Wizards of the Coast's incorporation of 'decency' standards into its d20 trademark license (see 'WotC Adds d20 'Decency' Standards') has led Valar Project publisher Anthony Valterra to declare that the company will not use the d20 logo on any products, whether or not they would meet the new standards. Valar's Book of Erotic Fantasy (see 'Valar Project Announces Erotic RPG'), which was ready to go to press, was originally planned as a d20 project but will now be published as an Open Gaming License product without the d20 mark.
According to Valterra, WotC's move was not unexpected. 'I knew that this was a strong possibility, so I had the interior content so it was OGL compliant,' he said. 'The word d20 as a description of the game system does not appear inside the book. We were really trying to get out there before the change happened and didn't make it.' The only changes that will have to be made to the book before publication are the removal of the d20 mark from the cover and on the title page. The game will still use the game mechanics used by Dungeons and Dragons products, but will be labeled as an Open Gaming License product and with an image of a 20-side die. The changes may delay release slightly, from October until early November.
It's likely that the Book of Erotic Fantasy will not meet WotC's new standards. But that's not the only reason Valar is eschewing the d20 mark. 'Even if we were to come up with another product that would fall within the quality standards, we will not use the d20 logo as a matter of principle,' Valterra said. 'The point is that I oversaw that license for three years, and I was there when Ryan Dancey launched it, and he launched it under certain philosophical principles, and in my opinion those principles are being violated. It's personal, because I know what the d20 logo was supposed to mean and they've changed that.'
We asked Valterra whether he thought WotC's change was a good decision, and got an emphatic no. 'They're making a very bad decision, both for the network and for themselves,' he said. The harm he believes will befall the network (of users of the Dungeons and Dragons game elements) comes from the 'fractionalization' that will occur because publishers will be reluctant to use the d20 logo for games that use those elements, and as a result consumers will have trouble identifying games they might want to play. He ties that back to WotC by observing, 'If you believe that d20 helps the Dungeons and Dragons game, then fractionalizing the game hurts it.'
Valterra also expressed his opinion as to why Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast made this move. 'Hasbro is a $3 billion a year company,' he said. 'Is the game [Dungeons and Dragons] valuable? To Hasbro it's rounding error. So what is valuable? The name Dungeons and Dragons is valuable. It's not valuable as a game, it's valuable as a license. So that's why they're more concerned about things that hurt the license.'
Valterra did tell us that contrary to its initial reaction (see 'ACD Named Master Distributor for BOEF'), Alliance Game Distributors has now agreed to distribute Book of Erotic Fantasy.