Episode 533 - One D&D To Rule Them All

This week on waypoint! Rob's back and better than ever (for now), and so of course we get to hear about how much COVID sucks. Speaking of things sucking, Ren leads us on a look at Wizards of the Coast updating their Open Gaming License, the agreement that allowed games like Pathfinder to exist when D&D 4th edition shit the bed, which Wizards is basically threatening to undo in a 1.1 update. Patrick got early access to the first episode of HBO's The Last of Us, and has the scoop on how the already "cinematic" game translates to the small screen. Then we dive into the question bucket to discuss eating pizza off a plate. Like while it's still on there. Like just chomping down on the pizza while it's still on the plate.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://shows.acast.com/vicegamingsnewpodcast/episodes/episode-533-one-dd-to-rule-them-all

In the UK I got an ad for Airbus Defence and Space that was 15-20 second longer than any other ads I get, just letting you all know.

Minor nitpick on Ren’s WotC being evil with D&D update: “D&DNext” was the name of “5e” before it released - the currently-just-being-explored-post-5e-version is currently officially called “OneD&D” (although almost all the community refers to it either as “6e” or “5.5e” depending on how transformative they think it will be in the end).
But yes, it would be comical how obviously short-termist and parody-of-capitalism WotC’s behavior in both Magic The Gathering and D&D 's spaces is, if it wasn’t also potentially going to have incredibly negative effects on the hobby in general (and already causing chilling effects).
Also, to address Rob’s “oh, but stuff made on the OGL 1.0 already exists” point - yes, except that the implication of the OGL1.1 wording is that it revokes OGL 1.0, and potentially renders things produced via it legally iffy. And, if you’re using a virtual tabletop, rather than just already-printed-books, that’s a problem similar to the Adobe cloud licensing problem if the VTT developers or hosts become legally entangled in this (as Rob notes towards the end of the discussion). It’s less of a problem for things that aren’t Roll20 - in fact, Foundry VTT ironically has better support for Pathfinder 2e than 5e, and is also far more popular with Pathfinder players than 5e players. (Partly because Paizo are just great at working with people, and partly because all of Pathfinder’s mechanics are “open”, so it’s easy to just build a character-building-wizard without even needing to worry about being sued.)
The issue here is that Pathfinder 2e is also OGL1.0 licensed, and if WotC actually can revoke OGL1.0 itself…?

(The irony is that many people have noted that there’s tons of places WotC could have monetised D&D without changing the OGL, but they would all involve actual effort from WotC themselves rather than parasitising on the community. I mean, even making actual high quality adventure modules, rather than the generally kinda-meh-railroads they’ve produced for 5e, would have helped!)

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As a Magic player, I sort of get the sense that Hasbro’s relationship with Wizards of the Coast is a bit like Bobby Kotick’s relationship with Activision’s properties: they’re there to be run into the ground for profit.

Going to go Too Long on Magic: the Gathering if anybody's curious

I started playing Magic in 2008. At that time, there were about four major releases per year, a “summer of multiplayer” side release, and some incidentals. “Cracking a pack” meant you were buying the one kind of pack they sell, containing 15 cards and a random chance of a 16th card that’s a foil version of something in the set. Full-art lands were limited to people who bought into their dormant “Un-” series of comedy sets or picked them up as singles (Side note: John Avon is a master and those lands are gorgeous. Anyway.)

Over the years, they added on new products. Commander (formally the community-made format known as Elder Dragon Highlander - often referred to in most Magic-playing circles as EDH) was brought in-house by Wizards circa 2011 and has since gone on to become the most popular Magic format, so that got yearly deck releases. They added the idea of a “Masters” draft set in which they could reprint some of Magic’s most powerful cards in a set made for people who like drafting (sold at a hefty premium, naturally). I don’t play enough Arena to talk about it intelligently but eventually they added their own Hearthstone-a-like. And then there were the Modern Horizons sets, where they made a Masters-tier draft set but filled it with new cards legal in their most popular 60-card format (again, sold at a hefty premium). And then they started doing “Remastered” sets, which was a way of them reprinting more sets. And then they added in new pack types so they could see you fancier versions of cards.

All of this leads up to the purchasing experience for the forthcoming set Phyrexia: All Will Be One:

  • Draft boosters: what used to be known as “packs.” As described above, but now you have the chance of opening any manner of card in your 16th slot because the set’s lands, many of its Rare cards, and all of its Mythic Rare cards have multiple possible printings: some borderless, some alt-art, some textured foil.
  • Set boosters: like draft packs, but have slightly better chances to pull some of the set’s fancier offerings (the aforementioned borderless treatments). Also includes art cards whose use I have yet to determine. Theoretically more expensive than draft boosters and yet somehow easier to find because Wizards now sells most of their product through Amazon.
  • Collector boosters: hilariously expensive, almost entirely foil. The best spot to find the swanky printings. Always includes a foil full-art basic land (one of two different flavors in this set) and sometimes borderless printings of the set’s other cards.
  • Commander decks: every set now has 2-5 Commander decks of their own (as opposed to previous years having 4-5 decks for the whole year). The Rare and Mythic Rare cards out of these decks have their own borderless prints that can be found exclusively in Collector Boosters.
  • Jumpstart: A previous experiment for the Summer of Multiplayer featured a set called “Jumpstart,” in which each pack in the box was half of a playable Sealed deck. Grab a friend or three, everybody grabs two packs, open, shuffle, play. Kinda genius, yet more good cards to keep track of. Well, now every set has a Jumpstart.
  • Phyrexia: All Will Be One Compleated Edition: For Magic Lore Reasons (side note: Magic Lore Reasons please), this set also has a textured foil oil treatment of its basic lands and its Mythic Rare cards. Comes with 10 Set Boosters (like its cousin the “Bundle”) and one “Compleat” booster feat. 10 oil basics and 2 oil Mythics.

The president of WOTC said “Well, we didn’t want to raise prices (fun fact 1. they absolutely did and 2. they raised the wholesale prices but not the MSRP several years ago) so we decided to make new products.” If you’re still reading this and you feel like you’re trying to preorder a Ubisoft game, you’re not alone.

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Hasbro seems blissfully unaware of how quickly this can all fall apart. I don’t know where the kids are at these days but as someone who’s been playing since 2e every group I’ve been a part of over the last quarter century has had no problem with homebrewing, downloading dubiously legal pdfs, or just jumping to an new system when the old one gets stale. I was part of the mass migration to Pathfinder and it’s worse now with the huge profusion of independent TTRPGS over the past decade.

E: While Ren is right that the 19 year old dimension 20 super fans are pissed about this, millennials are also pissed. And they contain one of WOTC’s core customer bases: people who work in tech, have too much disposable income, and so buy every single supplement regardless of whether they’ll use it. Every group I’ve been a part of has one.

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Hearing everyone’s Covid stories makes me feel both angry and sad.

I caught Covid for the first time just before Christmas, my wife brought it home from working in aged care. While the main part of it was three days of fever, cough, body aches and feeling like something chewed me and spat me out, the full recovery took almost two weeks. Covid fucking sucks, I hate that this is now pretty much an accepted part of our lives.

Stay safe everyone.

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I feel like “millennials with disposable income” is a commanding majority of who gives WOTC money and I have met nobody who is happy with what they’ve been up to lately. I know they’re a multi-billion dollar corporation but at some point something’s gotta give.

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I wanted to offer some minor corrections to some of the things Ren said during the WotC OGL 1.1 discussion. DnD 5e has definitely had way more than just 2 content expansions. I think the one’s she was referring to was Xanather’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, but there’s definitely way more than just that.

So, this really depends on what you think of as a “content expansion”.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are rules content expansions - they don’t just include, say, more monsters, or stuff for a specific setting: rather, they provide general expansions to the content available in any game by extending rules mechanics and adding “setting-generic” subclasses etc.
(Indeed, WotC clearly consider these a distinct type, as the “Expansion Gift Set” explicitly bundles them together and refers to them as the “significant expansions” to 5e.)

The remainder of the books published outside of the core are:

Settings books (for Sword Coast (Faerun), Ravnica, Eberron, Wildemount, Theros, Ravenloft, Strixhaven, Spelljammer, Acquisitions Incorporated)
Adventures (mostly set in Faerun): 15 of them plus 4 “anthologies” of individual short scenarios. Quality variable in the extreme.
Monster manuals: Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes (and revised edition, “Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse”), Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, Boo’s Astral Menagerie
and the odd one out, the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (which is a sort of “settings-lite” book for the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure, or alternatively a “Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide addendum”).

Most people I’ve talked to tend to consider XGtE and TCoE as being distinct things from those above other classes (I might consider parts of VGtM as being potentially the nearest thing), and I think that’s what Ren is getting at when she phrases stuff the way she does.