Tobold's Blog
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Third party D&D products

I just pledged $20 on Kickstarter for Out of the Box: Encounters for 5th Edition. It is a product with content for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, but it isn’t made by Wizards of the Coast. This particular product is from Nerdarchy, better known for their YouTube content, but there are a bunch of small companies out there that do D&D stuff. I frequently buy collections of D&D material in pdf format as Humble Bundles for cheap. But I also bought Beadle & Grimm’s silver edition of Ghosts of Saltmarsh, which isn’t cheap at all, albeit somewhat less expensive than their ludicrous platinum edition sets.

As one would expect, the quality of third party prducts for D&D varies, more than the quality of the WotC products does. But some stuff can be exceptionally good, e.g. ENsiders Zeitgeist adventure path, or it can simply be useful for a specific situation, like I hope the Out of the Box product is. Besides quality, prices also vary in a wide range, and not necessarily correlated with quality. Of course in the case of the Beadle&Grimm’s stuff, the adventure itself is a WotC product, and you pay extra for additional materials like maps and handouts, not for the writing of the adventure.

One problem with getting additional materials is the addition of shipping costs. I pledged $20 for the pdf only version of Out of the Box. The $50 pledge of the hardcover version adds another $24 for shipping to Belgium, and the $115 pledge with maps and tokens costs $70 to ship. As much as I love D&D battle maps, I think I’ll make my own in this case.


How do these things not get their pants sued off?
I'm pretty sure Beadle&Grimm's have a licensing deal directly with Wizards of the Coast. Everybody who doesn't have such a deal can use all the parts of the game described in the System Reference Document 5.1 of Dungeons & Dragons as part of the Open Game License 1.0a.

In other words, Wizards of the Coast is permitting 3rd parties to produce content for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons in order to make the game more attractive.
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