Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The Edition Wars are real.

Not in a "internet fanboys push their method of organized make-believe as better than other fanboys' method of organized make-believe."

Not even in a "micropublisher decides to focus on one version of a game and damn the rest straight to hell as far as the publisher is concerned" kind of way.

But in a "Real business make real business decisions based on these things."

For all the talk of death and doom in the RPG industry, money does move around in amounts substantial to any small business. The bigger OSR publishers push tens of thousands of dollars around annually. Each. And we are small potatoes in this biz. As you move up the ladder, the dollar amounts get much bigger. And not-so-small businesses pay attention to that. And that's the kind of way Edition Wars exist in substantial form, just back-door enough to smack you in the ass when you least expect it.

Standing up and being noticed and recognized as an existing and vibrant thing matters.


  1. I think it might be much more to the point to say:

    plutocratic corporations are real and will actually act to protect what they perceive as their interests.

  2. I disagree, Zak. More like.

    Plutocratic corporations are poor innovators and steal the work of others to use for their own aggrandizement.

    This is why I sometimes think it would be better for the hobby for the big gorilla to go under, so that they can be new growth. Same argument as that against Microsoft, or any semi-monopolistic market.

  3. What the context?

    Granted that we are emulating older editions of the world's most popular roleplaying game but as far as marketing goes we have to live or die on our own trademarks i.e. Lamentation, S&W, LL, OSRIC, etc. If the numbers are there why should anybody care as you make your way up the business ladder using your trademarks.

    Or is it competing OSR products we are talking about here with one distributor/publisher/etc picking one over the other?

  4. @Greg

    I don't really think our two statements here are mutually exclusive.

  5. Or maybe... "It's possible to own, play and enjoy multiple versions of a game, and even multiple games, but I try to convince people that they shouldn't so they'll spend more money on my stuff."

    With the unspoken addendum "Which I don't even need to do, because I'm really quite talented"

  6. @ Wickedmurph

    Feh, as I've said before, I think intra-OSR competition is over-rated. A book of monsters for LL is as much a book of monsters for S&W or AD&D, and the marketing should reflect that.

    Aside from that, this capitalism-bashing is really both factually wrong and counter-productive. Was the OGL "stealing the work of others for their own aggrandizement"? Bullshit.

  7. Joseph, I disagree - There is intra-OSR competition - the cherry-picking of guest designers, the brand loyalty over compatibility - partly due to most of OSR being collectors rather than players, the print distribution race, the sense of the conveyor belt speeding up - especially with the newer clones/variants vying to claim the stage.

  8. I have 11 different versions of D&D. That's at least two more than I need, right?

  9. @ Joseph

    To the extent that capitalism differs from laissez faire voluntaryism, I think it deserves to be bashed. The crony-capitalism that exists today is so far removed from a free market that it is deservedly called plutocratic.

    For the gaming community as a whole, I think the OGL is valuable because its practical effect is to defang to a degree the plutocratic intellectual monopoly laws that stifle both individual liberty and societal creativity.

  10. eh ... is that what passes for a *rant* these days? Raggi, stop talking shite and thinking in fridge magnet notes-to-self, and get on with writing *Insect Shrine*, you've had the art for 18 months now. No-one gives a shit what you've learned about business in one year. You are either a writer or you are nothing.

    plutocratic corporations
    lol. Now that's real hard-ass undergrad talk! Dope smoking twit.

  11. The OGL was a financial decision made to attempt to revitalize a dying brand. Now that the brand is back on top, it's a nuisance, but a nuisance they can't get rid of. I am sure that WOTC and Hasbro would love to revoke the OGL at this point.

    It's up to us to keep it going, lest there be even fewer alternatives than there already are.

  12. Soooo... did something happen somewhere? That's a fairly cryptic post from where I'm standing. I must not read the right forums or something.

  13. I am talking about something specific with the post, but it's not something anyone is supposed to know about yet, and even when people are told I doubt it'll be announced why it happened.

    It's likely the people directly involved have non-disclosure type clauses in their contracts (hell, I have that in my contract with Goodman for the Creature Generator and this present situation is much bigger) so my saying anything specific could cause legal trouble.

    That's why this is a tiny mini-rant with no detail.

  14. Kent = Troll?

    I hope so. Hugs for you sir. Get help.

    And as implied in the OP and by Zak, anything in which decent money is involved is real and of interest to someone. Plutocratic ambitions cannot be ignored.

  15. Damn your teasers Raggi! All you did was give me the itch of "need to know" and are now refusing to scratch!

    ; )

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. OK, comment retracted.

    So, is a certain OSR product not going to get made or is going be substantially altered because of a bigger fish getting involved ?

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Paizo Stonehell, White Wolf Carcosa, the forthcoming City State reprint, a writer's estate getting shirty about IP, Fight On and Hustler, Dwimmermount scooped up ?

  20. I have 11 different versions of D&D. That's at least two more than I need, right?

    GSV, you're alright. :)

    This edition war mini-rant is a specific instance of the universal rule that every living entity in the universe (and LLCs are entities in this sense) tries to expand its ecological niche at the expense of others. They're all fighting for limited gaming dollars, so you'll see a microcosm of life in all its vicious Hobbesian glory. Popcorn anyone?

    As for capitalism: no greater engine for increasing physical prosperity and human happiness through peaceful exchange has ever been created; it rocks. Sure, dicks game the system, but the basis is still sound.

  21. "White Wolf Carcosa"

    No, I'm still hard at work on both Isle of the Unknown and on Carcosa for LotFP.

  22. To the extent that capitalism differs from laissez faire voluntaryism, I think it deserves to be bashed. The crony-capitalism that exists today is so far removed from a free market that it is deservedly called plutocratic.

    Holy shit, this sounds like something I would say.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. I posted a guess, and then decided it was a good enough guess that I didn't want it made public.