Home » Ancient Posts » Every D&D Player Needs to Buy and Read the Rules? Why?    
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JD Neal

If you're trying to make money (millions of dollars) you make games where people have to buy the books to play in order to be playing the game everyone else is playing. Anyone with creativity could make their own game; that isn't the market of the gaming industry, though. They sell to people with lots of money but little imagination. "Mommy, gimme 50 dollars so I can buy me some fun…"


Modern D&D? I remember wondering about this attitude as a young whippersnapper when 1st ed. AD&D was what all the people outside the "Chaosium kids" circle was playing. I think it's as old as the split of a Players Book and DM book in the 1st ed era.


Philo Pharynx: The OGL 3.x and PF system reference documents are great for avoiding the need to buy the games, but they do not help the casual player who does not want to read a long technical document just to create and properly play a good character.

Philo Pharynx

The OGL has been great for this. They put the System Reference Document on the web, which has the basic rules for free. Paizo has one-upped them with their version, as it includes many of their expansions. These don't have the fluff content, so there's still a reason to buy the books.


As far as I can recall there were only a few players/GMs in our circle of gamers who actually bought rules books. Most of them borrowed the books, if necessary, or read the rules before, or during a game session.

With the osr stuff it's easy to distribute free copies to all players.

I will buy D&D Next if there's anything valuable for my gaming group in there. If not, I'll stick to the free stuff.


@The Degenerate Elite: Unfortunately, what is best for the industry (all players of a game needing to buy most of the books the publisher decides to publish) is not necessarily what is best for the hobby. What is good for Ford, err I mean WOTC, in the short term is not always what is best for the hobby in the long term.


I think gamers often embrace it as a hobby and start to buy books just because ownership is valuable to them. People like to spend money on their hobbies and with an rpg that mean, books, dice, and maybe minis. Not much else.

The flip side:

At a certain point TSR and other game companies realized that selling books to only DMs was limited and began publishing books for the player's reference. Spaltbooks were born. You then had a Player's Handbook, and a Thief's Sourcebook, and a magic spell deck. None were really necessary but people like spending on their hobbies.

Today it's just a common thing. I buy lots of books that will never be gamed with, some of which I read 20 pages and shelved.

I also believe that lots o gamers buy the books to make sure they get as powerful a character as possible.


"If D&D Next is to have a good chance of attracting new players to the game, I think WOTC is going to have to give up on the idea that every player needs to give them a good chunk money to buy the books and have the time and interest to study and learn them to play well (or even to play at all)."

LOL… Attracting new players? THAT is certainly not their intention.


It also eliminates the most interesting group of players – non-gamers.


This must be a D&D thing, because I have never encountered this attitude with other systems…. Not even with Pathfinder. Groups I have encountered always shared books as you describe.

Are there really GM's out there who force their players to purchase the players handbook and other splats?