It’s been foreshadowed on many blogs for several days, and now it has come to pass: a new website (dndclassics.com run by DriveThruRPG) is now live offering a large range of TSR and Wizards of the Coast products in PDF form. The titles cover the whole range of editions from Basic D&D through to 4E titles, with more to come I understand!
On the one hand, I find this a bit annoying and frustrating, especially as a 4E customer. This is clearly the ‘how to create a revenue stream while we don’t publish anything new for our current edition for 18 months while we work on a new edition’ play. It may be couched in different terms, but lets face it, WOTC have always had the back-catalogue, but they’ve always resisted having previous editions officially on sale, so I find the ‘official’ reasons somewhat unconvincing. Wizards withdrew completely from the PDF market several years ago, citing piracy as the main reason, but there’s nothing in the new venture that addresses that problem, it’s simply that their needs and strategy have changed.
On the other hand …. ok, this is well cool! :) Browsing through the list of products released on the site is like finding a treasure chest of ‘nostalgia’. There are titles there I’d forgotten even existed. I’ll definitely be picking up some of the Historical Reference books – their release co-incided with the beginning of my hiatus from the hobby, so I never purchased or used these, but they look a great resource for bringing elements of historical cultures into your campaign. Another treat will definitely be the Greyhawk sourcebooks – of all the TSR campaign settings I collected over the years, this is the one which (for reasons unknown…) I no longer have! So being able to grab it again is fantastic!
The truth is, I really don’t care what the real reasons behind the move are. Having access to the modern digital versions of the old edition rules and sourcebooks is definitely a great thing, and I’m sure many others will agree – with their credit cards!! I hope it is successful – and in the final analysis, if it gives the Wizards’ R&D team the time and space to complete DnD Next properly, without rushing it, I guess it will have been worth it :)