Of Errata and Editions and Fairness

First, a story.  I keep buying editions of Warhammer 40K right before new editions are announced, mostly because I don’t go to Bell of Lost Souls or Dakkadakka enough to keep up on all the trends.  I also bought Third Edition D&D right before 3.5 was announced.

And, apparently, I’ve done the same thing with Labyrinth Lord.  Admittedly I did not buy LL, I just paid $11 to get the free pdf and have it bound, but sure enough, they are creating a new edition not to have a major rules overhaul (since it is just a B/X clone) but to correct errata.

My question is, for the people who did pay $30 to get a bound copy from Lulu in say, the last two months, what is Goblinoid Games’ responsibility to them?  As a side note, Goblinoid Games has yet to submit on their website a list of said errata–you have to go hunting for a thread on their forums to see what all the hubbub is about.  I guess the one good thing I can say is that at least they aren’t going in the direction of Troll Lord Games who, having not released a pdf at all, have done no less than three “reprintings” of their Castles & Crusades RPG, each a correction of errata and rules clarification of the previous “printing.”

My point is this: if you, a game publisher, have made the decision to release a new edition of your rulebook, or supplement, or whatever, I think there’s a moral mandate to stop selling the previous, inaccurate one or at least notify potential customers that there is a new one in the works.  Otherwise you’re creating this window where your current customer isn’t going to become a future customer.


  1. Unfortunately, this window doesn’t work for everyone, because then the window itself becomes part of the grace period. If you are considering buy a book for a new game, and the guy at the game store says that they are planning on releasing a new edition in three months, you’re likely not to get the game until then.

    But at what point does that stop? If he says six months, or nine months, or a year, are you still going to pay full price for a book that you KNOW is going out of use some time in the future? Most likely just when you are starting to get the hang of the thing?

    And people can’t just NOT buy the old one; they are making a new edition, but they still need the funds to get them that far. If everyone just goes cold turkey in buying the product, then this causes decreased cash flow, potentially putting the very project that everyone is waiting for in jeopardy.

    This leads people into endless holding patterns, waiting for a product that may never come, but they are too worried that when it DOES come, they’ll be left holding the wrong end of the bill, and might have to buy it TWICE. Meanwhile, developers are rushing to get product out, trying to meet demand to keep the coffers filled, KNOWING that the plan is to make all this new… stuff redundant with a new edition.

    Thus the current days of errata editions, where everything changes… except what you already own.

  2. I know you’re right in that my vision of a world where people can’t spend money on products that are about to be revised isn’t realistic or maybe even practical.

    At least they are only charging for the pdf to support the artists, and aren’t seeking profit for the writers/editors.

  3. This is the curse of modernity, or post-modernity, or whatever period we are in. By time a consumer good reaches the shelf, it is obsolete.

    I find the Castles & Crusades case very puzzling as the fourth “printing” of the Players Handbook is on the way but still no first printing of the Castle Keepers Guide. The actual gaming sessions are going well but I have been relying on my AD&D DMG and pulling stuff out of my nether regions to get me by. I did that back in the 70s but I had more time and more energy back then.

  4. I think that TLG has lost a lot of credibility in its failure to produce a CKG, even a thin one. While I know their standard line is “everything you need is right in the main rulebook and ‘Monsters & Treasure'” I still think that they could cobble together a decent book on worldbuilding, gauging encounters, some alternative XP progressions, SOMETHING. Like you I think that between the vast plethora of D&D simulacrum out there you can find enough support to pass on it, but it still is a glaring hole in their product line.

  5. The lack of a CKG is particularly galling in light of a fourth printing of the PHB and other less critical items. There may be some business decisions behind it–costs, cash flow, etc, but they keep blowing through their deadlines on a routine basis. I suppose not being able to buy something is better than buying something that immediately becomes obsolete a month later when the new edition is rolled out.

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