Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Sort of Value

So a while back I posted on how Paizo is providing a certain kind of value to my gaming. Something interesting in the whole "providing value to gamers" world has been going on over in the True20 world.

Green Ronin seem to be taking almost the direct opposite approach with True20 that Paizo is taking with Pathfinder. Instead of providing specific, encounter-level detail, GR are working on providing genre-level rules detail. I think it's an approach that will bear dividends. True20 is turning into the ultimate DM's toolkit system. Instead of releasing adventures and campaign setting material, GR put out non-genre-specific rulebooks that invite DMs to pick and choose, selecting just the components that will suit their games.

There can't ever be a "standard" way to play True20 -- any incarnation of the game will have to embody a set of choices on the part of the DM as to what the setting will be, what backgrounds will be used, what options will be available to the player. The game is literally unplayable with all the options included. It's fascinating, and very suited to my "kitbashing" approach to DMing.

They're now releasing a set of "Handbooks" for each "Role" in the game -- Warrior, Expert and Adept. And while that may sound like the "Classbooks" that Wizards releases for D&D, the difference here is again that the options provided are not all consistent with each other, and no campaign could ever support all possibilities. The DM has to decide what kind of campaign to run and then make choices as to which options support that.

Green Ronin's strategy appears to be to allow third-party developers to create campaign settings and adventures for their system -- they're opening up the True20 license later this year to make it easy (and free) for folks to create True20-compatible products. Interesting how this is pretty much exactly the strategy originally designed for D&D with the creation of the Open Gaming License. Wizards is moving away from Open Gaming with the forthcoming edition of D&D, and GR seems willing to take up the mantle.

It's an interesting move and it should prove to be a fascinating year in the industry. As a believer of the idea that free markets generate the most value, I'm obviously rooting for True20. But we shall see what we shall see.

In other news, 2008 remains murky.