By: Coard Lowery
When January 13th came around, I sat down to watch one of my favorite YouTubers cover the Nintendo Switch event live and bask in the moment of hype with an audience of up to 13,000 viewers. The event came, the console was showcased, and games were really only touched on, and that's when I thought to myself, "Is that it?" I understand the presentation was about the Switch and its impressive design and abilities. However, it brought with it a concern.
To start off, they neglected to mention the specs of the machine. Granted they are now available, but if you thought highly of the machine, wouldn't you want to mention the specs? I can't recall a Sony or Microsoft console release that didn't tell us about the machine's power. Yet here we had nothing. It's almost as if they weren't sure they wanted us to know. Maybe it's just paranoia, but it got me thinking: could the Switch fail like the Wii U? Well, here's how I think it could happen.
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By: Coard Lowery
You! Yes, you my good sir! Do you love DnD 5e? Or DnD in general? Do you want to stimulate and validate the works of dozens of independent writers who love DnD, too? Well then, I’m MrConradTheDuck, and this is why you should go to the Dungeon Masters Guild!
Think about it, with every book produced by Wizards of the Coast comes a slew of new, fun and interesting options for you to develop a character or theorycraft for hours over. But why stop there? With every new addition comes an opportunity to enrich your gaming circle with new concepts, ideas, and mechanics you’d never thought would see the light of day.
Do you want to wield mighty blood magic to enhance your powers as a fighter? Do you want to learn the arcane traditions of the spiders? Do you want to unleash a race of pixies for your players to become? Well, DnD 5e doesn’t have that, unless you let it.
With the Dungeon Masters Guild there’s fans just like you who spend their time trying to share with the world their ideas and passions, possibly bringing unto you and your group countless hours of entertainment, discussion, and dare I say fun? All of this is available if you take the leap.
You Were Lied To
Yes, lied to. To your face, point blank with no respect for you, your life choices or your own independence. Yes indeed, every time someone told you that all 3rd party material was bad, broken, poorly written or all around not worth the time lied to you.
Years of bias has stifled, stifled I say, the creative thinkers of the world of our hobby. These people are just as capable and talented as the fine folks at Wizards and equally capable of providing balanced and thematically rich options for you to play with. The notion that all 3rd party is bad isn’t just wrong, it’s destructive. It hurts people who spend their time trying to bring you new and interesting ideas by making it more difficult for them to make money doing what they love. Certainly, bad 3rd party material is very much real, but there’s definitely bad 1st party material, too. I mean, we all know about 4th edition right?
Burns aside, I think you’ll find a plethora of fair and balanced options available for you in 3rd party material from all over. Also, speaking with your money and making it clear good work comes with good rewards, you can stimulate the industry and the hobby by encouraging others to produce even better work, leaving your gaming experience truly without restraint.
You’ll Improve the Hobby
It’s true, you will. You see, at this point you’ve spoken with your money, you’ve helped small independent developers bring bigger and better material to you, giving them the push to make full length books full of lore, new worlds, classes, and mechanics unique and creative to the game. With your help you can take DnD 5e, heck, all of gaming to a new level.
You see, without competition industry stagnates; however, worse than no competition is no one to compete for, and in that you’ll find there is no industry. Without 3rd party material everything lies on Wizards. This could mean years of nothing new for your games or years of book after book shoveled out to meet demands.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You see, Wizards isn’t infinite, and neither are their design goals, ideas, or ability. However, by allowing 3rd party material to flourish, you can decide which material is of a high enough quality to make it into your game, you can help all sides fight for supremacy by outdoing one another and you’ll help yourself with tons of great new things to play with. Really, who loses?
I Know You Like Free Stuff
Want more options but have no money? Well, on ye old Dungeon Masters Guild you can find, well, free stuff, including Archetypes, Classes, and Feats, and a lot of it is actually good. From pay what you want to completely free, you can find tons or material to add to your game without spending a dime.
Of course, I would urge you to spend what money you can once you know you like a product, and in doing so, you might get more! If you can’t spare the cash, a 5 star rating and a glowing review will still help bring more innovations to the hobby. Heck, if you find something bad, feel free to rip into it (respectfully, of course) and in turn, you’ll build better developers, better products, and a better community. And you can do so without spending a dime if need be. Who can beat that?
Even if It’s Bad, It’s Good
When you touch a hot stove, it’s not all bad, after all you learned an important lesson. Bad reviews will make designers want to learn how to improve. Moreover, good designers can take the mistakes of others and apply those to their own material. You, as consumers, can qualify and understand what makes a bad product by examining the differences between a good and bad product.
Ignoring something because it’s bad will not help a company get better. Instead take the garbage, dive in, embrace it, and you’ll find the feeling of being clean afterwards all the more rewarding. Believe me I’ve sifted through a lot of gaming trash, but I’ve come out happier knowing I’ve found new gems to add to my collection and knowing that, when I write a review, I’ve helped someone else learn and grow from it. You can do it too. I believe in you!
Imagine you’re an awesome guy, who’s really cool and loves buffalo wings (unrelated, but still, they’re so good), and you stumble upon a class on Dungeon Masters Guild. You read it, you like what you see, it’s flavorful, full of ideas and potential and… probably the worst garbage you’ve ever laid eyes upon. So you decide to be an overly rude jerk in your review. You realize you were pretty harsh, but something else also happens. The developer, he heard you! He said, “This is overpowered and bad, so I’ll fix it!” and it was fixed! Then you write a new review (with a lot of apologies) and soon you talk and talk and finally what was completely broken and incompatible is, well, is great! It’s balanced and fun, but still has its core ideas and mechanics in check.
That was my story, and it’s true! I helped turn trashware into something I shove in my players' faces and yell, “Look at it” because I know it’s a product worth time and money. You see, Wizards is a big and busy company, and your words will likely fall on deaf ears. But 3rd party publishers are small enough to speak to you, read your words, learn and adapt, and flourish because they are in direct contact with you and their community. It's a truly beautiful thing.
It Gets Better with Size
Granted bigger communities tend to have some, uh, trash people show up. Yeah, trash people. Oh, but also with more people comes more ideas. Think of it as one big think tank. Everyone's talking, reading, communicating and an idea, your idea, flies off into the air. Wizards ain’t gonna do it, and you don’t have the time or know how. Huh, but what’s this? A 3rd party developer saw your ideas, loved them and brought them to life on a PDF file for the world to enjoy!
Yes, with more people tiny seeds of thought can be planted into a great big idea garden and become beautiful brain roses. All thanks to you. Yes you! And, because there’s so many brains out there doing the idea tango that each notion can be added to, evolved, changed, improved, and balanced. Everyone's input becomes an ingredient in this idea pie, and with enough love and time baking, this pie can be delicious. All that needs to happen is for you to go to a website, like the Dungeon Masters Guild, every once in awhile and contribute.
That’s right, fun! I’m not saying you can’t have fun with just the base book, but you can have even more fun with 3rd parties! By contributing and helping to grow our community, many 3rd party works have become so clean and professional that they can be indistinguishable from 1st party works.
On top of that, there are thousands of fun new content that have rained from the sky. A class here, a dope spell there, ooh is that an archetype? They’re all there for you and your friends to enjoy and love and create new memories with.
You’re in Control!
Here’s the best part! Unlike official material, you have even more right to just say no. Sure you can do that now with the official stuff, but you’ll always have players say, “Come on, man! They made it, so it’s intended to be used.” With third party material, it’s not made by Wizards, it’s not official or assumed you’d have it. If you dislike something from the Dungeon Masters Guild, then just say no. They really can't argue with you.
Besides that, 3rd party material is entirely up to your preferences. You can take and add what you’d like to the base game, and you can figure out what works best for your own group. Neat huh?
What are you waiting for?
Well? There’s literally no negatives to checking out the Dungeon Masters Guild. Start by picking up the free stuff, and if you like it, use it. Think some paid content looks cool? Buy it and use it. Send you GM here so he’ll learn the beauty of 3rd party material, and then you’ll all have a grand ol’ time. There really are no downsides. Go on, get.
Until next time, I’m MrConradTheDuck. Have a good one!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Coard D. Lowery, AKA MrConradTheDuck, is a 23 years old something who likes reading, developing and playing tabletop games. He's probably good at one of those things. He has been gaming for 7 years, and what he lack in time of experience, he makes up in relentless research.
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