June 10, 2010

D&D Insider and Ethics

The D&D Insider is simply awesome for running a 4E game. The Character Builder makes creating a character a snap. Supplemental information is within easy reach; no more searching through five books looking for a specific power. The Monster Builder makes creating encounters super easy. The Dragon and Dungeon magazines have a lot of useful things within them (right now I am plundering Dungeon adventures for my new 4E sandbox campaign that is starting this week).

The Character and Monster Builder are updated monthly (though the Monster Builder seems to missing a few updates). A subscriber is allowed 5 updates during a month; this number resets back to 5 at the beginning of the next month. This is where a possible question of ethics comes in.

If a GM has the D&D Insider subscription, is he allowed to share his log-in information with his players, thus allowing them access to the benefits of his subscription?

At first glance the answer is no, he is not allowed to share his subscription. He is a single individual and thus is the only person allowed to use the benefits of the subscription. You can probably stretch this to allow the players to create and update their characters on the GM’s computer.
Relating this to music CDs, this would be similar to letting a guest put the latest Snow Patrol music CD into the CD player and hitting play. The questionable part comes in when you allow the guest to burn a copy of the music CD and then let him take it home with him to be played at his leisure. It’s the issue of a single commodity (and single purchase) potentially being used at the same time in separate locations.

This leads to a question involving intent. Is it ok to let your players use the GM’s subscription to D&D Insider if all they are going to do is update their characters that will be used in the GM’s game? The intent is to remove the chores of character advancement and allow for more gameplay time at the table.

Assuming you think this is acceptable behavior, this leads to other questions...
Should one of those players be allowed to use parts of the subscription that do not relate to the GM’s game?
What if the GM and one of the players swap GM duties for an extended period of time? Should the former player now be required to get his own subscription?
What if a player starts his own campaign without the GM (who pays the subscription fee) participating?
Can a play group pool their money and collectively get a subscription and then all make use of the subscription?
Can a player purchase the subscription and then allow his GM to make use of it for the campaign the GM is running for the player?

Is a D&D Insider subscription a group purchase or an individual purchase?

How have you and your group handled these questions?
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