Tag Archives: suck

Mike Mearls Strangles Realism In D&D Like It’s An Unruly Hooker

I hate to keep saying “I told you so” about Fourth Edition D&D, but there’s a thread on TheRPGSite that talks about the new Rust Monster in the MMII.  I really can’t believe what I’m reading.

As most of you know, in D&D the Rust Monster is a weird-looking mostly harmless critter feared by adventurers because of its diet.  It touches metal with its feathery antennae and cause it to rust into bits, then it eats the rust.

Well, apparently the thought of anyone losing a magic item is no longer tolerable to the Wizards designers.  Check it out:

Attack Mode: Dissolve Metal (standard action; per encounter) • Targets a creature wearing or wielding a rusting magic item of 10th level or lower or any non-magic rusting item; +9 vs. Reflex; the rusting item is destroyed.
Residuum Recovery • A rust monster consumes any item it destroys. The residuum from any magic items the monster has destroyed can be retrieved from its stomach. The residuum is worth the market value of the item (not one-fifth the value).

“Residuum” is the magic dust that you can disenchant 4e magic items into.  Normally, as part of their ridiculous and sad economic rules, it’s only worth 20% of the item’s cost.  However, the Rust Monster now kindly keeps it at full price for you in its gullet.  There’s an explicit rationale for this in the “A Guide to Using Rust Monsters” section in the MM2 which boils down to “don’t make any nine year olds cry”…

Eventually, though, the PCs should have an opportunity to regain their lost equipment by using the residuum found in the monster. Although a PC might lose an item, it is intended that the loss be only temporary, which is why the residuum recovered from a rust monster is equal to the full value of the destroyed item. How the PCs deal with the loss is what makes the rust monster fun. Be wary of PCs who try to abuse a rust monster’s powers to their advantage by using rust monsters to consume items the PCs would otherwise sell for one-fifth value. In such cases, you should reduce the resulting residuum to one-fifth value, effectively making the rust monster a free Disenchant Magic Item ritual.

What, they didn’t bother rule-izing that last part by giving it a “Detect Intent” power that would formally change the residuum value based on its reading of the character’s mind?

Seriously, come the fuck on.  Realism and consequences are not “fun”, according to Mearls and the other 4e writers.  All those people who have enjoyed playing any other edition of D&D must be confused.

Why not just take that small additional step and have characters respawn close to the dungeon with all their gear?  God forbid a dead party member gets left behind or some other factor causes them to lose their stuff.  Or have un-fun trips to get raised or otherwise be out of the action for more than five minutes.  Some of the 4e community is dismissive of “these tired comparisons of 4e to MMORPGs” but – the truth’s the truth.  This is a pure computer game move.

Heck, put spawn points in the dungeon.  I was amused recently when I got Unreal Tournament 3 on the XBox 360 and in the cutscenes they actually refer to the respawn points as real, in-world things.  Most games have the courtesy to pretend they don’t really exist (I know, it actually makes some sense in the UT universe…  But this isn’t XCrawl, it’s D&D.).  Time for D&D to do the same thing!  Dying, gear loss, etc. should all be only moments of delay from getting back in the melee!

I mean, I’m honestly not averse to that in some fringe take-off of the genre like XCrawl.  But in D&D?  In a core world that supposedly might make some sense, like the fantasy worlds from those things called books people used to read?  Really?

WotC President Explains: “We Are Retarded”

ENWorld scores a interview with WotC president Greg Leeds in which he says nothing we didn’t already know about their recent move to yank all WotC/TSR products from electronic publishing via PDF from all channels without warning.  Except that PDFs are never coming back because of “them pirates.”  Why even do an interview if you’re not going to say anything?  Man, the marketdroids have really raped D&D’s corpse.  Alas.

I don’t know if they realize that before PDFs, enterprising pirates just scanned and OCRed the docs anyway.  This will change nothing in terms of piracy, and will only jack their customers.  But, after all their other moves, it’s clear they don’t really care about that.  They have the attitude that “all you little vermin need our product like it’s your drug, so we can be as exploitative as we want and you’ll still come crawling to us.”  (And frankly from reading ENWorld, there is a good subset of people for whom this is true.)

Wizards of the Coast’s Latest Dick Move

Wanted to buy a PDF of any Wizards of the Coast/TSR product ever?  TOO LATE!!!

It started with an email I got from Paizo:

Date: Mon, 6 Apr 2009 19:28:09 -0700 (PDT)

Dear XXXXXX,

Wizards of the Coast has notified us that we may no longer sell or distribute their PDF products. Accordingly, after April 6 at 11:59 PM Pacific time, Wizards of the Coast PDFs will no longer be available for purchase on paizo.com; after noon on April 7, you will no longer be able to download Wizards of the Coast PDFs that you have already purchased, so please make sure you have downloaded all purchased PDFs by that time.

We thank you for your patronage of paizo.com. Please check out our other downloads at paizo.com/store/downloads.

Sincerely yours,
The Paizo Customer Service Team

But it turns out it’s not just Wizards hating on Paizo, it’s everywhere.  They pulled all their product from DriveThruRPG etc. as well.  With LESS THAN ONE DAY OF NOTICE to download even things you’d already bought.

Read the threads on RPG.net and ENWorld for more.

Wizards chimed in on this with a:

“Hey all. I wanted to step in and shine a mote of light on the subject. First off, this cesation of PDF sales has absolutely nothing to do with the Internet Sales Policy. I know it’s the 6th of April and I can definitely see how the two would appear linked, but the truth is, this is a completely seperate matter.

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. We are exploring other options for digitial distribution of our content and as soon as we have any more information I’ll get it to you.”

He’s referring to the new Wizards Internet  Sales Policy they announced today.  Yes, these moves are unrelated.  Surrrrrrrre they are.

So in other words, there are naughty pirates out there!  Don’t sell PDFs!  At the same time, WotC has announced they are suing eight individuals for infringement based on torrenting the PHB2.  You don’t bother announcing stuff like that unless you are trying a “My penis is so big” offensive against the evil forces of teh Intarwebs.

Well you know what?  Fuck you, Wizards.  May I direct everyone who is interested to The Pirate Bay, where the D&D 4e PHB2 is available.  (Not that I’d personally download any of that 4e crap.)

Are they really serious?  What does removing all your PDFs from legitimate outlets do except encourage people to pirate it?  And pulling this with such short notice undermines faith in the entire PDF market – re-downloadability is one of the selling points.

Paizo’s running a “PDF Love” sale on their stuff to try to make it up to their customers (use promo code “PDFLove” for 35% off!).  Of course this sudden yank screws all the companies who were reselling their stuff.  But since when did Wizards give one little damn about any of their supposed parters in the RPG industry?

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.

Will WotC Close You Down Next?

Wizards of the Coast has sent a cease-and-desist letter resulting in the closing of popular fan site “Ema’s Character Sheets.”  As usual, they refuse to comment on that action or commit to actually delivering a fan site policy so that people might be able to operate safely.

Ema’s Character Sheets had loads of high quality character sheets for 3.5e, 4e, Star Wars, and other games.  They had 4e power cards, too.  You could even save your characters up on their server for a fee, and they had a character builder functionality.  Which was all great, and has been running without comment for  years, until WotC finally got their 4e Character Builder done, then it’s nap time for the competition.

The worst thing about all this is that Wizards is going after folks without even delivering the policies that should let people know if they’re “safe” or not.  The GSL revamp, the fan site policy – all in limbo for months with nothing but statements like “Well, it’s not really that important” from Scott Rouse.

Sure, the data Ema’s site (and hundreds of other sites across the Internet) was using is Wizards IP.  They certainly have the “legal right” to go after anyone so much as saying the words “Dungeons & Dragons” on their site.  But the point of the gaming community is to let people use that IP to advance the game.  Rouse says “Oh, you know, we only really care about pirate sites posting whole torrents of our books.”  But that’s clearly a lie in the face of this action.  And he crosses the line from honest company rep to corporate shill when he says things like “not one website has been sued because of a lack of policy” (emphasis mine).  No, you don’t have to sue them, they close down when you C&D them because they can’t afford the lawyers you can, and they are risking their own personal money, time, and life while you get to hide behind incorporation and an organization.

So what was the problem with Ema’s?  That they charged for storage?  That they had a “software” component?  That they used Wizards IP?  No one knows, and so no one can avoid that.  As one poster on ENWorld pointed out, “My avatar here is Wizards IP [it’s a pic of Tanis Half-Elven’s face from DragonLance].  Can they come after ENWorld?”

The answer, legally, is yes.  Their IP is their IP in our insanely corp-friendly legal system.  Whether it’s charged for or whatnot is immaterial except in whether the company decides in its own mind whether you’re worth the effort to crush or not.  This is why people put out real licenses and policies to create an understanding with the community that has to use some of their IP to do anything meaningful.

So for everyone who’s been taking Wizards at its word, that “Oh, you’re safe unless you’re a pirate” – it’s not true any more.  And until they deliver a revised GSL and fan site policy, you can’t know if you’ll be safe.  But don’t worry, they’re working on it.  Real hard.  Because one day soon, they will change their ways and decide to value rather than just shit on you, the online gaming community.  Seriously, they say they will!  How could you not believe them?

[Thanks to ENWorld for breaking the news – here’s the whole long forum thread if you’re interested.  I’ll note that ENWorld charges for community supporter accounts and has 4e character sheets and power cards for download too (including Forgottten Realms IP).  And where do forums/wikis end and “software” begin?  Not sure they are really all that far from Ema’s site on this one.]

4e Excerpt: Economy & Reward

Today’s D&D 4e excerpt, “Economy & Reward,” is emblematic of the core ethic behind 4e that makes it hateful to me.

Their new theory on giving out treasure is even more obsessed with everyone getting the same stuff than previous editions. So rather than random treasure, or DM-placed treasure without doing math (God forbid) to make sure every 5th-level PC’s net worth is identical, the DMG has a “fifth level treasure parcel,” containing everything a good little group of adventurers should get while they’re fifth level. It’s broken up into ten chunks, and you just place the chunks in encounters where you think they should go. So they’re guaranteed to get the planned cash. Because any 5th level character not having the exact same amount of treasure is wrong.

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