Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Perhaps it is a good thing not being able to use the D&D Name.

The one thing that all retro-clones share is the inability to use the Dungeons & Dragons trademark as the title of the game. There are many in the OSR publishing community that would jump on it if it could magically was opened up for use. But would that be helpful with the situation we have today?

I found this thread on RPG.net where the poster asked what would keep a newer player from playing an older edition. The usual range of edition arguments ensues with a few thoughtful replies. However the thread reminded me about the underlying issues.

"Back in the day", there were a variety of reasons why people moved on to a different RPG despite D&D being their first game. For some D&D was too abstract, not enough character options, didn't like fantasy, combat wasn't realistic, and so on.

Then D&D itself changed, with the parent company (TSR/Wizards) changing the game to what they felt would work best for the current market. So despite the fact that a game doesn't age it did change and a new generation learned and liked a new version of D&D. And now we have a least three major version of a game called Dungeons & Dragons. * Each of these versions have their own fans.

The arguments in the RPG.net brought the fact home to me that the name Dungeon & Dragon now represents several very different games. That it would be better for those who like the older editions to forge ahead and carve out their own identity with the version they love. That OSRIC/Labyrinth Lord/Swords & Wizardry/Dark Dungeons/etc are the new face of the older game. Just as Pathfinder the face of the 3.X versions, and 4.0 is now Dungeons & Dragons as deemed by WoTC.

This way we don't run into false expectations, it's older so it must suck in some way, why doesn't it have X or Y, and so on. The original game will live or die on it's own merit. Which many have found to be considerable.

*The line from OD&D to AD&D2 as one major version, D&D 3.X as another major version, and D&D 4.0/Essentials as a third version. Many break it down further than that but the point is that there distinct different games calling themselves Dungeons & Dragons.

5 comments:

David Macauley said...

It's a shame so many seem hostile to the label "old school", I think it's an apt title for "TSR D&D". Still, I must admit I've been using the latter term more than the former lately.

Tim Shorts said...

Don't you think D&D has just become the generic word to describe fantasy RPG? I use the examples of 'scotch tape' and 'xeroxing'. Most new folks who come to the game will be familiar with that term and can identify with it. If you ask someone who hasn't played much to play a game of OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord they will more than likely give you a quizical look. The usual way to explain in is "it's like Dugeons & Dragons' which is ually followed by an 'ohhh'.

N. Wright said...

@Tim: I think that's a benefit when bringing new people into the hobby, sometimes. When you talk about playing Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, there's absolutely no confusion as to how it's run or what, exactly you're playing. If you say D&D, they have to know what edition and with what "bonus" rules and so forth.

Besides, D&D still has a connotation of being for "geeks", whereas other games don't have that name recognition. It's easier to talk about Labyrinth Lord while "incognito" in public, for example.

Jae said...

d&d is jello, it's a band-aid, it's scotch tape. Maybe if it's in lower case a case could be made.

Zachary The First said...

Agreed, Jae.