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Role Playing (Games)

D&D 4th Edition Game System License Announced 131

Wizards of the Coast has announced plans for a brand-new system license for the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons . As with the d20 STL for Third Edition, this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC. The new system reference document will be made available early in June (just after the release of the new edition). That license only covers fantasy gaming, but a second license (the d20 GSL) will be released allowing for any type of gaming product to be developed. For analysis and follow-up on the announcement, the ENWorld boards have full details.
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D&D 4th Edition Game System License Announced

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:56PM (#23112482)
    o_O Your DM uses encrypted scripts? Best puzzle my DM gives is making us remember the clues from an individual from 3 quests ago!
  • by Shadukar ( 102027 ) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @08:04PM (#23112532)
    Having been a very long time fan (do DMs of several 2-3 year long campaigns count as fans?) of dungeons and dragons 2nd and 3rd edition there is one thing i do find missing among all the news about the new ad&d editions:

    Good quality books.

    While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids), Eliminster wasn't a bad series and anything with Raistlin was a lot better. In fact, most of Dragon Lance books were amazing, some greyhawk were decent, a lot of Forgotten Realms books were also quite good. There were some good authors writing these books too!

    I think most of these books were done by TSR/random house, I do think it is sad that Wizards of the Coast decided that they can just cash in on the long time fans by spewing out more and new shiny books without remembering ALL the things that made dungeons and dragons great:

    The inspiring, awesome, fun stories.

    I don't think I am the only person who 1st read the various fantasy books and thought "hey, this is pretty cool, I wish I could play a game based on this, I'd totally be a female dwarf cleric"

    While there is plenty of ad&d games to go around, I think the number of new/good ad&d books entering the market is depressingly low - sure, they are there, but it looks like the effort just isn't quite there like there used to be. Sure, someone could argue that you can read the old books and they do translate quite well into 3rd or 4th edition ruleset but would only work on people who are very new to the whole thing. Most advanced users/fans/etc would be constantly jarred by "no wait, thats not how it works" and "ugh, this is soooo second edd..."

    It really seems like in the good old days (doh) the holders of the license were like "hey, you can write and you know our world, why don't you write something cool for us ? no pressure, no big lawyery contracts, you write something good, we help you get it published, we'll split profit 3 ways, no worries, lets make a great world" What this means is that lots of good and/or new books would come out all the time.

    I read fantasy very rarely, reading mostly sci-fi these days, but forgotten realms and dragonlance are a special place for me. I wish these two places got as much attention as shiny new rulebooks, plastic-manufactured Ebberon, etc

  • by Vthornheart ( 745224 ) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @08:09PM (#23112556)
    I'd like to see them follow this up by "open sourcing" some of their proprietary IP regarding their card games. For instance, in order to make a Card game where cards are "tapped", you currently have to pay royalties to Wizards of the Coast. Ditto for many other mechanics that form the foundations of most CCGs. I wonder why they chose to "open" the D&D system but left their CCG systems closed? Is it that they make more money with one versus the other? Does anyone have any insight into this?
  • by The Evil Couch ( 621105 ) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @08:44PM (#23112776) Homepage

    While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids)
    I fail to see what being a fan of Drizzt has to do with being a moody kid. Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is.

    I also find it amusing that you point out stereotypically whiny kids groups and then spend the next five paragraphs complaining about how everything used to be better "back in the day". Fourth edition D&D is all about stripping out rules that shouldn't matter, because it gets in the way of telling a good story. After playing a few of the public play tests, I have to say that I haven't been this excited about D&D since my uncle described my first dungeon, back in '85. Combat is tactically interesting and flows quickly. In all of the earlier editions of D&D encounters ate up most of the play time, because it took so damn long to get through big fights. In fourth edition, instead of spending 10 minutes on plot and 2 hours on combat, most games will be able to split their time more or less evenly between the two.

    Also, the reason why Eberron got so much more love than Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in the past few years is because Eberron's new. There's an entire universe of things that people don't know about it. On the other hand, between the 100+ novels and sourcebooks, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance are pretty well defined. It's really hard to fill a sourcebook with new information. They could retread the old material, but that's boring for everyone except new players and people that are really rabid about their campaign setting.
  • Re:Game Rules (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dmgxmichael ( 1219692 ) on Friday April 18, 2008 @08:51AM (#23116036) Homepage

    Yes, you can try to produce a compatible product with someone else's game or even as you put it 'rip it off' - but can you financially withstand a court battle drug out over the course of years if you do.

    The main lesson that should be taken from the whole SEO circus is you don't need any merit or evidence whatsoever to sue someone in court. Large companies can knock small competitors out of business quite easily by bankrupting them with legal fees.

    Moving back from the general to the specifics of this case which I am quite familiar with as I am the technical administrator of ENWorld, which is the largest D&D fan site and the place where many if not most of the third party publishers got their start. The open gaming license allows publishers to reference game mechanics that are part of the license without fear of getting sued. A lot of RPG's owe their existence to this license.

    This new Game System License for 4e has additional strings attached meant to address areas where Wizards was unhappy with the outcome of the prior license. Their expectation of the OGL was that only D&D support material would come out of it - instead whole new spin off systems like True20, Mutants and Masterminds and most recently Pathfinder have arose which don't require the D&D core rules in any way. I haven't seen the new GSL yet but I presume that this will be one of the first issues that will be addressed by it.

    A final thought on copyrights and game mechanics. While it is true you can't copyright "d20 + modifier" as an example, there aren't too many ways you can express it either. Copyrights on game systems are effective for much the same reason that patents on software are stifling - that is there's only so many ways to express a given thought in a game system and so too there are only so many ways to do something in software.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:51PM (#23119270)

    Trust me, a good Use Rope scores when attempting to take down and deliver alive a rogue with many ranks in Escape Artist.
    Only because 3e has those specific skills. In 4e this would be an opposed Dex-check or Thievery check. No need for narrow skills that provide absurd results.

    What absurd result, you might ask? Look up the Escape Artist checks for getting out of chains and manacles sometime. It's a fixed DC. At high levels, it's better to bind someone with a rope than it is to put them in irons -- because apparently you can get more skilled with ropes but not with chains (which has no skill).

    This is the end result of an overly focused and narrow skill system. I'm glad that 4e is instead replacing this with a broad and flexible skill system that encourages players and DMs to be creative.

    Our DM takes particular joy in using relatively obscure in his games, so they are good to put ranks in, so that you can do tasks yourself rather than hiring an NPC. It may be different in your games. I don't know.
    Our games are not designed around punishing the players for not having very specific skills. There's a movement in gaming that focuses on a chimerical concept of "realism" that likes that sort of thing, but our group prefers role playing to be driven by characters, story, and a sense of adventure rather than dice rolls and stats.
  • by querist ( 97166 ) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:14PM (#23119628) Homepage
    OK, since you started it...

    I was a DM as well, but in one campaign (AD&D 2nd Ed) back in the 80's I was playing a halfling psionicist. My poor DM never saw this one comming...

    DM: The ogre approaches.
    ME: I place a psionic portal on the ground directly below his feet.
    DM: Where is the other end?
    ME: About four feet above it.
    DM: And why are you doing this?
    ME: Do the math. (that was a "catch phrase" we had back then.) He will continue to accelerate due to gravity. Give him a minute or so of freefall and then close the portals. He hits terminal velocity and hits the ground.

    We did the math. The ogre did not survive the fall. :-)

    I always enjoyed campaigns where creative thinking would win the day. It was always fun to come up with something that the DM didn't consider and then have it work.

    (I also find it amusing that the captcha is "forfeit")

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