo Publishing, Green Ronin Publishing, and others.

Now, however, Wizards has stated that any company hoping to publish products for their new edition must agree to discontinue any currently open licensed products and produce no further open products at all — Dungeons & Dragons related or not. A number of companies had leveraged the OGL for their independent games, for example the pulp game Spirit of the Century.

In response to questions about this policy, Scott Rouse, D&D Brand Manager for Wizards of the Coast, says that "We have invested multiple 7 figures in the development of 4e so can you tell me why we would want publishers to support a system that we have moved away from?"

It seems to me that this is the equivalent of Microsoft telling people "If you want to make and sell software for Windows Vista, you can't make and sell any Linux/open source software!" Since this is a small niche market without the visibility of a Microsoft, this play to muscle out competition by making them choose "between us and open licensing" will probably succeed. Some other game companies are rebelling; Paizo Publishing, for example, has declared their intent to move forward with the open-licensed previous version, essentially 'forking' the Dungeons & Dragons code base. But small gaming companies are small indeed, and Wizards of the Coast is owned by Hasbro (a recent development likely not unrelated to this change of heart)."

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D&D 4th Ed vs. Open Gaming

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  • by brennanw (5761) * on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:54AM (#23142380) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a lawyer so as far as I know this *is* legal, but... how can it be? How can your license forbid someone from using another license for a different product? Aren't antitrust laws that specifically forbid that?
    • by Deathdonut (604275) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:07AM (#23142686)
      The thing they should be worried about is splintering their currently (mostly) consoladated customer base, not legality.

      How is this different from:

      "If you want to work here, you can't compete with us."

      or

      "If you want the free Pepsi soda fountains, you can't sell Coke products."

      They obviously want to sell 4e products and encourage the transition. This may be an overly ambitious plan and somewhat of a strongarming tactic (hard to say for a product that's not even remotely monopolistic), but it's certainly legal.

      Scott Rouse (The Rouse) commented on their motivation recently:

      We have invested multiple 7 figures in the development of 4e so can you tell me why we would want publishers to support a system that we have moved away from?

      This is not spite, malice or some evil scorched earth policy. Yes, we want people to make 4e books and stop making 3.x. Does that surprise you?
      • Spending "multiple 7 figures" on making a new edition of D&D makes my brain hurt. Doesn't everyone who seriously plays spend half their time beating on the rules until they make sense for their player group?

        From everything I've read about 4th edition, I think that money has been ill-spent, and to take that wasted money, and compound your crime by not allowing people to release their mods and make a few bucks off of them is obscene.
        • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wo ... m ['yah' in gap]> on Monday April 21, 2008 @02:26PM (#23148280)
          I'm not thrilled by all of the changes, but some make sense. Among the changes that are partly or totally confirmed that make sense:

          1. Monsters no longer must have class levels.
          2. Racial abilities that improve with level are basedon feats, instead of Level Adjustments which were a bookkeeping mess.
          3. Hit points are fixed per class and level, plus ability modifier, instead of the luck of the dice. (There are already luck in dice for combat. Adding luck in die rolls for hit points can really screw PCs. )
          4. Spells are unlimited use, per encounter, or per day - a big improvement over memorization/preparation/whatever.
          5. No confirmation rolls on critical hits (a roll of 20) or different tables for critical hit damage multipliers. Instead a critical hit just does maximum damage.
          6. Spell levels correspond with caster level, so a 12th level Wizard can cast a 12th level spell, instead of having 12th level Wizards casting 6th level spells.
          7. No feats or experience point expenditure is required to make magical items.
          8. No spells require experience point expediture to cast. The Wish spell is also gone.
          9. No level drain from undead or spells.
          10. Fewer magical items can be worn, to reduce that complexity.
          11. Fewer buff (temporary improvement) spells, and fewer buff spells that overlap, so your group doesn't spend 10 minutes in spell preparation before each combat.
          12. Save or die spells are replaced with spells that do large amounts of hit point damage, so trick instant kills become less common.
          13. Full attacks are removed.
          14. The rules for attacks of opportunity are (supposedly) simplified and clarified.
          15. Monsters can be scaled down for lower level encounters.
          16. Other class abilities get moved to the same once per day, once per encounter, or unlimited use mechanic as spells.
          17. Characters get healing surges, which let them recover from damage outside of combat more quickly without requiring a caster with healing magic. This mitigates the need to have a priest healer in every gaming party.
          18. The skill system is dramatically simplified. PCs have trained skills and other skills, and no individual skill ranks in (potentially) dozens of different skills. The skill list is also condensed.
          19. Defenses and saving throws follow a simpler progression than the various charts in previous editions.

          That's just a decent helping of the changes we know about, and I'd say a lot of it makes good sense. I'm far from uniformly excited about all of the changes, but there's definitely some good with the bad.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
            Some of that stuff is just undoing stupid changes they made in the past...Confirmation on criticals, Magical Items costing experience (wtf was that about anyway? Nothing irritates me more than the idea that I get dumber by practicing something).

            Some of the other stuff is just making up for stupid DMs, and that irritates me. Monsters can be scaled down? So? A good DM should be able to come up with an easy or hard encounter with any sort of monster anyway, and relying on the "book difficulty" with monsters me
          • Duck Dodgers wrote

            The skill list is also condensed.
            You can bet that is to make it easier to churn out more expansion books.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by BobMcD (601576)
            My list would be shorter. Specifically:

            #3 ensures that everyone of a given class/level combination will have almost exactly the same number of HP's. That's a net loss for the game as a whole.

            #4 is novel, but is firmly in the 'maybe' column. This could change the genre. It could completely destroy any concept of game balance, making casters the only class to play at any level. Hard to say, but it certainly doesn't strike me as something that makes sense without a lot of testing.

            #9 means that one of the
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by grahamd0 (1129971)

              #3 ensures that everyone of a given class/level combination will have almost exactly the same number of HP's. That's a net loss for the game as a whole.

              Unless, like I have, you're playing a melee combat character with a decent CON and roll a 1 at nearly every level. The whole idea of rolling when the game is balanced around your having ~50% of your total potential hitpoints + CON starts to seem pretty stupid.

              #4 is novel, but is firmly in the 'maybe' column. This could change the genre. It could completely destroy any concept of game balance, making casters the only class to play at any level. Hard to say, but it certainly doesn't strike me as something that makes sense without a lot of testing.

              Spells in 4E are only one form of "power" other classes have comparable abilities with comparable use slots, so I'd worry more that it will *reduce* the appeal of playing a wizard.

              #13 was in place to give combat types an edge, so hopefully it got replaced with something

              In Star Wars saga edition, extra attacks are gained through feats.

              • by BobMcD (601576)

                We can't pressure WotC into changing anything at this point, and the worst case scenario is we get to keep playing 3.X.

                The temptation, though, is to make something better from either the ground up or based off of an earlier version. With the 'power' of the internet and collaboration, the 'need' for a company like WotC is diminishing by the day. Unfortunately without the very real dollars they pump into and out of the industry - well, this notion would likely die a death of starvation.

                I get disappointed when I think that the lineage that DnD represents is going off on a tangent.

            • by pugugly (152978)
              Frickinghades.

              I *survived* Tomb of Horrors!

              . . . to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee!

              Call the Colbert Report - I demand that WotC be put on Notice!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by 2short (466733)
              "... represents a serious change for DM's to bear in mind. Hopefully the ENTIRE rule-set has been reworked to take this into account and every DM is drilled on the change..."

              The entire rule set has been reworked, period. It's a new ruleset. Any discussion of 4E as a list of changes, or of how any 4E rule doesn't work in a 3E context is beyond pointless. Perhaps an illustration will help:

              You know the castling rule in chess, how it says you can't do it if your king has moved? That's totally stupid, becaus
        • by NightRain (144349)

          Spending "multiple 7 figures" on making a new edition of D&D makes my brain hurt.
          Maybe he was including the figures after the decimal point in the number "7" :)
      • by bkr1_2k (237627)
        It may be legal to say that people have to use a different license to support 4e but there is no way it is legal to "force" them to stop making OGL products all together, especially those unrelated to any D&D product as the summary suggests. That is not enforceable in any legal manner, though it can be effectively enforced by crushing the competition who are much smaller, which is the point of the whole article.
    • by Tanktalus (794810)

      IANAL, either, but don't anti-trust laws only apply to monopolies? The gaming industry is too fragmented, IMO, to support such a charge. Sure, WotC are a de facto leader in the industry (not necessarily based on the best games, but likely just in revenue), but owning 40%, 50%, or even 70%, of a market doesn't make you a monopoly.

      Microsoft, however, has been convicted of illegal monopoly behaviour, which, among other things, legally proved that they were a monopoly to begin with. That's the difference.

      O

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Moryath (553296)
        It does have the side effect of barring you from working with Paizo's 3.75 system

        Actually, that's precisely why WotC/Hasborg did this - they had a falling out with Paizo, said "Fuck you we're pulling Dragon/Dungeon", got greedy over the idea of $14/month for people to play on their shitty as hell (I've been in beta) "insider" online playboards.

        End result? D&D 4e is a pile of steaming crap that doesn't deserve to have the D&D name on it. Every gameplay change has been made not to make a better game,
    • by halivar (535827)
      The obvious answer is that the summary is sensationalist and not true.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swordgeek (112599)
      First of all, anti-trust legislation only comes into force when a company has a monopoly, so it's not really relevant here.

      Secondly, this is all dones through legal weaselese. In this case:

      1) I've licensed D&D 3e to you under the OGL. That license states that it is non-revokable, and therefore there is NO WAY I can stop you from releasing all you want under it. However...
      2) I can offer you the opportunity to license D&D 4e from me under a new license. I can put any clause into that license I want. I
      • by Erioll (229536)

        Secondly, this is all dones through legal weaselese. In this case:

        1) I've licensed D&D 3e to you under the OGL. That license states that it is non-revokable, and therefore there is NO WAY I can stop you from releasing all you want under it. However...
        2) I can offer you the opportunity to license D&D 4e from me under a new license. I can put any clause into that license I want. I can say you need to shave your head, paint your arse blue, and change your name to Stacy if I want. You have the option of either accepting those terms, or not licensing 4e from me.

        Note that you could probably take some of those conditions to court for a judgement, if they were particularly egregious. A court may rule that certain licensing restrictions are invalid and unenforceable, and no longer stand. That's why you often see a clause at the end of a license which says something like, "In the event that certain parts of this license are determined to be unenforceable, the remaining parts are still valid." Much of this detail though, depends on country and jurisdiction.

        The only caveat with your point 2 is that you can't contract someone to do something illegal, or at the least, that section is void. So you can't take somebody to court to enforce a contract on somebody's life because the hitman refused to actually carry it out. That may be extreme, as that TYPE of contract may be illegal by other laws, but even if it wasn't it would still be void by the "you can't legally bind somebody to do something illegal" catch-all. That might vary by country, but I think any lega

    • by hey! (33014)
      Well, what if I gave you money? Could I then ask you to stop using the another license for a different product? What if I gave you some other consideration of value? What if that thing of value was the use of my spiffy new product?

      Just turn your question on its head for a moment. Sure, an open license to a company's product is an open license, but that does that give you any rights whatsoever to future, similar products? If not, they can offer the future product to you under any terms they choose, and
  • This sounds familiar (Score:5, Informative)

    by gruvmeister (1259380) * on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:54AM (#23142394)

    It seems to me that this is the equivalent of Microsoft telling people "If you want to make and sell software for Windows Vista, you can't make and sell any Linux/open source software!"
    It's more like "If you want to make and sell products for Vista, you can't make and sell products for XP." Both products are made the the same company, the older one has been around for quite some time and has developed a very good following, but now the owning company wants to push sales of their new product line.
    • by Chrisq (894406)
      It's more like "If you want to make and sell products for Vista, you can't make and sell products for XP or any of your other completely independent products that you released under the same license."
    • by srmalloy (263556)
      I'm not sure that the analogy you draw is on all fours -- given statements Microsoft has made about requiring a new codebase, drawing that analogy for Windows 7 would be better, but virtually all applications written for XP will run on Vista without changes, while D&D4e has made changes that may require significant editing for compatibility. Now, Microsoft might require that a company stop selling an XP version and put in Vista-Specific code in order to be able to put the "Designed for Windows Vista" ca
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dcollins (135727)
      "It's more like 'If you want to make and sell products for Vista, you can't make and sell products for XP.' Both products are made the the same company..."

      No, that's incorrect. The OGL *license* was originally made by WOTC. But there are now many products that are completely unique games published under that license. In some cases they have zero to do with any of the WOTC brands or products.

      Say you created a brand-new piece of software and released it under the Sun Public License (or something). Later, Sun
      • by destine (109885)
        What alarms me about that is that a lot of small companies make money through the sales of pdf's specifically using that license, wether it's tied to a wotc product or not. And the pdf is a great way to get rules and information from past games or even play a game that you remembered from high school but don't have and can't find the books for. It's also a cheap way for many on limited incomes to get copies of books for cheaper. Obviously, all these small companies some of which have loyal fanbases, would h
  • by PresidentEnder (849024) <wyvernenderNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:56AM (#23142436) Journal
    Everything I hear about 4e (subscription access to web content, big monster-type race, "WoWification") seems bad. This seems worse. I hope the independent publishers respond by sticking to 3.5e.
    • by Sentry21 (8183) on Monday April 21, 2008 @12:27PM (#23145984) Journal
      It's strange... pretty much all the negative things I've been hearing are people on the forums who've never played it and only know what's been told to them, but who form negative opinions based on what they assume people mean (and we've seen a lot of uproar about things that were never actually said).

      Conversely, every review I've read by people who've actually played it, and everything I've heard from the people I know who are playtesting it right now, has been overwhelmingly positive, to the point where I have no question in my mind about wanting to switch over to 4e as soon as is possible.

      Go figure.
      • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Monday April 21, 2008 @12:39PM (#23146302) Homepage Journal

        Conversely, every review I've read by people who've actually played it, and everything I've heard from the people I know who are playtesting it right now, has been overwhelmingly positive, to the point where I have no question in my mind about wanting to switch over to 4e as soon as is possible.
        People who have actually played it fall into three camps.

        1: The people who wrote it.

        2: People who went to a convention just to play it.

        3: Folks who have NDAs, that limit what they can say.

        What part of this audience makes you think it's a fair metric for how good the game actually is?
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          Ok, but your post also confirms that the nay-sayers haven't played it, and so their opinion is utterly meaningless.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sentry21 (8183)

          What part of this audience makes you think it's a fair metric for how good the game actually is?

          The people under NDAs haven't given me any specific information (i.e. 'I love the way Level 12 Wizards can cast Dispel Undergarments at-will!'); it's only been generic information ('I'll never go back to 3.5; 4th edition makes everything so much simpler and more fun, by taking out all the useless and overly complicated junk that shouldn't have been in there in the first place').

          My fiancée and I created 15th level characters the other day for a group we're joining, and it was all manner of messy.

      • I haven't played it, you're right. However, I reiterate: everything I've heard sounds like a bad idea.
    • I stopped buying when they published the horrid 3E rules. My old books and house rules work just fine, and I have been creating my own campaign content for over 30 years so I see no need to purchase any 3rd party add ons or modules anyways.
  • wiki rpg (Score:5, Informative)

    by kingmundi (54911) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:58AM (#23142506)
    Role-playing games seem to be ripe for having all the rules and settings put up in a wiki, under a truly open content license.

    Here is a resource for various projects
    http://wiki.rpg.net/index.php/Major_Projects [rpg.net]
    http://www.kirith.com/shapeshifter/Main_Page [kirith.com]

    Also, from what I have read about the net, you can not copyright rules. With that in mind, some bright fellows have put all the old school rules into a pdf and called is OSRIC.
    http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/osric/ [knights-n-knaves.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by igneousquill (1276834)
      I haven't played for years, and am really turned off by recent D&D publications. If I get back into gaming, I'll probably use what my brother has been working on developing with others: http://www.basicfantasy.org/main.html [basicfantasy.org]
      • by Sancho (17056) *
        Earthdawn is a pretty neat P&P RPG, too. It's set in the same universe as Shadowrun, but thousands of years earlier. It's really neat source material for an medieval-fantasy setting alternative to D&D.
  • by Goobermunch (771199) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:05AM (#23142662)
    Sure sounds terrible, doesn't it. Of course, Wizards of the Coast did NOT make the announcement Mxyzplk claims they did.

    Instead, a publisher posted on one of the www.enworld.org forums that he had had a conversation with someone at WotC and that this was his understanding of what the new license does. The individuals at WotC who responded did make comments that suggest that such a policy may be part of their new GSL, however there have also been indications that they are backing away from that position. Of course, since no one has actually seen the new license, no one knows precisely what is permitted and prohibited.

    An announcement is expected today, which should clarify the issue.

    --AC
    • No fair! (Score:3, Funny)

      by aztektum (170569)
      Way to totally deflate an opportunity for unfounded, emotionally driven whining by a buncha lifeless nerds with facts. Now what are we going to do?

      Jerk.
      • Are you new hear? Since when did not having valid facts on our side stop us from emotionally whining about imagined abuses?

        -K
  • by Grimfaire (856043) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:09AM (#23142740)
    I've a friend who was in on the testing of the new edition. So I've seen some of the rules. And as someone pointed out above, it's a complete destruction of the core values of D&D and most role playing games in that it moves it almost entirely to a "WoW" format. Where each so-called class is now one of a role filler as in tank/healer/cannon. No more, well I'm a fighter but specialize in damage... there is now aggro and everyone can heal themselves... it's really not D&D in any shape or form. I for one, am not moving to 4e and neither is my roommate. Considering we both play extensively and have more than 2 book cases and a closet set aside for just D&D books... that's saying quite a bit.
    • So what do you see as the core values of D&D that 4E fails to respect? I'm genuinely curious.

      I'm not sure what you mean by "so-called" class; the classes still seem very distinct to me *even though* each one is designed to fill one of four tactical roles in a combat situation.
    • Aggro in D&D seems entirely incompatible with having an intelligent DM. Were I to ever run a game where some guys stood there healing a heavily armored warrior, there's no way the evil thingies would even glance at said warrior. Aggro is a ridiculous, unrealistic idea that has no place in a real RPG. In MMORPGs it's an occasionally entertaining arithmetic minigame.
      • "Aggro" in 4E (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lanu2000 (972889) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:49AM (#23143762)
        From my limited experience with 4E, the aggro people talk about is not the 'stickyness' from MMOs, but the fighter/paladin making it costly to attack someone else. For example, the fighter can focus on an enemy so that it (the enemy) will have a -2 to hit any other party member. Now, if the AC of the fighter is 4 higher than that of the wizard, this will not have an effect on the enemy (it's still easier to hit the wizard).
        • Okay, that actually sounds like a nice game mechanic, and feasible. Thanks for the info. ...now I want to try 4E. Damn you.
          • by rkanodia (211354)
            I think the best part about the 'mark' concept is that it also allows the DM to have monsters that 'tank' the players (protecting squishier monsters), without taking the decision-making process out of the players' hands.
    • I've heard this argument a lot about 4E. But no one really gives examples as to what they mean. Here you at least say that everyone is assigned to a role of tank/healer/cannon, but couldn't that be said for 3.x and 2E as well? They just didn't explicitly say it in those versions.
      • by grahamd0 (1129971)

        Class abilities seem to work more along the lines of WoW talent trees than 3rd edition you always get X ability at level Y.

        • by halivar (535827)
          You mean like the ranger, where you pick ranged or TWF specialization, and get your per-level abilities based on that choice?

          I once believed D&D 4E was WoW-ish. I now believe that WoW is D&D 3E-ish.
          • by grahamd0 (1129971)

            Actually, no. Though I think the 3.5 ranger is an improvement on the 3e ranger.

            I think they're going with something more like Star Wars saga edition, where you have various "talent trees" and you pick an ability from any of them (as long as you meet the prerequisites) each time you get a talent. This is largely speculation on my part, but saga is essentially 4E Star Wars, and it fits with the concepts they've been describing so far for 4E D&D.

            • by halivar (535827)
              I'm not doubting what you're saying about how 4E per-level class abilities work. I'm contesting the notion that this model is unique to WoW, or even that it represents a significant break from previous iterations of D&D.

              In 3E, if you weren't playing a spellcaster, you modeled your character on one of several feat trees that you progressed in throughout your characters careers (i.e. TWF, Whirlwind Attack [whose prereq's are a tree in and of themselves], ranged attacks, unarmed attacks, grappling and defe
    • Liar. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Valdrax (32670) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:03AM (#23144110)

      I've a friend who was in on the testing of the new edition. So I've seen some of the rules.
      [...]
      there is now aggro
      Liar. Bare-faced liar.

      If you had been playing, you know that there are no aggro rules in 4e. They briefly considered them early in the development of the product but put aside an aggro system in favor of the new marking system which forces a monster to either attack a Defender or take a penalty. AFAIK, the aggro system never saw the light of day outside of WotC offices.

      The ultimate choice between the two options is still up to the DM. Players do not get to take control of monsters by inciting them.

      The whole "D&D is now WoW" argument is common from people who *haven't* seen enough of the game. You've probably just read a few things on-line and decided to try to boost your credibility by claiming to be an insider. Too bad you tipped your hand by making an obvious and outrageous lie. Also, if true, you would've just publicly stated that your friend violated their NDA.
      • Uh, "marking" someone is pretty close to making them aggro onto you.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by mudbunny (1239806)
          Ummm, no. Aggro, as used in MMOs, means that the MOB that has "aggro" on you has no choice but to attack you. It is a number in a file somewhere that MMO devs use to try to recreate the intelligence of a DM controlling a monster. In 4E, the marking may make it an unpleasent choice to attack someone else, but the option is still there if the DM determines that it makes good tactical sense for that monster. A stupid monster may just attack the last creature that attacked it and hurt it. A smart monster may sa
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Viking Coder (102287)
            Considering that there were, to my knowledge, no game mechanics for anything like it in previous editions, and now there are classes in the core rulebook which heavily rely on the mechanism to control the flow of combat, I'd definitely agree with the point that it's "like aggro."
            Not that I think it's a bad thing. I had a bit of a hard time explaining it to my players, when I ran "Raiders of Oakhurst" - the first 4E session we had. And honestly, when I explained it, what I said sounded similar to Aggro...
            • by Valdrax (32670)
              (Aside: Slashdot ate my reply to your first post. Does anyone else hate these new comment forms?)

              The main difference between the marking system and aggro is that aggro takes over the actions of the victim whereas marking forces a choice.

              Additionally, it's worth noting that the Fighter & Paladin marking abilities only penalize the enemy for attacking someone other than the user of the mark. There is no penalty for sitting around, running away, healing yourself or an ally, etc.
            • Besides the fact that marked enemy can take non-aggressive actions without penalty, it's important to note that aggro systems generally apply to the entire party -- not just to the class that's designed to "take" aggro. (After all, there has to be aggro to take away from allies.)

              Thus, 4e does not suffer from the problem of over-zealous healing or nuking causing enemies to blindly charge at the Cleric or Wizard. Enemies will only do so because it's a sensible choice and not because some numeric threshold h
    • by sckeener (137243) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:15AM (#23144324)

      Where each so-called class is now one of a role filler as in tank/healer/cannon. No more, well I'm a fighter but specialize in damage...
      Here's my example: say you want to play a swashbuckler or a duelist, does a fighter fit? They wear heavy armor in 4e because they are tanks. So our fighter swashbuckler swinging from the chandelier is wearing plate mail...Not a good image for a swashbuckler...

      Ok how about the Rogue? Well they won't fall on their ass because of the heavy armor and they get trapfinding.....so while the swashbuckler or duelist is dancing around attacking, they can look for traps in the brassieres of the wenches.

      Basically if you wanted to play a class different than how WotC thinks you should min/max it, you are screwed in essence, getting junk you don't need (heavy armor or trapfinding as examples above)...

      In 3rd edition you would have run into similar problems with the fighter...but not so with the rogue.

      4e is just making the matters worse with the Roles, which basically tweak characters to min/max one way.
      • by memfrob (157990)

        In 3rd edition you would have run into similar problems with the fighter...but not so with the rogue.

        ...while of course, in 2nd Edition you could be flexible with either a Swashbuckler Fighter (Swashbuckler Kit from The Complete Fighter's Handbook [flash.net]) or a Swashbuckling Rogue (half a dozen kits from The Complete Thief's Handbook [flash.net]), with whatever skills you like.

        For that matter, if you wanted to tweak the armour and weapon proficiencies even further, the Player's Option [flash.net] books allow more customization than yo

        • There were official Wizards of the Coast supplements for 3/3.5 and also third party D20 products that allowed for swashbuckling Fighter characters too.

          This is all much ado about nothing. You're a fool if you're upset that Wizards of the Coast is trying to make a profit with a new gaming line.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 2short (466733)
        "Here's my example: say you want to play a swashbuckler or a duelist, does a fighter fit?"

        You want a Ranger; it is (or can be) exactly what you're describing.

        "4e is just making the matters worse with the Roles, which basically tweak characters to min/max one way."

        If Roles do anything besides group classes for ease of table-of-contents ordering, I haven't seen it.

        I find it interesting how many people declare how horrible 4E is in such specific terms, when they clearly haven't played it. If you think 3E is t
        • by sckeener (137243)

          But I and everyone I know who has actually played 4E with a good GM will tell you one simple feature that puts 4E over the top: It's more fun.

          (my bolded above)

          Having a good DM can make any system good. They know how to go beyond the rules.

          but there aren't many good DMs. I've been playing since 1981 and I can say I've had only two DMs that have been good and in the tens that have been bad.

          As for 4e being more fun...we'll see. I have yet to feel like they have targeted me in any way shape or form.

          From what I've heard, it sounds like this,

          (the average fouth edition combat round will be:)

          Fighter uses martial power "sword stabbity death" to attack

          • by 2short (466733)
            "Having a good DM can make any system good."

            Potentially. Certainly having a bad DM can make any system bad, which is what I had in mind when I threw that line in. I've played several systems over a couple decades, with basically one DM, who is fabulously good. By the fact he's running 4E playtest campaigns, you may deduce he's an "insider" of sorts.
            If he's running it, it's going to be fun. But 4E is even more fun for me, and notably is clearly more fun for him. A good DM can go beyond th
        • by sckeener (137243)
          To quote Mike Mearls who even recognized that the game system has issues with fighters:

          The one stumbling block is that the game expects fighters to wear heavy armor, but you could get around that by building a simple house rule (a fighter in light armor gets a flat bonus to AC to make up the gap).
    • by 2short (466733)
      "No more, well I'm a fighter but specialize in damage..."

      That's funny, because I'm playing 4E, and well, I'm a fighter but specialize in damage...

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *
      Ok, lots of comments attacking this post from the 4ed side of things... now for one from the WoW side.

      No more, well I'm a fighter but specialize in damage...

      Arms Warrior. Fury Warrior. Not every WoW Warrior goes protection. I knew plenty of Warriors (WoW's fighter-equivalent) who specialised in damage.

      WoW gives each class three different specs to choose from. In some cases (for example, mages), this is just three different flavours of damage dealer (so some specs are better vs other players, while others are better in raids). In others, it allows for more sign

  • by Blue23 (197186) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:14AM (#23142826) Homepage
    I think this is a more complete story. D&D 3ed had two licenses. A open source one called OGL, and a trademark related one called d20STL that gave access to IP/PI but was more restrictive. The new GSL replaces the d20STL but is rumored to be a bit more open, and they aren't doing an OGL.

    The announcement mentioned "mutual exclusivity", which some are reading as "one product can not be licensed under both OGL and GSL", but one publisher said on ENworld that they think it's a per-company not per-product. We haven't heard any confirmation either way.

    It could be that this is bad, but right now it's just FUD until we have clarification.

    Cheers,
    =Blue(23)
    • The announcement mentioned "mutual exclusivity", which some are reading as "one product can not be licensed under both OGL and GSL", but one publisher said on ENworld that they think it's a per-company not per-product. We haven't heard any confirmation either way.

      They've been very specific with the license regarding individual products' mutual exclusivity. Personally, I think that the per company thing is a little ridiculous and probably not correct, especially since they have been very specific about individual products. WotC probably just doesn't want to rush to dispel that guy's illusions as they fit perfectly with their druthers.

  • Not 100% Clear (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcollins (135727) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:30AM (#23143282) Homepage
    In general, that's a very good summary of what's blown up over the weekend (WOTC made an announcement that a GSL would be coming last Thursday). However, a couple things to keep in mind:

    - WOTC spokespeople have made conflicting and contradictory statements and backtracking on their plans since last November. First there was to be a revised OGL, then a GSL with publisher buy-in of $5,000, then no GSL, now GSL with no buy-in, etc.

    - WOTC hasn't officially confirmed the "poison pill" clause yet (publishing for 4E prohibits you from any more Open Game License publishing). This was related second-hand by Clark Peterson, the well-regarded head of Necromancer Games (and a lawyer), as being delivered to him by WOTC staff members. Two WOTC spokespeople have been posting in the same thread over the weekend, but have ambiguously neither directly confirmed nor denied that statement.

    - No one's seen the actual new license yet. WOTC has been saying all year long that it was within a week of being released. Clearly the GSL is intended to be far more restrictive than the OGL (one thing they've been consistent on is that it must directly support the Dungeons & Dragons brand, that it restricts product types, has a community standards clause, is revocable by WOTC, etc., none of which existed in the OGL). But once again after all the riot with the new announcement last week, the speaking Brand Manager for WOTC revealed Saturday that he *still* hadn't received the actual text of the license!

    - Physical D&D 4E books are at the printers, to be released in June. A true conspiracist would think that the ongoing confusion might be WOTC FUD to delay third-party publisher business plans until 4E has already been purchased widely by the customer base. (But I think that's a low-probability bet.)

    So what's coming out of WOTC is pretty messed up. My observation is that it's been clear since January that WOTC was going to take some shot at attacking the Open Game community. I'm guessing it's at least 80% likely that this company-wide "poison pill" restriction is in fact present in the new GSL. But everything that's come out of WOTC so far this year on the issue has turned out to be incorrect and later retracted. So we'll see about this latest one.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:40AM (#23143554)
    It sounds like paizo.com has gone for the standard open source solution. Fork your own version from the previously licensed product. Since this is going to get support from other pissed-of companies it has the potential to become the majot player, just like Joomla [joomla.org] vs Mambo [mambo-foundation.org].
  • The OGL was the reason I bought D&D 3E, Traveller T20, Call of Cthulhu D20, and a bunch of other books.

    I've seen too many good gaming systems and worlds die because the publisher lost interest. Many of them were from TSR. The way I saw it, D20 OGL guaranteed that even if WotC decided to kill the game (which in the case of CoC D20 they did), there would still be the option of community and independent support, and I'd be able to use the SRD to get new players up and running.

    So if this rumor turns out to
  • Better games? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cheetahfeathers (93473) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:59AM (#23144000)
    With 4th looking to be the Vista edition of RPGs, will this be enough to get RPG players to change games? Will alternate fantasy games such as the Riddle of Steel and Burning Wheel see an upsurge? I can hope. Those games go to show that you don't need to spend several million to make a highly polished game. The Riddle of Steel has the most realistic combat of any game, and has won awards based on that. It still has interesting fantasy and story aspects, and the Spiritual Attribute rules are great! Burning Wheel is one of the most Tolkien-esque in feel of any RPG, including many Middle Earth RPGs. D&D was interesting in its day, but RPGs have moved way beyond it. We have games that have a lot better rules than D&D provides... let's use them! As a bonus, you'll spend less money on the books as well.

    Have any other people here moved on past D&D and found other P&P RPGs more to their liking? What are they? What are some of the things you enjoy about them that's superior to what D&D offers?
    • by DarkSarin (651985)
      The problem with many of the alternate systems is that I have invariably found that while I often like the rules well enough, what I really want is a generic system that lets me create my own setting. I want flexibility. The ability to create my own worlds, classes, races and whatnot. In other words, D&D is a kernel, more than a complete system. Sure they've got some things that are neat and the default settings are nice, but sometimes rolling your own distribution is really cool.

      Unfortunately, it's
      • Hmm. I have the opposite problem.

        I have found over the years that a system which fits the setting is a thing of beauty. Generic rules... well, they never do seem to sit quite right.

        Right now I have an idea for a setting that I think is awesome, and I'm trying to find a set of rules that covers most of what I want. I don't want to have to write a large rules system just to support the game elements I want to use.
    • Well, over the last few years, I haven't played any D&D (although a lot of it has been played *around* me).

      What have I played?

      Exalted is probably the big one. It's got the fantasy feel of D&D, but with a fresh and interesting setting that combines some aspects of Asian myth & pop culture (Celestial bureaucracy, Shinto-esque animism, oversized swords and mecha) with the tropes of Western & Mesopotamian classical epics. World-striding heroes, wars between the Titans and the Gods, and curses th
  • If this is all true, there's one very simple solution.

    Phase 1: Spin off company to handle 4ed-based games, while the original company continues working on 3ed-based games.
    Phase 2: ???
    Phase 3: Profit!
  • I'm a long time RPG player, for at least 20 years. I was on the fence with 4e, given my years of support of WOTC and D&D in general. I love third edition to death, however at best I was going to pick up the players handbook if I found a 4e seat. At worst I was going to live and let live, and continue with my beloved 3rd edition. Now, I am not so sure. I really can't, in good conscious, support 4e. Not as a Linux advocate, and certainly not as a gamer. This move is as bad, if not worst, than anyth
  • Summary is WRONG (Score:4, Interesting)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @12:06PM (#23145554) Homepage

    Now, however, Wizards has stated that any company hoping to publish products for their new edition must agree to discontinue any currently open licensed products and produce no further open products at all â" Dungeons & Dragons related or not
    Absolutely incorrect, and the linked post from Scott Rouse doesn't even support that conclusion. You will not be allowed to mix GSL mechanics with OGL mechanics in the same product. IOW, you can't have a book that is both 4E GSL and 3.5 OGL. This is a far cry from the sensationalism written up here.

    To quote Scott Rouse [enworld.org] further:

    Publishers can put out a product under the OGL - OR - they can put out a product under a 4E GSL.

    3.x or 4E

    Not both.

    One or t'other.

    By "mutual exclusivity" I mean, different versions of the same product cannot occur at the same time.
  • can someone please tag this with unconfirmedrumor or something?
  • This is exactly the kind of thing that Wizards of the Coast has always been known for. It doesn't matter if you're replacing "banned" Magic cards every year, being muscled out of the wargaming scene, or any number of other scenarios. This is what they do.
  • Not quite (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Monday April 21, 2008 @02:06PM (#23147930)
    It seems to me that this is the equivalent of Microsoft telling people "If you want to make and sell software for Windows Vista, you can't make and sell any Linux/open source software!"

    More like "If you want to make and sell software for Windows Vista, you can't sell any software that functions on any previous version of Windows."
  • I'm sure wizard's nightmare is that someone uses the OGL to reimplement all the new 4e rules (call it 3e++), and then all the publishers start dual-logoing all their products for both 4e and 3e++

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