Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stop Buying Their F***ing Product

Man, I just got back from gaming at the Baranof (again) and had a blast of a good time. I tell you...I limit myself to a single pitcher and a couple hours (7:45 to 10ish) and I get more gaming accomplished than your average 4E players do in four hours:

- new character creation - check
- challenged player ingenuity, rather than stats? - check
- fought five different monster encounters - check
- hauled out close to 8500gp worth of treasure - check
- party members dying (only one tonight) - check
- purchasing real estate in town - check
- internal party conflict leading to actual combat (no deaths) - check

And my brother wanted to KEEP playing (had to cut him off)...and Steve-O REALLY wants to join us (he just had friends in town from California and was already at a book reading with 'em).

Fun, right? You're damn skippy it was fun. And then I read shit like this.

Which would not bother me so much if I had not checked out the new D&D Essentials at Gary's tonight (well, the exterior anyway, which was bad enough...I couldn't bring myself to look inside the box). My brother's was like, "hey, are they re-issuing the old game?"

No they're turning it into a Goddamn board game. (*turned over the box to see what was included*) comes with two boards even...and some counters to move around.

Fuck that shit.

People, if you don't like what WotC/Hasbro is doing to your game, then STOP BUYING THEIR GODDAMN PRODUCT. I just don't get it. It's not hard. Put your money into something useful. Stocks. Bonds. A savings account. The campaign coffers of your favorite (hopefully Democratic) politician. An indie game. Hell, a nice little card game or beautifully inked board game.

Want pretty pictures? Buy a book of good art. Hell, want fantasy pictures? Get a book of good fantasy art like I did recently.

But don't buy product and complain about it. Hasbro is in the business to make money. Period. The only way they're going to stop shitting on you is if you stop giving them your money. Really. They don't give a rats ass what people complain about if those same complainers just buy the next pile of dog shit they publish. If you're a fan boy/girl that holds out this great hope that the next D&D is going to be great or that a particular module/supplement looks totally sweet, and you pony up your dough on some Great White Hope...well, as they say "fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me." And fool me more than that? You're a big, fat, fucking idiot.

Vote with your wallet: put it back in your pocket and save your money. Go to their free game seminars and check it out once or twice if you want...they provide all the fixin's, free of charge. After you get tired of it...IF you get tired of it, I'm sure there are some folks who find this mindless kewl power skirmish/board game just their cup o' tea...once you get tired of it, if you get tired of it, go back to playing real role-playing games totally free of regret.

I'm sorry...I know what I'm writing is going to offend some of my readers and I apologize, truly. But can you understand how sick and wrong it is to say, "well I knew something was wrong with 3rd edition, and then it seemed worse in 3.5, and got REALLY bad with 4E and now I've got D&D Essentials and enough is enough..."

Why the hell did you get to that point at all?!

Yes, yes, yes...I am an anachronistic old fuddy-duddy. I like music from the 70s and 80s. I prefer to fence without "flicking." I play D&D from 1981. I don't tweet or do anything fancy with my cell phone...the first one I ever purchased and that was in December of 2008.

I am old. And cranky. And I admit, I have been drinking (I was at the Baranof, after all, and it's walking distance from my house).

But damn's not hard! Jesus H...these books are not holding guns to your head and saying "buy me or else." Are you going to let a pile of bound paper (even a large, 300 page pile) dictate what you're going to do? Are you?

Stop. Just stop the madness.

Continue to play D&D and any other role-playing game that strikes your fancy. Please, please do so...the hobby, the industry needs you. But stop buying shit and eating it. And please O please, stop buying shit and eating it and then complaining it tastes bad. Because you knew it was could you not?

What...because of the pretty pictures? You can get pretty pictures off the internet.

Because of the nostalgia of a Larry Elmore cover? Any one who remembers this is old enough to know better. You're not a dumb kid anymore.

Ugh. It's just dollars and cents, folks. Really. I know the economy is down, and artists and writers and designers need to make a buck, too. But I can't feel sorry for them when they're contributing to the death of the damn hobby.

Give your money to someone else. Vote with your wallet, NOT with your mouth/blog/strongly-worded-letter-or-email. The publishers of D&D are a business the end, the only thing that will make a difference to them is a decline in revenue.

Sad but true.


  1. Now you tell me ... why didn't you blog this a week ago!

    My gorgeous, absolutely fabulous B/X Companion arrived in the mail today, i'll be posting my thoughts tomorrow or saturday.


  2. @ Pal:

    "Why didn't you blog this a week ago?"

    Obviously, I wasn't drunk enough...or fed up enough!

    Congrats on FINALLY getting your book. Wow, that Canada post is slooooow...
    ; )

  3. Agreed. That's why Old-Scool scene and games like yours are filling the gaps WoTC leave behind it. I have already quit from WotC long time ago.

  4. I would say the tendency to systematize things (I guess this is the core of the rant here and at korpg) started way back in 1979 with AD&D 1e. It's not nothing new, and it certainly did not start with AD&D 2e; and even with 3e (3.0), the DMG is full of ideas and suggestions which underline how the DM is the sole responsible for how the game works (it's even suggested to completely scrap the whole combat rules if they don't suit the style of play.) As I repeatedly say, probably no one of the 3e haters ever bothered to read the damn book.

    Truth is, the concept of what is a roleplaying game is slowly changing. Players nowadays are exposed to different media (most notably computer games) so the expectation of what to find in a game has changed.

  5. @Antonio,

    What a bunch of bull. Can't coach football if you've never played it. New media my ass.

  6. I do vote with my wallet. That is why I buy the Old School Products I like (B/X Companion is next on my list) AND I bought the new D&D4 Starter box.
    And I buy them for the same reasons, they are fun.

    Of course Hasbro wants to make money, they are business, that is what businesses HAVE to do. Since when is this a bad thing?

    I have opened, and played, and enjoyed the new D&D4 red box.
    I don't think that there are a lot of people out there buying it and then complaining about it.

    I also challenge you statement that this is "the death of the hobby" in fact, I can't recall a time when there was more diversity in choices and product. Sure there may have been more volume in the d20 glut, but now there are so many games out there, good games, that talk of "death of the hobby" seems at best odd.

    I have all editions of D&D on my shelf, and each one gives me something a little different, but what they have in common is each one is fun and there is not a regretted purchase in the lot; and that includes my new D&D 4 starter box set.

  7. Well I spent this months gaming budget on your book! I stopped buying Hasbro's junk as soon as they killed the Dungeon/Dragon mags.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. @Icarus,
    do you have a better explanation of why 4e is selling at all then? Are all those who play and enjoy it, "idiots"? I know more than a handful of people who started with AD&D 1e and NOW is playing 4e and enjoying it. Go figure.
    And before speaking of "corporate greed" like it was an invention of WotC, you are well advised to hunt for old Dragon magazine numbers when Gygax was at the helm, and skim his articles. You might be surprised.

    Personally, I bought the 4e core books but after playing it a few times I did not like it that much and sold them. But that's a matter of tastes. Not all tastes are equal, thank God.

  10. @ Antonio: If I sell you a car and call it a boat, I'm not selling you a boat. I'm selling you a vehicle that might drive through water (as long as its not too deep), but certainly it ain't a boat.

    People's expectations of RPGs have certainly changed over the years...for example, most new RPGs have some form of damn skill system included, which wasn't always the case. But saying kids that come from a computer game background know what should be in an RPG? No. An RPG is a different animal. Trying to make an RPG into the equivalent of a computer game is trying to sell folks a car and calling it a boat.

    It's designers' jobs to write RPGs that do RPG stuff...not to kowtow to false expectations. It ain't my fault that computer games with no "role-playing" involved get labeled as "role-playing games." Probably all new RPGs coming on the market should have something in the intro (you know, in the "what is an RPG?" section) that explains "this game is not a COMPUTER role-playing game." Failing to distinguish between the two has led to confusion between two very different type of, games.

    @ Tim: my rant was directed at those folks who continue to support the WotC Dungeons & Dragons line even when they are unsatisfied/troubled with the content being presented. If you genuinely enjoy the game, have at it!

    As for the "Death of the Hobby" thing...sure I might have been waxing a little extravagant there. But, then, see Antonio's comment. I don't fault WotC for trying to make money...I DO think they're assholes for what they've done to the hobby (my opinion, though)...and I show my disapproval by not supporting their business.

  11. @ Antonio: (sorry...cross-post)

    I'm not sure Icarus was talking about corporate greed. And he certainly didn't use the term "idiots." *I* used the term "idiots" but I was not referring to people who play 4E (really!)...I was talking about people who continue to support WotC's D&D line even though the game is no longer "good for them."

    Let me put it this way, folks:

    If you're playing retro-clones or older versions of the game and enjoying them, why spend money on a company that does not create or support games you enjoy playing? Just to "keep 'em around?" That's kind of silly, I think. Just to mine their books for inspiration? Thumb through them at the store and then put 'em back on the shelf. But don't part with your hard-earned cash. Demand something better!

    @ Dithering and Quin: thanks for the support. Especially my current "ca$h-for-book" program.
    ; )

  12. I agree with this post whole-heartedly. I don't just drop money on stuff sight unseen. Especially not the new stuff since I know there's nothing useful for me in there. I've got a couple 4E books, I enjoyed the 4E DM's Guide and the setting "Fallcrest," but beyond some of the best DM advice I've seen since BECM, I don't think I'll bother with new-school again (at least, not until some enterprising person changes the game enough to where I'd enjoy it, but at the same time leaves well enough alone).

    BTW, I have much less available cash than years ago...I'd love to thumb through B/X Companion but I'm eyeying my wallet more than ever nowadays. I'd most likely drop money on a PDF version (as I use my laptop as a DM screen/note taker, etc).

  13. For the record, since my post seems to have been the final straw on the matter, I have purchase exactly one WotC item since AD&D... namely the 4E Starter set.

    Now before someone starts in on the whole "Then how can you be so opposed to this and that if you don't even own this and that" let me state that I have friends in my gaming group who DO own a lot of 2E and 3E and 3.5E stuff. Personally, I'm glad I never spent the cash.

    I was really hoping WotC would go a different direction in 4E, and that's why I decided to be the one in my group to see if it was worth the effort. In that light I'm glad they released a starter set so I didn't have to pick up more than that to get a feel for what it was going to be like. As can be seen by my responses, it's my opinion that, even though I got it at a discount too, it was still as waste of my money.

    To use your terminology, my complaints aren't a cry of, "Someone help me stop spending my money like a fucking fan-boyish idiot!" They're cries of, "What the hell is wrong with the game developers at WotC?"

    I totally agree with you on this point. I've been witholding my dollars and voting with my wallet since they started flooding the market with those stupid class handbooks.

    Carry on.

  14. As an addendum to the above comment, since I'm sure some will claim so, I'll take a moment to counter.

    I'm not saying that if you have fun playing 4E or 3E or 3.5E or 2E or rock-paper-scissors or whatever, that you're wrong or anything else. I'm not judging the players of the game.

    I'm declaring that the game doesn't work for me and my group and I find the direction of the development heading further away from anything even usable for us.

  15. See, I like the retro clones AND 4e, but this is still good advice, up along with 'no gaming is better than bad gaming.' I've ended up buying a bunch of games that weren't for me (D&D 3.5, Exalted, Fight!) but I wasn't tempted to continue buying more.

  16. JB: It's cool.

    I think there is one thing that is fairly obvious to me at any rate is that WotC does see the value of the Old School movement and wants to get in on it. Who can blame them really.

    Designing a new game from scratch is hard work. I can't fault them for missteps they make nor believing what they have is the best D&D ever (regardless of my opinion). Nor do I believe they have nefarious purposes. I know a lot of the current batch of D&D designers, they are good guys (and gals) trying to make the best game they know how and make it have broad appeal. I like to think the magic system in Ghosts of Albion is the best ever. Am I biased? Of course, I worked my ass off on that. Am I right? not the question I think I need to ask. Instead I should ask is it right for me, or for you, or for this other group?

    B/X Companion is right for me. I just wish it had been out in 1982. ;)
    D&D 4 is right for me. It is fun.
    Savage Worlds isn't right for me. It's a good game, but it doesn't fit with what I want to do.

    Anyone remember the old "The Tao of Programming" that was big on the internet back in the stone age (late 80s - early 90s)? In it is a discussion between an old Mainframe programmer and a younger (what was called a micro computer, we just call them PCs now) programmer. They differed on so many things, yet they were doing the same thing. The Tao was understanding that each had their value and place and while they may never see eye to eye they at least came to understand why the other was doing what they did.

    D&D players should do the same thing.

  17. People should buy what they like. This is a great time to be a gamer, there's so much out there. I do recommend everyone try something new ever once in a while, like Earthdawn or Talislanta. Even if you don't like every thing about a different game, you can get ideas that you bring back to your game of choice. So don't support WotC if they are going the wrong direction. Check out some of the smaller guys and support them if you find something you do like. Then they can stay alive and keep producing new stuff we all can enjoy.

  18. @ Deinol: You and I are on the same page.

    I'm not saying "don't try stuff" or only throw your money into "what you know." I'm saying, once you know 4th edition (or whatever) with its emphasis on combat, WoW-esque scaling abilities, and skirmish-level board game antics is NOT your cup of tea...then STOP buying. Don't buy Dark Sun or Tomb of Horrors or Elmore-decorated Red Box or anything else that preys on your nostalgia or curiosity to see "how they did it" or out of the belief that "hmm, maybe this time it won't suck and make me want to firebomb their offices."

    INSTEAD, leave it the F alone. Instead, go try out other games and other those little guys and other games. They're not making any money anyway, but a few bucks and a visit to their web site forums sure can be encouraging. And people flowing those creative juices are cool and, frankly, a big part of the hobby. Isn't competition supposed to be good for the marketplace anyway?

  19. @JB
    if you sell me a car calling it a boat, and in my country it happens that the cars are named boats, I won't be disappointed. There are concepts behind names, and the current concept of RPG is somewhat different from what it was 30 years ago. WotC is simply selling a repackaged version of 4e with some simplifications. But IT'S 4e, for good or bad.

  20. And it happens that people is confused, or has not a clear idea of what to expect. It happened to me with 4e. First I bought the H1 module, I played it, I didn't like everything but some parts were nice. So I bought the three first core books. Played somewhat more and finally decided that the things I didn't like were not many, but they had a large weight, so I sold everything. I can't blame people for expecting something dfferent. In many ways the Essentials line is different, and speaking for myself, it addresses some of the things I did not like. But the things I did not like most are still there, so I won't buy it. It's that simple.

  21. Goddamn, you game at the Baranoff? I LOVE the Baranoff. Awesome dive. It's a fave of mine to go to after a long day hike. Pitchers and all the fish and chips you can eat.

    I apologize, my big gaming purchase this month was Lamentations. School books are going to absolutely put my in debt now as well.

    When I'm flush a pitcher at the Baranoff on me. I'll bring my dice and graph paper.

    I need to check your blog more often so I'll have warning of when you're gaming. Or is this an every Thursday thing?

    Yesterday evening was a bike ride from Belltown to Ballard, beers and back. Funny, I almost talked the girlfriend into biking to Wayward for games but she thought that was too far and in too much traffic.

  22. WOTC almost fooled me with the recent Darksun release. Before purchasing I spent a few too many seconds looking at one of the books in the FLGS and they made this really stuff f'n boring it looks just like every other 4e book (which is seemingly part of the appeal of 4e). One of the appeals of Darksun was it didn't look just like the rest of D&D so ...saved by resisting the impulse buy and engaging brain.

  23. For me, there are a lot of things I like about 4e. Heck, there were a lot of things I liked about 3e. However, if there are things I don't like about something, I'm going to complain about them. I can like X, Y, and Z about a product and not like A, B, and C.

    Now as for the geist of the arguement, if all you do is complain about a product, stop buying it, yeah, I'm all for that. That mantra should go for everything ranging from being a fat and jobless to not liking your friends. If there are things in your life that you don't like, it ain't outsiders that are going to change that for you.

  24. @ JoeK: You know, man, I was just popping off a bit at the time I wrote this. If I buy a product (or, hell, order food in a restaurant) that turns out to be less than I expected, I'll certainly complain and whine about it...that's human nature (or 21st century American nature, anyway).

    But that's different from buying something that doesn't satisfy...and then buying it again...and then buying it again. If I get an upset stomach every time I go to a particular Mexican restaurant, I'm going to stop going there. I'm not going to keep going, ordering different items from the menu, thinking, maybe THIS time the cook will get it right.

    @ Red: It's starting to be a regular Thursday night thing. I live two blocks from the Baranof. Keep reading...I know I'm long-winded and all, but I'll try to be more succinct with these kind of announcements.
    ; )

    @ JDJ: If you play B/X or Labyrinth Lord, you may like Land of Ash. Hopefully available in the next 2-4 months.

    (God, I should not estimate time lines like that...but I'm ambitious)