WotC On The Fansite-Closing Warpath

Recently, I asked “Will WotC Close You Down Next?” in response to them sending a cease & desist letter resulting in the closure of Ema’s Character Sheet website. All the usual Wizards apologists came out of the woodwork with excuses.  “Well, Ema was charging for storage.”  “Well, this is probably a one time thing, it’s not like they’ve declared war on fansites.”

Wrong!  Site #2 goes down little more than a week later, and this time it’s not a paysite.  RIP 4epowercards.com.  The message they have up reads:

4epowercards.com is going down

Unfortunately, the people at Wizards of the Coast have served me with a Cease and Desist letter. While I respect Wizards, and love almost all of their products, I am still disappointed. We can only hope Wizards will offer a service simliar to that provided by 4epowercards.com.

In the near future, once I’m done clearing out all the offending copyrighted materials, I will provide the source code used to drive this site. I hope it can be of benefit to someone out there.

Regards,

Ryan Paddock

Thanks to the ever vigilant ENWorld community for the scoop.

Was this site reprinting some WotC intellectual property?  Yes, totally.  However, so are most fansites.  “Fair use” is a diminishing safe harbor, between aggressive copyright and trademark laws.

But that’s the system we have.  The real crime here on WotC’s part is that they want *some* fansites.  They want people to use thepower of Internet community to innovate with their games and spread the word.  So they want that, but are unwilling to publish a fansite policy that says what is OK to do.  So they discriminate by shutting down sites that happen to have innovated something that conflicts with, say, whatever piece of DDI they finally managed to get running.  And that’s just not fair.

If you are a fansite, you’re not safe.  No amount of head-in-the-sand excuses you put forth on forums will change the fact that WotC is trying to have their cake and eat it too; and by leaving the community without a fansite policy can (try, and unless you have a lawyer on call will) shut you down for anything they don’t like.  Because pretty much everything violates IP, legally.  Have a character sheet posted for your new fighter with the text of his powers on it?  Illegal.

Who can really be this naive?  You have seen all the other companies that have tried, and in some cases succeeded, to quash critics right?  Kmart sues “Kmartsucks.com” for trademark infringement, etc.

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47 responses to “WotC On The Fansite-Closing Warpath

  1. I actually mentioned that specific site over on theRPGsite last week saying we should watch it to see what happens.

  2. Maybe some day the 4E fanboys will understand that some of us don’t like 4E for more reasons than the rule changes made from 3.5E.

  3. Some of you don’t like 4e because the base IP is not open for complete and total rip-off republication? Gods forbid you try playing any other profit-published RPG out there.

  4. now now andrew, nobody called you a 3Tard, so lets not start a self-righteous streak shall we.

    I love 4E in the same way I loved nirvana. The music was phenominal – DESPITE the worthless whining fuck that produced it.

    I hope that makes my feelings on the matter clear :)

  5. Hi all! The problem is that 4e suck or Wizards IP is really incidental to this issue (or, at least, they’re separate crimes).

    Wizards is happy for lots of people to use their IP to do stuff, until and unless it conflicts with them. Their refusal to come out with a fansite policy is proof that they want this state of affairs. And Scott Rouse is lying to you. (Look up “lie of omission.”)

    I don’t like 4e and think it’s not real fun. Some folks do. I think US IP law has become way overly protective of corporate interests and is an abuse of its stated goals. Some folks don’t. But WotC is being asses regardless of either of those issues. It shows contempt for their customers, and even worse, contempt for their lead customers, the ones who want to promote the game, develop stuff with it, etc.

  6. Well shit, another resource to cross off my list!

    I don’t play 4e, but I’m going to download as much fan stuff as possible before its gone.

  7. OMG! 2 sites?!

    You’re right Chicken Little, the sky is falling, it’s REAL ULTIMATE WAR out there!
    :roll:

  8. Pingback: Stargazer’s World » Will WotC shut us down next?

  9. Inevitable really. And yet, so avoidable.

    What makes me roll my eyes about this whole affair is that WotC haven’t yet got their act in gear with completing online copyright notices that people are to post as part of the GSL.

    If you want to encourage fansites, would it be common sense to put up guidelines on what is reasonable use and what is not?

    Or do you litigate first and ask whether setting cease-&-desist orders on your audience will promote the hobby?

    Just saying…

  10. From Scott Rouse-

    “The fansite policy is being worked on. I was in a planning meeting today and it was being discussed and appropriately prioritized. I have read the draft and my personal opinion is that it looks very good. These will be guidelines and not a treatise on IP law. The fan site policy will not be a replacement for legal advice or common sense.

    The web site in question had approximately 1825 full text power card entries. Of those 1 was a homebrew power. It also used Player’s Handbook trade dress and the Dungeons & Dragons logo. The GSL does not allow for this type of use. FWIW, I saw this site for the first time on January 5th.

    As I said in the Ema’s post this is not a war on fansites. We appreciate fansites that respect our IP and support our business, ENWorld is a fine example of this type of websites. WotC has a great relationship with Russ and we sincerely value this community’s support and patronage.”

  11. @Xvatka: Yes the opposite of the GSL is stealing everything. How very clever of you.

    @Donnie_the_DM: But, is it alright if I don’t like the game AND I don’t like what I interpret as the company’s attitude toward its customers? I’m just curious because I’ve yet to see anybody express a negative opinion about these situations without someone (sometimes many people) trying to denigrate said opinion. Oh, I didn’t like Nirvana OR the worthless, whining fuck who produced it. Is that OK?

  12. So, consider Martial Power. The value of that book lies in a) the powers, b) the paragon paths, and c) the epic destinies.

    Why is it any surprise that WotC closed down a fansite that duplicated (a) completely? If a fansite posted a PDF that had just the pages of powers from Martial Power, wouldn’t you expect that to be shut down?

    The principle here is not mysterious. 4epowercards.com allowed people to skip buying WotC’s books. They also provided an awesome service that I used that I can’t get from WotC in the same form, but don’t let that confuse the issue: they made it possible for you and me to get a huge chunk of the usefulness of Martial Power without buying it.

  13. “I was in a planning meeting today and it was being discussed and appropriately prioritized.”

    This might be the single most bland corporate non-statement I have ever seen from a gaming company.

  14. @Thasmodius – standard corp weasel speak from Rouse.

    “appropriately prioritized” = cold day in hell

    “These will be guidelines and not a treatise on IP law” = when it comes out, it will be worthless to determine if you’re OK or not as a site

    The fact that he considers the fansite guidelines “common sense” that fall outside the bounds of “IP Law” means they’ll suck worse than the GSL. (Note that the GSL explicitly disallows ANYTHING described as a “web site”.) Or to duplicate ANY text not in the SRD.

    “5.5 Licensed Products. This License applies solely to Licensed Products as defined in Section 3 and to the specified uses set forth in Section 4. For the avoidance of doubt, and by way of example only, no Licensed Product will (a) include web sites, interactive products, miniatures, or character creators; (b) describe a process for creating a character or applying the effects of experience to a character; (c) use the terms “Core Rules” or “Core Rulebook” or variations thereof on its cover or title, in self-reference or in advertising or marketing thereof; (d) refer to any artwork, imagery or other depiction contained in a Core Rulebook; (e) reprint any material contained in a Core Rulebook except as explicitly provided in Section 4; or (f) be incorporated into another product that is itself not a Licensed Product (such as, by way of example only, a magazine or book compilation).”

  15. I have to agree with mxyzplk on this. I think the biggest issue is that there are no appropriate guidelines that are given to fansites and that the GSL is non-existent. This isn’t about who likes or dislikes 4E or 3.x or even if you like or dislike WotC (and really, no one REALLY likes them after all this BS). It’s about solid communication with your fans and the companies that exist that want to use 4E as the foundation of their own products, using the GSL in all the ways WotC would want. Both are impossible in the current situation.

    To me it’s mind-boggling that they didn’t do something as radical as hiring a lawyer (who, as we can tell by all the legal advice being mentioned, could very easily be a gamer), giving said lawyer a copy of the old OGL, giving them notes on what they didn’t like and having that (and a fansite policy) drafted at the same time 4E was being readied for market. I know lawyers cost a bundle, but it would save money in the long-term since they wouldn’t be dealing with a) the bad-press of C&D orders and b) the cost of getting C&D orders put together by… their lawyers? It seems like some of the people at WotC spend too much time in their fantasy game and not enough time thinking through their business model.

  16. Well… its common sense. If the site was reproducing copyrighted material, whether in a power card or not, its an infridgement on WotC’s copyright. The thing people need to keep in mind is that you _cannot_ copyright a game system, or patent a game system. A company can only copyright the expression of the game in literary terms. Quote from copyright.gov

    “Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.”

    It is for this very reason why I decided to go forward with the RPG Blog Anthology project Open Game Table without signing any OGL or GSL license. So long as you are not reproducing their content — feel free to develop whatever 4E game product you want.

    The powercards site should have had a powercards _maker_ – and just allowed you to input your own info. Otherwise, they should have just put the files on bittorrent and been done with it. I’m frankly surprised the site lasted as long as it did.

    BTW — Thanks for covering this story!

    On a final note — if this IS a warpath for WotC, then these C&D letters should be considered warning shots across the bow of our ships. I imagine a number of websites are probably reviewing what they have posted online now as a result.

  17. @jonathan – the problem is that it’s not just copyright, but trademark that has become the new favored weapon in IP law. “Hey, you’re using our trade dress!” Like a powercards format, or the little icons they have for the effects… Hasbro’s lawsuits vs Scrabulous and those Monopoly add-on guys are more about that. Remember the earlier-era TSR suits against Mayfair for their AD&D compatible products. If they decide you’re worth going after (and apparently they’re making those decisions based on their product marketing schedule) there’s a lot of recourse for them.

    Not to say you shouldn’t go ahead with OGT, more power to ya, it’s just that what we traditionally think of as safe harbors may not always apply.

  18. well.. thankfully I’ve been able to benefit from a huge volunteer “staff” for OGT and all the artwork is original, etc. Plus, on my copyright notice page… there’s a HUGE trademark disclaimer notice.

    but i agree — people should take care when producing 3rd party stuff for 4E. 1) either just sign the GSL and be done with it so you can use their logos, etc; or 2) sail with care and park your boat in the center of Fair Use Harbor — i.e. don’t take any chances unless you like the idea of picking a fight with a big company.

  19. @Thasmodius: Didn’t Scott Rouse say the revised GSL was soon to be released about a week before their Holiday break last December?

    Anything that guy has to say holds about zero weight with me.

  20. @ANDREW – A little testy aren’t we? And yes, with the further clarification, it IS ok : )

    Venom at the so called “fanboys” is another subject entirely.

  21. @Steve – you make the best point I’ve seen all day. “We could spend our lawyers’ time on making a policy… Or we could not, and just spend their time on smacking sites we don’t like.”

    Life ProTip: Being within your legal rights doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole.

  22. What I don’t get are:
    a) How is closing down a site that is directly distributing part of their IP an attack on “fair use”? Piracy maybe, but fair use? Fair use does not give you the right to distribute someone else’s work to other people. It’s no different than if the site was ripping songs off of CDs and posting up MP3’s for people to download and use.

    b) Why do people who don’t like 4th edition even care about this?

  23. M Harnish: You’ve got something there, frankly. The most noise we here on the closing of these two sites are from people who tend to dislike 4e. I think its mostly the same piling on we’ve seen since release over every tiny action or word from WotC. Any excuse to try to justify their nerd rage towards 4e.

    It really is simple – don’t provide a large volume of D&D content straight from the books. That’s a violation of rights in anyone’s book. This would not even be a discussion if the sites in question were reproducing content from Green Ronin or Goodman or something. The venom would be directed at the soulless bastard who would steal the work of a hard working 3PP who has a small enough profit line anyway.

  24. @M Harnish – but there in a) you hit the crux of the problem. How much is a violation? “It’s obvious” that a whole CD or whole track is. However, in the music arena you can see how that’s progressed. Sampling used to be “fair use.” Now it’s not. Using someone else’s bassline? No. You know Weird Al Yankovic’s song parodies? Well, back in school we all got taught parodies were fair use, but not any more, he has to get the rights.

    http://www.ivanhoffman.com/fairusemusic.html cites an interesting case where a sample of 3 notes lasting 2 seconds was considered infringing.

    So with RPG stuff – what’s the limit? Is your own character an infringing derivative work? White Wolf claims so wrt their games.

    As to why people that don’t like 4e care – well, if the community could actually develop 4e, maybe it would get better and we would want to use it. Or maybe 5e will be better, and if so we’d like Wizards to get over its current shitty business practices by that time.

    It’s funny really. If 4e had just (IMO, yes yes) been bad, but it had still been open, my gaming group and I might have gone to it anyway, as the better third parties would be putting out content for it, spiffing it up, etc. But bad and closed leaves no room for improvement.

  25. Personally, I think a lot of people remember the harsh tactics that T$R did back in the 90’s wrt fansites and 2ed, and this seems very similar. When 3ed came out with the SRD/OGL, a lot of the potential problems that existed earlier were eliminated. Now with 4ed, it seems like a lot of mistakes that were resolved before are coming back due to WOTC/Hasbro rethinking the value of the SRD/OGL and coming up with the new GSL. Whenever a company prefers draconian methods instead of using a diplamatic approach, some people are going to see red.

  26. @ mxyzplk… Wow. I don’t think you have the foggiest idea what you are talking about. Fair use has never implied or allowed the wholesale copying and distribution of any IP, be it music, games, literature or whatever. Never. Has. Never. Will.

    Fair use is things like brief excerpts used in blog posts, pictures of the products used in reviews or templates that you can use yourself that match an existing format. Oh, and not using their logos.

    It does not take a lawyer to figure this out. Although the post from joethelawyer on ENworld indicates to me that a lawyer CAN.

    If you want to “Improve” on 4e, you can. If the community wants to – it can. You yourself can do a comprehensive re-write of all 4e rules, call it v4.3.5 (Upwards, not Forwards) and post it on teh internetz for all to see.

    But…. and I’ll type slowly for you here: You can’t copy their stuff and make it available, for free or for profit.

    Which is what the two (2) websites that they shut down did. This is not personal, and they are not being mean or draconian, and they don’t need a fansite policy. Digital tools and the internet make it very easy for people copy and distribute their stuff, and there is nothing wrong with clearly indicating to the serious offenders that it’s NOT OK.

  27. @wickedmurph – You are hard to rebut, as your lack of reading comprehension, whether accidental or willful, is only matched by your lack of understanding of any point anyone has made here so far. Gratz!

  28. @mxyzplk – Are you honestly saying that you & your friends aren’t playing 4E because it wasn’t released under the OGL? I’m sorry, but you’re deluding yourself if you think 95% of what the “community” developed for 3.5 actually improved the game because most of it was utter garbage that was not play tested nor even made by anyone who had an appreciation for the mechanics of the game. Most of the stuff being put out was either being produced by somebody playing in their basement who thought their “witchdoctor of Zu” custom class was ultimately cool just because they made it or they were looking to make a quick $ from pdf sales. There were only a handful of reputable, quality publishers for D20 and even most of those weren’t producing anything I would call revolutionary; Paizo and Green Ronin are amongst the few that actually took the game and did something original and interesting with it.

    Nothing in WotC’s current approach precludes the “community” from producing more of the same schlock – house rules, alternative character classes, more feats, magic items, or whatever they want. There is NOTHING WotC can do about 4E material published that does not use their logo, text, layout, or proprietary/trademarked material. You have the law on your side. So go ahead and make up two dozen new feats and put them up. Just don’t violate WotC’s IP rights by borrowing their layout, copyrighted text, or logos. Honestly, the hysteria that the C&D notifications has generated seems to be perpetuated by a profound misunderstanding of basic IP law.

    As for the sampling example, you’re really mixing up a bunch of different issues: Weird Al, AFAIK, has never sampled any song. Parodies are different and the US courts have supported that view. Weird Al is also a unique case because he actually had gotten permission from people from day one despite the fact that he didn’t need to: Back in the 1990’s there was a bit of a stink because of a screw-up with the permissions related to “Amish Paradise” – However, the original artist (can’t remember who it was…Buster Rhymes maybe?) still had no legal recourse; he just made a stink of it in the media.

    Sampling is a very different case and has always been a very contentious and grey legal area. Most songs including sampled material have paid royalties to the original sampled artists (Andy Summers was once asked about what he thought about Puff Daddy’s use of the Every Breath riff… and he replied something like “I haven’t ever listened to it but it’s making me rich) and AFAIK the legal cases have been over the ones that have refused to do so.

  29. @MJ Harnish – sure, some of the 3p OGL stuff was “bad”. Heck, some of the official WotC stuff was bad. But between Paizo making Dungeon and Dragon, d20 stuff, and OGL stuff (three different categories comprising a huge amount of material) there was a lot of good stuff and a lot of innovation. If the D&D PHB core doesn’t do it for you, you have all kinds of variants that might – True20, Conan, Mutants & Masterminds, Modern20, whatever. All not possible in the new licensing regime.

    In fact, all the GSL really lets anyone do is the shovelware crap. “Here’s 1000 new feats and powers wewt!”

    Anyway, the actually correct summary of what I wrote is that we don’t currently play 4e because it sucks, and Wizards has ensured that we won’t play it in the future because no one will be allowed to improve it.

    As for all the music stuff, the point isn’t “I can Google random facts,” the point is that it’s difficult to run a fansite without *any* IP violation, and that sure, “download all the powers” is more clearly a violation but no one is protected from Wizards deciding “you can’t put up your own character’s sheet” without them defining a (ideally non-psychotic) fansite policy.

  30. I don’t play 4E, but it’s not because it’s a bad product. It’s because of two very specific reasons:

    1. 4E is not at all backwards-compatible. I have several hundred dollars’ worth of 3E and 3.5E hardbacks which are perfectly usable, and I refuse to throw them away. If I could convert between 3.5E and 4E with even a medium degree of effort, I would.

    2. WotC, or Hasbro, or whomever you wish to blame, have been TOTAL DICKS about this since even before 4E was sold. I don’t give money to people like that.

    Those of you who visit my blog have no doubt read how they treated me badly back when I was a game reviewer/columnist. Sure, I’m a nobody in the grand scheme of things, but the fact remains that promises were made and repeatedly broken, and this was even before the 4E PHB hit bookshelves.

    Then there was Digital Initiative that utterly FAILED. It’s been over six months and the damn thing still isn’t online.

    Oh, and let us not forget the Poison Pill which was the original OGL. You can find the details of that here on Mxy’s blog. Play close attention to how they dragged their feet getting this published, as well.

    So yeah… these people have been assholes since Day Zero. They are in the legal right about their IP, sure, but they are lazy and inconsistent and lie when it comes to their promises.

    People like this should not profit from their assholery.

    Which is why I take every opportunity to tell people about it. Sure, I’m just a little person, but you know what? I’m the game master in my RPG group of 6. If I had converted, the following would have happened:

    I buy the 4E PHB, DMG, and MM at $35 each: that’s $105.

    Then my players would go out and buy PHBs of their own. Let’s assume 4 of them, because there’s always that one guy who prefers to “borrow” your books: ($35 x 4 = $140)

    So far, that’s $245 works of books that WotC *is not getting* (adjust for retail markup as needed, you get the drift), and that’s not counting whatever over stuff I’d buy, like adventures or miniatures or dungeon tiles.

    Now I tell my friend Ryan in New York what I think of this game. HE doesn’t buy it. Maybe he tells his friends, and THEY don’t buy it. Perhaps we aren’t doing severe economic harm to WotC, but for each new product that they put out which we don’t buy, that’s more money for us and less for them.

    I cannot and will not speak for anyone else in this thread, but this is why I spread the word about 4E and why you shouldn’t buy it. Not because the game itself is bad (it’s not). Not because the people who play it are bad (they aren’t).

    It’s because the company which produces this game treated us badly from the very beginning, and shows no sign of stopping.

  31. Hi Erin! Just to avoid confusion, for the rest of ya, I’m sure she meant “Oh, and let us not forget the Poison Pill which was the original GSL.”

    The OGL is only poisonous to evil types, in the same way a bucket of water is dangerous to Wicked Witches :-)

  32. Upon further reflection, I have determined that it makes me sad that there can be no such thing as a “Wicked Witch Wet T-Shirt Contest.” Just another reason life’s not fair.

  33. @ mxyzplk I found your thoughts on the White Wolf and Mongoose fansite policies interesting. I had not seen either of those but will be taking a look at them this week. I’ll be interested to see your thoughts on our policy. I am currently seeing if we can get a draft posted for fan commentary.

  34. Ok Myx, now I have to ask: can you check on the IP address of the above commentator to determine if it’s the real Scott Rouse, or just some dude leaving a fake name?

  35. @Erin. It is me (not that saying that makes it so). I would guess there is some way to verify a posters identity by ISP something. Or mxysplk could email me. I PM’d him my email and phone via ENWorld last night

  36. Excellent. That will do.

    Since I have you here, any comment on why your company and/or Porter Novelli broke their promises to me back in April 2008?

    (I’m not holding you personally responsible for this, of course. You simply happen to be the first person from the company who seems to give a damn about such things as Public Relations.)

  37. I am not sure of the situation but would be happy to talk with you off the thread. Is there a way to contact you or should I speak with PN about it?

  38. erin dot palette at gmail dot com

  39. @ Erin email sent

  40. @Erin and all – yep, he checks out.

    @Scott – Howdy, and thanks for responding to the rant. I think you’ll see that I actually do have what I believe to be the best interests of Wizards and D&D at heart; I don’t wish y’all ill, I just honestly think some of the way 4e has gone down is going to be overall harmful to the brand long term.

    I’m looking forward to looking at the fansite policy. (I know y’all largely don’t care about them any more, but I hope it addresses older games, D&D and otherwise, as well as 4e). I definitely recommend looking at WW’s and Mongoose’s, it’s nontrivial to come up with fansite rules that “make sense nowadays.” WW didn’t do a good job of it, though they have some things to recommend them (like using a carrot approach – “if you adhere to these guidelines, we’ll give you a link from a fansite directory on wizards.com” would be very positively motivating, for example).

    The Traveller rules are interesting – they’re not “just Mongoose” – they are actually an umbrella Traveller policy. It is clever in that it:

    1. Addresses all historical versions of Traveller (in their case, even from different publishers, which must have taken some doing!)

    2. Has a separate sub-license that even licenses a sector of their campaign setting. It seems very on point for the usual D&D campaign settings… “Here, you can set stuff in Sembia, enjoy.”

  41. Maybe the reason most RPG publishers have such a hard time is because they give everything away for free and don’t defend their intellectual property… It could be.

    I’m all for any solution Wizards can find to that problem. This stuff needs to make money, kids. Wizards has come out and said before that they don’t make that much money off of their RPG business and I believe them. With tightwads like some of the people posting here, it’s no wonder they don’t make any money.

    I, for one, are more than happy with giving WotC my money if their products are quality (and they are, usually). I do have problems with the GSL and it’s a shame that the SRD came out the way it did, but that’s the cost of monetizing a business model that desperately needed more monetizing.

    Good examples of monetizing their business include: Upcoming Heroes and Monster Minis, Professionally printed Power Cards and Dungeon Tiles. This is the kind of thing Wizards is leading the way with and I’d expect any publisher using the GSL to also come out with their own versions of these products to help along their own bottom line.

    Wizards has the right idea, in short. Anyone thinking otherwise might want to start their own RPG business and see how it works out doing things the way they say Wizards should do it.

  42. @Kirk – I fail to see where anyone has said “Wizards should give all their stuff away for free.” Nor do any cases come to mind where any other RPG companies “give everything away for free” or “don’t defend their IP.” Unless you mean ones that use the OGL to open up some of their system.

    This post betrays a very 1950s thinking about the relation of sales and marketing and one that willfully ignores network effects and the role of the community.

    “Do I make my core product open” is an interesting question, and many companies that have said yes to it make plenty of money. However, that’s not at all the point here.

    “Do I not allow ANYONE to use my product/IP in ANY way” is a much different thing. Coming up with supplemental products is monetizing, surely. Charging for EVERYTHING, in the Information Age, just means that people won’t buy ANY of it.

    If rather than letting random Internet trolls post comments on my blog, I decided “the Internet’s not monetized enough! I should charge $1 for everyone who wants to comment,” I would have zero comments. The value of my site overall would be diminished way past what the alleged benefit of the monetization was supposed to be.

    Take Paizo as an example. They had their open beta playtest of the Pathfinder rules. They gave the rules away in PDF for free, and encouraged collaboration around them. Then they made a print run of those rules and it completely sold out. “How can this be!?!” cries 1950s marketing guy. If they had ONLY charged and not had the free open playtest – do you think they would have sold half as many of those print copies? The answer’s no, don’t ask 1950s marketing guy, he’s confused.

    D&D by its nature is a brand that heavily leverages social networks, even pre-Internet. If you say no one can do anything with it except for whatever for-pay stuff WotC decides to do – it will fade over time in favor of better brands that do allow that. “Monetizing” is about the “money,” not about sales price. You can charge out the ass for everything, and say “it comes in any color you want as long as it’s black” – but somehow that doesn’t translate into more money. It translates into competitors taking your market share.

  43. @ mxyzplk I agree very much with your last point.

  44. “it comes in any color you want as long as it’s black”

    LMFAO. Henry Ford was also such a funny guy…

    thumbs up on all this. one of my favorite post threads in a while.

  45. I see Paizo is coming out with their Community Guidelines very soon now. It’ll be interesting to look at theirs and WotC’s and compare and contrast. I’m a Pathfinder fan, but that just means I’m gonna dump on them twice as hard if their fansite restrictions are draconian.

    @Scott, if y’all can match or beat them you’ve got an opportunity to regain some openness street cred.

    Let us know if/when you get the fansite guidelines up for comment! People think I have an axe to grind but that’s just because I call a spade a spade; if the rules are good I’ll laud them without reservation.

  46. Oh, and @jonathan, thanks for the kind words.

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