Update: One-Stop Stat Blocks and the #WotC Complaint #DnD #5e #RPG #copyright

I just wanted to give an update on the situation with Wizards of the Coast and my one-stop stat blocks. To review, I created stat blocks that were stand-alone. When using them at the table, you have no need to reference the Player’s Handbook (or others) when using spells with your NPCs. The entire spell description is contained in the stat block, but expressed as concisely as possible.

WotC contacted me through their paralegal, Martin Durham (who apparently has a history of making inappropriate demands), and instructed that I take down the project. In Mr. Durham’s words:

Hi – I’m with the Wizards of the Coast legal team – we recently became  aware of your project.
It looks like you’ve basically copied the text from our books, added check boxes and spell descriptions, and then placed your own copyright notice on the bottom. I am curious what is transformative enough to warrant the notice. Also, how does this infringing material fill a “hole” in Wizards product offerings.
Wizards realizes that the Dungeons & Dragons books are more than just “rules” or “instructions.” The text is highly descriptive, and as such, is inherently copyrightable.
Wizards requests that you remove your stat blocks, or create your own material under the Open Game License.

Within this single, six-sentence email, there is a glaring mischaracterization of the project, an attempt to use legalese to confuse me, and a stunning display of willful ignorance. I’m assuming the ignorance is willful because the alternative assumption would be quite insulting to Mr. Dunham. He then mischaracterizes the nature of stat blocks (in the context of copyright law) recklessly makes two unlawful demands. In truth, the only sentence without an error in it is the first one. I’m sure he indeed works for WotC and only recently learned of the project.

I know I promised a quick response and republication, but good work takes time. My response is coming soon, and it’ll be a doozy. I’ve drafted three articles that will expose WotC’s conduct over the last 10-15 years. They’re currently being reviewed by other attorneys — some that focus on intellectual property, and some that don’t — and I’m reaching the finish line. The third article will link to the one-stop stat blocks, which have been expanded upon quite a bit. If you’re a fan of them, you’ll be floored by what’s coming. WotC, not so much, but that’ll be the least of their problems.

In the meantime, I again provide you with a copy of the template so that you can easily create your own one-stop stat blocks. Happy gaming!

One-Stop Stat Block for 5th Edition DnD TEMPLATE

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Calling all DMs! D&D, #Pathfinder, and #Starfinder at the All-Star Comic Con (@AllStarComicCon), June 8-9, 2019, Tysons Corner, Virginia #DnD #RPG

We’re still in need of DMs to run D&D at the All-Star Comic Con, on June 8-9, 2019, at the Sheraton in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The gaming schedule is up (available by clicking here), but only the Pathfinder and Starfinder games are allowing sign ups (do so!) because those are the only ones with assigned GMs. We still need DMs for our D&D games.

If you’re interested, please send me an email at rob@syndcon.net. Let me know which games you’re willing to run. I have two half-price badges for the con available to the first ones to sign up as DMs for a few slots.

On another note, I’ve recently been made aware of a 5th edition sequel to my favorite AD&D adventure, the C2: Ghost Tower of Inverness. I’m still reviewing it, but this is faithful to the original in that it’s written as a competitive adventure. If you’d be interested in running that, I can easily replace some adventures with that one, and I’m happy to run a table of it myself. Even if we can’t get signups for multiple tables at the same time, I can keep track of the scoring from session to session and email the results to all involved after the convention is over.

In any case, let me know if, when, and what you’re interested in running.

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#WotC Complaint #DnD #5e #RPG

A paralegal at Wizards of the Coast sent me an email demanding I take down my one-stop stat block project. It’s clear he really didn’t read the document because he made a rather glaring factual error. He also insulted my intelligence. I can live with that, but it shows what I’m dealing with. I responded and await his reply. I’m mulling over my best course of action, which of course depends on their response and how condescending they are. Even if I decide to comply, I promise you that won’t actually be the end of it. I meant it when I said I didn’t want to be their adversary, but they’ve chosen to poke the bear. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you want to be able to create these yourself, I’ve provided a link below to a Word document containing various versions of the stat blocks. This way you won’t have nearly as much formatting to do. You will, however, have to create language for spell descriptions, etc. (at least for now). There’s a quirk in WordPress. You’ll have to click on the link, which brings you to a page where you’ll have to click on a separate link to download the document.

One-Stop Stat Block for 5th Edition DnD TEMPLATE

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#5e #DnD One-Stop Stat Blocks for Volo’s Guide to Monsters cc: @CartridgeBros #rpg

Edit: You can find the one-stop stat blocks starting here. Each sourcebook conversion was published as a separate post on the same day, so just go to the link provided and then continue to the other posts.

At the request of a Twitter user, I’ve resumed my work on the One-Stop Stat Blocks for Volo’s Guide to Monsters. I’m nowhere’s near finished — I’ve finished only 17 of the 45 stat blocks I intend to convert — but something is better than nothing, and more are coming. Also of note is that I found some errors in two of my existing docs, so they’re replaced below. Please contact me with any errors you find.

These were removed on May 12, 2019, at 8:14 PM EDT. They should be back within the week, along with other material that I wasn’t planning on publishing. If you loved what I was doing, you’re really going to love what’s coming.

I don’t do this for the money, but if you’d like to donate to my efforts, feel free to send me whatever you want (including nothing) via PayPal.

As a last note, I get a recurring question on these docs. People have requested the Word document that I use as a template to create these stat blocks. I don’t give that out because I don’t want to make this easy for people to copy all of the stat blocks from any of the books (something that is clearly on the minds of many people criticizing me*** for not publishing the template). Doing so could damage Wizard of the Coast’s sales for their books. My intent is to fill a hole that they left in their work, not to replace their work entirely and harm their sales. I appreciate the hard work they did in producing the game and want them to enjoy the benefits of that work.

*** Yeah, you read that correctly. I’ve actually been criticized for delivering a free, supplemental product that isn’t comprehensive enough.

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D&D Beyond and the Operatic Bard Class for #5e #DnD #RPG

An opera singer has created the Operatic Bard subclass for 5th Edition D&D, which she’s selling on the DM’s Guild for $1.99. This is interesting, but not necessarily in the way you think.

Journey To Ragnarok AvatarWhy would I pay one cent for this if I didn’t know whether or not it was useful to me?

On the other hand, if she published it without a paywall, then asked for money, she’d get next to nothing regardless of how good it is.

Unlike adventures, content like this will always be cursed by this paradox unless the content retains a value after being published as a PDF. Ergo, I believe the solution here is for WotC to facilitate incorporation of this material into their digital system, D&D Beyond. Beyond doesn’t allow us to create custom classes or builds because it requires more complicated coding behind the scenes. Therefore, the only way for it to be incorporated into Beyond is for WotC to do it themselves, which opens up the market for this kind of community-created content. She could sell the Operatic Bard for $1.99 and get the same cut that she currently gets for the PDF. Or more. Or less. The details don’t currently concern me.

The timing of this article is of particular interest to me because I just received the magnificent Journey to Ragnarok and have no way of incorporating the new class (Rune Master) into D&D Beyond, nor can I add the new builds for the barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard (yeah, pretty much all of them). My gaming has dropped off dramatically as of late. Long story short, it’s not worth the time investment to play. Being able to run Journey to Ragnarok with access to D&D Beyond would be quite an incentive to get me back into the fold. If not, then my interest will continue to wane. I don’t know if I’m in any way representative of a large group of people, but there’s some anecdotal evidence as to why this is a good idea.

Again, I don’t think this applies to NPC stat blocks because they’re easily added to Beyond by the end user. I also don’t think this applies to adventures because players are willing to take chances on adventures based on the synopsis and based on the fact that even a “bad” adventure can still be fun. This applies only to classes, builds, or anything else that end users can’t add to D&D Beyond themselves.

What do you think? Is WotC dropping the ball to some extent by not incorporating community-created classes and builds into D&D Beyond? Would you be more inclined to create classes and builds if you knew they could sell.

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“Pure” #5e #DnD One-Stop Stat Blocks for the Monster Manual #rpg cc: @bandofmisfits @stitched

As promised, I’ve converted stat blocks as necessary for Tales from the Yawing Portal using my “one-stop” method. I may need your help proofreading the document, so keep your eyes open. Note that this time I didn’t make any modifications to the stat blocks. They are mechanically identical to those appearing in the source material. However, […]

Well, that was fast. Converting my original “one-stop” stat blocks document to a “pure” form was easier than expected. What does “pure” mean?

In the original document, I edited the stat blocks for a couple of reasons. Monsters over CR 5 are typically underpowered with respect to how much damage their Actions do. I suspect that the reason for this is related to the fact that the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide were released separately. While that time difference is relatively short, I suspect the two were written independently and thus aren’t in sync. I suggest the following changes in order to reconcile these stat blocks with the table on page 274 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating.

Some of these changes, however, I suggest because I found the monsters as written boring or otherwise lacking. While I found the giants far too similar to one another, I was especially annoyed by the fact that the Azer, Githzerai, and Githyanki don’t have ranged attacks. As far as I’m concerned, a DM should be able to create an encounter based on what’s interesting rather than whether it makes tactics too easy for the PCs, and the entire point of this project was to make things easier on the DM. I also find it incredulous that a Cloud Giant doesn’t have a Create Beanstalk power. C’mon!

Nevertheless, my changes resulted in complaints. The Adventurers League players were concerned that my stat blocks were “illegal” because they made changes that the DMs weren’t permitted to make those changes. To satisfy their concerns, I created an index that  showed exactly how I changed the stat blocks. Converting them back to their boring, underpowered selves would be a snap.

Nope. Still not good enough for some, so in the spirit of making this as easy for the DMs as possible, I’ve created a “pure” document in which the stat blocks have no edits. Then I changed the appendix to reflect my edits as suggestions. That’s what I’ve provided here. As a reminder, the same rules apply to this document, which includes, among others, that I used shorthand to keep them as reasonable in length as possible. This means that one could take advantage of loose language to maximize the creatures. If you choose to do that, that’s on you. Also, I could use your proofreading, and if you have any other suggestions, please let me know. As you can see from the original post, I respond.

My next project will be based on Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and will take much longer to complete. Moreover, it’s competing with some other projects I have. Please be patient.

Here’s the complete list so far (in order of creation):

Latest Versions Available Here

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#5e #DnD One-Stop Stat Blocks for Tales from the Yawning Portal. #rpg @bandofmisfits @stitched

As promised, I’ve converted stat blocks as necessary for Tales from the Yawing Portal using my “one-stop” method. I may need your help proofreading the document, so keep your eyes open. Note that this time I didn’t make any modifications to the stat blocks. They are mechanically identical to those appearing in the source material. However, the same rules apply, which includes, among others, that I used shorthand to keep them as reasonable in length as possible. This means that one could take advantage of loose language to maximize the creatures. If you choose to do that, that’s on you.

My next project will be to create what @stitched refers to as a “pure” copy of my original document. My original document made changes to the stat blocks to make them more interesting (in my humble opinion) and provided an appendix specifying all of my modifications. This resulted in some complaints (though I can’t imagine anyone not liking what I did to the Azer). In the “pure” document, I’ll remove my modifications from the stat blocks and alter the appendix to include those modifications as suggestions. Both documents will remain on my site, so you can use what whichever you want.

The project after that will be based on Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and will take much longer to complete. Be patient. I’m committed, so you’ll get them eventually. As some of you may know, a friend and I are designing our own RPG system, and we’re ready for alpha testing. What little free time I have is being divided between all of these projects, so again, be patient.

Here they are: Latest Versions Available Here 

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