Creative Cowardice

Eric Weinstein does math for a living. He’s very good at it. He started a podcast recently and has had three fascinating conversations. I recommend it heartily.

In this particular episode, he speaks with Werner Herzog. Werner, if you’ve never heard of him, makes films. He makes insanely good films. His version of Dracula is the best one ever made.


At one point in the interview, he talks about how Hollywood has developed creative cowardice. The long and the short of it is that they need to make a lot of money and they won’t fund anything they feel isn’t going to make big box office numbers out of the gate.

This is one of my dislikes about Dungeons and Dragons. TSR started down that path when the when they saw fans doing weird shit in the fanzines like Alarums and Excursions and then ramped up as the satanic panic set in. The golden goose was laying big eggs and anything that might disrupt that was to be avoided.

There honestly hasn’t been anything exciting and really challenging published for D&D since the mid nineties when Dark Sun was released. 5E has been particularly noxious in this regard. WotC has primarily done reworks of old modules and settings. They have done nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing exciting and nothing that might upset anyone. We don’t need a remake of the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh but Wizards of the Coast is not going to do anything that might make someone feel uncomfortable. I understand that they are a company whose purpose is to sell games. They have a permanent staff that lives in a region with very high cost of living, they have freelancers to pay and…shareholders who expect a return.

I have no expectation that WotC is ever going to do anything that is going to deviate from making the highest possible revenues at the highest possible margins. That means that we aren’t going to get anything that is outside of PG13 and the content will be focused on making players feel like super heroes when they walk away from the table. I will say that Mike Mearls did make a good game in spite of the financial expectations of the business. It was a difficult task set before him and he hit it out of the park. The growth of D&D and the culture surrounding it is undeniable. Personally, I’d love to see WotC do something that challenges the assumptions of players and game masters but they are the entrenched institution and we are not likely to see anything like that from them.

2 thoughts on “Creative Cowardice

  1. Pingback: Gary and Dave Didn’t Change Gaming by Working at Milton Bradley – Grumpy Wizard

  2. Pingback: We – Grumpy Wizard

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