To: Bill Slavicsek Re: the May Ampersand

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Bill,

I just want to express some concerns regarding the current plan for Campaign Settings detailed in the April, 30th Ampersand.

I understand that most of the marketing for 4e seems to be geared toward a younger audience (I am 40), but I think limiting adventures for specific Campaign Settings is a mistake. While school age kids may have a lot of time on their hands to create adventures and whole campaigns on their own, I no longer have that luxury. What has become a boon to me is the trend started by Wizards with the 3e Adventure Path series of modules (The Sunless Citadel through Bastion of Broken Souls) and furthered by such companies as Paizo Publishing with their Pathfinder Adventure Paths. Wizards by rejecting this approach to marketing will end up losing my business for Campaign Settings in favor of companies like Paizo which will offer me ready-to-play campaigns for their own proprietary worlds.

Before you say, "But, all of our modules will be playable with some modification in any of our Campaign Settings," let me respond by saying that any modification is too much modification for me. I want ready-to-play adventures with good connectivity for campaign play. I have the time to read an adventure two, maybe three times in preparation for play and that is it.

Wizards made the mistake of virtually abandoning adventures in 3e and 3.5e only to have many other companies step in and reap all the profits from this branch of the hobby. I believed that Wizards had learned a lesson from this with the more recent release of several adventures and especially the "Expedition" series of adventures. It is sad to see that maybe that lesson wasn't learned.

I have purchased every edition of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting from 1st edition through 3rd. However, given the lack of support for Campaign Settings you have revealed, I don't think I'll be purchasing the 4th Edition version of the Realms.

Regards,

Alex D. Karaczun

Kalex the Omen 
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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Before you say, "But, all of our modules will be playable with some modification in any of our Campaign Settings," let me respond by saying that any modification is too much modification for me. I want ready-to-play adventures with good connectivity for campaign play. I have the time to read an adventure two, maybe three times in preparation for play and that is it.

What if the designers were to put in a sidebar with details on how to modify the adventure for use in published settings? This way, adventures can still "connect" with fans of the Forgotten Realms (for instance), but still hold appeal for a wider audience.

+++ +++ +++

I support the current plan for campaign settings (from a business perspecive), but I understand where you are coming from. I'm 38 myself, and like many, I sometimes struggle to make time for my favorite hobby ;).
/\ Art
No way of knowing how many atentures there will be but...

Dungeon Magazine is still around and will support FR. And including options/reccomendations for campaign settings in otherwise "generic" aventures will be even easier in the current online format, were page-count and formating are more flexible.

Still, I understand wanting more campaign-specific adventures.
What if the designers were to put in a sidebar with details on how to modify the adventure for use in published settings? This way, adventures can still "connect" with fans of the Forgotten Realms (for instance), but still hold appeal for a wider audience.

+++ +++ +++

I support the current plan for campaign settings (from a business perspecive), but I understand where you are coming from. I'm 38 myself, and like many, I sometimes struggle to make time for my favorite hobby ;).

Modifying just isn't an option even with helper sidebars. If given the choice between running a campaign like "Rise of the Runelords" for a non-Realms world where almost no prep is required or spending even an hour modding a WotC adventure to "fit" in to the Realms, the "no prep" option wins. I understand what WotC is thinking when it comes to sourcebooks and such, but I don't think the same business model can or should be applied to adventures. They're a different sort of animal.

Regards,

Alex

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Dungeon Magazine is still around and will support FR. And including options/reccomendations for campaign settings in otherwise "generic" aventures will be even easier in the current online format, were page-count and formating are more flexible.

I would be interested in FR Adventure Paths in Dungeon, but if they are generic with suggestions for fitting them in to a specific setting I'm not interested. Again modding isn't something I have the time to do in preparation for a game session.

Regards,

Alex

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Kalex,

Just wanted to throw in that I do know both Goodman Games and Necromancer are doing 4E Adventures.

http://www.ogrecave.com/news/goodman_dcc4e_preview.shtml

I play exactly like you do, I read the advanture and run with it. I've run most of what GG and Paizo offer in my Eberron world unchanged. I dropped Falcon's Hollow right inside Q'Barra, and the Valley of the Four Pharaohs, well its right there across the Endworld Mountains in the Blade Desert.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Kalex,

Just wanted to throw in that I do know both Goodman Games and Necromancer are doing 4E Adventures.

http://www.ogrecave.com/news/goodman_dcc4e_preview.shtml

I play exactly like you do, I read the advanture and run with it. I've run most of what GG and Paizo offer in my Eberron world unchanged. I dropped Falcon's Hollow right inside Q'Barra, and the Valley of the Four Pharaohs, well its right there across the Endworld Mountains in the Blade Desert.


Thanks Phobos. I had already heard about Goodman Games, but hadn't heard about Necromancer Games. I don't have a problem going to third party publishers for my adventures and Goodman and Paizo have their own Campaign Settings where the adventures take place which works out nicely for me. I just don't understand why Wizards of the Coast have to virtually abandon this idea. Haven't they learned anything from the wild popularity of the Shackled City campaign, or Pathfinder?

Regards,

Alex

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I can see where you're coming from, although I cannot emphasize with it, being only 12 myself. But for 4E, it seems like an adventure easily converts to different campaign settings, and even more easily to the Forgotten Realms because it is a more traditional Campiagn Setting.
Mr. Slavicsek, I entreat you: please, please, please do not use the word "analog" to mean "not digital"! I beg you!

Dial clocks are analog. Mercury thermometers are analog. LP records are analog (I think). Books, typically, are not analog.

For the general public's edification, here is a link to a variety of dictionary definitions of analog.
As a librarian and a gamer I fully agree!!!! The term analog just does not pertain to printed material.

The way you have used the word "analog" verges on being condescending and makes me fear for the future of printed material available for D&D. I had already feared that as DDI becomes a success why keep investing high dollars in the low profit business of printed material when you can swim in the cash of the digital age.
Mr. Slavicsek, I entreat you: please, please, please do not use the word "analog" to mean "not digital"! I beg you!

Dial clocks are analog. Mercury thermometers are analog. LP records are analog (I think). Books, typically, are not analog.

For the general public's edification, here is a link to a variety of dictionary definitions of analog.

yeah records are considered analog. i understand what he was getting at, but the actual phrase when referring to books doesn't feel right.

picking apart more from this article than simple somantics. i wonder if any of the constructive criticism from the boards that has been doled out during their free material phase has even been touched upon? how long will this beta test be, and why won't it include all of the gadgets and gizmos? will the beta feature all of said features? and doesn't $14.95 seem like a good idea? why won't there be an ala cart (i gave up trying to put the little squiggly lines and other ascii stuff on words a long time ago) option for ordering, specially since some people won't be able to use all the tools?

this wasn't a really informative article and it left with me with a lot of questions. also, i hope that they will be able to live up to their schedule this time through.
To Wizards:

Why not make a PDF versions for each major campaign setting? Since modules are going to be written with modification in mind, and everything is digital, it should be minimal work to to generate parameter driven output. Instead of sidebars, the author could define all the variables.

For Forgotten Realms:
- DEITY_OF_JUSTICE = Tyr
- CITY_NAME = Neverwinter


For Greyhawk
- DEITY_OF_JUSTICE = St. Cuthbert
- CITY_NAME = Dyvers

etc., etc.

The nice thing is that you could carry those same variables over from module to module. It would also really show off one of the benefits of having everything digital.
I'm guessing that it won't have all the tools at the start because they won't all be ready to go in June.

I'm guessing the beta will last until all the tools are done and working reasonably well, and perhaps a bit longer.

I'm guessing the subscription won't be ala cart (a la carte? something like that) because it's easier on them to just have one price than to have several prices for different things, and it's easier to have one log in that access everything than to have various permission flags on each log in.

(The reason I didn't actually ask about these things in my post is that I'm reasonably confident in my guesses. Not that I have insider information, or anything.)
not real user friendly then. since the bigger draw will be PC only and they're ok with that, there will be mac users that won't be included in "the place for all gamers."
And the linux users will be left out as well. But those are discussion for a different thread.
As a librarian and a gamer I fully agree!!!! The term analog just does not pertain to printed material.

The way you have used the word "analog" verges on being condescending and makes me fear for the future of printed material available for D&D. I had already feared that as DDI becomes a success why keep investing high dollars in the low profit business of printed material when you can swim in the cash of the digital age.

I agree.

I've been worried about the future of D&D printed material since the mags got canceled (for most of the reasons you give here). The "analog" referrences in this latest article only helped to deepen my concern.

Not much to do at this point but speculate however, so I try not to say too much; I've said plenty already, believe me ;). I just hope it means Mr. Slavicsek found a word he liked and decided to run with it. Also, this being an internet forum, I'm also willing to concede that I might be over-reacting just for the sake of argument ;).

If I had to speculate on their plans: I think the D&DI would have to be amazingly successful before they would ever decide to quit print products entirely. What I expect them to do (eventually) however, is to release only the core sets (such as Player's Handbook I, Dungeon Master's Guide II, Monster Manual III) as hardcover. Maybe three or four "core" books a year. Maybe a hardcover collection of Dragon/Dungeon content, and of course, the campaign setting 3-sets.

Everything else is supplemental, such as the 4e version of Complete Warrior, and willl be available "exclusively" online as a D&DI download. This cuts back on hardcover sourcebooks greatly and saves them money in the long run.

I honestly believe we are in for a big change in how the D&D brand is produced and distributed, compared to how it has been done in the past. I'm only speculating of course. I know absolutely nothing of how such things actually work ;).
/\ Art
Mr. Slavicsek, I entreat you: please, please, please do not use the word "analog" to mean "not digital"! I beg you!

Dial clocks are analog. Mercury thermometers are analog. LP records are analog (I think). Books, typically, are not analog.

For the general public's edification, here is a link to a variety of dictionary definitions of analog.

Oh thank God! I thought I was the only one.

If you want to make the distinction, "physical" and "electronic" would be better (hard-copy seems wrong when the list includes miniatures).

The fact that he refers to a free beta period after launch rather than, say, a free trial period concerns me. I presume that they're not ready yet. That's to be expected really; this is a massive undertaking for an organisation with no prior experience in this area.
I agree.

I've been worried about the future of D&D printed material since the mags got canceled (for most of the reasons you give here). The "analog" referrences in this latest article only helped to deepen my concern.

Not much to do at this point but speculate however, so I try not to say too much; I've said plenty already, believe me ;). I just hope it means Mr. Slavicsek found a word he liked and decided to run with it. Also, this being an internet forum, I'm also willing to concede that I might be over-reacting just for the sake of argument ;).

If I had to speculate on their plans: I think the D&DI would have to be amazingly successful before they would ever decide to quit print products entirely. What I expect them to do (eventually) however, is to release only the core sets (such as Player's Handbook I, Dungeon Master's Guide II, Monster Manual III) as hardcover. Maybe three or four "core" books a year. Maybe a hardcover collection of Dragon/Dungeon content, and of course, the campaign setting 3-sets.

Everything else is supplemental, such as the 4e version of Complete Warrior, and willl be available "exclusively" online as a D&DI download. This cuts back on hardcover sourcebooks greatly and saves them money in the long run.

I honestly believe we are in for a big change in how the D&D brand is produced and distributed, compared to how it has been done in the past. I'm only speculating of course. I know absolutely nothing of how such things actually work ;).

hrm i don't think the transition from magazine to online format for dragon and dungeon magazines or the online game table is a portent of things to come for the hobby. i think there will be more people playing offline than online even with the DDI. now this is just my opinion drawn from my own group's reaction to the new edition - they are all on board for 4th, but aren't really interested in the DDI.

i don't take a lot of what wotc says on faith anymore, but i tend to believe the part about them printing books for a long time yet.
I think its interesting that Bill admitted what happened to Dungeon and Dragon was his fault.

As for the rest of the article it was what? A nebulous time table and a bunch of empty promises. Sounds like what WotC has been doing for over a year now when it comes to the magazines.
As for the rest of the article its was what? I nebulous time table and a bunch of empty promises? Sounds like what WotC has been doing for over a year now when it comes to the magazines.

Thats a pretty accurate analysis.
What truly irritates me about this article is that it doesn't answer any questions that have been asked for over a year now.

Tell me Bill:

Why do you think a digital product will reach more eyes than digital product plus a physical product?

Why do you have to subscribe to the whole thing and not just Dragon?

If you really believe that this is the way of the future, then why not let Dragon Online and Dragon go head to head and see who wins?

Why am I even bothering? You haven't answered these questions in a year, why would you now?
Why do you think a digital product will reach more eyes than digital product plus a physical product?

Why do you have to subscribe to the whole thing and not just Dragon?

If you really believe that this is the way of the future, then why not let Dragon Online and Dragon go head to head and see who wins?

Why am I even bothering? You haven't answered these questions in a year, why would you now?

If I were him, I wouldn't answer them either. They seem more like thinly-veiled complaints or accusations, rather than questions.
lots of things are analog
If I were him, I wouldn't answer them either. They seem more like thinly-veiled complaints or accusations, rather than questions.

I reread the post and realized how aggressive it is. Perhaps some of that old frustration seeped through when I wasn't looking. My bad.

I would still like the questions answered. Well, not the last one. If you can come up with a way to rephrase the questions so as not to put Mr. Slavicsek on the defensive I would appreciate it.

I may have some trouble, I was a subscriber for 12 years and did not meet the cancellation of the magazines with much enthusiasm (obviously).
I would still like the questions answered. Well, not the last one. If you can come up with a way to rephrase the questions so as not to put Mr. Slavicsek on the defensive I would appreciate it.

I'll try

1.) What are some of the reasons behind sticking with a purely digital copy rather than having the digital copy update on your website as you planned and also providing a printed copy at the end of the month to those gamers that prefer a more tactile experience?

2.) In the past I have subscribed to only the Dragon magazine, the intended D&Di plan means that I have to subscribe to features that I may not use to continue receiving my beloved magazine, why can't I subscribe to the D&Di elements that I know I will use at a reduced price instead of paying full price and only using one element of the D&Di?

3.) So similar to the first, I don't think I can rephrase it.

How's that?
I merged a few different threads on this topic together.
I merged a few different threads on this topic together.

Out of general curiosity, why is it a poll now?
lots of things are analog

Yes, lots of things are analog, nobody's disputing that. However, books, miniatures and tiles are not analog. That's kinda the whole point of one of the original threads.
I'll try

How's that?

Thanks. Those were excellent. I don't expect any answers but I'll hope for the best.
Why do you have to subscribe to the whole thing and not just Dragon?

I can't find the exact location, but I remember reading that if you just want the magazines you can buy them as .pdf files once an issue is complete. You will get the information a bit later than subscribers, but if you just want the magazine you can get it with being an "insider".
I merged a few different threads on this topic together.

Any chance Mr. Slavicsek might actually respond to my original post? Not sure I appreciate the hijacking of the topic.

Regards,

Alex

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Any chance Mr. Slavicsek might actually respond to my original post?

Alex

Hope is the last thing to die, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
How can I vote?

Any way, I prefer to buy piece of the DDI, not the whole package. Just the mags interest me. Don't need the rest.

they have said that the magazines would be available per issue, but not subscription-based. i guess when people come to the internet for their information there is an "all or nothing" mentality driving them to want stuff beyond information.
No save. Once your connected you just want more, MOAR!

There, fixed it for ya.
Any chance Mr. Slavicsek might actually respond to my original post? Not sure I appreciate the hijacking of the topic.

Regards,

Alex

I'm obviously not Mr. Slavicsek, so I can't actually answer your question. Just as a suggestion though, you might consider running each module as it is if you don't have time to modify it for a specific campaign setting. Some of the relationship your characters have to the setting might be lost, but if you're using prepublished modules only I doubt that the tie-ins will be that deep anyway.

You could get a bit of Core-setting/Spelljammer action going in the campaign and just hop from Eberron to the Forgotten Realms to Dragonlance and back without worrying about continuity. Perhaps it isn't the best solution, but it would fit well with a schedule that lacks extensive prep-time.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
I'm obviously not Mr. Slavicsek, so I can't actually answer your question. Just as a suggestion though, you might consider running each module as it is if you don't have time to modify it for a specific campaign setting. Some of the relationship your characters have to the setting might be lost, but if you're using prepublished modules only I doubt that the tie-ins will be that deep anyway.

I've had a chance to read Keep on the Shadowfell, and it has hints and tie-ins that relate to Thunderspire Labrynth. Just FYI.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

I'm obviously not Mr. Slavicsek, so I can't actually answer your question. Just as a suggestion though, you might consider running each module as it is if you don't have time to modify it for a specific campaign setting. Some of the relationship your characters have to the setting might be lost, but if you're using prepublished modules only I doubt that the tie-ins will be that deep anyway.

You could get a bit of Core-setting/Spelljammer action going in the campaign and just hop from Eberron to the Forgotten Realms to Dragonlance and back without worrying about continuity. Perhaps it isn't the best solution, but it would fit well with a schedule that lacks extensive prep-time.

I apprecaite the suggestion, but I guess what I was hoping for from WotC was more adventures, and more world specific adventures. It seems to me that Paizo, Goodman Games and Necromancer Games (just to name a few) have demonstrated that there is a market for well written world specific adventures. I'd even expected WotC to go head-to-head with Paizo for the Adventure Path business, as competition is the best thing for the consumer. How disappointing is it that WotC is all but abandoning the adventure business?...again. My best memories of playing D&D all center around the iconic adventures of first edition. Keep on the Borderlands, Tomb of Horrors, the Giant series all define D&D for me far more than the rule set. Back then I couldn't write material as good as what TSR put out. Now I can, but I don't have the time. I'd just like to see the company that publishes the game step up to the plate and publish the "whole" game and not just the most profitable two-thirds.

Regards,

Kalex the Omen

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I apprecaite the suggestion, but I guess what I was hoping for from WotC was more adventures, and more world specific adventures. It seems to me that Paizo, Goodman Games and Necromancer Games (just to name a few) have demonstrated that there is a market for well written world specific adventures. I'd even expected WotC to go head-to-head with Paizo for the Adventure Path business, as competition is the best thing for the consumer. How disappointing is it that WotC is all but abandoning the adventure business?...again. My best memories of playing D&D all center around the iconic adventures of first edition. Keep on the Borderlands, Tomb of Horrors, the Giant series all define D&D for me far more than the rule set. Back then I couldn't write material as good as what TSR put out. Now I can, but I don't have the time. I'd just like to see the company that publishes the game step up to the plate and publish the "whole" game and not just the most profitable two-thirds.

Regards,

Kalex the Omen

If I recall correctly the oriinal reason for the d20 and/or OGL was because wiriting adventures was a LOSS for WotC.

That's why they decided to focus on rules and give the community the chance to write modules.

It's not surprising that this will persist by far and large.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

If I recall correctly the oriinal reason for the d20 and/or OGL was because wiriting adventures was a LOSS for WotC.

That's why they decided to focus on rules and give the community the chance to write modules.

It's not surprising that this will persist by far and large.

I'd be surprised if it was a loss, because then Paizo, Goodman, etc. wouldn't do it either. I bet it just doesn't make the same profit margin that rules do.

Regards,

Kalex the Omen

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I've had a chance to read Keep on the Shadowfell, and it has hints and tie-ins that relate to Thunderspire Labrynth. Just FYI.

That's great news, thanks
If I recall correctly the oriinal reason for the d20 and/or OGL was because wiriting adventures was a LOSS for WotC.

That's why they decided to focus on rules and give the community the chance to write modules.

It's not surprising that this will persist by far and large.

I had heard that as well. I don't remeber the quote but I'm pretty sure it was a WotC employee who said it. Makes you wonder why others have been publishing adventures.

Dungeon was also just as popular as Dragon and its primary content was adventures, so there is market, WotC seems content to let others write them though.