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No More D&D PDFs, Wizards of the Coast Sues 8 File Sharers 501

Posted by Soulskill
from the perfectly-rational-reactions dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On April 6th, Wizards of the Coast took all of their PDF products offline, including those sold at third-party websites like RPGNow.com. From the RPGNow front page: 'Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.' Wizards of the Coast also posted a press release to their website that states they are suing eight file sharers for 'copyright infringement,' and WotC_Trevor posted a short explanation about the cessation of PDF sales to the EN World Forums."
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No More D&D PDFs, Wizards of the Coast Sues 8 File Sharers

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  • [Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:25AM (#27503145) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately, due to recent findings of illegal copying and online distribution (piracy) of our products, Wizards of the Coast has decided to cease the sales of online PDFs.

    Step 1: Point gun at foot and pull trigger.

    Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.'

    Step 2: Open yourself up to lawsuits for breach of contract.

    (GMSkarka) Typical short-sighted reaction from WOTC, which makes zero sense at all, when you consider the fact that the most widely-spread pirated copies of the 4e products contain printers marks -- which means that their piracy problem pre-dated any purchases.

    Speaking as somebody whose entire income is largely dependent on my PDF sales, this really pisses me off.

    Step 3: Ignore all evidence and make assumptions in an effort to piss off both the users and the publishers.

    Step 4: Lose all profits!

    • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:31AM (#27503231) Homepage

      I think as people in this economy are becoming increasingly desperate, people are grasping at straws while they fail. Could this be considered a sign that there is failure approaching when a company starts resorting to litigation for income?

    • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dotren (1449427) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503325)

      Mod parent up... that had me cracking up

      Seriously though, is there a business conference that happens annually now where presenters try to sell the audience on the benefits of alienating your customers by providing sub-par purchasing and product use options? Do they start the whole thing off with a keynote on how to use copyright to extort and sue your customers?

      I think, in recent years, its become readily apparent that a company's true customers are it's stock holders and board members. The consumers are just raw material to be milked for money in ANY way possible.

      Sorry if that went slightly off-topic, it's just frustrating to see so many product/media providers jump on this bandwagon. Whats next? Some sort of physical DRM for printed copies?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iYk6 (1425255)

        I think, in recent years, its become readily apparent that a company's true customers are it's stock holders and board members. The consumers are just raw material to be milked for money in ANY way possible.

        Did you read the same summary I did? They stopped selling pdfs. The only alternatives now for a digital copy are to buy the books and scan every page yourself, or piracy. They aren't milking their consumers; they are throwing their money back at them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by internerdj (1319281)
        "Some sort of physical DRM for printed copies?"
        This is Bruno. He comes free with your purchase. Don't make him mad. He is non-refundable.
      • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Basilius (184226) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:25PM (#27506901)

        Whats next? Some sort of physical DRM for printed copies?

        If you dig back into storage and find some of those early 1st edition dungeon crawls, you'll find that they were printed in a lightish blue ink.

        Mimeograph machines and black and white copiers at the time (I don't think color copiers were commercially available yet) had real trouble with that color ink.

        This was intentional. It was, in effect, DRM.

    • Wow. I've been toying with the idea of getting PDF versions of the 1st Edition AD&D books to suppliment my paper copies, but I guess that's not happening...

      • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MeanMF (631837) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:54AM (#27503587) Homepage
        Oh you can still get them..You're just no longer allowed to pay for them.
        • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:11AM (#27503833)

          Yup.
          And it's the only way you can get Gods, Demigods, and Heroes where TSR violated a lot of OTHER people's copyrighted material.

          I started with the three book set, greyhawk, and blackmoor after hearing about the "DND" room at a convention.

          ADND (i.e. 1st edition) killed my campaign when the DMG came out. Can't remember why. The PHB and MM were both compatible.

          2nd edition wasn't my cup of tea and i stumbled on the Cyclopedia version and fell in love.

          Lots of home rules later, my 26 year old rules set and Rev 4.0 are actually a lot closer together. I guess we both grew in the same direction. My rules are formatted Cyclopedia style (and probably still have about 40- pages or 10%-15% of Cyclopedia material).

          If I had it to do over again, I think I would simplify things and reduce a lot of these feats (like cleave) to the basics: Unless it is a special squirrelly ability (like flying) then it points down to taking more hit points or doing more hit points.

          • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:14PM (#27504905)

            Minor note: The Cyclopedia is actually not 2nd edition AD&D, it's a republishing of the alternative line they had going when AD&D came out.

            It was originally meant to be the 'intro to D&D' rules which would transition to AD&D but ended up being it's own separate line entirely. Prior to being released as the Cyclopedia, it was called the Box Sets as unlike AD&D, the Box sets were sold as paired Player and Dungeon Master guides based on level ranges.

            • Basic Set - Levels 1-3
            • Expert Set - Levels 4-14
            • Companion Set - Levels 15-25
            • Master Set - Levels 26-36 (max 'mortal' level)
            • Immortals - literally playing gods
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DragonWriter (970822)

              Minor note: The Cyclopedia is actually not 2nd edition AD&D, it's a republishing of the alternative line they had going when AD&D came out.

              The "alternative line" had a name: "Dungeons & Dragons", as distinct from "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons".

        • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:16AM (#27503895)

          That's basically what makes me shake my head in disbelief.

          First: Those books are no longer in print and WotC is not losing a dime if they get copied. Unless, and I'd consider this highly unlikely if anything, they want to roll the printing press for those items again.

          Second: It's anything but hard to get a hand on that copy. Instead of paying WotC for it, you have to hunt for it on torrents. Yeah, you could get sued. How well that works as a deterrent is evident. Not to mention that people will have zero problem with their conscience, since they could not even buy it, even if they wanted.

          Finally, and most importantly: P&P RPG enthusiasts are, if anything, packrats. They want the printed copy if there is one available, if the book is good. I've seen books that are readily available in PDF form (from other publishers) go for three and four digit sums on ebay because they can't be bought anymore. I'm in a similar boat, I want my book in my hand (ever tried bringing a laptop to a fantasy RPG session? Talk about mood killer). I won't pay 300 bucks for it, but I'd certainly go to my shop and get it if I could! So any PDF being "ripped" is not a lost sale by any measure. It's about the best advertising you can get. Players don't read the book and then toss it away like a novel. RPG books are used more like encyclopedias, perused and consulted regularely to look up details. And gamers want that in book form. Not laptop, not a copy they tossed through their printer, they want a book!

          So where the heck is the lost sale? Where is the damage?

          Or does WotC fear that people could find out their latest edition sucks even more than the previous ones and people refuse to buy it entirely, and stick with AD&D 2nd forever?

          • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:37AM (#27504237) Homepage

            They want the printed copy if there is one available, if the book is good. I've seen books that are readily available in PDF form (from other publishers) go for three and four digit sums on ebay because they can't be bought anymore. I'm in a similar boat, I want my book in my hand (ever tried bringing a laptop to a fantasy RPG session? Talk about mood killer).

            Allow me to offer up some counterexamples. I was just at an annual gaming retreat with friends last weekend, where we played classic D&D and other games. (a) I ran an OD&D game, and to my great pleasure, one of the players had bought the OD&D PDFs and printed and bound his own little books from them. (b) I also ran an AD&D game, and instead of hauling the big hardcovers with me, I did indeed have them on a laptop, as I've done before, and it didn't bother anyone (kept below table height on a chair next to me).

            Here's the upshot: I was just today going to write my player and recommend he also buy the Supplement I PDF to add to his OD&D books. But now he can't do that. Bizarre.

          • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by geekboy642 (799087) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:45AM (#27504427) Journal

            This guy has it exactly right.
            One of my friends had a CD of most of WotC's books in PDF that we passed around. As far as I know, nobody actually used the pirated copies for anything but sneakily reading them in class on a laptop. We *all* trouped down to the store at least once a month to buy another book.
            Who wants to stare at a crappy PDF when you're rolling dice to kill the dragon? WotC is doing nothing but alienating their paying customers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by digitig (1056110)

            First: Those books are no longer in print and WotC is not losing a dime if they get copied.

            Yes they are, at least as they see it (which is what's going to drive their business decisions). If players can't get hold of the 3.5 material it forces them to buy the shiny new version 4 material -- and everyone who wants to join them in games, so it pushes people who already have 3.5 to buy 4. Or go play some other RPG, of course, but I expect WotC discount that possibility.

      • OSRIC! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve@nOspAm.hiresteve.com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:42PM (#27506205) Homepage

        If it's 1st edition rules you want, OSRIC [knights-n-knaves.com] is an OGL'ed clone of them, and you can either use old 1e adventures or there's also now a small ecology of new supplements out that go with it. I wish it'd get more attention.

        -=Steve=-

    • Yeah, i was wondering about how hard they would get reamed for cutting off access to previously purchased goods.

      People who play D&D don't seem like the kind of people who will forget a perceived slight against them or their wallets easily and every time someone mentions purchasing a PDF D&D rulebook, they'll be reminded "You remember when WoC cut off access?"

      And then they'll fire up bittorrent for something that they would have paid for before.
    • by mseeger (40923) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:49AM (#27503529)
      Typical case of "Suicide due to Fear of Death"
    • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:50AM (#27503539)

      Step 1: Point gun at foot and pull trigger.

      WotC is such a small part of Hasbro that there is very little that they could do with through WotC that would be shooting themselves in the foot (and shooting WotC in the foot is meaningless, WotC isn't an independent entity.) I suspect, also, that WotC, or at least D&D, has been disappointing to Hasbro since the acquisition, and has never been profitable enough, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are at the point where desperate moves that are perceived as having some (though low) probability of improving the profitability in that area are warranted prior to simply cutting their losses and moving the resources elsewhere or simply not expending them at all anymore in a cost-cutting move. IOW, this may well be a natural part of Hasbro proving to themselves that D&D (except, perhaps, in the online-game form) simply cannot be salvaged as something profitable enough for them.

    • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . c om> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:59AM (#27503661) Homepage Journal

      This is their second salvo, of course. The first was when they decided to yank the rights to Dragon and Dungeon magazines from Paizo, the company that salvaged those two titles from their late-1990s slump and made them popular and useful again. Wizards is no longer the cool company that Richard Garfield and crew took from obscurity to gaming geek super-stardom. Since the Hasbro buyout, they've moved further and further into a campaign of systematically alienating and angering every one of their customers, partners, authors and fans.

      It's sad, really. There were (and probably still are) some good people there. Oh well, Steve Jackson [sjgames.com] will enjoy the business, anyway. They still have plenty of PDFs [sjgames.com] for sale, and even a few for free [sjgames.com]!

      • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:19AM (#27503937) Homepage Journal

        Steve Jackson? gah. Screw GURPS, too many damn specific rules, combat takes to long, and running on a bell curve with their point system make no sense mathematically.

        I gave up on that pile of needless complications 4 years ago.
        Try savage worlds [peginc.com] and have some fun. Play characters that can actually be cool right out of the gate, and only get cooler. There rule book cost 10 bucks.

        What's that? 10 bucks too much to try a new game? well then, I suggest you take it for a Test Drive [peginc.com]

        Do I sound a little fanatical? probably, but I ahve played it since it's release, and still enjoy it, and have played and ran in almost every Genre available.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MightyMartian (840721)

          Or you could just go with Fudge. The core edition is completely free, and available in PDF and plain text.

      • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:25AM (#27504035)

        SJGames is an example of someone "getting" gamers.

        GURPS is about the most flexible and adaptable game system. It allows you to build your own game with just the basic rulebook. Yet there are quite a lot of books, and funny enough, they also get bought. You don't need them. It's not like in other systems where you can't play a ranger without the ranger book because the info you need to make one isn't in the main book. It's not even that those books give you many new rules.

        Most of the time, they give you background information.

        As an example, take the "high tech" book, dealing mostly with firearms through the ages, from medieval times to now. Instead of just noting down a list of weapons and what stats they have, you get background information how those weapons worked, when and how they were used, generally you get a book about guns. More as sidenotes, you also get their stats and some suggestions how to convert their behaviour into game terms. Instead of "it is this way, take the rules and shut up" you get "this is how it works, and that's how we think this is reflected by stats".

        Personally, I feel I get a lot more out of the book that way. I get to know why and how things work, and I get a feel what could work in a given setting and situation and what could not.

        • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Informative)

          by MaineCoon (12585) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @04:11PM (#27508689) Homepage

          Savage Worlds (by Pinnacle Entertainment Group) is even more flexible and adaptable, easier to learn, and in my experience offers more roleplaying and more combat options.

          It has many good things going for it, including many 3rd party publishers jumping on board:

          * Core rulebook is $10 small-format full color book, has rules for nearly any situation, and these rules all follow the same core concepts. Also includes basic equip and monsters for several generic settings (its easy to make more).
          * Easy to learn, yet offers a lot of depth and variety
          * Easy to GM
          * Combat can be tactical w/ minis, or not, at your discretion; it goes fast even if there are lots of combatants.
          * Pinnacle sells all of their products as PDF as well; the Settings books are offered in Full and Player Only versions, and have site licenses granting permission to print copies for your players
          * Lots of 3rd party publishers are jumping on board Savage Worlds; the next Cthulhu RPG will be Savage
          * Lots of homebrew settings available, and it's pretty easy to make one

    • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:45AM (#27504433)

      I have every DnD 4e PDF book. I downloaded all of them without paying for them.

      I regularly run a DnD campaign, I'm a DCI member, I run RPGA events, etc. I do own the 4e PHB, but that's because I damaged one at a store and felt obligated to the store owner.

      Here's why I pirated all those books, and why I am going to pirate the rest of them:

      Because fuck you, Wizards of the Coast, fuck you. When you brought out 4e, it was supposed to be a self-contained series of books. There were three books - the DM guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monster Manual. I pre-ordered them from my local store (significantly more than at Amazon, but I wanted to support my local store.) and was ready to try out the new system. I was ready to pitch all my dead tree 3.5 books to see what you'd learned from 3 and 3.5.

      Then you wanted $15/month to access your online content.

      Then you announced that there were more CORE books coming out. There's a release party every month now. Twelve books a year? Are you insane?

      Then you killed the SRD.

      You see me as a cash cow. Fuck you. I'm not paying you a thousand dollars to get all the books when the full set was supposed to be a hundred - or just fifty online.

      If you had released all this content as one package and said, "this is fourth edition", I would have bought the set.

      You're liars, you're fuckups, and I do not reward incompetence with my cash.

      • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gorath99 (746654) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:52PM (#27507363)

        Nice job being a dick.

        When you brought out 4e, it was supposed to be a self-contained series of books. There were three books - the DM guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monster Manual.

        There's nothing preventing you from playing 4E with just the original three core books, just as with previous editions. In fact, thousands of gamers are doing just that, myself included.

        Then you wanted $15/month to access your online content.

        And how is it wrong for WotC to charge $15 a month for access to all the new optional content they put on their website? It's not like Dungeon and Dragon magazines were free either. Plus they had ads and came out once a month instead of every couple of days.

        Then you announced that there were more CORE books coming out. There's a release party every month now. Twelve books a year? Are you insane?

        Yes, WotC is releasing multiple core books for 4E. So what? You don't need them to play the game. And I suppose you just forgot that 3E had 2 PHBs, 2 DMGs and 4 MMs. Plus another one of each if you count 3.0 and 3.5 separately. Also, why is it a problem that WotC releases products every month? (The vast majority of which are not, in fact, core books.) You don't have to buy them you know. Are you also complaining when Nintendo is releasing a game every month? Most gamers would be delighted.

        Then you killed the SRD.

        Granted, 4E is not nearly as open as 3E/OGL/d20 was, but there is still a 4E SRD [wizards.com], and 3E is still open source.

        You see me as a cash cow. Fuck you. I'm not paying you a thousand dollars to get all the books when the full set was supposed to be a hundred - or just fifty online.

        You had to pay thousands of dollars to get all the books for 2E and 3E too. 4E is no different in that. But just as with those previous editions, you don't actually need any books beyond the 3 original core books. I know I'm having a blast playing with just those and I did pay just $50 for them.

        You're liars, you're fuckups, and I do not reward incompetence with my cash.

        You're either a liar or an ignoramus, a copyright-infringer, and you have a twisted sense of entitlement.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:02PM (#27504707) Journal

      >>>Step 4: Lose all profits!

      What's D&D? Was that some kind of Final Fantasy spinoff?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...that if they are using D20 dice and they roll a 20, they get out of being sued?
  • D&D is dead (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Metapsyborg (754855)
    WotC killed it with 4e. These are the throws of a dying organization, just like RIAA/MPAA.
    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:32AM (#27503239) Homepage Journal
      Everyone should get a saving throw!
    • Re:D&D is dead (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:32AM (#27503241) Journal

      I kind of hoped that 4e was going to embrace the Internet and allow people to create tools for it... I was trying to have high hopes for the future of D&D, but now I wish I could get a refund for my rulebooks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilkasper (1292798)
        I think a lot of us were. All the online tools they talked of in D&D insider. The collaborative game space program that would let you play D&D with your buddies who've since scattered to remote parts of the world. I know there are programs for this but all the ones my group has tried haven't worked very well. Just try not to let the douchebag actions of WoTC ruin the game for you.
    • Re:D&D is dead (Score:5, Interesting)

      by furby076 (1461805) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:36AM (#27503313) Homepage
      No it isn't. I've been playing since 2nd edition. So far 4e is pretty decent. Yes it has some annoying aspects (daily abilities, more limited abilities to choose from) but it also has some nice ones (when you raise your stat scores you get to raise two of them instead of one, magic items are simpler, healing is simpler, etc). So it has it's positive traits and it's negative traits but overall it's not bad. It's also a much faster combat system.

      While I hate buying the books over and over again I also realize that WoTC needs to do that every so often to get more sales. I was annoyed from 3.0 to 3.5 because that was a sham (3.5 was fixing 3.0), but 4.0 is a complete revamp so warrants it. There is still plenty of 3.0/3.5 material that you can play that. There are some companies that didn't even change and will continue with 3.5 material.
      • Re:D&D is dead (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Metapsyborg (754855) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:57AM (#27503633)
        They are not bankrupt, but what they are doing is shattering their core userbase into many different groups. This is not the same as 1st ed vs 2nd ed players, or the players (like me) who still play 2nd and 3e.

        Hasbro/WotC completely dropped support for their OGL that they developed with 3rd edition, but many people still use that. There are many other new, creative RPGs that can easily give D&D a run for its money, and the old powerhouses like Palladium are still going strong.

        It's funny that everything you mention about 4e is in the sense of a dumbing-down or simplifying. WotC has always been obsessed with that concept but it is just not in sync with reality. Gamers love complexity and they want a system that has rich options. Why do you think WotCs attempts to turn RPGs into a kids oversimplified boardgame always fail, and the system inevitable ends up becoming more and more complex?

        As for the actual content, well WotC will never be able to top the greats of 2nd edition; that is when there was true creative talent in the AD&D universe, with settings like Planescape, Dark Sun and Spelljammer as well as the more "traditional" fantasy settings on Toril, Krynn and Greyhawk. WotC has just been living off those great masterminds and reprinting books of lists (feats, skills, equipment, classes, whatever), not creating anything of its own.
    • by Abreu (173023)

      Actually, 4th edition breathed new life into our gaming table. We are very satisfied.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Are you kidding? They killed it with 3.0 & 3.5. They stopped selling products and started licensing to third parties (eg ravenloft), then broke contract when the third parties started making too much money. They're finally following this model with their old PDFs.
    • Re:D&D is dead (Score:4, Informative)

      by evilkasper (1292798) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:48AM (#27503507)
      Odd I know a lot of people who enjoy 4e, then again I heard the same thing when they went to 3.5. I heard the same thing when D&D was no longer owned by TSR, etc etc. Point is it's different and still around. The neat thing is you don't have to upgrade to 4e if you don't want to. Hell if you liked the first incarnation of D&D you could still play that.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      4e rocks.
      And yes, I have played all other version, a lot.

      The brought back the 'war game' aspect and maintained the original feel, and improved a lot mechanics.

      And I'm a die hard THAC0 fan.

  • by qoncept (599709) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:27AM (#27503179) Homepage
    The most effective part of this move will probably be revealing the names of these 8 file sharers that are playing D&D.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by mseeger (40923)
      They want to prove that there are at least 8 people still playing D&D.
  • by furby076 (1461805) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:28AM (#27503193) Homepage
    People will just do what happened BEFORE WotC started selling their rip-off priced pdfs (pdf should not cost as much as the hard-bound book) they will scan them in and put them online.

    The moment you release your information to the public you open it up to be copied.

    BTW their 4e application (a nice piece of software) requires a subcription to update it (that is fine) my beef with it is if your computer gets reformatted you MUST resubscribe (pay money) to get a full version of it. I think that is crap. If I paid for the software to utilize and decided not to pay for my monthly subscription renewal then I should not have to pay again to reinstall the software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      Your failure to back up your downloaded software is not their problem...

      If you break/scratch your physical copy, would they have any responsibility? Why should they waste the bandwidth without charging you?

      If you want a better piece of software though, talk to Wonko... Excel 2007 active spreadsheet and database for DnD4e. includes everything! (about 30 days behind release schedule). It can be found at enworld, rpgsheets.com, and a few other places. I'd link, but I'm blocked from that here at the office

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      Actually, per the back inside cover in the new DnD 4e books, and per the DnDi website, you're supposed to get a free PDF copy when you buy the hardcover, plus as a subscriber (this part of the service isn't active yet) all the people in your registered game group (who themselves do NOT have to subscribe) can have free online access to ALL the PDF copies anyone in your group owns. They're calling it virtual game table. We're hoping it's up and running this fall. So far, only the character generator is up

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by furby076 (1461805)
        I like this model where they only expect one person in the group to have a copy of a specific book (though many groups have multiples of each). So if I buy the hard cover I also get the pdf? But if they stop the pdfs this is no longer the case.

        I don't mind the subscription model for the software (they come out with updates once/month) I mind that I have to resubscribe to get material that I previously got...Also backing up is not possible since when you reinstall you have to subscribe to make it a full
  • by phantomlord (38815) <slashdot AT krwtech DOT com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:29AM (#27503203) Journal
    What this is really about is them trying to force people to go out and buy 4E material. Having low cost OOP material out there diminishes the value of their current product by saturating the market. D&D is about the story, not about the numbers... so if you have original setting material, it isn't hard to adapt it to current rules.

    They lost me a long time ago when then current head of the AD&D product line tried to assert ownership over all third party content, including homemade settings that weren't tied to any particular rule system, claiming that anything that used the AD&D rules was a derivative work.
    • by furby076 (1461805)
      Never heard of that...do you have a link to some articles? Considering they have their OGL and SRD information which is free to the public to use I don't understand how this claim came about.
      • It was Ryan Dancy on rec.games.frp.dnd back in 2000, before the OGL and SRD.

        Here are a couple [google.com] links [google.com] to threads from around that time.
      • by TheSpoom (715771) *

        Read the Open Gaming License carefully. It talks about derivative works in the definitions, and then says this:

        (d)"Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity.

        So it's not entirely clear but one could claim that under these terms, any game played with any DnD book that used OGL material is in fact OGL licensed, kind of like the GPL.

    • #1: Their new license basically rapes you if you want to publish OGL content. It's explicitly designed so that publishers supporting 4e must throw away their 3.xE content, including anything based on OGL, and start over. I read it as "ha ha, fuck you publishers, upgrade bitches." So you're absolutely right that this is not about "piracy", this is consistent with a strategy of wizards desperately trying to scramble for more control of the game. It's about kicking out everyone who might make money off the

  • by Duane13 (1340371) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503323)
    So instead of making still LOTS of money off of legal PDF sales, now EVERYONE who wants PDFs will find them on torrents. This will make the torrenting of them more prevalent.
  • by tsstahl (812393) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503327)
    Now the only avenue of ownership for their digital content is unsanctioned file sharing.

    All future unsanctioned copies will bear the same (at least) 8 watermarks losing TOS abusers in a sea of anonymity.

    Best viral marketing move for an RPG ever.

    ----

    And just when you thought they 'got it'...
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503329) Journal

    Recently I went looking for some 3rd edition books, since I thought they'd be getting scarce soon.

    Scarce? I was mistaken. 3.0 and 3.5 are GONE. Every local gaming store, every local used book store, every online store in Canada, and everywhere else I checked were out of old editions.

    Especially curious was the fact that one of the gaming stores had about 15 full sets of 3.5 at Christmas, but by the second week of January, didn't have a single copy of any sourcebook from that era. Nada.

    Does anyone know if WotC has done a big buyback? It almost seems like someone has been scouring the bookstores methodically, snatching up everything that would suggest an older edition ever existed.

    Ah well, screw 'em. I'll play what I want, and if I can't buy the material, I _will_ download it. Way to go, Wizards!

  • by spookymonster (238226) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:38AM (#27503337)

    WotC attacks the gazebo!

  • They found the universal solution to copyright infringement!

    Stop selling the copyright protected content!

    How could we miss such an extrardinary solution! ...

    Oh. Right. Because it's a complete idiocy. I knew there had to be a reason.

  • Hubris (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:43AM (#27503413)

    Back when Wizards of the Coast took over D&D, one of the striking things then-Vice President Ryan Dancey said was that TSR (the former publisher) has obviously not listened to customers and had lost relevancy for that reason.

    Now, Ryan Dancey is no longer at WotC, and WotC is not listening to customers, and what do you know? WotC is losing relevancy. People are going to buy the products they want, in the format they want, from the retailer they want, and you can never make them buy something different. It's as simple as that.

    Fortunately the 3.x rules are open source [opengamingfoundation.org] so D&D can never die, in spite of WotC's seemingly intentional efforts to run their business into the ground. It just can't be called D&D for trademark reasons.

  • ... I'd bet on it. Even though that's what they're claiming, I'm quite sure that they are presenting it from that angle because what I'm quite sure is the actual reason, that they don't want people playing the old editions anymore (possibly because they are noticing by sales figures that a lot of 3.x players aren't migrating to the new edition), would make them sound too selfish and juvenile. I'm compelled to agree with another person I saw who remarked on this story when it broke when he said that it's
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MadKeithV (102058)
      Or that they've realized they could be selling the downloads directly for the same price and pocket the difference of selling through a middle-man.
  • Illegal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason1729 (561790) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:45AM (#27503445)
    Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.

    Why do these arrogant companies think they can take back what they've sold without compensation? This is ripe for a lawsuit.
    • Probably buried in the contract somewhere, that 50 page (or whatever) monstrosity you agree to when you buy. Does it make it legal? Possibly. Does it contain a "binding arbitration" clause? Certainly. Is that legal? Possibly.

      But is anyone really going to sue? Naah. If I did D & D, I'd just go back to bittorrent, or just stop playing altogether.

      Who can afford litigation anyway, in terms of time if not money?

    • by furby076 (1461805)

      Why do these arrogant companies think they can take back what they've sold without compensation? This is ripe for a lawsuit.

      Your statement makes no sense. If they sold you a PDf you still have it on your computer. WoTC is not demanding you delete it from your computer. They are telling stores they cannot continue to sell the PDFs. Typically places that sell PDFs pay royalties to the company which owns the information (in this case WoTC). So for every PDf they sell they give x% to WoTC. WoTC is now saying "no more". They are not taking what a customer paid for away from them. Is their decision smart? I don't know - time will t

  • A sign at a stone bridge warns, "Stop, pay troll."
  • Free Business Hint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:49AM (#27503531)
    If your demographic is largely weighted towards nerdy type males, a demographic whose mantra is 'free the information!' and who live for finding new and interesting torrents, it's probably not a good idea to put your bread and butter product in the digital domain. Just saying...
  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:23AM (#27504005)

    Hey Publishers! (all of them!)

    You have a problem with piracy? Perhaps it's because all of you sell the PDF at pretty much full cost of a real book. Why do you do that?

    PDFs don't have printing costs. We know you can sell them for less.
    It's handy to reference a book while playing. It's still kind of cumbersome to reference a PDF while playing... the PDF is less valuable to us.

    If you greedy BEEP would sell good quality PDF files for say.... $3, I'd drop $100 right now. If you would make old books available, I'd drop another $100 right now.

    No Way am I paying $25 for a FILE.

    You brought it on yourselves.

    -Tony

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kbielefe (606566)

      I don't know why I'm bothering to correct this fallacy yet again. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. Prices are set by supply and demand, not by direct cost per unit. Allow me to illustrate in terms of something you sell: your labor. This is your employer or contracted customer speaking, whatever the case may be.

      Hey Workers! (all of them!)

      You have a problem with overseas outsourcing? Perhaps it's because all of you want to work for an allegedly "fair" wage. Why do you do that?

      It doesn't cost you

      • Copyright failure (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Geof (153857) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:54PM (#27505475) Homepage

        Prices are set by supply and demand, not by direct cost per unit.

        Actually, market competition pushes price toward the marginal cost of production. At least that's the theory, and it's part of the justification for copyright. In practice it seldom works out that way. In any case, they have have a copyright monopoly, so they have complete control over supply and they don't have a whole lot of worries about competition.

        What we have here is copyright failure. Copyright was created solely for the benefit of society the public. (At least that's the case in the U.S.: other countries have moral rights. But in this case we have work-for-hire for a company legally required to place profit above all else, so the moral rights issue is moot.) Here we have copyright working to do the opposite of what it is intended to do. Copyright failure.

        Mind, with illegal filesharing their control over supply is illusory. They're acting as though they had a monopoly, but they don't. Which, as so many have pointed out, is why this is so stupid.

  • Annoying and stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pluther (647209) <pluther@@@usa...net> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:44PM (#27506253) Homepage

    And who the hell at WotC came up with this idea? Combat piracy by making it impossible to get the products people want through legal means? Yeah, that sounds brilliant. The only thing that could top that would be to cut off access to the content they've already purchased with very short notice. Oh. Oh, yeah.

    I did like Paizo's response to this, though. They announced a 35% sale on all of their pdf's for the rest of the month, and that all purchases of their printed products would include a pdf version at no extra charge.

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley

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