Avalanche Press goes OGL, makes big deal of it

Avalanche Press is having a sale for a reason: they’ve decided to abandon use of the D20 logo. You know how CEOs always say when they get canned that they’re “pursuing other interests”? ” ‘The changes we are proposing are really things we have been discussing internally anyway,’ commented Mike Bennighof, Avalanche Press CEO.” To be fair, Avalanche has been moving towards complete campaign worlds for a while and it does make sense to make them complete games, but to leave out of your press release all mention of the potential conflict between cheesecake covers and a decency clause is a little disingenuous. So anyway, we have a first mover. I doubt, though, that AP is a strong candidate for poster child of the revolution – unless we want boobs on the poster. Complete press release below.

The following is press release copy from Avalanche Press.

Avalanche Press announced today the repositioning of their role-playing division in the wake of the D20 license changes announced by Wizards of the Coast. Avalanche Press’s Age Guides are the standard in “fan guides” for historical genres. The first of these, Celtic Age, won the 2002 Origins Award for Best RPG Supplement. Over the last two years, Avalanche Press products have received more Origins Award nominations than any other publisher.

The Age Guides and their supplements are the best place for a gamer to find everything there is to know about that period or theme along with stats to use the information in their games. However, all future releases will be published only in accordance with the Open Game License, not the d20 System Trademark License.

“The changes we are proposing are really things we have been discussing internally anyway,” commented Mike Bennighof, Avalanche Press CEO. “We’re grateful to Wizards of the Coast for opening the door for us to get into roleplaying publishing with the d20 license, but the market has changed. With WotC’s changes to the license there is simply no reason not to implement modifications to our own product line any more.” Avalanche’s last three role-playing releases Celtic Age, The Little People: A Guide to Celtic Fairies (a supplement for Celtic Age), and Viking Age are the beginning of this repositioning.

Marketing Manger Elizabeth Fulda commented, “In some ways, I think the D20 logo may have scared off some possible consumers. Avalanche’s line of book products are great for people who just fancy things about Egypt or Pirates. You don’t have to game to enjoy reading them.” In celebration of that, all existing products with the exception of Celtic Age, Viking Age, and Little People will be 65% off their usual price to every level of the tier from 9/10/03 to 9/17/03.

John Phythyon, RPG Line Editor stated, “The Open Game License is going to allow us to keep the game value of our products as well as add things like character creation to the guides. Whether gamer or simple aficionado of a time period, Avalanche products are a ‘must buy’ with or without the D20 logo.”

For more information see http://www.avalanchepress.com!


  1. Hey, nobody here’s got anything against boobs. Maybe we should convene a Special Revolutionary Council and decide the matter.

  2. Actually, the royalty-free trademark license and guide specifically mentioned no “bare female nipples.” I think this is unfair. We may see a surge of bare MALE nipples exposed on the interior and exterior of every d20 books. On the bright side, at least the Playgirl centerfold models will get off the unemployment line. Hehehe. 😉

  3. Years ago, when I was working at Chaosium, we were hampered by the “Decency Code” that was slapped across the comics industry. Basically, Diamond comics wouldn’t accept _anything_ that had violated this code. You couldn’t show things like sodomy, necrophilia, bestiality, among much tamer stuff…

    One of the artist’s we worked with… French guy… I want to say it was Alain Gassner, got ahold of this list and was absolutely appalled. He ended up drawing us a picture of a Granbretanian (from Hawkmoon) orgy, and in it, made sure to violate _every one_ of the restrictions…

    I wish I’d kept a copy of that illustration…

  4. Ben, I think you’ve just put your finger on the real motivation behind this change – on WotC’s part, I mean. We all know the specific product that kicked it off, but we haven’t really talked about the driving force that’s demanding it. It’s not Hasbro… it’s not Toys’R’Us… but think in that direction.

  5. Avalanche knows they’ve got a reputation for cheesecake (witness their slogan for this sale: “Check out these nearly naked prices!”). I just wish they didn’t blow their art budget on the cover every time; their interiors are stark and ugly, overall.

  6. Honestly, I may not like the BOOK OF EROTIC FANTASY, and will probably not be added to my collection (although I do have a stack of porns about yea high), but I gotta give props to Valterra for being involved in the project and think outside of the … for lack of better words … puritannical sandbox. For a company whose target demographic is young adult/college-aged group (18-35) for the last three years, now wants publisher make products fit for younger gamers. As for Hasbro, who does not think of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS as a quality game (they could care less), they are ever mindful as an asset for licensing. Let’s all remember that Ryan Dancey and Anthony Valterra were the forefathers of the d20/OGL movement, as well as many others. All of them have left but a few, and many of the upper management are transferred from outside by Hasbro.

  7. Hasbro is a lot less involved in all this than you think, Dai. One of the stipulations for their buyout was that WotC retain all but the electronic rights to D&D (which were promptly licensed out to Vivendi Universal; a major reason why Peter Adkison left). And while Hasbro did transfer in some replacements for a couple high ranking officials (remember that embezzling fiasco?), most of the inner corporate structure remains unchanged. (Those who left were either laid off or became rich due to the buyout and saw no reason to stay.) So while Hasbro certainly has its influence, all final decisions regarding anything even remotely D&D are still made in-house by WotC. More’s the pity. =(

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