An Interesting Question

By the end of this year third party companies need to stop selling products with the old d20 logo on them. For print product this means selling, giving away, or destroying backstock. PDFs though can simply have the logo and legal info taken out and then be put back on sale. The question for Green Ronin then is what brand do we re-release these PDFs under?

We could simply create a new brand like “Classic 3” to indicate that these are former d20 books that work with D&D; 3 or 3.5. The downside of that plan is that we’d be creating the brand from scratch and we’d have to educate people about what “Classic 3” (or whatever we chose) meant.

The other leading option is to re-release these PDFs under Paizo’s Pathfinder brand. Right now Paizo is playtesting the Pathfinder game, which is basically the next iteration of the D&D; 3.5 rules (as opposed to 4E, which goes off in another direction entirely). Paizo will be doing something like our True20 Trademark License, which will allow other companies to release Pathfinder branded material. When Paizo announced Pathfinder a few months ago, it was big news and it is serving as a rallying point for those gamers who want to stick with the 3.5 rules. It would thus make a certain amount of sense to use Pathfinder for our old d20 stuff and Paizo has already done a lot to establish the brand.

The issue for GR is that Pathfinder won’t be taking its final form for some time. There’s a beta out next month but the final game isn’t releasing until August, 2009. Paizo has said that backwards compatibility is a big goal for them, but there are going to be some differences (possibly some big ones) between Pathfinder and D&D; 3.5. It makes total sense for Paizo to evolve the rules, but I wonder at the implications for GR if we use the Pathfinder brand. We are not planning on going back to these books and making major revisions. If we turn the d20 Freeport Companion into the Pathfinder Freeport Companion, for example, the contents of the book would remain the same. We’d just be changing the title and logo. What I wonder is whether gamers would expect our old books to be revised for 100% compatibility with Pathfinder? Or would they understand that while our books are compatible in the way any 3.5 book will be, they weren’t designed originally as Pathfinder products.

It’s an interesting question and we have until the end of the year to figure out the answer. What do you all think?

15 thoughts on “An Interesting Question

  1. Hi Chris!

    I'm looking forward to Pathfinder, but am also concerned about the backwards compatibility questions, and the fact that Pathfinder is still some time off.

    For GR products, I myself would like them to stay compatible with 3.5, rather than revised to fit Pathfinder. This is simply because most of my gaming library consists of D&D3.5; and compatible books (and WFRP, of course). For me Pathfinder will be mined for solutions to problems in D&D3.5;, but I won't convert wholesale to PF.

    So I think that for GR the best way is to create a new brand, or use an old one, preferably using the "OGL" abbreviation somewhere in there. "Classic OGL", "TrueOGL" or something like that. I believe that a lot of other companies are going to use the "OGL" abbreviation on their products, and some sort of synergy with that would probably help.



  2. Although the Pathfinder brand seems to have some cachet now, who knows how the RPG is going to do between the beta next month and the full release a year later? I mean, this is a product that has sold exactly zero copies so far.

    Backwards compatibility will be hugely important to me as a consumer as I follow the Pathfinder arc. Will this be a cleaned up version of 3.5 or a “3.75?” I would hope Pathfinder RPG becomes a prettified version of the various Mongoose pocket handbooks, just to keep the 3.5/OGL core books available, more so than a serious revision, requiring all sorts of contortions and conversions to use my old material.

    It would be NICE if all the “big” publishers of OGL material could come together and settle on an OGL logo. In addition to the LPJ version above, Mongoose has had one they have been using for several years on all their 3.5 derived books.

    But without the marketing push of a WOTC, I wonder if any such logo can gain recognition as “THE brand” for all OGL games. I suspect that just the letters have come to mean something to gamers.

  3. I would expect a Pathfinder-branded product to be 100% Pathfinder compatible. Anything else would not cut it – not to speak of how damaging this would be to Paizo.

    Why not choose “Classic 3” or some similarly generic name right away, release all rights, and hope others will join you? (Actually, why have this discussion here? You should post your question on ENWorld or RPG.nets industry forums, if there isn’t a closed trade channel with “everyone” already…)


  4. Re: Pathfinder, I don’t have high hopes. Not only do we not need another “fix” of the 3E rules (efforts like True20 do a much better job of reducing the huge complexity issue), but now that I hear the actual game is over a year away… nope.

    Pathfinder should have been released this summer to have had a chance. Giving Wizards a year and a half to cement its efforts to move people over to 4E = bad business strategy.

    Anyway, back on the topic of “Classic 3″… 🙂

  5. Going against the wind here… I’d have to say that I would like to see GR branded for Pathfinder.

    To be honest for my current Pathfinder game I am using most of my old d20 books already. I used some of the Book of Fiends in my latest sessions and found that almost no conversion was necessary, and any that were(mainly skills) could be handled on the fly.

    Personally I’d love to see GR and Pathfinder come together like that. Right now I’ve been running Pathfinder with GR products already, so having the ‘stamp of approval’ would just be icing!

  6. If you believe that Pathfinder is going to become a relatively lasting rallying point for the 3.5 rules system, then I guess the best option for all parties would be to develop a secondary Pathfinder brand for old 3.5 material that can’t use the d20 logo anymore, but isn’t updated to full compatibility with Pathfinder, either. Something like “Pre-Pathfinder Classic”, with enough graphical similarity towards the proper Pathfinder logo that nobody can mistake the connection. I’d imagine that Paizo would have little against developing something like that to facilitate this sort of support.

  7. I have no clue if Pathfinder will withstand the test of time, but I did note that it was being sold (the adventures anyway) on the shelves of the Barnes & Nobles I was at last night.

    I've NEVER seen that before. Of course, I live in Seattle so it's not difficult to imagine that the books were there by virtue of a sales rep talking directly to the store manager or something.

  8. I think it would be better to go with a Classic 3 label instead of jumping on the Pathfinder wagon. Pathfinder is too far away to be something that Green Ronin should wait for and it’s a different game from 3.5e. I would like to see other products put out in 3.5e than in Pathfinder.

  9. Even though Pathfinder is far away from being completed, generally speaking it’s going to be compatible with 3.5.

    There shouldn’t be 3.5 books that can’t be used with Pathfinder. At no point is the Pathfinder RPG going to move away from being basically 3.5 plus a few tweaks.

    So you could make an adventure that is written to 3.5 rules and it will also work with the Pathfinder RPG rules. And that’s how it will be when it’s all done next year.

    I know this because he knows this.

  10. The thing is, in the same way that you have people not wanting to move to 4th, you are going to have people not wanting to move to pathfinder, and there is likely to be quite a strong anti-pathfinder following. I wonder how large the middle ground of people who want to move forward with 3.5 but not move to 4th is actually going to be.

    That said; people not wanting to move forward at all with 3.5 probably are not that profitable to support as they may well be making the choice based upon having a minimal desire to by any new products anyway.

  11. Pathfinder is expected to be a non-starter in my store. I think it garnered some excitement because it was announced during the 4.0 waiting period, when players were anxious for ANYTHING new.

    How about a blank sticker to go over the D20 logo of existing products? Novices generally don't deal with 3rd party D&D; products, from my experience, so you're already relying on veterans to figure out what the product is and what it does for them. The D20 logo is overrated and probably has more of a negative stigma than positive at this point.

  12. If it’s for Pathfinder I expect it to follow Pathfinder and not the OGL. It’d be like claiming it’s for Conan or Arcana Evolved. While the latter is certainly compatible almost right off the bat, there are many aspects, like spells and talents and different skill sets, that mean some work must be done.

  13. Vincennzo Capelli, there’s Pathfinder campaign adventures and there’s Pathfinder, the 3.5 compatible rules system. Both from Paizo, both using the name Pathfinder, completely different products (AFAIK, the Pathfinder adventures are mostly if not wholly under the 3.5 ruleset and not the Pathfinder ruleset which won’t be around for another year, it seems).

  14. I think that Pathfinder is going to be a great brand and address a lot of 3.5’s problems. I think it will be a good rally point for new 3.5 material and would love to see Green Ronin use it. But only if they do provide conversion to it. Now on PDFs you could do the conversion through the “comments” system and that way it’d be easy to update if in some way the Pathfinder rules change drastically (which I doubt). As of yet the conversion is pretty minimalistic, of course, I don’t know if all this work is worth the bottom line cost. Still, I think Pathfinder will be the bastion for the classic 3.5 player who hasn’t converted to 4th edition or to True20 (both of which I play).

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