01 February 2023

Farewell (again) to "official" Dungeons and Dragons

I’m delighted that Wizards of the Coast backed off their avaricious plan to try to “de-authorize” the OGL and that the 5th edition SRD is now secure from future meddling. (For a helpful overview, check out this post at the Bat in the Attic blog.)

That said, even before the recent OGL brouhaha, I had been souring on the “official” (WotC-produced) D&D line. I haven’t been that impressed by WotC’s recent products at all. Consequently, I haven’t bought anything from them for a couple of years now. (However, I had been interested in the upcoming Planescape book. Perhaps I’ll look through it at my FLGS.) 
And I certainly do not like what I have read about WotC’s plans for 6e (or “One D&D” or 5.5e or whatever it’ll end up being called). 
It’s too bad, as I thought that WotC did a solid job with 5e. It was the first post-TSR version of the game that I found at all enjoyable and was happy to play. While I was never a fan of their big “adventure path” books, some of WotC’s earlier offerings were interesting and I’m glad to have them in my collection. (Secrets of Saltmarsh and Tales of the Yawning Portal are especially good, in my view, but of course they are largely collections of “5e-ized” adventures from earlier editions, including especially 1e AD&D. But I do think that there is a solid “quasi-sandbox” setting, with many tweakable short adventures, in the combined Starter and Essentials box sets.) 
Overall, WotC seems to have lost its way. The drive to “monetize” seems to be pushing them back to the 3e strategy of production, which is a pity. Well, I ignored WotC’s version of D&D during the dark days of 3e and 4e, so I can do so again now. 
As for Kobold Press’ “Project Black Flag,” I’m mildly interested to see how it turns out. I hope that it ends up being a cleaned-up version of 5e (i.e., streamlined and less fiddly) and that their aim is to keep in print a version of 5e for folks (like me) who dislike the direction in which WotC D&D is going. Yes, the 5e SRD is now “CC-ified” – but people like books, and there are parts of 5e that could use some fixing (by subtraction rather than addition, so to speak). No, the “Black Flag” game won’t be the next Pathfinder, but it nonetheless could do quite well (by non-WotC standards) for those who like 5e well enough and dislike what WotC is offering. We’ll see. 
In any case, I’ve cobbled together my own version of “5e” (using the Into the Unknown rules as a base but adding some house rules) to keep my Greyhawk campaign going. It’s actually been liberating to do this. My “AD&D” – Akratic Dungeons & Dragons – goes on with its light spell undiminished. 


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).