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[3.x/PfRPG/4E] Goodman Games looking to Expand beyond 4E


Retired User
Interesting request from Joe Goodman of Goodman Games:

Hi everyone,

It's a new year with some new ideas! I've been thinking over a new approach with the DCC line and wanted to get some feedback. Think for a moment about the RPG market over the last few years:

2001-2004: 80%+ of RPG'ers were playing 3E.
2004-2005: Some gamers fell off between 3E and 3.5, but still 75% playing 3.5.
2005-2007: D20 variants multiply. Mutants & Masterminds, Iron Heroes, Arcana Evolved, Castles & Crusades, Conan, others. Most of the market is playing some version of 3E, but it's no longer all D&D. Various d20 publishers begin to release their own stand-alone RPG's (e.g., Runequest).
2008: Most, but not all, of the RPG market converts to 4E. Market is now split between 4E and many varieties of 3E holdouts. Other systems proliferate, including Hackmaster Basic and the 1E retro-clones. "Old-school" goes mainstream. Goodman Games remains the only "d20 company" still primarily supporting WotC D&D.
2009: Pathfinder releases. Fantasy RPG market is now split between 4E and Pathfinder, with another big chunk split to the other stand-alone RPG's (Castles & Crusades, Runequest, Fantasycraft, upcoming Dragon Age, etc.), and another chunk shopping online in the retro-clone market (which I personally have a fondness for).
2010: What's a module publisher to do?

My primary love remains adventures, but the market is so fragmented that the customers who played DCC modules in 2004 are now playing 6 different systems.

Here's something I've been thinking about. What if a DCC were written in "native 4E" but there were downloads to support other systems? Or...what if the DCC had generic stats ("Orc, 6 hp, axe, chainmail")...and ALL detailed stats were available as a download? So if you play 4E you download the 4E stats PDF...if you play Pathfinder you download the Pathfinder stats PDF...etc.

Tell me what you think. There are certain economics required in publishing modules, but as long as those economics are met by satisfying one or two larger systems, it may be possible to support more than one system.

Full post found here.

What's your feelings about such a plan? It's generating a lot of heated debates over at EN World and Paizo.


Active member
Validated User
I like it. The more systems supported the better, right, instead of putting all your eggs in a single basket. And going the route of pdf would make it work a lot better than actually publishing a book and dual statting it and having people who get it for one stats or the other bitch about the wasted space.


Retired User
Great idea, but there still has to be a choice of 4E or 'Everything Else' as the 4E licence requires you not publish for anything else what you publish for 4E, I believe. This may not exactly be that, but you can bet Hasbro will reach for their lawyers if they realise it might violate their GSL.


I'd go a pure PDF model, with selective printing. Would take some layout and arranging work, but would cut down on the costs.

blah & meh

Retired User
You need two lines - the 4e line and the OGL line. That's it. Don't dual stat. As for which OGL system, go with the most popular for print, and a selection of other OGL systems on pdf.


Registered User
Validated User
From what I've seen in the various conversion threads, 4e has different design requirements for encounters than 3e or other d20 games. It seems like doing a straight stat-swap for the encounters would produce something that winds up being unsatisfactory for at best oneand at worst all of the systems involved.


RPGnet Member
Validated User
Sounds good, but there's lots of pretty big issues:

- If you go totally PDF, you're losing one (fairly large) channel: print.

- If you go print, but have PDF "stat books" for each game line you support, you have bigger development times and you're adventure's numbers (number of orcs in any one encounter, for instance) have to work in multiple systems. As we know, 4e's idea of what makes an encounter and 3e's are very different, never mind many other systems getting thrown in the mix.

- If go dual print + stats PDF, which part makes you the money? Only the print (it has to make money)? Pay extra for the PDF of your system-of-choice (that's an extra purchase, more time involved, logistics)? Unlockable codes to get the PDF (issues of security on the print books so people aren't just ripping out the codes)? If the stat PDFs are freely available -- and also happen to be the hardest thing to develop in terms of time and resources -- that's lost money.

- If you go generic stats...well, that's probably the easiest route, but you need some kind of internal system for deciding "challenge levels" or something. You're fighting 6 orcs in this encounter...are they 6 C&C orcs, or 3 orc berserkers, an orc shaman, and two orc soldiers? If there's some internal system developed for rating this stuff, that has to be developed with an eye towards satisfying many system conversion (difficult at best), and must be reprinted in every book. Not a big deal if they go totally PDF (just make that "system" available online and/or copy-paste it into every PDF), but then you're still looking at losing the print channel to sell your books, which afaik has been very nice to Goodman Games.

My gut reaction is to come up with some internal challenge rating system, try to eyeball as best you can for every major D&D-esque system, and run with that. If you can keep that one internal system down to a single page, then it's not using up any more real estate than the OGL did in most 3PP works for 3.X D&D, right?


Cosmic Enforcer
Validated User
I'd go a pure PDF model, with selective printing. Would take some layout and arranging work, but would cut down on the costs.
I don't think Goodman is small enough anymore to sustain a pure PDF market. Print products still outsell PDF.

Sounds like Goodman has a good plan. Anyone else remember when WotC was trying to create Envoy? A universal benchmark so characters could easily be converted from Envoy to another system? I remember an article in Pyramid on it. I think this was after Primal Order, but before Magic. Maybe Goodman could spearhead something like that.
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