Posted on June 18, 2008
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My initial impression after reading a bit of the GSL hullaballoo is that it's nothing really worrying about...
... so long as you're willing to walk away from it. Yeah, it represents a sticky legal bog into which many a game company could walk and few could come out. Yes, it's a disappointment for many folks who thought they could make some more money like before by creating products supporting the biggest dog on the block.
But for Evil Hat Productions (and hopefully, for many others), it's a big So What. Sure, maybe EHP could someday put out a 4E supporting product (I certainly think I have a setting concept that could go interesting places, and Rob's been talking about a modular add-on concept that could fit to nearly any campaign world), but it's not essential that we do -- and it never really was. The 3E OGL days gave us a lot of opportunity to get us some strongly developed second and third tiers. Plenty of companies and one-guy shops made their bones in that environment; they've got a name and a brand from that time. If they play their cards right and leverage that brand well, they don't need
4E to continue growing their fan-base. It'd just be nice
. Phil Reed has plenty of folks standing shoulder to shoulder willing to follow Ronin Arts wherever he takes it. Green Ronin's supporters are legion. And so on.
If anything, the GSL tells us that we can probably comfortably give 4E a year to see where it goes, to see how it settles out from its awkward early stages. But more than anything, at least from where I stand, the 4E GSL is -- for my money -- a move by WOTC to support diversity in the RPG market (however unintentional that move may be). Fewer companies will be producing 4E stuff. Some will because some are willing even in the face of some pretty nasty legal terms -- every swamp-bog has its explorers, however few -- but many won't. But those many won't be standing still.
And as a few folks have pointed out, there are plenty of options for the second and third tier to get some all-star team-up action going on. True20 and Pathfinder provide successful, proven branches of the d20 oeuvre for folks interested in staying "close to home". If WEG ever gets off its ass, there's talk of making d6 an open license. Savage Worlds now has a free license (once you're approved) and a second license that provides solid support of fan-sites doing whatever they want, legally. And, yeah, Evil Hat's Fate system (and the open content of Spirit of the Century) remains free for use via the OGL (plus, we're happy to negotiate reasonable brand license terms for SOTC and DRYH if someone becomes interested -- as we already have).
So I'm not worried. I'm excited.
Maybe you can be, too.