Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ryan Dancey Saved D&D

So, there's this thing circulating on social media involving a certain ego-maniacal RPG blogger saying that he "saved D&D". While this is a tongue-in-cheek joke, he's going ahead and printing t-shirts with that slogan to give away at Gen Con so he can thumb his nose at those who don't like him.

Normally, I'd ignore this kind of social media masturbation, but his printing t-shirts saying he saved D&D does bother me a bit, even as a joke... Not because it's just another example of his over-inflated, monster ego, but more because it does a massive disservice to those people who did actually save D&D... specifically Ryan Dancey.

Ryan Dancey Saved D&D


There is no doubt in my mind that Dancey's efforts (related to the acquisition of TSR and his spearheading the open gaming license at Wizards of the Coast) utterly, completely changed the landscape for the hobby.

This post on the Paizo forums from 2010 speaks volumes:
"I also had the goal that the release of the SRD would ensure that D&D in a format that I felt was true to its legacy could never be removed from the market by capricious decisions by its owners."
What Ryan totally grokked during the fall of TSR was that the future of D&D was uncertain at best. Any company could end up with the D&D intellectual property. As a brand, whoever owned D&D could build it up, destroy it, or even make it go away forever. However, as a game, D&D belonged to us, the players and DM's, and the SRD along with the Open Game License made sure that any publisher could create a D&D compatible product without fear of litigation as long as they followed the framework created by the d20 System Reference Document.

This made it possible for Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Future, Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord, White Star and dozens upon dozens of other D&D-like games to come into existence.

Yes, it would have been technically possible for these games to exist if they very carefully followed existing copyright laws and consulted lawyers against possible IP infringement lawsuits from whomever owned the D&D brand... But the OGL made all of that expense and risk unnecessary by clearly outlining what could and could not be done under license.

Without Ryan Dancey, it is uncertain whether the OSR (Old School Revival) movement would still exist... Or at the very least, it would look nothing like it does today.

Ryan Dancey made it possible for all of us to play D&D compatible games until eternity, because regardless of what happens to D&D as a brand, D&D as a game will forever live on.

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson may be in the pantheon of gaming gods, but Ryan Dancey is a patron saint at the very least. Thank you, Ryan Dancey.


PS -- +Ryan Dancey, if you see this and are at GenCon this year, I hope to shake your hand and thank you in person.
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