A City for All Editions

On Saturday I ran my paragon tier 4e D&D game, tonight I’m playtesting D&D Next online, and on Monday night I’m playing in Pathfinder’s Rise of the Runelords adventure path. Oh, and I’m reading the 13th Age pdf at the moment and eagerly awaiting my print copy of the rulebook. I don’t think I’m the only one in this situation, so I’m very keen that Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is easily usable with whatever edition of D&D or D&D-like game you are playing. There aren’t really any game mechanics or stats in the book for this very reason – the model I’m using is that of Green Ronin’s Pirate’s Guide to Freeport or recent WotC books like Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. Story and flavour over stat blocks.

As I ploughed through the first draft of the book, I included all the stuff that had been in my 4e Parsantium campaign, including dragonborn, eladrin and genasi, as well as references to spells, magic items and other cool stuff from earlier editions and Pathfinder that don’t necessarily exist in 4th edition. I knew I couldn’t include beholders, mind flayers and yuan-ti, but a lot of other D&D references are in there. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been revising the manuscript and I realised I needed to make a call on whether I would use the GSL, OGL, both, or neither in the book.

After a lot of thought and some helpful advice from some sensible folks in the industry and on message boards, I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to use both the GSL and OGL correctly would require the (expensive) services of a lawyer to make sure I didn’t get it wrong, and I’d much rather spend my money on better art for the book. Since I need to include stuff that isn’t in 4e, I’ve made a decision to go with the more straightforward OGL and use Pathfinder/OGL equivalents where necessary (so eladrin become high elves etc). There’s also been a fair bit of interest in the book on the Paizo boards so it sounds like putting a “Pathfinder compatible” logo on the front might help sales.

I really do want to stress the book is (almost) systemless though. It refers to D&D tropes like otyughs, slippers of spider climbing and magic missile but it doesn’t contain stat blocks for the NPCs or monsters. You can use it with Pathfinder, 4e, D&D Next, AD&D, 13th Age or whatever D&D-like fantasy RPG you like. The one thing I am planning is to add the kind of NPC shorthand you got in old AD&D books so the text might say “Yuroslav Bloodclaw (N male gnoll druid 9)” before launching into the NPC’s description just to give an idea of how powerful (or not) a particular character is.

Any thoughts on this approach? Aside from putting the words “For Use with All Editions of the World’s Most Popular Fantasy Roleplaying Games” in giant letters on the cover, is there anything else I should do to get the “all welcome” message across?

Maison Tiskiwin, Marrakesh

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7 thoughts on “A City for All Editions

  1. As you’ve mentioned, there are a handful of monster names, which WotC regard as “product identity” and therefore cannot be used at all.This list …
    beholder
    gauth
    carrion crawler
    displacer beast
    githyanki
    githzerai
    kuo-toa
    mind flayer
    slaad
    umber hulk
    yuan-ti
    … is to be found on the FAQ of the Hypertext d20 SRD but I wouldn’t swear to its exhaustivity. Fortunately, flumph appears not to be on there, so you’re safe to continue including their evil conspiracy as a major plot arc. (Or have I given too much away?)

    Given the increasingly niched state of the field at the moment, and the pre-release nature of D&D Next, the largely systemless approach seems a sensible one given the potential overheads of the multi-system one.

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  2. Pingback: Renaming the Dragonborn | Parsantium: City at the Crossroads

  3. Pingback: Final draft finished! | Parsantium: City at the Crossroads

  4. “…is there anything else I should do to get the “all welcome” message across?”

    It wouldn’t hurt to sign up to Dragonsfoot (the old school D&D forum) and let them know about Parsantium (assuming you can do that without it looking like spam).

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    • Thanks Dave – that’s a really good suggestion. I don’t want to spam so will see if there is any appropriate place on the forum to post.

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