hot topic across all gaming blogs this morning and had to chime in. Mike Mearls, who has shot to prominence designing 4th edition D&D has a new column at Wizards called "Legends and Lore." You do not need a DDI subscription to read this column. In it he tries to repair some of the fractures in the D&D community with some profound quotes and nostalgic appeals of commonality. As others have pointed out by now, Wizards and Hasbro needs to show they mean well through action not just words. At this point in my D&D playing life I wonder though, what do I demand of a company I barely patronize anymore? The two blogs I linked mention putting PDFs of older edition material back online for sale. I can get behind that idea, but I think Mearls may have tripped up in this article and gave me another idea that directly applies to Greyhawk fans or fans of any game setting languishing on the shelf right now:I came across what should be a
"This may sound strange, coming from R&D—but it’s easy to mistake what Wizards of the Coast publishes as the core essence of D&D. We might print the rules for the current version of the game, or produce accessories you use at your table, but the game is what you, the community of D&D fans and players, make it. D&D is the moments in the game, the interplay within a gaming group, the memories formed that last forever. It’s intensely personal. It’s your experience as a group, the stories that you and your friends share to this day. No specific rule, no random opinion, no game concept from an R&D designer, no change to the game’s mechanics can alter that."
Yes, Wizards has shown for many many years now that publishing rules (crunch) is more lucrative for them than setting material (fluff). So, as he says in this quote, the community of D&D players whose experience together is intensely personal, should make the game what they want. Said another way, if Wizards wants to be forward thinking and win back quite a few fans, the World of Greyhawk should be licensed out to a company or group who will give it the attention, care and fan input that it deserves.
This is not an empty plea. The best Greyhawk material of the 3.0/3.5 edition did not come from Wizards, it came from the authors of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. It came from the host of authors with the RPGA's Living Greyhawk Campaign, and it came from Paizo in Dungeon Magazine, the company which Wizards now competes with. As it stands now however, the best Greyhawk fans can hope for the future is one calendar year of setting releases, which as we've seen from 2010, can be cut down at a whim. Let's not settle for PDF scraps. Wizards can have their rules R&D, no one will ever begrudge them that, but the devoted fans of world settings should be put in charge of their future development.