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[Opinions] Mike Mearls: "Has Open Gaming Been a Success?" 2008-06-19


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Andoran

Matthew Morris wrote:
I've often wondered when the sea change happened at WotC. Was it when 3/5 came out or after?

Unless we get to probe (gently) the brains of those involved, I don't expect we'll find out anytime soon. Following on some remarks made above, I actually don't think that WotC abandoning the open content movement is a negative thing. It's a challenge and a unique opportunity for the companies who grew using the OGL/D20 licenses to do their own thing and tweak the SRD engine to suit their needs.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I used the word 'evolution' before and I did so intentionally. It seems to me that the process of rules change works like Punctuated Equilibrium in evolutionary science.

You start with a bunch of creatures, all the same. The world is good, there's plenty of food, the climate is nice, the creatures expand into more and more habitats. Genetically, minor mutations (white fur, long legs, an unusual taste for salt) are occurring - as that are always occurring - but because conditions are so hospitable, the minor mutations aren't instant death-sentences; the world is very tolerant.

Then something changes. Meteor, climate change, man, whatever. The world is less hospitable. Die-offs happen. Some of those minor mutations can no longer be tolerated. But some of those minor-mutations turn out to be adaptive and actually be beneficial in the new climate. Now that they are being selected for, those traits flourish, either in isolated populations or in the species as a whole. Or if the middle drops out and all the original creatures die-off with only the new creatures on the fringes surviving, you get speciation - the fringe creatures and their mutations are now different species with a common ancestor.

That's the way it works in nature and that's seems to be how it works with game rules. The OGL created an incredibly favorable climate for new rules experimentation. Some of it was great and some of it was crap, and sometimes it was hard to sort the two out. The change from 3.0 to 3.5 caused a shift but didn't really clear the field; almost everyone adapted. But 4E is a killer event. Boom, the middle is gone. And right now with Pathfinder and True20 and other potential rule sets we're trying to figure out what work and what doesn't.

Here's the thing. We all complain about edition changes, but without these Events, there's no reason to definitively sort the good from the bad. Every once in a while we need a meteor to make us stop and take stock of where we're at. The same thing WILL happen with Pathfinder eventually. Pathfinder RPG will be published and we will all start using the same set of rules, but almost instantly we will also start house ruling. Some house rules will reflect simple preferences but others will uncover flaws in the rules and gain some momentum. If Paizo wants to prolong the life of PRPG 1.0, some of these fixes will incorporated into errata or a PDF update, and if we're lucky, they won't mess with compatibility. But eventually there will be enough of these little fixes and stuff that the rules will change and a new book will need to be published. Some old rules and maybe even products will die-off, others will survive.

One big question that I'm not sure if Paizo has answered yet - Will the Pathfinder rules be OGL? Will outside companies be able to make 'Pathfinder compatible' products? If they do, then the forces of change will be accelerated and there will be more mutations, but also more potential for improvement, and more need for an eventual update/rules change as some of these new ideas get incorporated into the genome ... I mean the official core rule set.

BTW- What WotC did with 4E is more like genetic engineering than evolution. 4E is GE corn. They yanked out traits that had evolved over years of natural selection and pasted in traits from strange electronic beasts. 4E may be quite successful - and I'll admit it's kinda' fun - but it sure ain't natural.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mosaic wrote:
One big question that I'm not sure if Paizo has answered yet - Will the Pathfinder rules be OGL? Will outside companies be able to make 'Pathfinder compatible' products?

These two questions have actually been answered many times and the answers, in short are yes and yes. :)


Vic Wertz wrote:
Mike Mearls is measuring the success of the OGL based on his own perception of what the goals were; personally I'd be much more interested in hearing Ryan Dancey tell us whether *he* thinks the goals of the OGL have been met yet. (I suspect he'd share some of Mike's conclusions and disagree strongly with others.)

Sadly I don't think Ryan Dancey will be talking anytime soon. I found his blog and he indicated that due to his current job he was too busy to update it.

But we can look at what he said back in the day.
The Most Dangerous Column in Gaming

Ryan Dancey wrote:
The logical conclusion says that reducing the "cost" to other people to publishing and supporting the core D&D game to zero should eventually drive support for all other game systems to the lowest level possible in the market, create customer resistance to the introduction of new systems, and the result of all that "support" redirected to the D&D game will be to steadily increase the number of people who play D&D, thus driving sales of the core books. This is a feedback cycle -- the more effective the support is, the more people play D&D. The more people play D&D, the more effective the support is.

So has it:

1) driven support for all other game systems to the lowest level possible in the market?
2) created customer resistance to the introduction of new systems?
3) did this cause people who wanted to play other companies products to keep buying D&D products, specific the three core books (especially the PHB)?

Ryan Dancey wrote:
The other great effect of Open Gaming should be a rapid, constant improvement in the quality of the rules. With lots of people able to work on them in public, problems with math, with ease of use, of variance from standard forms, etc. should all be improved over time. The great thing about Open Gaming is that it is interactive -- someone figures out a way to make something work better, and everyone who uses that part of the rules is free to incorporate it into their products. Including us. So D&D as a game should benefit from the shared development of all the people who work on the Open Gaming derivative of D&D.

This may or may not have been effective. As some have pointed out many of the changes in 4e can be directly traced back to other companies work under the OGL. So, I guess you could say that it was successful for D&D (I'm guessing because I am not going to purchase 4e anytime soon, I don't find the particular changes personally appealing).

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Wicht wrote:
These two questions have actually been answered many times and the answers, in short are yes and yes. :)

Cool, thanks. (I have trouble keeping up with the volume of information on the Boards :)


Pres Man:
Thank you for posting those thoughts from Ryan Dancey. Looking at them it seems to me that (if he was looking for fans/customers/players to make the input of bringing back in ideas) he was looking for a community interested in sharing ideas on how to improve rules to make play better rather than how to take advantage of them to break the game.

Generally:
I do not regularly venture onto the Gleemax boards, but from the posts which others have made I have often had the impression that emphasis at Wizards of the Coast (messageboards) has been more often power-gaming than improving rules. This could be an unrepresentative impression, and I would be interested if someone who has regularly frequented the WotC boards could explain where the focus, in actuality, has tended to be?

In the interests of fairness what about the other communities out there? Do any other messageboards of major publishers (either of dead-tree products or online products) tend more towards power gaming, rules improvement/sharing, or other subjects?

What about (long-term), these Paizo boards? (I have only been a regular visiter myself, since November or so 2007.) Have they had a history of encouraging sharing of house-rules & discussions on how they might be improved? From some of the Adventure Paths archives, such as for Shackled City, I can see that for a while there have been posts made with improvements/modifications to game modules, but have rules debates occured on a regular basis before the advent of the Pathfinder Alpha testing?

As a thought for Jason/Lisa/Gary/Vic, perhaps a long-term forum (even after beta is over) for rules discussions/debates might be useful?

CEO, Goblinworks

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Vic Wertz wrote:
I'd be much more interested in hearing Ryan Dancey tell us whether *he* thinks the goals of the OGL have been met yet. (I suspect he'd share some of Mike's conclusions and disagree strongly with others.)

The purpose of the OGL was to act as a force for change. In that sense I think it is an unquaified success.

It changed the relationship of fans to publishers - any person with an idea could participate in the market if they wished.

It changed the relationship of developers to publishers - instead of having to make "Fantasy Heartbreakers", developers were free to show their creativity using a widespread system (which also meant that their talent could more easily be determined instead of having to first decipher a whole new set of notation and rules).

It changed the way TRPGs are presented to the market. Designers were forced to explain why they weren't using a pre-existing OGL option if they elected to do something different. Publishers were forced to reconcile their ideas against the weight of many competitive offerings. Buyers gained a quick and reliable way to determine if the game being offered was something they were likely to be able to induce others to play.

It changed the form factor of TRPG prouducts. Prior to the OGL, other than perhaps as a magazine submission, short form material had no viable commercial market. Likewise the idea that an electronic-only product could be marketed effectively was doubtful. (The OGL facilitated the latter by ensuring that the PDF publishers didn't have to first convince you to try an unknown TRPG too; once the PDF market became real, it then became possible to reliably make alternative TRPG offerings too but it took the intial burst of D20 PDFs to get the market started in a large way).

I also had the goal that the release of the SRD would ensure that D&D in a format that I felt was true to its legacy could never be removed from the market by capricious decisions by its owners. I know just how close that came to happening. In 1997, TSR had pledged most of the copyright interests in D&D as collateral for loans it could not repay, and had Wizards of the Coast not rescued it I'm certain that it would have all gone into a lenghty bankruptcy struggle with a very real chance that D&D couldn't be published until the suits, appeals, countersuits, etc. had all been settled (i.e. maybe never). The OGL enabled that as a positive side effect.

I was amazed and surprised at the number of commercial ventures that got their start around the OGL. Some of those companies are still in business today, and that says something considering the dreadful state of the industry as a whole in the Year of Our Lord 2010. In terms of getting more people into the business of publishing TRPGs, and more people into the role of "was paid to do TRPG design", the OGL broadened and deepend the talent pool in our industry just before we really needed it. (A shout out to the Indy RPG movement which did the same thing in a different way.)

I always wondered if some 3rd party would become a success by iterating on (rather than revising) D&D. Paizo, I'm pleased to say, appears to be well on the way to doing that. They have also embraced the "open source" concept of community-lead improvements. Having thousands of designers work on a game has got to produce a better result than a mere handful, provided the system of editorial control can be sorted (and it seems Paizo has done a great job on that front too.) The OGL, of course, is a virtual requirement for that to have happened.

There were downsides. A lot of retailers bought a lot of OGL crap. Bad on them. As gatekeepers of the industry's purse, they blew it.

The D20 Trademark was abandoned by Wizards and that was a mistake.

Some games that probably deserved their own unique mechanics were subverted by publishers trying to hitch on to the D20 bandwagon. (I would feel worse about this if the Indy RPG movement hadn't acted as a counterweight).

Conversely, several games that cry out for an OGL/D20 version have not and probably will not ever get one. (RIFTS, to say the least).

There is also a lot of work still to be done.

We still lack a clearinghouse for great system design within the overall D20 umbrella. I've seen some just astonishigly awesome stuff in various products over the years and wish that there were a way to categorize it and make it searchable and accessible to future designers.

The OGL itself needs work. I wish a version 2.0 were possible which addressed software better, and did a better job of handling Open Game Content from many diverse sources in one work and had a more robust way of citing sources.

I sleep pretty well at night. I think the OGL was a benefit to the industry and to the players, and I think it is still generating good works.

RyanD

Paizo Employee CEO

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Ryan Dancey wrote:
I sleep pretty well at night. I think the OGL was a benefit to the industry and to the players, and I think it is still generating good works.

All I know is that, if you hadn't had the crazy idea to create the OGL and then champion it through the halls of WotC when all of us thought that you were insane, then I wouldn't have been able to have the success that Paizo has become, and I might well be out of this business that I love so much. Working with you was a constant stream of challenging my assumptions on the RPG business and in the end, I came away with a much better understanding about how it all works together. I am happy to say that you were right. And Paizo stands as a testament to your vision.

Thanks so very much my friend!

-Lisa

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In 20 years, no one will be playing 4ed, but 3.X and it's nth generation derivates will be be well represented.

That's my prediction. The whole point of open source isn't "to make stuff better", it's to make people free. 3.X does that, and is still doing it.


Rot.

People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Oh, and free? Fine, Paizo need to send me a Pathfinder rule book. For free. Though I am willing to pay postage. If that sounds silly, it is. So was your 'free' comment.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Bluenose wrote:
Oh, and free? Fine, Paizo need to send me a Pathfinder rule book. For free. Though I am willing to pay postage. If that sounds silly, it is. So was your 'free' comment.

There is a difference between free as in beer and free as in speech. In any case, the complete Pathfinder RPG rules are available for free (as in beer) here on Paizo's site.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber
Bluenose wrote:

Rot.

People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Oh, and free? Fine, Paizo need to send me a Pathfinder rule book. For free. Though I am willing to pay postage. If that sounds silly, it is. So was your 'free' comment.

I'm hope you are aware that Pathfinder rules are available for free, and in fact so are all rules written by Paizo, by the virtue of being published under OGL.

Whereas the rules for that 4E thing ... well ... yeah *watches tumbleweeds*.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Both Ryan's and Lisa's posts should be framed and preserved for posterity.

Regards,
Ruemere


I dont suppose Ryan and Lisa would have a chat with Kevin Siembieda and convince him to D20/Pathfinderise Rifts.....? Because that would be sixty million shades of cool.

Its probably a question for Monte Cook but how much influence did Rolemaster have on the design of 3.5?


The OGL is a blessing and a curse, where many lessons can be learned from 3.5. You can run into the same rules or content bloat 3.5 has, but maybe at a slower pace. There will be a time when it reaches a critical mass. But I agree an open standard typically will stand over time, if the support is there.

I think it comes down to intellectual property or ideas, and a closed or open license can handle it, if there is support for third parties. A decision has to be made on how you will approach priracy, as it will never go away.

And as gamers, we have to be open to new ideas. Sure you may not like the majority of games, but part of the experience is trying new things.

My hope is there will be more attempts at tweaking 3.5 with the OGL, with a focus on streamlining the rules and allowing for multiple genres.


Ryan Dancey wrote:


Sage words...

Ryan,

Thank you for the OGL and the effort you put into making it a reality. Your perspective on the business and marketing side of role playing games in general and D&D specifically is always insightful and illuminating. Without the OGL there would be no D&D today and that would truly have been a travesty. I have played D&D through all the editions and if not for Paizos efforts and the OGL backing I would not be playing today. The lineage of AD&D can be tracked directly through 3E and into PF and no where else.

All,

I do have some specific questions regarding the early and current days of the OGL and SRD that I always wondered about. I'm sure some of these have been discussed before so I apologize in advance if this is old news.

1. Why would WoTC (at the time) allow certain aspects of IP into the SRD but not others? I understand the need to protect IP but how did WoTC go about deciding what to open and what not to? For instance, why are Beholders and Mind Flayers not in the SRD but Otyughs and Aboleths are? From what I understand all these things are 100% creations of Dungeons and Dragons so why open some but not all? Was there a discussion about what to keep closed?

2. Did WoTC executive management (or what was left of TSR at the time) fully understand what the OGL movement was about? Based on the 3rd edition products released by WoTC it seemed like at first the company did not understand the OGL then later felt it was damaging and tried to scale back from the idea of open gaming. Was this the case internally? Was there a point when WoTC decided the OGL was a mistake?

3. It seems to me a less talked about aspect of 4th edition is the (apparently deliberate) focus on copyrightable content. In the early days of 4E at least there seemed a deliberate attempt to work content wholly owned and created by the company (like Warforged) into the game and public domain content (like Gnomes) out of the game. From a business perspective I understand why a company would want to do this. You can never own the rights and trademarks of "goblin" but you can certainly own the rights and trademarks to "Kruthik". To me this has to be one of the major goals of 4th edition but I hardly hear any discussion about it. Sure there is plenty of discussion about this rule or that rule, or gamest vs. simulist, but I don't hear discussion about the movement from a public domain content based game as D&D has always been to an IP based game as it is clearly moving. This, to me, is the most significant change to the game of Dungeons and Dragons that 4th edition seems to be ushering in.


cibet44 wrote:


1. Why would WoTC (at the time) allow certain aspects of IP into the SRD but not others? I understand the need to protect IP but how did WoTC go about deciding what to open and what not to? For instance, why are Beholders and Mind Flayers not in the SRD but Otyughs and Aboleths are? From what I understand all these things are 100% creations of Dungeons and Dragons so why open some but not all? Was there a discussion about what to keep closed?

I don't presume to be informed enough about the industry to answer questions 2 and 3, but I think I can take a reasonably good stab at your first question, given my experience as a marketer.

Simply put, print a page with pictures of the four monsters you mentioned above and go ask 100 randomly selected people between the ages of 15 and 50 what they are. Most folks will have no clue what an otyugh and an aboleth are, but quite a few will recognize the mind flayer and probably a decent number will recognize the beholder.

In the case of the mind flayer, I think WotC is protective of that piece of intellectual property because they saw it being infringed upon in other games. About the same time I picked up D&D as a hobby, I recall playing Final Fantasy IV (sold as FFII in the US) on the Super NES and fighting "Mindflayers" in the Dark Elf's Cave. They were vritually identical - squid-headed humanoids with a stun ability (heck, FFIV even called it Mind Blast right on the battle screen) and the potential to kill a character with a single well-placed hit. Even at that tender age, I remembering going, "Whoa, cool, an illithid from AD&D!"

Now, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the fact remains that "cool" sells - especially in gaming. And when you manage to legally corner the market on cool so that no one else can harness the selling power of that coolness without risking being sued, you have an advantage in the market.

By protecting recognizable, iconic IP like mind flayers, beholders, and displacer beasts (whom, incidentally, I believe should be replaced with chaitrakhans in the Paizo hierarchy!), you guarantee that instead of your product being one of a half dozen or a full dozen featuring awesome artwork of the squid-headed abomination or the floating mass of ray-shooting eyes, your product is the ONLY one that can boast that coolness.

And let's face it: lifeleech strains aside, there's not much cool about an otyugh to the casual observer. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
cibet44 wrote:


1. Why would WoTC (at the time) allow certain aspects of IP into the SRD but not others? I understand the need to protect IP but how did WoTC go about deciding what to open and what not to? For instance, why are Beholders and Mind Flayers not in the SRD but Otyughs and Aboleths are? From what I understand all these things are 100% creations of Dungeons and Dragons so why open some but not all? Was there a discussion about what to keep closed?

2. Did WoTC executive management (or what was left of TSR at the time) fully understand what the OGL movement was about? Based on the 3rd edition products released by WoTC it seemed like at first the company did not understand the OGL then later felt it was damaging and tried to scale back from the idea of open gaming. Was this the case internally? Was there a point when WoTC decided the OGL was a mistake?

I'm not Ryan, but I think both answers are pretty related. I doubt WotC management had a clue what they unleashed, and I am certain they regret it by now. The actual designers and developers of the game probably loved it, but those sorts of decisions are out of their hands. As to what was kept closed vs open, it was probably fairly arbitrary based on which monsters were well known to the public. Beholders and Mind Flayers are very iconic. Many people who don't play D&D recognize them. I've been playing D&D for years and it was only recently that I saw Otyughs put to good use (by Paizo).

cibet44 wrote:


3. It seems to me a less talked about aspect of 4th edition is the (apparently deliberate) focus on copyrightable content. In the early days of 4E at least there seemed a deliberate attempt to work content wholly owned and created by the company (like Warforged) into the game and public domain content (like Gnomes) out of the game. From a business perspective I understand why a company would want to do this. ... This, to me, is the most significant change to the game of Dungeons and Dragons that 4th edition seems to be ushering in.

I think it is less talked about because it is a false assumption. Neither warforged nor gnomes were present in the 4E PHB. D&D has always been making up new monsters. The "shift" you are talking about happened long ago, in the 1E era. Once a lot of the common myhological monsters were created designers have been inventing new monsters and races all along the way. You are just focusing on the new ones instead of the old ones (Mind Flayers, Beholders, Aboleths, etc). The reason 4E has new stuff is that they have new designers who want to create. They still have plenty of old stuff and variants for old stuff.

Looking at the compendium, there are 31 feats that refer to gnome. There are 19 that refer to warforged. I think you are just noticing the new stuff because it stands out.

CEO, Goblinworks

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Quote:


1. Why would WoTC (at the time) allow certain aspects of IP into the SRD but not others?

I went through the 3e manuscripts and pulled out anything I thought would

A: Be of some lasting commercial value outside of the TRPG format

B: Was, in my opinion, defendable if we had to litigate to enforce our intellectual property rights

(Much of the D&D bestiary is of very murky provenance. Unlike the Magic roster where most creatures have 2 names (and are thus much more protectable) a lot of D&D stuff is generic, or sourced from global stories and myths. Tracing any specific creature back to a TSR employee's original work is very very difficult.

For the same reason I removed most references to Greyhawk NPCs and some Greyhawk deities but left a lot of them in situ, because they were either very generic or unsourced.)

Quote:
2. Did WoTC executive management (or what was left of TSR at the time) fully understand what the OGL movement was about?

I can't speak for Peter or Vince, and certainly not for Alan Hassenfeld. My opinion is that Peter was well informed, Vince didn't object as long as Peter didn't, and Alan couldn't have really cared one way or the other. They were all thoroughly briefed.

Quote:
Was there a point when WoTC decided the OGL was a mistake?

It's hard to imagine they didn't when they stopped using it in favor of the GSL.

RyanD


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Ryan Dancey is the man. Thanks for everything!

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Bluenose wrote:

Rot.

People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Right, there are people still playing the original editions. But for a newbe it is kind of hard and very expensive to buy into OD&D. The 2 lbbs go for about 100 USD at ebay.

But wait, you mentioned the clones.
Why do you think Mythmere, Goblinoid Games and the other champions of the OSR movement are able to reporduce said clones?
ONLY THE OGL gives them the chance to do this without the threat of a lawsuit from WoC.
But there is NO OGL for 4th edition. So when 5th comes around there is no legal way to reproduce the rulebooks or develop new adventures etc.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Ryan's thoughts on the OGL make me wonder whether Paizo is in a position to take the very best of the third-party OGC and incorporate it into the 'official' body of Pathfinder material, thereby strengthening the brand and helping the rule system to evolve through an ongoing infusion of high-quality material. They are already doing that to some extent through their occasional use of material developed by the folks over at Open Design and Necromancer Games, but I wonder if it might be desirable to adopt this as a conscious policy. In effect, the Pathfinder-compatible brand would become an experimental area where third-party companies could try out bold new ideas in the knowledge that the best improvements might be incorporated into the official Pathfinder rule set. Perhaps Paizo could put out an anthology of the best third-party Pathfinder material either as a dead-tree book or in PDF format?


Tharen the Damned wrote:
Bluenose wrote:

Rot.

People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Right, there are people still playing the original editions. But for a newbe it is kind of hard and very expensive to buy into OD&D. The 2 lbbs go for about 100 USD at ebay.

But wait, you mentioned the clones.
Why do you think Mythmere, Goblinoid Games and the other champions of the OSR movement are able to reporduce said clones?
ONLY THE OGL gives them the chance to do this without the threat of a lawsuit from WoC.
But there is NO OGL for 4th edition. So when 5th comes around there is no legal way to reproduce the rulebooks or develop new adventures etc.

While I haven't looked into the legal aspects in detail, I don't think that there's an OGL for OD&D, or BECM D&D, or AD&D. They were published before the OGL existed, and I don't think it retrospectively makes them OGL product. Yet the clones exist. So it's somehow possible, and will presumably be just as possible with 4e rules.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Prime Evil wrote:
Perhaps Paizo could put out an anthology of the best third-party Pathfinder material either as a dead-tree book or in PDF format?

Now that is a cool idea.

Monte Cook once did a "best of OGL year xxxx".
Maybe Paizo can do something like "Best of Pathfinder RPG compatible 2010" too?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Bluenose wrote:
While I haven't looked into the legal aspects in detail, I don't think that there's an OGL for OD&D, or BECM D&D, or AD&D. They were published before the OGL existed, and I don't think it retrospectively makes them OGL product. Yet the clones exist. So it's somehow possible, and will presumably be just as possible with 4e rules.

All clones that I know of (Labyrinth Lord, Osric, Swords & Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG, Castles & Crusades Swords & Spellcraft to name a few) explicitely use the OGL.

All adventures, rules additions etc. that I know of use the OGL.

The clone creators take the SRD and twist the rules there to resemble (not equal) the rules of older editions.
Retro-design is possible as the 3rd edition has its foundations firmly rooted in older editions. Vancian Magic System for example.

Cloning a 4th edition rulebook from the SRD might be near impossible technically. 4th edition has almost no foundations in 3rd edition. Vancian Magic system for example.
When the next edition comes around, WoC might not sue fans who put 4th edition stuff or even small publishers. But I am sure that they will sue medium to big publishers like Paizo for putting out 4th edition stuff using the OGL.


It would be hard to clone 4E directly, but ideas have already been borrowed, if you consider pathfinder APG, or the core rule book. Like class archtypes in comparison to 4E class builds. Which makes it pretty easy to cannibalize other D20 systems, including 4E, if you make it generic enough.

So in theory, it will make it hard for other OGL developers to make a modification to a rule set and gain any traction, or have an orignal idea, that will be "borrowed".


Tharen the Damned wrote:
Bluenose wrote:

Rot.

People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Right, there are people still playing the original editions. But for a newbe it is kind of hard and very expensive to buy into OD&D. The 2 lbbs go for about 100 USD at ebay.

But wait, you mentioned the clones.
Why do you think Mythmere, Goblinoid Games and the other champions of the OSR movement are able to reporduce said clones?
ONLY THE OGL gives them the chance to do this without the threat of a lawsuit from WoC.
But there is NO OGL for 4th edition. So when 5th comes around there is no legal way to reproduce the rulebooks or develop new adventures etc.

4th edition, at its core is still the d20 system. 4th edition is actually a closer relative to 3.5 then 1st, 2nd edition or BECMI. It'd be pretty easily clone 4th edition using the 3.5 OGL.


Tharen the Damned wrote:
Bluenose wrote:
While I haven't looked into the legal aspects in detail, I don't think that there's an OGL for OD&D, or BECM D&D, or AD&D. They were published before the OGL existed, and I don't think it retrospectively makes them OGL product. Yet the clones exist. So it's somehow possible, and will presumably be just as possible with 4e rules.

All clones that I know of (Labyrinth Lord, Osric, Swords & Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG, Castles & Crusades Swords & Spellcraft to name a few) explicitely use the OGL.

All adventures, rules additions etc. that I know of use the OGL.

The clone creators take the SRD and twist the rules there to resemble (not equal) the rules of older editions.
Retro-design is possible as the 3rd edition has its foundations firmly rooted in older editions. Vancian Magic System for example.

Cloning a 4th edition rulebook from the SRD might be near impossible technically. 4th edition has almost no foundations in 3rd edition. Vancian Magic system for example.
When the next edition comes around, WoC might not sue fans who put 4th edition stuff or even small publishers. But I am sure that they will sue medium to big publishers like Paizo for putting out 4th edition stuff using the OGL.

Not having the Vancian magic system is pretty minor. In all editions of D&D some classes have gotten cool stuff at new levels. Fundamentally that is the power system right there. At level X you get a power. You choose from a list of usually half a dozen to a dozen options and tack this power onto your character and these powers are probably one of the the most extreme changes in 4E, If you can make Mutants and Masterminds using the OGL making something so much closer like 4E should be a snap.

That's not to say that it makes a lot of sense to do so. If WotC decided that you where really hurting their bottom line and they had any leg to stand on they might take you to court and most companies would loose out from the year and a half it took to resolve the case and the $150,000 worth of legal fees. They'd be bankrupt even if they probably win the case.


Bluenose wrote:
People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Some people watched Football over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Some people watched Jai Alai over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Apparently the fact that these are both true makes them true in equal measure.

Or not.

Quote:
Oh, and free? Fine, Paizo need to send me a Pathfinder rule book. For free. Though I am willing to pay postage. If that sounds silly, it is. So was your 'free' comment.

You already stand corrected on this part.....


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Bluenose wrote:
Tharen the Damned wrote:
Bluenose wrote:

Rot.

People are still playing OD&D, 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition AD&D, various incarnations of BECM D&D, or clones thereof. There'll be people playing 4th edition in twenty years, just as there'll be people playing 3rd edtion and it's clones.

Right, there are people still playing the original editions. But for a newbe it is kind of hard and very expensive to buy into OD&D. The 2 lbbs go for about 100 USD at ebay.

But wait, you mentioned the clones.
Why do you think Mythmere, Goblinoid Games and the other champions of the OSR movement are able to reporduce said clones?
ONLY THE OGL gives them the chance to do this without the threat of a lawsuit from WoC.
But there is NO OGL for 4th edition. So when 5th comes around there is no legal way to reproduce the rulebooks or develop new adventures etc.
While I haven't looked into the legal aspects in detail, I don't think that there's an OGL for OD&D, or BECM D&D, or AD&D. They were published before the OGL existed, and I don't think it retrospectively makes them OGL product. Yet the clones exist. So it's somehow possible, and will presumably be just as possible with 4e rules.

The pre-3rd Edition version of D&D were never released under the OGL or any other "free" license.

As the actual mechanics can't be copyrighted, the existing OGL that we all know and love, along with the content in the SRD, was utilized to produce OGL'd expressions of those rules.

Quite potentially, someone could use the existing SRD (based on 3E/3.5) and present an expression of the 4E rules, provided they didn't trample on the existing copyrighted expression of those rules.

The question is, have the mechanics been altered enough to anchor them to items that aren't reproducible, preventing a 4E version of something like OSRIC?


Tharen the Damned wrote:
Prime Evil wrote:
Perhaps Paizo could put out an anthology of the best third-party Pathfinder material either as a dead-tree book or in PDF format?

Now that is a cool idea.

Monte Cook once did a "best of OGL year xxxx".
Maybe Paizo can do something like "Best of Pathfinder RPG compatible 2010" too?

To do that, you need a "Monte Cook version" of Monte Cook for Pathfinder like with 3.0 & 3.5 D&D. Somebody who is directly connected to the creation of Pathfinder RPG, also they are no longer directly associated to Paizo but still respected for the work they did.


Prime Evil wrote:
Perhaps Paizo could put out an anthology of the best third-party Pathfinder material either as a dead-tree book or in PDF format?

I think part of the success of Monte Cook's 'Best of' book (if one book can be called a success) was that there was allot of low to mid-quality product available. So Monte was helping people ignore the worst and find the best.

I presume (presuming maybe a big mistake) that the market is more stable now and has more quality control. So a 'Best of' Pathfinder book would give less value.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Duncan & Dragons wrote:
I think part of the success of Monte Cook's 'Best of' book (if one book can be called a success) was that there was allot of low to mid-quality product available. So Monte was helping people ignore the worst and find the best.

That's definitely true. But most of the people who were producing crappy third-party products back around 2003 have left the market, and those who remain produce solid stuff.

In the end, the OGL has allowed market forces to prevail. The initial d20 boom was followed by a bust, and it has taken a long time for things to recover. But the quality of third-party products has improved dramatically and that's good for everyone. The days when you could rush out a book of poorly designed prestige classes and expect to make a fortune are well and truly over.

Duncan & Dragons wrote:
I presume (presuming maybe a big mistake) that the market is more stable now and has more quality control. So a 'Best of' Pathfinder book would give less value.

Maybe. But there are a lot of people who are still wary about third-party material because they were burned during the boom years. Having the Paizo 'stamp of approval' on some of the best third-party stuff would go a long way to rebuilding consumer confidence. The folks producing good material deserve recognition and respect from the Pathfinder community.

Plus I believe that incorporating some cool ideas from the community would help the Pathfinder rule system to evolve. This could start off in a small way - Paizo could borrow an interesting monster from over here and a cool spell from over there, and pretty soon some of the best 3PP material will start to find its way into Pathfinder canon. It was always a shame that WoTC never used OGC from other publishers in this way. As a consequence, they missed out on the opportunity to build on some very neat stuff that other people were doing.


Prime Evil wrote:


This could start off in a small way - Paizo could borrow an interesting monster from over here

Paizo already does this. There are many monsters in the various APs that come from OGL sources.

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