The game that just won’t die: 3rd Era brand keeps D&D 3.5 alive

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With many gamers still disenchanted with Wizards of the Coast’s new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, it seems a cottage industry has developed to support the popular d20 System that sprouted from its predecessor in 2000.

First to the party was Paizo, the former publisher of the beloved Dragon and Dungeon magazines, who declined to support the new edition and instead rolled out a revision of the 3.5 rules, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. That game is now in an open beta phase, with free PDF downloads and a final hardcover edition coming in August.

Now, another longtime 3rd edition supplements publisher is getting in on the act. Green Ronin Publishing is making a host of their classic titles available anew via PDF and print-on-demand. They’re rechristening the line 3rd Era. “3rd Era books are compatible with the 3rd edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game and its many offshoots and variants,” says the company’s announcement.

(That “world’s most popular roleplaying game” line is the way third-party publishers manage to say D&D without saying D&D.)

Wizards’ open-source licenses, which encouraged these third-party publications, apparently prohibit a company from marketing D&D supplements for BOTH 3rd Edition and 4th Edition, so this represents a bold choice to stick with an established system that many players still love — and have invested into heavily. Paizo even got 3rd Edition designers Monte Cook and Sean K. Reynolds to join their efforts as consultant and developer, respectively.

Among Paizo’s stated goals is to help fans stretch their gaming dollars by keeping those expensive existing books on their shelves useful for many years to come. Green Ronin is obviously hoping to cash in on the same spirit of thriftiness.

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