Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Universals are no one's IP"

There's not much I can add to this rather insightful post from the Knights & Knaves Alehouse on the dilemma that has befuddled the post-1983 development of Dungeons & Dragons.
... because classic D&D deals with some very Jungian archetypes. In the seventies and eighties, before the game was commodetised, It tapped directly into what a lot of people thought of as fantasy. An eight year old, like myself at the time, could jump in and start imagining the world because the scaffolding was cloaked in universal themes and images. The problem with that, from a business standpoint, is that universals are not anyones IP.
This is also part of the dilemma that befuddles efforts to create a successful business model that caters to the old school. Coming to terms with it, I think, is a key that unlocks the way toward the old school renaissance.


  1. And thusly the movement that started with Hobbits turning into Halfings leads us to Warforged, Tieflings, DrangonBorn, etc. Making D&D more "D&D" and less generic fantasy makes it easier to protect as a brand, but it also makes is a narrower game with less room for tinkering and homebrewing that will only appeal to players who want to play in a world that looks like the one presented in the books. Old school D&D gave you thte tools to make your own world as you saw fit.

  2. Old school D&D gave you thte tools to make your own world as you saw fit.

    Indeed. And thanks to the SRD, those tools are now (mostly) open and freely available to any and all to use as they see fit, which is only proper, as those ideas were open and freely available to begin with. They were the universal archetypes Gygax and Arneson tapped into to help foster this crazy hobby of ours. They always belonged to the ages and they will be around long after WotC's brand building is cast aside and forgotten.