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WotC Releases Old Dungeons & Dragons Catalog As PDFs

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the going-for-the-saving-throw dept.

Role Playing (Games) 224

jjohn writes "Wizards of the Coasts, holders of the TSR catalog, have released rulebooks and modules for most editions of Dungeons and Dragons through a partnership with DriveThruRPG.com. The web site, dndclassics.com, may be a little overloaded right now. Most module PDFs are $4.99 USD." The article points out that these are all fresh scans of the old books. It's also worth noting that the decision to make these PDFs available reverses WotC's 2009 decision to stop all PDF sales because of piracy fears. The only reference to this in the article is a quote from the D&D publishing and licensing director: "We don't want them to go to torrent sites. Why not give them a legal route?"

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Saving Throw (5, Funny)

imikem (767509) | about a year and a half ago | (#42660893)

Made vs. common sense. It must have been a natural 20.

Re:Saving Throw (3, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661013)

Considering they stopped for several years, I'm more thinking they adopted the strategy from War Games: The only winning move is not to play. Unfortunately for WotC it doesn't work quite as well for AD&D as for global thermonuclear war.

Re:Saving Throw (5, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661073)

Probably because there was nothing stopping anyone from scanning a printed copy of the rulebook or module, converting it to a PDF, and then putting it online. Google even has an auto-complete option for PDF when I just typed in "dungeons and dragons 2nd edition" and wouldn't you know, the second link is to a torrent, and there are several other links within the top ten results to file sharing sites or other torrent sites.

Some people are going to pirate no matter what you do. However, there are a lot who will gladly pay if you give them to opportunity to do so.

Re:Saving Throw (1)

iHambone (2436420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662183)

"Some people are going to pirate no matter what you do. However, there are a lot who will gladly pay if you give them to opportunity to do so." THIS is exactly it. Their previous strategy simply made it IMPOSSIBLE to be a paying customer and read PDFs. Heck, I subscribe to their monthly service, buy most of the new books, miniatures, etc. Why would they not allow me to purchase PDF of the books I already own. Fortunately the good old internet provided access to everything I needed for my digital D&D needs. Unfortunately (for WotC), they didn't get a penny. There is one key to success in sales: **You have to make it easy for people to give you their money.** Finally, WotC has come around. A little late, but congratulations.

It took long enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42660947)

for someone to make a will save vs insanity [d20srd.org] .

D&D PDFs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42660949)

Does this mean all the D&D PDFs I bought before, but which were deleted out of my various paizo and drivethruRPG cloud accounts, are going to be replaced? Or a credit issued? The way they were torn out from under me by the license adjustments last time makes me remain a little leery.

Re:D&D PDFs? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661107)

How do they steal back normal PDFs?

The format is well documented and surely you have backups.

Re:D&D PDFs? (4, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661129)

The format is well documented and surely you have backups.

He said they were in The Cloud. Why would he need backups?

Re:D&D PDFs? (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661171)

In case it rains. Just like paper documents under a real cloud, electronic documents fall apart if it rains in the Cloud.

Re:D&D PDFs? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661187)

Because he cared about having the files in the future?

Trusting a cloud provider to the point where you don't have backups is one of the stupidest things I have heard today.

Re:D&D PDFs? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661221)

Because they're in The Cloud.

Re:D&D PDFs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661349)

You gave them money and requested in turn they give you a product. They delivered.

They are under no obligation to provide you a credit for a valid transaction

Re:D&D PDFs? (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661955)

I don't think you read what he posted correctly. He was happy when he had them then they stole them from him. It's like me selling you a car then deciding I want the car back. So I go to your house take it from your driveway and keep your money.

Piracy (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42660969)

The books are going to be scanned and shared whether they post PDFs or not. The only question is whether there's a legit option for those who want to pay.

Re:Piracy (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662465)

The books are going to be scanned and shared whether they post PDFs or not. The only question is whether there's a legit option for those who want to pay.

yep, i've had scans of all their books and modules for over 10 years, sheesh, almost 20 years. Now when I don't play D&D or AD&D anymore, they make it available legally.

Stupid.

But... But... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42660971)

So if I already downloaded everything from a P2P site because I couldn't get it any other way, now do I need to go buy everything because really I'm just another honest anonymous coward? And you know, all I really want is the complete pdf set of all hackmaster books... Hackmaster took AD&D in the right direction, but I couldn't ever afford all the various monster books, as they charged outrageous prices for short alphabetical sections of monsters....

Finally (5, Interesting)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42660977)

I ended up pirating the entire catalog of D&D products because I couldn't find the AD&D 2nd Edition books for sale in either print or PDF form. So at least in my case, not printing them in the first place lead to piracy. Hopefully more companies get with the program.

Re:Finally (0)

Slyfox696 (2432554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661195)

I ended up pirating the entire catalog of D&D products because I couldn't find the AD&D 2nd Edition books for sale in either print or PDF form. So at least in my case, not printing them in the first place lead to piracy. Hopefully more companies get with the program.

Actually, it was your desire to own something which was not made available which led to piracy in the first place. Justify it how you will, but you are the one to blame for your illegal/illegitimate actions (illegitimate probably being the better word). Just because they didn't sell them, it doesn't mean you HAVE to own them.

Re:Finally (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661313)

I ended up pirating the entire catalog of D&D products because I couldn't find the AD&D 2nd Edition books for sale in either print or PDF form. So at least in my case, not printing them in the first place lead to piracy. Hopefully more companies get with the program.

Actually, it was your desire to own something which was not made available which led to piracy in the first place. Justify it how you will, but you are the one to blame for your illegal/illegitimate actions (illegitimate probably being the better word). Just because they didn't sell them, it doesn't mean you HAVE to own them.

Sure, but had they printed them or otherwise made them available he wouldn't have pirated them (assuming he is telling the truth), so it was still them not making it available that lead to his piracy. A thing can have multiple causes, you know, and WotC's stupidity is partly responsible (as, of course, is his desire for them one way or the other).

Luckily, no loss occurred (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661337)

Luckily, since they weren't for sale there was no loss on the part of the content creator. Copyright was set up to ensure remuneration for the work of the creators of intellectual property. By not offering these for sale in any form, I see no moral dilemma in obtaining a copy from an alternate source.

Re:Luckily, no loss occurred (5, Insightful)

nabsltd (1313397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661719)

Copyright was set up to ensure remuneration for the work of the creators of intellectual property.

No, it wasn't. It was set up to encourage creation of content that would "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

The key point is that the "progress" part is what was considered important and desirable, and the "limited times" was key to this, while the "exclusive right" was just a deal with the devil to achieve the greater goal of increasing human knowledge.

Since we no longer have "limited times" as far as an individual is concerned (as the current law is such that a person will be encouraged to add only one thing to the pool of knowledge and then fight to keep making money on it until they and their children die), there is no reason to require people to keep the "exclusive rights" part of the bargain.

Re:Finally (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661347)

ACTUALLY, it is always the split in a consumer's valuation to own and a publisher's valuation to sell that results in piracy. It is hardly unusual for people who cannot find a legit location to pay for a digital item to find it illegitimately. Either way, the publisher gets nothing. But piracy results in at least the consumer getting something. That's a net win for society.

It would happen with physical goods, if the cost of producing physical goods was essentially zero.

Re:Finally (1)

Thiez (1281866) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661433)

But given that they're not selling them, they don't really have a valid excuse to complain about him downloading them. Ostensibly the copyrights are there to give the authors a chance to earn money, but if they don't want to make use of that arrangement...

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42662237)

Right. GP mis-spoke when he said he "pirated" them. When something isn't for sale at all, then it can't be "pirated" in the conventional sense, because 1) the author isn't being denied any revenue since they are not trying to collect any revenue and 2) society has no incentive to grant copyright monopoly to the author, since the work isn't being released where it can promote the progress of the arts.

So you've got a situation was was caused by two things happening at the same time. He wanted the files, and WotC said, "No, keep your money. We are currently experimenting with a non-revenue business model."

Now in 2013 when the idea of a "non-revenue business model" is starting to be seen as some kind of oxymoron (no, really?!) you've got a weird situation where the past copying retroactively becomes piracy. (!)

It was initially victimless since WotC wanted to avoid the money, but now they want it. Yet since the user got the files without WotC's help, he's no longer in the market and their ability to make the sale is harder than it would have been. So piracy did occur, even though a month ago we would have said it didn't. Yet in both cases, we're talking about the same action, which occurred even further back in time. How can the past ever change?

Here's how I resolve the paradox. Suppose WotC had adopted a conventional business model earlier. Let's say back in 2010 (or whenever it was) WotC instead of telling everyone "no, keep your money," they had accepted the revenue and traded the file for it, thus getting a sale. Fast forward to 2013: WotC still wouldn't be getting the sale now because they got it earlier, and the customer demand would already have been served. That doesn't mean the 2010 sale would become "piracy" of course, since it would be authorized by the rightsholder. It was still a sale. OTOH, WotC also would not have gained the experience of learning that "non-revenue business models" are less profitable than revenue-based business models! Had they made the sale earlier, they would not have learned "no, keep your money" is not the best way (from a commercial point of view) to interact with customers.

Here on Slashdot we tend to think the knowledge gained in this situation, has no value. We think it's obvious "no, don't pay us" is not good business, because tech-heads think of businesses as machines to make profit, and that a business should always want revenue. A revenue-avoiding business like an addition-avoiding computer. Seriously: does anyone here not think that? Be honest. If I say "revenue is good for business and going out of your way to avoid it is bad for business" don't you think that's so stupidly obvious, that I'm maybe a little bit stupid for saying it, in spite of (or couse) you agreeing with it?

It's just like how we think of some patents as being for obvious things; it's stupid for me to say revenue is good for business, just like how it's distasteful to see an obvious thing get patented. We all feel this way.

In the business world, though, it's not obvious at all! We have the widespread popularity of the "no, keep your money" policy as evidence that it's not obvious. If "non-revenue business models" were obviously dumb, then we wouldn't be hearing about them all the time. But we do!

Therefore, the experience of learning that telling customers "no, keep your money" is sub-optimal, has value. WotC gained an asset by being denied a measurable sale, and the value of this is approximately equal to a past sale. Thus, I would say that the past "pirate" copying shouldn't be made retroactively illegitimate.

Get it?

This way of looking at things, even works in a fractional sense as the business considers shifting toward revenue, once you have a large enough market. I'll show you...

Suppose a month ago, WotC was considering trying out revenue-generating business, but wasn't sure; they were on the fence about whether conventional sales were a good idea or whether it was better to continue telling customers "no, keep your money." At any given point in their turn toward attempting to make a profit, they were x in favor of profitable business, and 1-x in favor of keeping the "no, keep your money" experiment going. Just at that moment, someone torrents a scanned PDF of Tomb of Horrors, which is going to have significant impact on the revenue they can later gain in January from that person.

At a month ago, WotC was probably almost completely sold (let's stipulate this) on the idea of revenue being the wisest choice, so x was probably pretty high, near 1. They were close to deciding that revenue is good for profit, so the value of learning that non-revenue-business was not profitable, was very low. They gained very little experience from losing the sale. Ah, but countering this, they nearly made the sale. Had the torrenter gotten around to things just a month later, WotC might have gotten his money. So you've got this low experience tradeoff of 1-x, but added to that, you have a probability of actual revenue of x. That is, for over ten thousand potential customers, they're not going to have the same pattens so when you add them up, there's actual revenue of 10000 * x * $sale_price. So it's a wash. This works at low values of x too; five years ago x was vanishingly small, so the probablistic revenue was nearly zero but they gained lots of experience (1-x is nearly 1) and learning that non-revenue business models are not profitable.

This is a consistent theory which fits all observations of various real-life IP businesses today. I offer it to you freely. Enjoy. :-)

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42662823)

I think the idea that an author has a right to make a work unavailable needs to be put to rest. No more of this 'Disney Vault' crap. Release, or have it released for you.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661225)

I got a lot of old DnD stuff laying around. I play 3.5E and haven't looked back and rejected 4th Edition.

Re:Finally (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661733)

That's kind of the conundrum with the tabletop RPG business isn't it, buy once play forever. It's the ultimate open ended gaming experience, an endless vista limited only by your imagination. Great for players, not so great for publishers.

Go invent the Cresent wrench... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42662099)

If you want to invent a single cool thing and profit from it your whole life, then you need to invent things in the physical world. To me, your logic shows its flaw best when applied to dance instructors, who get nothing for subsequent dances after your classes have ended. And yet there are still dance instructors.

In the content world, you need to keep coming out with new cool stuff all the time. As your audience grows you have to split your efforts between "stuff" that is good for the newbs, and stuff that is good for the advanced players. It is a hard game to play right, and TSR did it for quite a few years.

If you were looking for reasons beyond the publishers business acumen, it seems pretty inarguable that computer-based adventures stole away quite a bit of the player base. Half-Life was as adventurous as all but a few AD&D games I ever played.

Re:Go invent the Cresent wrench... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662459)

To me, your logic shows its flaw best

That's not logic buddy, it's observation of the facts. Facts which are unique to TTRPGs due to their open ended, player created nature.

If you were looking for reasons beyond the publishers business acumen, it seems pretty inarguable that computer-based adventures stole away quite a bit of the player base. Half-Life was as adventurous as all but a few AD&D games I ever played.

Roleplaying: you were doing it wrong. If you were just rolling dice and maneuvering miniatures around a battlemat, you were wargaming. Roleplaying is a much more visceral and imaginative experience, the best games use neither mat not figures IME. Computer games may have co-opted the name, but they aren't the same thing by a long shot.

Not to say anything bad against computer games, they are great at what they do. It just happens to be something completely different to RPGs.

Re:Finally (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662651)

That's the conundrum of all "IP." You sometimes get occasional exceptions (some old people have bought Sgt Pepper on multiple mediums) but they really are exceptions. How many times have you listened to your favorite album, which you only paid once for? A thousand so far, until later this week when it becomes a thousand and one.

On the bright side, even though people only pay once, you only had to spend the time to create it, once. Don't feel bad for John Lennon if you only paid him once for Sgt Pepper. Over all those decades when you weren't paying him, he wasn't working on making the recording again, either. He was banging Jodie Foster, instead. (No wait, I think I got my entertainer history up. Which was the Beatle who shot Reagan? Huh? Who is Mike Muir?)

Anyway. The WotC guys can take pride in the great job they did on 3.5. Surely they have been up to something else since all those years ago, hopefully not involving yet another superfluous set of core rules for a FRPG.

Re:Finally (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662715)

You miss my point - tabletop RPGs are unique in that you don't just listen to the album, you can use them to make your own albums. Forever. It's not 'like' anything else, there is no car analogy here.

And not so much sympathising with publishers, just noting the nature of the beast.

Re:Finally (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661315)

I'm willing to bet shutting down the old editions was more about forcing people into the new than anything else.

Take it from someone who played pen-and-paper in the '70s, you second edition bastardized version sucker.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661735)

I have done the same. I collect 2nd edition books and am willing to pay good money, yet I still cannot find some that once were common.

Re:Finally (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661957)

I have many AD&D books I am looking to sell. Please PM me if you are interested.

Any report on pdf quality? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42660981)

Are these pdf's clean copies, and not just scans of an aging rulebook or module?

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

sdnoob (917382) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661025)

"fresh scans" tells me that they're well, scans.. where's the original quark or pagemaker files or whatever was used in pre-press?

reference materials need search, scanned-to-pdf does not allow that without a serious round of ocr first.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (2)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661089)

I'm hoping that they're doing the OCR work on these. If you're charging $5 for material as old and obsolete as this you had better be putting at least the minimum amount of effort into it.

My guess is the originals are either lost or sitting in a box in a storeroom somewhere on ancient backup tapes in some unsupported format and it's easier to just find an old copy of the books and scan them in.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661753)

What's obsolete? These aren't computer games, they're as useful today as when they first came out.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662019)

Yes, but any new material (monster manuals, adventure packs, etc...) coming out will not be compatible. That's how gaming products become obsolete.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662109)

Ah now a good weekend will have any setting converted to another system, and it takes even less time within the same system. That's if you don't just build on your system yourself, hacking this stuff is one of the great pleasures of TTRPGs for me.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661109)

Some of these pre-date desktop publishing!

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661199)

Hey, we never had any search function with the dead-tree copies, I don't see a problem with not having it in the online version. I knew more or less where things were anyway, if I opened the Monster Manual and Kobold was on the page then I had to go back a page or two for Kirin.

Summary says "most editions", I wonder if they'll have the original three softcover books that came in the white box with a couple of dice. That was the set I first learned on. Haven't seen those anywhere since about 1983. I remember they always smelled smokey, because Stan kept his pipe in that same box.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661497)

I could do without text searching. After all we don't have it for dead tree editions. What I would like is for these PDFs to have bookmarks.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662359)

Besides, one of the more fun things to do in any offline type of encyclopaedia is to go to a random page and read something, be it in a skill tree, monsters, Encyclopaedia Britannica or Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661335)

There is not a chance they still have originals.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (4, Informative)

tilante (2547392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661409)

Quark or Pagemaker files? You do realize that a lot of this dates back to the '70s and '80s, right? I doubt any of it before the late '80s was done with any sort of desktop publishing software. They may have been using professional publishing software, like And, of course, until writable CD drives became reasonably affordable in the mid-90s, they were probably storing any files they were creating on floppies, then later on Zip drives. Chances are good that all the early stuff only existed in dead-tree format before they started scanning it.

At a guess, I'd say that all the original D&D, the first two versions of Basic D&D, and most of the first edition AD&D materials would be in that boat.

I just downloaded the free one they have, though, and the scan is very clean - clean enough that I'm sure they've gone to the trouble of cleaning it up. They've also OCR'ed it at the least, since I can do text searches in it. The module in question is B1, "In Search of the Unknown", with a copyright date of 1981.

Oh... and they are watermarking the PDFs, with the purchaser's name and the order number at the bottom of every page.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661413)

PageMaker and Quark weren't around in the 70s- there is no original file.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662053)

No... but troff was around for almost all of the 70's, and after 1977, TeX.

Re:Any report on pdf quality? (1)

pthisis (27352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662509)

The first 3 books (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual) weren't originally digitally typeset, but WotC has already gone through the process of doing that for the "1e premium" releases and they're in InDesign, so there should be clean text available without OCR.

In case you aren't aware, the files for the original printing don't exist. In fact, there were never any files. The books were created long before the advent of the personal computer and its introduction into the publishing industry. When the original books were put together, they were put together "old school" style. Paste up, stats, Rubylith, and hand-building each and every page. Sigh . . . I remember those days fondly.

http://wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4dreye/20120704 [wizards.com] has more info on the premium releases.

think about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661351)

seriously. do you REALLY think the original Chainmail was laid out on a pre-press program in 1971? If you aren't that dense, do you REALLY think the original layout is still around?

Re:think about it (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662041)

You know that troff existed in 1971, right?

Computerized typesetting isn't exactly new.

Yes, appear to be clean. (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661533)

Yes, these appear to be clean.

I just downloaded the (free) B1 "In Search of the Unknown" module and it looks great - even has bookmarks.

Pirates will still run rampant (-1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661003)

"We don't want them to go to torrent sites. Why not give them a legal route?"

Because no matter how low the cost, the number of people who will not pay for the product by using torrents will far exceed the number of people who will pay for the product simply because they can. They're lazy and cheap, expecting everyone else to do the work but not get paid for their effort.

Guaranteed, within 15 minutes of the first download you will be able to get this stuff for free, thus legitimizing the comments from producers the world over about pirates hurting their business and the need for DRM.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (5, Insightful)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661083)

Even if everything you said is true, they could still make more money from paid legal downloads than if they didn't give that option.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (2)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661125)

Some people will always pirate the stuff. That's true. But by providing a legal route for the PDFs, you're giving an option to all of the people who were only turning to the torrents because you gave them no choice. Clearly a lot of people are buying the books (and killing the servers), so this was overdue. You won't need 15 minutes to find a torrent of the PDFs of those books. They've been around for years already.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661515)

They always have a choice.

Pirating or going without.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (2)

Monkey (16966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662661)

My question is who is getting the money for these PDFs. If the original authors are getting a percentage, great. If it's just going into Hasbro's general revenue, screw them. It's just a last ditch attempt to monetize assets that otherwise have little value to the company, many of which they didn't even produce.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (5, Insightful)

Fned (43219) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661133)

Because no matter how low the cost, the number of people who will not pay for the product by using torrents will far exceed the number of people who will pay for the product simply because they can.

On the other hand, the number of people who WILL pay is quite a bit larger than the number who would pay for your out-of-print product that's not available electronically, which is zero.

I'm glad that people are starting to wise up that counting the people who do pay is always, always wiser than counting the people who don't; for so long, so very many copyright holders have been no smarter than that Aesop dog that dropped his bone in the lake.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (2)

mike.mondy (524326) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662473)

Because no matter how low the cost, the number of people who will not pay for the product by using torrents will far exceed the number of people who will pay for the product simply because they can.

On the other hand, the number of people who WILL pay is quite a bit larger than the number who would pay for your out-of-print product that's not available electronically, which is zero.

I'm glad that people are starting to wise up that counting the people who do pay is always, always wiser than counting the people who don't; for so long, so very many copyright holders have been no smarter than that Aesop dog that dropped his bone in the lake.

The folks over at gog.com (once called Good Old Games) also proved that people will pay reasonable prices for old stuff. However, not unsurprisingly, when they first started gog.com, it was apparently a struggle to get vendors to agree to sell DRM-free versions of their out-of-print games.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661135)

People are lazy and cheap, which is why if you make it cheap enough they will be to lazy to pirate it.

I don't pirate anything now that netflix and amazon have made it so easy and cheap to get more entertainment than I want. The safest and laziest way to pirate would still be to sign up for netflix and copy dvds and blu-rays.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661159)

Guaranteed, within 15 minutes of the first download you will be able to get this stuff for free

Which was also true 15 minutes before the first download. If you don't want to distribute the eWay, only pirates will distribute the eWay. I'm still waiting for HBO Nordic to get their head out of their ass and deliver something better than SD quality with stereo sound, unless you own a Samsung product in which case you can get HD with surround sound. I'll get my shows where I'm a first class citizen, thank you very much.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661253)

You can already get all this stuff for free. Refusing to offer a legit, paid download has no appreciable positive or negative effect on illegitimate downloads. It does have a direct negative effect on legit, paid downloads.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661259)

You could already get it all for free prior to them doing this, so 15 minutes is just a tad of an overestimate.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661415)

The music industry said the same thing about iTunes. They said no one will ever bother legally paying for digital music when it was freely available to pirate.

iTunes became the number 1 retailer of music. Your argument suddenly seems very flawed.

Right now, these books can already be pirated, but they couldn't be legally purchased before. Putting them up for sale will increase revenue from zero. That's a win for everyone.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662035)

Right now, these books can already be pirated, but they couldn't be legally purchased before. Putting them up for sale will increase revenue from zero. That's a win for everyone.

Well, as long as the profits made from sales are higher than the cost of scanning the books and setting up the store to sell them. In theory the vendor *could* lose if they spend more than they make back. Not that I really think it'll be an issue in this case.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662219)

There are services that will scan books for $1.

Assuming they sell a single copy at $5, then they've turned a profit.

And even if this venture isn't massively profitable, you're better off converting pirates to customers so you can reach out to them for future products. There are benefits to purchasing digital goods legally (no fear of malware/virus, not waiting for someone to seed old RPG PDFs, being able to re-download from the service, etc) that might encourage future sales.

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

tilante (2547392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661505)

So, your argument is that getting money from zero percent of the potential market is better than getting money from a small percentage of the potential market?

Re:Pirates will still run rampant (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662167)

It is if 1 person can buy the high quality digital content for $5 and distribute it to the rest of the world and cause significant drop in profits in their published books market. Of course, ultimately that ends up signifying which format most people prefer or at least the delta in cost to benefit ratio.

WoC should make their OWN torrents! (1)

Danathar (267989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661005)

Case in point, their site has crashed due to load.

Provide official torrents instead of trashing torrents in general.

Re:WoC should make their OWN torrents! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661779)

Where do you put the meter?

$5 seems high (3, Interesting)

slaker (53818) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661057)

Yale-educated artist and porn star Zak Sabbath's DiY D&D site (with occasional exposed nipples art or links to his girlfriend's tumblr and therefore not safe for work) [slashdot.org] should be required reading for RPG nerds. He's very big on RPG theorycraft, quick rules of thumb and stepping away from canned adventures like those used in many of the prepackaged modules. Having followed his blog for a while, I really see where he's coming from.

It's probably worthwhile to take a look at that stuff, if only to see the historical basis for a lot of role-playing tropes, but any seasoned player can't exactly look at "Tomb of Horrors" with fresh eyes and newbies probably don't want to do the work of converting old stuff to new systems. In the end I suspect that all this stuff is only worthwhile as nostalgia or for historical purposes. Given that, I'm not sure why the price per document is even as high as it is. I understand that this is content that probably shouldn't be free, but I can't see spending $5 on a 32 page PDF that maybe has one or two good ideas to incorporate into a living game.

Re:$5 seems high (2)

slaker (53818) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661091)

Goddammitsomuch. Link fail. Here. [blogspot.com]

and the hot girlfriend's tumblr [tumblr.com] , as my penance.

Re:$5 seems high (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661599)

There is *no* penance great enough for the pun at the top of his blog:

Playing D&D With Porn Stars:

. . . there are several large chests in this room . . .

Re:$5 seems high (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661887)

I suppose it's better than 'there are several large packages in this room' . . .

Re:$5 seems high (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661679)

One,
Old School Rennaisance is a gamer movement of folks wanting to play the old stuff.
RetroClones of the Basic, Advanced and 2nd edition game rules have all been built, some of them are free under the OGL. So we have people wanting to play the old rules, old rules available and a market for their old content now exists.

Right now WotC need as many people playing D&D as possible to keep the market viable for D&D Next.

Re:$5 seems high (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661791)

Zak posts a lot over on therpgsite.com as well, he has a lot of interesting ideas.

Re:$5 seems high (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42662067)

, but any seasoned player can't exactly look at "Tomb of Horrors" with fresh eyes and newbies probably don't want to do the work of converting old stuff to new systems.

New systems??? AD&D stops at 2nd edition. Why mess with what was already perfect?

3rd+ edition (just how many are there now anyhow) revamping of rules and mass production of guide after guide was simply a money grab by WoC.

I've been playing 2nd edition for 20 or 30 years and I dont see the point of screwing with what works just fine.

Wot, no Kindle? (1)

Orleron (835910) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661123)

Because I'm too lazy to find a good PDF reader for my tablet that organizes the PDF books like the Kindle Reader app does.

Re:Wot, no Kindle? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661179)

The kindle reader app can handle PDFs, so why not use that?

Re:Wot, no Kindle? (1)

Orleron (835910) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661245)

I can read them with the Kindle App, but it doesn't stick the PDF's into my main library. I keep having to dig through the file system to select the PDF to open in the app. Inconvenient.

Re:Wot, no Kindle? (1)

chispito (1870390) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661279)

Because PDFs on the e-ink Kindles are painful.

Re:Wot, no Kindle? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661581)

He is talking about the app, so that is not the issue here.

E-ink has a lot of short comings and that is one of them. I still don't understand people's love for it, but to each his own I guess. If 10 hours of looking at a monitor does not hurt me, I am not worried about the backlight on a tablet.

Would be stupid not to (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661239)

The retro clones [wikipedia.org] have taken off (in relative terms, this is a niche product obviously) in the last few years. All the old TSR stuff is available on torrents and file download sites anyway. WotC might as well try and get some of the money.

Hope they add some of the missing stuff (1)

Orleron (835910) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661467)

I see a lot of things missing there, like the "Complete Handbooks", and all the boxed sets. I know it's a challenge to scan in a boxed set with off of its maps and other stuff, but that would be something I'd like to see. I'm jonsing for some Spelljammers. It's such a shame 4e has to suck. I'd still be playing D&D if I didn't have to convert all this cool stuff to those inane 4e rules. Pathfinder is the way to go these days, IMO.

Re:Hope they add some of the missing stuff (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661807)

There are a *lot* of books and products for D&D, and I would be surprised if they could scan everything before they uploaded anything. Other game systems that have have taken considerable time to get their entire catalogs online.

An interesting challenge (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661511)

This presents an interesting challenge for the D&D design team. They're working on a new edition of D&D (it's in open playtest [wizards.com] as they develop it).

Now, the new edition will have to compete for sales against D&D's own back catalog. If their upcoming product doesn't appeal to fans of First Edition AD&D, or Second Edition, Third,or Fourth, then people will just buy and play the old stuff. The next edition will have to compare to the classics or it will fail in the marketplace.

This is a victory for the consumer, who gains real choice.

Re:An interesting challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661871)

AD&D was second edition, numnuts.

Re:An interesting challenge (1)

letherial (1302031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662147)

There is no reason to call this person a name, everyone cannot know everything all the time and that mistake is so abysmally small it makes me wonder what is wrong with you that you need to call someone you don't know names like that; well besides the fact that your just trolling.

Seems to me SirGarlon is the one using his brain, he made a reasonable argument with sound logic, and your response was neither helpful or thoughtful

AKA: Hemmoraging money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661537)

They finally figured out that they REALLY screwed up with 4E, and Pathfinder was eating their lunch. Last-ditch effort to turn the ship around before 5E.

Re:AKA: Hemmoraging money... (0)

letherial (1302031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662177)

I was looking at 4E and it had a bunch of wierd battle cards and what not, i wasnt sure if i was looking at a dnd game or a magic game. I give props for them trying, but they went so far off of the typical dnd feel that i dont know why they called it dnd

Should be, some stupid card game with dice

Ah, these books (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661591)

I remember cutting lawns for the old 2nd edition books. I loved the smell of them.

I can do better... (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661653)

I know a guy that owns the majority of the original artwork and what-not that the books were printed from. He'd routinely travel to ex-TSR employes homes to make purchases. Most of it's sitting in wal-mart quality bookshelves in his spare bedroom. The guy made millions trading books and game stuff like this on ebay and eventually his own business. he's a jerk though, half the books he started with he stole from my basement. But whatever... his money makes him completely in-tolerable. You show up at his house and hes all like "Lets ride around in my Mazzaradi and talk about me" Can't stand that.

Did I mention the most ironic part? He never really played D&D. The few times he did he played a chaotic evil mage and spent most of his time greifing the rest of us by "playing his alignment" I think he made it all the way through 2 modules before we stopped inviting him over. Life's funny.

Damn You WotC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42661803)

Damn you WotC. The only reason my wife let me keep all my original AD&D manuals is because they were not legally available in PDF format!

Sigh.

Scans (2)

kdogg73 (771674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661875)

FTFA: "The scans are good quality, and best of all, the PDFs are searchable."

I was curious if they had re-set the type for a slimmer PDF. I would expect 320 pages of the Dungeon Master's Guide (even at 1-bit) may be hefty, but maybe not. Certainly more economical for a lost art.

download, schmownload (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661877)

I've still got physical copies of the core books from both first and second edition. Plus a big handful of companion books. The monsters in my Monster Manuals are even colored in. Who's going to have that in a PDF?

Though considering I've moved those books about 17 times over the years, maybe a PDF form factor would be slightly more convenient.

How long before they stop all PDF sales again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42662169)

There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.

WotC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42662437)

WE ordered the cash
you paid we ran away laughing

Get your binge on (1)

cstec (521534) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662433)

This is the perfect excuse to read up, get your fix, then hop into D&D Online [ddo.com] and get some tabletop action come to life. The client and a decent amount of content is free, and the DM voiceovers rock.

NOTE: This is Dungeons & Dragons Online, not WoW. There be TRAPS in dem dar dungeons, and they can and will kill you very dead!

Any of the Mystara stuff there? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662553)

By that I mean the 83-87 Mentzer revisions of the D&D Basic and Expert sets (and Companion, Master and Immortal sets) or better yet the Rules Cyclopedia, and the Gazetteer series, Wrath of the Immortals, Dawn of the Emperors, Champions of Mystara and Hollow World sets. Had a bunch lost em in a flood.

Re:Any of the Mystara stuff there? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42662741)

Voyage of the Princess Ark, ah them were the days...

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