Friday, March 30, 2012

We are Officially Official D&D

OODD (Official Old D&D?)

I have no idea whether Wizards of the Coast really intended to do this, but they have, psychologically at least, given the mantle of official authority to AD&D First Edition. First Edition isn't the flagship product of the OFFICIAL D&D company, nor is it really and truly being sold as OFFICIAL D&D. However, it is all of a sudden an OFFICIAL product again now that these reprints will be coming out (in July, at this point).

I can't afford $150 or whatever it is, so I don't really care one way or another about the reprints themselves, qua reference books. I think it's a nice gesture by WotC, I think they will do it at their normal level of production value, which is lower than the original books of early TSR and higher than that of late TSR. I think it's foolish to set expectations on them any different than "what they always do." But it's an extremely nice gesture, one that allows them to make some cash in between their "new" editions, and one that will make them plenty of money. Their financial interests, their desire to unify the D&D splinter communities, and their desire to have a product in between 4th and 5th editions all happen to dovetail nicely with a benefit to us. They just transformed the old school renaissance into an officially sanctioned approach to gaming.

Nobody loses, and people outside the USA probably actually gain slightly, now that the books are going into those markets where the original books are pretty expensive. We gain street cred with those we might want to invite to a game, since these books are a recent printing from the OFFICIAL D&D company, which means that old school gaming is now officially OFFICIAL. And that carries considerable weight with many people who are quite sane -- just like others might throw salt over the shoulder, dislike rap music, or avoid buying/reading anything that was printed within the last decade.

WotC, whether their actual books are useful, or used at your table or my table, or whether the bindings fall apart or they are coated with a substance that causes Anthrax ... has just given us a huge amount of OFFICIAL.

So, having discovered that I'm potentially an official "reprint gamer" as well as an oldschooler, I'm thinking over what the next steps of the "OSR" might ought to be. On the one hand, one of the games has now been crowned as an OFFICIAL product, no matter how far down the totem pole it it -- it never used to be on the totem pole at all. On the other hand, the other games in the OSR don't have that same officiality at this point. Officiality is a good new word, btw, quite apropos in this situation where there are actual degrees of what is "official."

There's a fork in the road here, and the question is whether or not we want to pick it up.


  1. Excellent post. I'd love to see these AD&D reprints greatly increase the number of people playing AD&D.

  2. My head is still spinning a bit about WotC releasing AD&D - but it's worth noting that they might see it as a sort of "write-off" because the profits go to the Gygax charity.
    It's definitely an out-of-the-blue gesture of some sort.
    Any thoughts or theories on why the release has been put back to July? (A higher than predicted demand? - now that would be an interesting turn of events)
    If this sort of thing will happen with any regularity it does change the role of OSR/clone products slightly -i.e. no longer will be "x"-clone be "as close as you can get to playing the original", if you know what I mean.

    Interesting post. Cool. :)

  3. I think the OSR has a huge opportunity here. The delay of the release can really only mean one thing: demand for the reprints was so high that the originally planned print-run would have immediately sold-out, so they are printing a lot more of these books. I know I went to my FLGS the day of the announcement to ask them to get one for me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    But back to the opportunity the OSR has. A lot of people are going to pick up these books and start looking on the internets for advice, adventures, and articles. There are plenty of high-quality PDFs and PODs for OSRIC, et al already, and OSR publishers and bloggers, if we play our cards right, stand to possibly do quite well from what will undoubtedly be a surge of interest, resources, and funds into the hobby. Certainly, we'll all be a little richer in terms of an influx of new players, DMs, ideas and discussion.

  4. I think more credit should be given to the team at WotC who, most likely, had an uphill battle getting Hasbro to agree to the reprint. Regardless of their work assignments, that staff loves D&D or they wouldn't be there.