On January 7th, Wizards of the Coast held a courtesy call with the 3rd party publishers who had expressed close interest in gaining advance access to the 4e rules.
Attending the call were:
Expeditious Retreat Press
Fantasy Flight Games
Green Ronin Publishing
On the line for WotC were Scott Rouse, Linae Foster (Licensing Manager), Sara Girard, Andy Collins, Bill Slavicsek, and Chris Perkins.
Their formal announcement can be found here, but here’s what we learned from the call.
Basically, this means that these major companies get to look over the OGL if they want, and decide whether to pony up five grand to get four months of prior planning time and promotion. With this extra time, it means any company that buys in to the first-wave publishing will have some titles up for the GenCon and Christmas 2008 markets—one heck of a sweet deal.
As of today, several companies have posted their plans for 4e. Necromancer has planned on going the 4e route for some time, and listed several products for 4e (another Tome of Horrors, the old Judges Guild module Tegel Manor, and an “Advanced Player’s Guide” designed to put the dropped classes and races back into 4e—so now I can finally play a druid or barbarian in 4th Edition). Goodman Games also jumped on the OGL opportunity, so there’s plenty of “first edition feel” dungeon crawls planned.
Green Ronin’s head honcho, Chris Pramas, revealed that the company is “still debating internally,” and Paizo is debating along the same lines according to Erik Mona. Since these are my two favorite gaming companies, I’m glad they’re making an informed decision with a lot of thought put into it.
There’s been a lot of talk around the forums on wether or not Privateer will re-print its Iron Kingdoms books for 3.5 D&D. I’ve been following this closely as I don’t want to drop $200 for the two character books and Liber Mechanika.
Only one company (so far) has come out and said they will not follow the 4e bandwagon, and that company is Mongoose Publishing. On the eleventh, Mongoose released a press statement saying they’ve invested much in their Runequest and Traveler lines, and would rather follow those out than buy into 4th Edition early. Which does make a lot of sense for them.
Of course, even if these companies don’t go for the early buy-in, they can still use the OGL when it’s released free in June.
Interesting enuogh, Swords & Sorcery isn’t on the list–WotC appears to have edged White Wolf out of the advanced placement for 4e. This doesn’t surprise me, given that WW actually has the time, money, and interest to take up this investment without even looking at the SRD/OGL. The Sword & Sorcery subsidiaries are mostly gone anyways–Malhavoc Press has gone with the retirement of Monte Cook, Arthaus folded into Sword & Sorcery proper with the loss of the Ravenloft license, and Necromancer is now in a partnership with Paizo. Still, interesting that WotC didn’t invite the next biggest company into the 4e preview galla.