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Saturday, January 14, 2023 

Comics based on Dungeons & Dragons could suffer as a result of WotC's latest directions

There's a report on the UK Guardian that the latest PC directions the Hasbro-owned Wizards of the Coast has taken with the Dungeons & Dragons franchise is alienting the audience and players:
It’s been a tough week for Dungeons & Dragons fans.

The reins were pulled in on users who come up with their own storylines and new characters, creating legions of imaginary worlds that spin off of the original fantasy roleplaying game. They have also been able to make and sell products required to play or based on the game under an open game license (OGL) agreement.

But as Gizmodo first reported, a leaked new agreement drafted by Wizards of the Coast (WoTC), the Hasbro subsidiary that owns D&D, threatens to “tighten” the OGL that has been in place since the early 2000s. It would grant WoTC the ability to “make money off of these products without paying the person who made it” and companies that make over $750,000 will have to start paying Hasbro a 25% cut of their earnings.

“I almost cried about it two nights ago,” said Baron de Rapp, who is 36 and lives in Tennessee. He’s been playing D&D since he was nine years old, learning the ins and outs from older relatives who shared plans, called “adventures”, which map out a general storyline for each game. While some adventures are written by D&D itself, many others are written by individual “dungeon masters”. Under the proposed license, these plans could soon be owned by Hasbro.

[...] “Many people are simply leaving the game altogether,” said William Earl, a 28-year-old YouTuber whose videos largely focus on D&D culture. He said he had cancelled his subscription to D&D Beyond, Hasbro’s digital game companion, and would never buy another WoTC product.

More than 66,000 fans signed an open letter addressed to Hasbro, D&D Beyond, and WoTC, expressing disgust at the proposed changes. They view the changes as nothing but a money rush and an attempt to squash small-time creators who do not pose a serious threat to Hasbro. (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)
When speaking in regards to comics by extension, since there have been various adaptations of D&D for over 35 years now, I realize these drastic steps they've taken could not only affect the comics published current by sources like IDW, they already have. More on that in a moment.
While fans were still digesting Hasbro’s content restrictions, they were hit with news that D&D is headed into the mainstream. This week, Paramount+ announced it will adapt D&D into an eight-episode live-action series penned by the Dodgeball film-maker Rawson Marshall Thurber. And a Chris Pine film set in the universe is coming later this year. But with an impending boycott and chaos among creators, will anyone watch?
And will anyone continue to read the comics based on them, which have had a significant history of their own? Well, if the following 2016 review from Multiversity Comics, of all places, of the Shadows of the Vampire tale by Jim Zub says something, even those may not be faring well:
It’s an extra-sized first issue that’s a, honestly, tough to sit through. Part of that is that fact that everything the issue is building towards is given away in the title and solicit and the other part is the fact that the issue spends so much time setting up the plot that it’s hard to get a sense of who the characters really are.

They’re all broadly defined class/race archetypes with little in the way of personality outside of what fits their role in the story. Part of the joy of Dungeons & Dragons is creating unique and interesting characters with their class and race and alignment bringing new details to that. Here, I can’t remember anything about the characters in this outside of the fact that one had a hamster.

Everything here, from the writing to the art, feels so generic that I wonder if slapping the official brand of D&D on the comic didn’t kill what originality could have been pulled from it.
One has to wonder if this implies writer Zub went overboard, in true far-left fashion, in emphasizing characters via metaphors for skin color and sexual preference in the ways too many liberals have been emphasizing of late. In any event, if D&D fans are jettisoning the board games, chances are they're not buying into the comics either, so neither Zub nor anybody else will have a franchise left to write as comics much longer. I'm surprised WotC let IDW retain the license permit for publishing comics as long as they have, since owner Hasbro revoked licenses for GI Joe and Transformers from the now floundering publisher. If the board game franchise tanks as a result of these directions, the comics adaptations are bound to follow. And for all we know, they've probably been asking for such a failure to occur, if they're going to make it look as though they're greedy at the expense of other developers.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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