Saw this week that Wizards of the Coast is releasing another 5E Big Campaign. The Temple of Elemental Evil, along with some nice additions and modules. But I won’t buy it. Because while the module that came with the beginner box had it’s place in terms of learning the game the reality is I have a different vision of the game.
I don’t much like pre-made modules. And while certain campaign worlds have a place, like Ravenloft, I for one prefer to let the creative juices flow and mix in lots of elements in my games. Like I discussed in my post about the impending change in the boys campaign I have already used elements of a couple of movies, and also some book series to make up the Boys campaign.
And I am not afraid of taking what I have worked from, a variation of the old Oriental Adventures, with strong elements of Legend of the Five Rings and throw it in a blender with other elements. Thing is, this is a Fantasy world, and in a world with walking Vampires, Talking Dragons, magic wielding Elves, giants and Ogres, there does not always have to be a consistent theme or setting.
In fact I think while the players are heroic but still middle level characters it is important to remind them that they are only a small piece of a larger world. And that there are things happening elsewhere that completely change what they are doing, and the parameters of their ‘reality’. I’ve done this once already, using the official Big Campaign idea of a Dragon invasion as just a spur for some adventures, but reminded them that they were just a small piece of that war.
I know that the whole idea behind the pre-made modules is that the players gradually become heroic enough to become the big players like the characters in the books. But I prefer to keep the players as just a piece of the big happenings, and remind them of that often. Those are the two big reasons I operate like this. My game is a big mismash of influences, instead of the traditional Forgotten Realms or other Fantasy setting. And I don’t really like the idea of the players becoming the big heroic figures that you read about in books until they reach a certain level. Instead my games are less about the players saving the world, and more about working the fringes of the struggle.
(Caution, this is a personal opinion Rant, feel free to ignore)
I am just done with Games Workshop. I just do not get where they get off with their pricing and publishing decisions. I had already pretty much given up on their games. They are just too massive, too many choices and factions, in the words of a friend: “too many moving pieces”. But could maybe handle that, if their pricing was not so over the top. The barrier to entry for their games is ludicrous, maybe $300-400 just to get started, and that assumes you will never want to buy more than one army or just the lists.
But that was fine, I can live without the table top games, because I don’t have the time or interest for them anyway. But the latest straw is even more annoying. In my search for new fantasy novels to read I had gotten a couple free kindle books from Amazon. And I really like one, so I went to see if the author had ever written more. Lo and behold he had. And even bigger he was the writer for 2 of the bigger series in the Games Workshop library. Cool, I thought, I always liked that world even if the game itself was losing me. Then I went to see if I could get either series for the Kindle or iPad, nope, only available in regular book form. Fine, maybe they have them at the GW web site? Nope, not there either. Well what about the other e-book options from GW? Ha, it is too laugh, oh there are some offerings, if you are willing to pay $50 for a single e-book. This when the average bestseller from the Kindle store is $13 at most! The latest R.A. Salvatore book (the biggest name in D&D fiction novels) is $16. I just don’t get how they think their novels are worth so much more than others.
Following this thread I decided to do a little shopping online, just out of curiosity. And what I found just blows my mind. I know that E-publishing is an odd world so I will move on from that. Instead I will discuss the realm of Role Playing games, something I know a lot about.
Here is a breakdown of 3 role playing games. D&D has 3 main books: Players Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Masters Guide, and this is pretty much the standard format for the bigger role playing games. Each of the D&D hardbacks costs $50, and is published by the company that owns the D&D license and game. Another company named Fantasy Flight games, has the licenses to make Role playing games for Warhammer and Star Wars. To get the core books for the Warhammer role playing game costs roughly $200. And last for the Star Wars game you can get all you need to run and play for maybe $100. Think about that, Star Wars is HUGE property, the licensing for it cannot be cheap. But the comparable set of books to run and play it are cheaper than Warhammer or D&D (which is the industry RPG flagship). And the most expensive role playing game is Warhammer, the Games Workshop licensed product.
What this boils down to is that Games Workshop believes and operates like it’s name and it’s products are a license to print money. This, this is what drives people away from Games Workshop. I mean obviously there are customers, and the market will bear what the market will bear. But it’s just like Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute. And I personally find it frustrating and almost obscene.