Sunday, July 26, 2009

What would you do if WotC republished older versions of D&D?

Hot on the heels of my previous topic, I have happened to wonder what would happen if WotC suddenly put hard copies of the pre-3.x versions of D&D into print. How would it change the playing habits of those of us in the OSR? If Moldvay was once more available, would you drop LL? If you could buy Holmes in your FLGS, would you still play S&W? Does Mentzer trump Microlite74? If you could once more buy a 1E AD&D PH, would you still prefer OSRIC? Would you do something else? I am genuinely curious.

Poll's off to the right.

40 comments:

Peter said...

I'd stick with S&W/LL/OSRIC if for no other reason than that they're all so much better organised than the original source material. Plus, I really like the fact that I can take the S&W doc file and bludgeon the crap out of it to make it fit exactly my campaign style and reprint it for my players :)

Tyler said...

I think you need another choice for "I would buy these and play them," unrelated to the clone piece. I play clones, but if some of the harder to find out of print stuff were around, I would play these too, perhaps with greater vigor due to nostalgia. (at least for a while)

Atom Kid said...

I would say, "Who are you, and what did you do with the real WotC!"

Actually I would buy it and use it, but since the retro-clones are basically OE anyways I'm still playing the original.

Neoncon N40MI said...

Great question. I think I would buy 1E & 2E, for curiosity and reference, if no other reason. I still have most of my 3X books, so I would not be buying them, especially since I expect that the Pathfinder RPG will fix the majority of problems with that edition.

Two things that I think would generate a lot of buzz and, perhaps sales, would be:

1) Like Open Source Software, WotC could release 1E & 2E as free, open source downloads, both in PDF form and in XML format (for simple refactoring in both print and online application). This would earn a lot of good will.

2) Rather than re-release 3X books, they could simply expand the d20 License to include 3X again. They could create a d20-3E logo and even charge a reasonable fee for its use. This would create a new revenue stream for WotC, credit them for their work and allow 3rd Parties to reissue their vast libraries of 3X content.

Not likely to happen, but it would be nice.

Oddysey said...

I'd definitely buy the LBB if they were available again, and probably the Rules Compendium and a few other things, but I'd keep playing S&W and Labyrinth Lord. They're better organized, and the PDFs are available for free. Plus, S&W has ascending AC as an option, which is handy for introducing 3.x-ers to the game.

Dyson Logos said...

I already own the old editions. The only reason the "faithful" retro-clones really exist is to allow publishers to produce material for these old editions under the "safe harbour" of the OGL.

If WotC suddenly put the old editions back in print, I would say good bye to the company. WotC learned from TSR that having multiple competing product lines = death.

P_Armstrong said...

My favorite version is B/X, I still play B/X and I own about 10 copies of each of the rulebooks so it would not impact me.

I find it interesting if somewhat baffling that some people consider LL better organized than B/X. Maybe it is because LL is all in one book. Or maybe I am just so familiar with B/X that I don't notice its problems.

philotomy said...

I'm playing OD&D, and I'd take the opportunity to buy a re-released set of OD&D booklets. No question about it. I'd also buy new copies of the 1e AD&D DMG, PH, and MM, if those books were republished unchanged.

My appreciation for the clones has little to do with their rules, or playing them, and everything to do with modules and supplements published for them. I'm much more interested in Monsters of Myth, Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom, The Spire of Iron and Crystal or the Curse of the Witch Head than in the clone systems, themselves.

I understand that others place a much higher value on the clones as playable rules systems, and I get their value, there. It's just that I don't share that particular need.

philotomy said...

I'm playing OD&D, and I'd take the opportunity to buy a re-released set of OD&D booklets. No question about it. I'd also buy new copies of the 1e AD&D DMG, PH, and MM, if those books were republished unchanged.

My appreciation for the clones has little to do with their rules, or playing them, and everything to do with modules and supplements published for them. I'm much more interested in Monsters of Myth, Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom, The Spire of Iron and Crystal or the Curse of the Witch Head than in the clone systems, themselves.

I understand that others place a much higher value on the clones as playable rules systems, and I get their value, there. It's just that I don't share that particular need.

JimLotFP said...

I would buy every copy of traditional gaming material they put out as long as they were doing it in good faith (as in, quality re-releases and not thrown-together crap) that I could afford. Just to encourage them to do more.

... as far as what would be played... I'm already running Basic Fantasy with Labyrinth Lord patches and I have my 1e DMG and PHB nearby at all times for certain rulings. So I guess my answer to that is "Yes."

Chris said...

I'd try to have as little to do with the WOTC re-releases as possible, just as I now have as little as possible to do with GW.

They (WOTC) have proven their contempt for the customer previously (the 4E bait-and-switch, the PDF debacle), as well as showing a remarkably simplistic understanding of the potential worth of the IP they have inherited.

WOTC now is not the WOTC that revived D&D and created the OGL.

S'mon said...

Might not affect the online Labyrinth Lord games I'm running, but it would make it more likely that I'd start an old school campaign at my games club since I think it would make recruitment easier.

Tim said...

Interesting quandry. I'd still play LL and S&W. I'd pass on the WotC rules releases. BUT I'd grab every supplemental tome and module they released to implement in my LL/S&W-based game.

Jeff Rients said...

I'd ignore WotC. They've already demonstrated that they can't be trusted as keepers of the flame. I don't feel like giving them another chance to pull the rug out from under me. As far as I'm concerned the OGL retroclones are Dungeons & Dragons from here on out.

Grendelwulf said...

I can understand anyone's hesitation to goto another system after having spent alot of $$$ on any particular edition. It was hard for me to finally part with my mega-collection of 2E books, etc. However, I would reinvest in 1E products. Even PDF format would be acceptable (especially since I had collected so much of ol' AD&D material this way anyway and had wanted to get some more for nostalgia & gaming sake).

Ciao!

jamused said...

I already have legal copies of all the original edition stuff, so I don't know that I'd buy any re-releases unless to give them as presents.

BlUsKrEEm said...

In my opinion the Most of the Retro Clones are superior products. I own BX D&D, and have played it for years, but I prefer LL, simply becuase it is better organized and all in one book. I can't imagine anyone who has read OSRIC ever choosing to play the original over it for the same reason. I would probabaly pick up OD&D, but continue to use Original Edition Characters for LL to supply my OD&D purposes.

Not to say I wouldn't be ecstatic to hear this news, but I prefer most of the clones on for aesthetic reasons. I would probabaly pick up a coppy o all of the games in honesty (especialy if the Rules Cyclopedia were offered.)

Chgowiz said...

This -> "... the OGL retroclones are Dungeons & Dragons from here on out." - Jeff Rients

Koren n'Rhys said...

I'd buy in, just to support the books being easily available n the store shelves. Sure, we can find all the clones online, through Lulu, etc., but I want to walk into a brick & morter to be able to browse, like when I was a kid.

That said, I'd hope to see the re-releases cleaned up and published in single volumes. A full B/X, a new (BECMI) Rules Cyclopedia with the errors fixed, OD&D with all it's supplements in one place. Yeah.

Christopher B said...

I'd be very surprised, then continue on with playing my B/X games and investing in the retro-clones and their kin. After all, I already own most of TSR's stuff - the stuff that I would want anyway. (Multiple copies in several instances.) How would it serve me for WotC to reprint them? The company would also have to produce new products for said games - and unless there's been a serious cold snap in Hades, that's not going ever to happen.

(Ah, nothing like wasting time thinking about and discussing hypothetical situations that have no chance of ever coming to pass. :P)

Mark Hughes said...

I've long used a mix of Holmes and OD&D (originally multi-generation blurry photocopies, now PDFs bought and printed out back when WOTC was less paranoid); when Swords & Wizardry came out, I replaced the Holmes book with it, but kept using OD&D for sourcebooks.

S&W is immensely better-organized than Holmes or OD&D. Over time, I expect S&W to incorporate more and more of OD&D, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at a quality reprint of the originals, or of Holmes.

An edited, reorganized, but not altered version of the originals would be interesting to me, but I don't know if it's even possible with the material that exists.

Josh said...

I'd buy OD&D and the supplements as well as the B/X books. I'm not afraid to give WOTC money for something I want.

ze bulette said...

i don't think something like this is out of the question - TSR actually sold and marketed the OD&D books in 1982 right alongside the B/X and first AD&D books in their catalogs. It might cut into the OSR publishers profits, but be a savvy business move by WotC to "diversify the revenue stream" esp. if 4e isn't living up to their expectations. Personally I'd snap 'em up, if they were faithful reproductions, but continue to use the clones for my day to day gaming. OSRIC in particular is much better put together than the 1E books.

E.G.Palmer said...

If they were EXACT copies, without any additions or deviations, I would buy them just because they would have the advantage of less wear than my originals.
I think it would be very unlikely that in the even more unlikely event that Wotc were to publish the originals, that they could refrain from editorializing, "improving", or otherwise tampering with the material.

Zachary The First said...

WotC and I are quits. With the way they’ve treated their customers and their hobby, I have no reason to support them, whatever they’re selling, and I certainly don’t trust their stewardship of the IP. Give me my Castles & Crusades, my Fight On!, and a star to sail ‘er by.

K. Bailey said...

I'd furiously not give a crap.

Sean Wills said...

what Jeff Rients said

Vincent said...

I currently run Moldvay/Cook and would gladly take the opportunity to buy brand new copies of the rulebooks to supplement my table supply.

I find it interesting if somewhat baffling that some people consider LL better organized than B/X.

Ditto the bafflement. B/X is a model of concision and clarity.

Red said...

Castles and Crusades is my preferred version of D&D at the moment.

However, I would applaud and support republishing as even the tiniest bit of WotC marketing of old school games would benefit the old school market. It would expand the community of players of old school. That would be a good thing.

Ripper X said...

I said it before, and I'll say it again. I would LOVE to replace my old and brittle books with new copies. My 2e stuff is still in good shape, but my 1e stuff which is around 30 years old and not bound the best, not to mention beat up from use, I hate opening them because it only causes more damage.

The DMG and MM are easy to find, however Players Handbooks are not so easily found. I don't think that any table has enough of them for all of the players, do they?

I don't think that it would effect their bottom line, its not competing with 4e. Folks who play the older versions don't play 4e anyway.

James Maliszewski said...

I really don't know what I'd do, honestly. I'd like to say I wouldn't buy these books, but I'm not sure I'm mentally strong enough to resist the chance to buy new copies of my OD&D books (especially the supplements, which are started to get rather ragged).

Fortunately, I doubt this will ever occur.

ancientvaults said...

I think that Mr. Rients hit the nail on the head, better safe that sorry, I will stick to the retro-clones that work for the group. And, as Mr Grognardia has said, this will probably never happen.

Dan of Earth said...

...but to answer the question...

"What would you do if WotC republished older versions of D&D?"

I rush out to by a lottery ticket and hope that lightning strikes twice!

Rob Iannacone said...

Well, I own pdf copies of the 3LBBs; BECMI; AD&D PHB, DMG, MMs 1&2, and FF. (All legally purchased a scant week or two before Wizards shafted the pdf publishers - whew!) I can use those if I want, and print out applicable sections as player handouts.

I've also got hard copies of most of the AD&D books (including what I think is a 1st printing of Deities and Demigods), along with B2, X1, I1, (all AWESOME modules) and what I think are the Moldvay Basic and Expert sets hiding from me deep in a closet somewhere in my room. (Time to break out the 10-foot pole...)

I don't think I would re-purchase any of those (assuming I can find Mentzer set, anyway) until my books wore out. But what I would totally buy the hell out of is old modules. I think I'm the only AD&D player left alive who hasn't at least paged through the Tomb of Horrors: one of these days, I'd love to see how my 16th-level cleric (my first and longest-running character) fares down there.

Jason said...

I would absolutely purchase re-releases of the older editions. Indeed, I think it would be a brilliant marketing strategy for WotC to do just this, as anniversary celebrations. Hell, TSR did it by re-releasing the Holmes book as a limited anniversary deal. Why not re-release the OD&D boxed set as a special anniversary collector's edition next year, for the 35th anniversary? Take it a step further; pay Tolkien enterprises a nominal fee to restore Hobbit, Nazgul, Ent, and Balrog references, and reproduce a brown box look.

Wishful thinking, I know. But that being said, yes, I would absolutely be in favor of a re-release of OD&D, Holmes Basic, B/X, AD&D 1e, and the RC iteration of BECM. I'd snatch new copies of all that stuff up in a heartbeat just to support the effort.

JB said...

I prefer B/X and since my only copies are nearly 30 years old, I would buy new copies for "use" ones rather than continue to submit my tape-bound copies to continual wear and tear.

@ Pat and Vincent: full agreement on organizational issues.

Otherwise, I continue to support the OSR and continue to spit on WotC. Buying items "from the vault" is paying homage to the TSR legacy not being fan-drones for Hasbro.

Mark said...

nothing, really.

few people in my area openly play/recruit the older editions or have the want to try them other then a one-shot every few months.

there would be a few sourcebooks i'd pickup to finish a collection or two (like the excellent Van Richten's Guides that came out for ravenloft), but other then that, it would be for novelty/personal use only.

grodog said...

Sure, I think it would lead to a much-more widespread adoption of OOP edition playing. Many folks feel the need/curiosity/urge/whatever to upgrade to new editions when they're published by the IP owner, so I'm sure a good number of such folks would also check out the older versions, too.

I also think that reprints are likely to happen, someday, when someone at WotC-Hasbro realizes that they're simply throwing away money on IP that's already paid for: all they have to do is print the books and throw them into the distribution chain, and they'll collect. They don't have to actively support the older editions with new material, since the support's already there, waiting for release. In another generation, no new players to D&D will have grown up playing the classics or even have heard of them in all likelihood, so the content will all be "new" to them.

I'm just surprised that someone hasn't figured that out yet, especially after the success of their ESD/.pdf sales efforts.

Allan.

Kersus said...

I would most certainly snag Holmes. I also think Spellcraft & Swordplay will fill a niche with or without the old games available.

John Desmarais said...

If all they were going to do was reprint the book(s) exactly as originally published I think I'd still be more interested in S&W/LL/OSRIC due to the better organization and sometimes cleaner descriptions of rules. Things like S&W/LL/OSRIC are able to present these old games with the benefit of 20+ years of playtesting to find the problems (but without becoming a completely different game like 3rd edition and beyond).