Friday, October 8, 2010

WotC's D&D Red Box Commerical by Dungeon Majesty

Original Dungeon Majesty video (2006):

New WotC Commerical (2010):

I hope Hasbro paid Dungeon Majesty for this. I guess the real rip off is for the original illustrators.

UPDATE (10/15): Dungeon Majesty's Riley Swift, creator of the original World of Adventure video, confirmed with me that he was indeed hired by WotC several months ago to re-edit his original video into this new commercial. This is great news, and I hope WotC keeps Riley on, because his video and illustration work is supercool! Thanks for the clarification, Riley! I have accordingly un-sassed the original title of this post (changed "Rips Off" to "by")...


  1. I hate how they are cynically using the old school artwork in a misguided effort to make 4ed seem like its the same game with the same feel. I hate them, now more than ever.

  2. Didn't Dungeon Majesty use Wizard's IP in that first video?

    I don't think the question is "did Wizard's pay Dungeon Majesty" it should be "how did Dungeon Majesty do their video in 2006 and not get sued by Hasbro?"

  3. I don't think the question is "did Wizard's pay Dungeon Majesty" it should be "how did Dungeon Majesty do their video in 2006 and not get sued by Hasbro?"

    Dungeon Majesty originally entered the piece into a WotC fan film contest in 2006.

    So... I'm sure by any legal definition, you are right, this is not a rip off. I just think it's kind of pathetic that Hasbro pays a team of people called "WotC" to produce novel products, yet WotC is now reduced to culling old IP and fan films for it's new major marketing campaign.

    Up until the end TSR was an artistic trailblazer - they created stuff that was new and different. WotC copies stuff and chases trends.

  4. Weird--I saw that commercial and figured that was part of the fan film's contest's 1st prize or somesuch. Nothing so above-board then.

  5. First, I love the full video and the song. However, I guess I don't see how anyone is getting ripped off. The guys submitted the video to WoTC. WoTC owns the artwork. If I were the guys who made the video, or the art, I'd be pretty stoked to get the exposure, really. I'm confused to on the "WoTC" copies stuff and follows trends line of thought as well. Isn't the chief complaint about 4e is that it's not enough like real D&D? What gives?

  6. If anyone's getting screwed here it's Russ Nicholson. Otherwise ... old school gamers should know 4e is not old school and anyone else, hey, welcome to the bughouse.

  7. The guys submitted the video to WoTC. WoTC owns the artwork.

    True. But my point is not a legal one, it is a creative one. WotC owns, but did not create, any of this material. They are using it to misrepresent their new Red Box gaming product. I'm not mad or anything. This is normal in the business world. I just think it's pathetic.

    I'm confused to on the "WoTC" copies stuff and follows trends line of thought as well.

    This could be a topic for a whole other post. But yeah, look at WotC's releases for the last couple years. New editions, versions, and releases of old stuff. They seem to be creatively bankrupt. Aesthetically they bounce between WoW and anime. TSR used to DEFINE the aesthetic of fantasy gaming. WotC follows it.

    Isn't the chief complaint about 4e is that it's not enough like real D&D?

    I've never spoken up on this topic. I think 4e is a great game for what it is. It's probably the best and most creative thing WotC has made (except for Magic and RoboRally). I do not like that (1) Hasbro calls it "Dungeons & Dragons", and (2) Hasbro pulled pdf sales of D&D. I deeply appreciate the OGL, however.

  8. Sorry, the deleted comment was poorly organized and unclear. hopefully this one is not.

    Well, TSR era D&D definitely had its influences, too. It grew from miniatures war gaming, after all and Hobbits didn't come from a vacuum, neither did Vancian magic.

    Regardless, I tend to think of creativity in terms of individuals as opposed to companies.
    As far as what WoTC calls their game- I just don't care. It has no impact on any of us that we don't allow it to. Kirby was creative, not Marvel, Gygax was creative not TSR, for example.

    Truthfully, I find the way TSR treated the original creators of the game way, way ,way, way more shameful than anything WoTC has done.

  9. oof! Betrayed by cut and paste. The sentence about Kirby/Gygax should he right after the sentence ending with "companies."

  10. 4e is not metal. It's not old school. It's a slow playing, clumsy version of WoW.


    I hope WotC sells a ton of those stupid red boxes to bring some gamers into the hobby. Maybe we can take a few and teach them how to play games that don't suck and still remain true to the brand's origins.

  11. @ Christian -- I started with 3e, and now I play S&W, so apparently it's not completely impossible.

    The big problem I think is that if they want something that's metal and awesome, and they don't find it in that red box, they'll give up.

    But I guess I didn't... so we'll see.

  12. It's not so much about IP. Long time Dnd'ers don't need acknowledgment from wotc, but if you're selling vintage wine with a vintage label perhaps you shouldn't bottle the vinegar with the same label.

    If you want to sell vintage wine open up the cellar.

  13. Ah, this explains why this thing seemed so familiar. Still, "ripped off" seems a bit strong considering they entered it in a WotC contest.

  14. Is that really the best that the WotC minds could come up with to market this thing? How utterly pathetic. When that sort of video a group of fans can come up with it is funny, when that is the best a company with an advertising department can do it is just ridiculous.

    Word verification: acidurs

    My reply: Yes, that LSD IS mine.

  15. On one hand, I think the exposure it gives to Dungeon Majesty is a great thing, as well as the prominent exposure Russ's art gets. As many of us already knew, Russ's art is, and has been, among the greatest in the field, and remains as strong as ever 30 years along.

    On the other hand, I would like to have seen some direct recognition (perhaps a 'full version' video) on the Wiz website. It would also do my heart good to think that Russ saw some royalties from this, but I can only cross my fingers in that regard.

  16. It is cheep. And odd. The ad uses images that would mostly appeal to old school gamers. But they are using it for this new push. And it's an "ad" someone else made, just edited down. It's very cheep.

  17. Comparing the two, I actually prefer the Dungeon Majesty One. The second version focuses on violence and brutality, but the first one also includes humorous scenes (like the Treant) and Spelljammers :)

  18. Apparently I'm the outlier here.

    I had no idea there was an original version by Dungeon Majesty that Hasbro used. I only know that when I saw it I thought it was a clever bit of marketing. Whoever went with the idea understands that D&D can't be sold as something worth a second look to an audience already inclined to sniff its collective nose.

    This is a commercial for those who already enjoy at least a tiny degree of sympathy for ROPGs, only without the scent of "We're all hopeless dorks from the AV club!" that marked the commercials of the 80s.

    This commercial, tongue partly in cheek, says, "We're geeks, sure, but we're bad ass geeks. Roll the dice, man. We're gonna sack the Halls of Elysium tonight."

    So, I like it. As a commercial.

    As far as Dungeon Majesty goes, do we actually know Hasbro used the stuff without permission? Was there clause in the entry forms for the contest Dungeon Majesty entered where permission to use submissions was both assumed by the company and agreed to by the submitters? Such a thing is actually normal procedure for corporations. I'm inclined to think this is the case, but I can really only guess.

    Worst case scenario: if it was a strong-arm move, it was a shot across the bow to everyone else out there using images without permission. They won't sue - they'll just claim your efforts as being owned by them. Fair Use has its limits, after all, and Hasbro can afford to test them.

    Better take a second look at your blog headers, friends. Don't give 'em an opening.

  19. "ROPG's"? Don't know where the O came from, unless it was my exclamation of surprise at hitting ENTER before catching my typo. Dang it.

  20. I hope they paid Riley Swift (the Dm from Dungeon Majesty) handsomely for this.

    It's pathetic. They won't support older editions, and yet they will use the art to confuse consumers into buying their lame excuse for D&D. Poorly done.

  21. One more question to stir the pot:

    Is "Dungeons & Dragons" the rules in the book, or how the adventure at the table is perceived by the players?

    I realize this may be a forced "either/or," but you'll have to work hard to convince me so.

    I think D&D is the adventure not the rules. The rules are a common language, but every house ruling is a new dialect, isn't it? Some games are so heavily house ruled as to be in completely new languages.

    I can't help but see a frankly glaring incongruity (of which I am no less guilty, by the way) in flaming whomever the extent owner of D&D is for making something different than the original game while we whose sympathies are with older rule sets at the same wear with the greatest pride and boldness our right to make changes to the original game.

    I'm not complaining here.

    I'm just, you know, sayin'.

    Now if you'll pardon me, I have to get back to explaining why my home rules are doing away with alignment and gods for clerics. Seriously. I freaking hate alignment. Always have.

  22. This is going to be a t.v. spot? Really? It's an okay net-vid but not much of a t.v. spot. The attempt to co-opt old-school is blatant and ridiculous, are they trying to get all folks who didn't notice 3.0-3.5 to but 4E for the kiddos, who the heck is that audience?

  23. To be perfectly honest, I think the old school folk who are getting grumpy at this need to chill just a little. Really. WOTC isn't trying to offend you, or co opt you or anything like that... you ask who this is supposed to appeal to? IMO it's not current 4e players, or old school players its people who /aren't/ playing now, but did in the past. It's supposed to remind people who played 10 or 20 or 30 years ago but then drifted away from the hobby that it still exists. And that there is something out there that they can buy and give to their kids or new friends or whatever.

    Personally, I think 4E is as "metal" as you want to make it, just like every edition before it. It's a system with problems, just like every other system out there. And in my experience hasn't really been any slower to play than any other game I've played in the past 10 or 15 years... it's all what you make of it, really.

  24. Not to derail the conversation or anything, but where does the actual proof that this will be used by Wotc as a TV spot come from? Has anyone seen it on TV? I don't watch TV so I don't know. It originates at This fansite.. All the links I find via Google seem to lead back there. Is the tail wagging the dog here?

  25. I'm back. I unloaded on 4e yesterday, but here's the deal. I have an opinion, but exactly one hour of experience with the system. I am planning on running a 4e campaign in order to see what it's all about. After that, I will perhaps have a better informed opinion of the game.

  26. "I am planning on running a 4e campaign in order to see what it's all about. After that, I will perhaps have a better informed opinion of the game."

    This is an awesome, and frankly amazing, viewpoint. I may not have a great opinion of some of the ideas I've seen behind 4e, but have I played it before myself? Nope. I applaud your fairness!

    I do have the impression, though, that some of the things in 4E which stuck out to me in the reading as 'wtf' moments are things which can be made sense of by a good DM. I don't know about the healing system, but I read Keith Baker's blog, and he interprets the 'marking' system not as some sort of pseudo-magical WoWish aggro thing, but rather as the fighter (or whatever) actually physically intervening in the 'marked' monsters' attacks and such.

    I'll be interested to read your opinion after you try it out Christian.

  27. I am planning on running a 4e campaign in order to see what it's all about. After that, I will perhaps have a better informed opinion of the game.

    Yeah, I was surprised by those critical comments of yours. You should try 4e first. Like I said before, I think it's a fine game for what it is. I've played 4e with a good DM and had fun. 4e might be a good choice for you because it's easy to find players, and it also seems like you're really into minis action.

  28. Has anyone seen it on TV? I don't watch TV so I don't know.

    Excellent question! I don't watch TV either, so I have no idea...

  29. I don't have a dog in the fight as to 4e (this said after buying the Essentials and returning them in the same day). But WotC has always sold games in spite of their ads, not because of them. Some of the MtG ads from the 90s are the stuff of legend.

    I always thought the "Carlos the Dwarf" segment from Freaks & Geeks would have made a fine ad for D&D. It doesn't try to get away from the fact that, face it, this is an inherently dorky pastime, but it also makes it clear what the game's about and that it's pretty damned fun, even for "cool" people:

  30. Apparently, D&D is also available at Target.

    As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The Dungeon Majesty version is better, but if you've only got 30 seconds for your TV spot, you've got to cut somewhere.

    I've tried 4E once, and while I didn't like it, i'm going to give it a couple more goes, just to make sure I give it a fair shake.


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