Thursday, January 20, 2011

Keep your D&D out of my Pathfinder

I like many other Pathfinder fans, have expressed my dreamy eyed wish that Paizo would somehow acquire the rights to the D&D brand. We all just "know" that, in our dream world at least, this would bring world peace and a new age of enlightenment. However I have reevaluated my position on this and I hope that the brand either stays where it is or goes to someone other than Paizo.

I was over on the Paizo boards the other night when I came across several posts that expressed just how having the D&D brand would be a burden for Paizo and I couldn't help but agree. I also read the very interesting essays by Ryan Dancey over on EnWorld, which I recommend giving a look. I was actually amazed that the points raised by Mr. Dancey and the posters on the Paizo boards are, for the most part, things that honestly never occurred to me or that I never really gave much thought. I'm generally pretty level headed and reasonable, but I now know that I let my dislike of WotC and my love of most things Pathfinder keep me from really thinking about what I said. Now I feel like a complete dolt.

Why in the hell would Paizo want D&D? Right now, according to some reports, Pathfinder is selling as well as D&D (better if you believe some of the rumors) even though Pathfinder doesn't have the 40 years of name recognition. The more I think about it the more impressed I am that Pathfinder has done as well as it has. Paizo likely wouldn't exist if not for 3rd edition D&D and now they are tying WotC for first place in RPG sales. Going up against the granddaddy of all RPGs and this little company is actually holding their own, and according to some people winning. The irony is that they are using a revised version of older D&D rules to do it.

Another reason Paizo should stay away from D&D is the "baggage", as some on the boards referred to it, of way too many campaign settings. Mostly because us bitchy fans will be outraged if their/our favorite setting doesn't get attention (MAZTICA!!!). Right now Paizo has Golarion which is a kitchen sink setting, but in a good way and one that seems to be as well if not more thought out than some of the stuff put out for actual D&D.

If you want Ravenloft, Greyhawk, FR or even Kalamar it has a passable counterpart in Golarion. They are just tweaked a bit and go by different names. Golarion is nearly every D&D setting on one planet, there really is no need for more settings at this point, if ever. Paizo owning D&D and having to support more setting would probably be a headache and drain on their resources that just isn't worth the benefit of owning a name that really isn't worth what it used to be.

Finally I think that acquiring the D&D brand in the near future would lessen the great work that the Paizo people have done. They were basically the 1st level group who went up against the Ancient Red Dragon and  not only survived these first few rounds, but has managed to get in some pretty good hits of their own. Maybe years from now once Pathfinder has established its dominance in the RPG market ;-) ,  buying the D&D brand might be worth it to them, but not right now.

So I retract any previous mentions I may have made here or on any message boards, I do not want Paizo to acquire D&D at this point. I believe and hope that Paizo can continue being a successful publisher for years to come on their own merit. I want them to be known as the publishers of Pathfinder, the game that showed us all that the name D&D is not all powerful in the RPG world.

** After I finished writing this post I found this really good post over at The Wasted Lands about why the demise of D&D would be a good thing for the RPG industry.

Even though I'd hate to see the brand disappear from the world of TTRPGs, I have to admit there is a part of me that is curious to see what the world would be like if it happened. Unfortunately there wouldn't be a Clarence around to make things right if we didn't like a world without new D&D products, but I would almost be willing to give it a try.

Maybe an actual crash is exactly what the industry needs. A chance to reboot, so to speak. Maybe another company could step up and find a way to make RPGs appealing to the masses or maybe the market would shrink and return to the truly niche hobby it used to be. Then in 20 or 30 years some kids will find their grandparent's old RPG books and strange dice. Maybe they will start a whole new retro-gaming revolution. Kids around the world will unplug from their PS10s and X-box 1800s to gather around an actual table to delve dungeons and slay some dragons. That would be kind of cool.


Sully said...

I don't think we'll see D&D truly crash out as a brand. Pathfinder may be selling more books at the moment, but that doesn't meant that D&D book sales have completely come to a halt. WotC and Hasbro have been awful stewards of the D&D brand, it's true.

The best thing WotC could do at this point is embrace the diversified nature of the current RPG market. Open up 4E to more 3rd party content.

And WotC needs to start writing Pathfinder modules, and put out a classic campaign setting, say Dragonlance or Greyhawk or even Planescape, for Pathfinder, under the D20 OGL. They've got the talent. They wrote the system to begin with, and Paizo's just tweaked it. WotC needs to understand that a lot of their former customers are flying Paizo's flag now. WotC caused the split with the 3.x/4th Edition Wars; the only way to get back on top is to produce good content for both segments.

Geek Gazette said...

I can't disagree with much of anything you said. The only place I might add a "but" would be that some of the people that worked on 3e originally seem to be flying the Pathfinder flag now as well. So in some sense some of the people that created 3e are still kind of working on it. The ones that aren't on Paizo's payroll or WotC's anymore, according to comments I've seen around the boards, seem to be happier with what Paizo has done with the system than what WotC did with the brand.
Of course since I know none of them personally I'm forming this opinion strictly on things I've seen on the internet and we all know how reliable that is.

Louis Porter Jr. said...

First off, Great post! Secondly, Paizo has done what WOTC forgot to do: Connect to those that are purchase their products. D&D days as a TTRPG may be numbered, but the word "D&D" will become the generic term for all TTRPG (which it is already). Paizo has placed itself to be the "D&D for the new generation" (Sorry Pepsi).

Geek Gazette said...

I tend to agree. Unless there is a drastic repositioning of the brand and rethinking of their entire PR the brand is on its way out as a TTRPG. More precisely it is on its way off the top of the heap when it comes to TTRPGs. There are just too many great products out there for people to continue tolerating being forced to bend to the will of Hasbro/WotC.
I truly hate to say that and the fanboy in me hopes I'm wrong, but in my gut that is they way it feels. I don't think it will ever disappear completely. There will be a product called D&D as a CRPG or CCG or possibly in some format that I'm not considering, but the TTRPG is losing steam and direction.
Since I have given up on 4e and returned to firmly planted my flag behind Pathfinder and the OSR I don't need D&D. If I get a nostalgic urge to play something with D&D on the cover I'm more likely to break out my 2e books and start a game. My 4e books will likely just remain dust collectors that I'll point to from time to time and say "remember when they did that to D&D".

BTW, thanks for the comments.

Corey said...

Agree 100%. Pathfinder is now its own established brand, it would be a mistake to throw that out just to call it D&D.