WotC is apparently so jumpy at the prospect of anyone making a D&D4e-compatible product that doesn’t meet their standards that they aren’t settling for the lack of an actual D20 license (which will go a long way to restricting the audience for third-party products to gamers in the know) – they’re charging a $5,000 cover charge for access to 4e rules before D&D 4’s street date. I guess that’s not unreasonable for advance copies of the crown jewels, really, and it’s worth remembering that before 3e was released, nobody got jerk for any price. So, while this news will likely rankle many folks, there isn’t much of a reason to be rankled. What bothers me is A) this sort of stuff is taking the place of a steady flow of competent preview marketing on WotC’s part, and B) stuff like this, from the bottom of the FAQ: “We are making the OGL stronger by better defining it. Weâ€™re rolling certain elements that used to be in the d20 license into the OGL, things like community standards and other tangible elements of the d20 license.” Uh huh. Whatever you think of that, it’s a recipe for further atomization of D&D designs and dilution of the brand. I almost wish they’d cancel the 4e SRD release altogether and just sell $5,000 licenses. Why keep taking half measures?