D&D Invented Godmode?


I was reading the latest OFFICIAL U.S. PLAYSTATION MAGAZINE (OPM, Issue 83), and on page 47 noticed a WOTC ad for the 30th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Although I can't say I like the ad (text was in the wrong place, art was too chaotic, etc.) it purports that "We Invented Godmode", the "We" being the Dungeons & Dragons game system.

I won't deign to argue with the invention claim - Set 5 of the original D&D was the Player's Guide To Immortals (TSR1017) published in 1986 (or so says my copy). An immortal, while not necessarily a god, certainly describes the godmode of video games: no death, no fear. What I find more questionable, however, is that they're advertising in a video game magazine; not for Baldur's Gate I, II, or III, not for the upcoming Pools of Radiance, but rather, our beloved tabletop rules system. And from what I can tell, this is the first time they've done so (at least, in OPM).

Why now? The 30th anniversary hasn't been THAT magical. And godmode is largely the last resort of desperate folks or cheaters. Why would WOTC be using that as a selling point for a tabletop game that is as far away from a visceral graphics, twitchy fingers, finish-in-a-weekend video game as possible?

Finally, does the placement of the ad constitute an opinion of OPM? It appears directly after an article on the "thugging" of gaming, popularized by the Grand Theft Auto series and its clones, and furthered with high-profile sequels and "street" titles like NFL and NBA Street, Driv3r, Def Jam Vendetta, True Crime, and so forth. The strongest point made is the evolution of the industry to modern day tastes: When discussing the move away from pure fantasy to realism in Midway's games, [Midway's chief marketing officer Steve] Allison characterizes the "dragons and robots" fraternity as "Old school. And when I say that, I mean old boys old school. The guys bitching about this new trend are inching up on 35 years old, and they grew up on old-school gameplay. They're a very vocal bunch, but they're just not the market anymore ... Today, you have to provide what people want, and dragons, elves, and fairies just aren't on the top of their lists right now.

"dragons, elves, and fairies just aren't on the top of their lists right now"

Maybe it isn't what Midway is targeting, but the market for products in the fantasy genre has grown immensely over the past few years. The Harry Potter and LotR films have taken fantasy mainstream to an extent unseen since "Frodo Lives" bumper stickers were hip.

I can only imagine that the OPM ad was WotC's attempt to ride this popularity. The placement could have been due to chance, OPM editorializing or even the magazine ad equivalent of "counter programming" on WotC's part. Sometimes in Maximum PC I'll see an ad for a product the page after a review panning it mercilessly.

Because the ad seems so out of place it could be that WotC bought some kind of package advertising deal involving a lot of magazines. In this scenario its possible that the OPM ad was given little consideration because the real targets were other publications.

I don't think they are referring to substandard players using un-killable characters, but more to the role of GM. For me there are few joys greater than having my players immersed in a world of my creation.

I thought the ad was funny. I saw it in GameInformer magazine and I thought it was very a fitting ad for a video game magazine. There was another cool tagline in the ad but I don't remember what it was right now and I'm too lazy to go check.

Hm. That ad was in my Nintendo Power magazine.

People still read Nintendo Power?

I suspect a package ad deal is what happened then (as per D.P.) - I saw a three panel foldout in play magazine too (I'm finally catching up on all my reading!). Nothing too exciting about this one though.

I think that God Mode ad was referring to the cleric dragging his incapacitated friends out of harms way with the help of his divine power. Holy strength and what not. Guess you could call that "God Mode", in it's own way. I didn't like that one very much.

The other one I saw was of a guy with a sword staring down a green dragon, with the tag line "We gave end bosses their first job" or something like that. Not a bad reference, really, as most classic dungeon crawls do end with a fight against a Big Bad Guy.

I think Hasbro's ad department was just happy that they finally had the occasion to plug the D&D franchise to non tabletop roleplayers, and have gone a little overboard. I've seen those ads in every video game mag I get. A little scary, but there's always room for new players, right? Even if most of the ones gathered by these ads are munchkining, barbarian-fancying pre-teens.

Oh, and I agree with D.P. about the ad placement. When a company buys an ad in a publication, they have absolutely no control over where it ends up. The editors probably put it there as an ad break between articles, or as D.P. said, counterpoint. Or it could have been victim to Random Ad Placement Syndrome, a tactic often resorted to when press time is far too close for comfort. Editors. Manhandling the flow of information since the invention of the printing press.

I really want this in a poster...does anyone know where I could get one?

You might be able to get one from Wizards Of The Coast. Given the fact that it's an ad you might be able to get it for free. This is all just a guess, however.

Weren't most of us "munchkining, barbarian-fancying pre-teens" at one time? I like to think of myself as an "enlightened" gamer as I have been playing the D&D game for about 24 years. Of course, I do remember the days back in Jr. High where we would sit around the table fudging die rolls and flipping pages in the Monster Manual just looking for the next bigger monster to kill.

I'd like to think that the new players that come in with swords flying and fireballs blasting will eventually become the "old-timers" like myself that look back on their younger days and remember how "silly" they were with their bulging-muscled barbarians with the chain-mail bikini-clad maiden as their henchman.

...and then they will be laughing about the "newbies" just starting to learn D&D v5.5...