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Update: Hasbro/WotC appears to have capitulated


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As part of its upcoming "One D&D" initiative (which is effectively the 6th edition), WotC has previously stated that it intended to update its Open Gaming License (OGL) in order to reflect the transition to the new "edition".

 

Yesterday, very reputable sources within the D&D/tabletop gaming community began leaking the draft version of the OGL 1.1 to well-regarded YouTube channels and HOLY HELL HAS BROKEN LOOSE because this version of the OGL -- at least in its draft stage -- is poised to FUNDAMENTALLY shake the foundations of third-party content creators who have relied upon the OGL to develop/publish products that have spurred the TTRPG Renaissance we've seen over the last few years, especially for those smaller developers/publishers who have used Kickstarter so very effectively.  This Gizmodo article contains the best presentation of the information we have so far:

 

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GIZMODO.COM

An exclusive look at Wizards of the Coast's new open gaming license shows efforts to curtail competitors and and tighten control on creators of all sizes.

 

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What is the Dungeons & Dragons Open Gaming License?

 

The original OGL is what many contemporary tabletop publishers use to create their products within the boundaries of D&D’s reproducible content. Much of the original OGL is dedicated to the System Resource Document, and includes character species, classes, equipment, and, most importantly, general gameplay structures, including combat, spells, and creatures.

 

The creation of the OGL version 1.0, which was originally published in 2000, has allowed a host of outside designers and publishers, both amateur and professional, to make new products for a game that remains entirely owned by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast (WotC). While this arrangement sometimes created products that directly competed with WotC publications, it also allowed the game to flourish and grow thanks to the resources created by the wider D&D community.

 

 

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What is in the new OGL 1.1?

 

A lot, actually. While the original open gaming license is a relatively short document, coming in at under 900 words, the new draft of the OGL 1.1, which was provided to io9 by a non-WotC developer, is over 9,000 words long. It addresses new technologies like blockchain and NFTs, and takes a strong stance against bigoted content, explicitly stating the company may terminate the agreement if third-party creators publish material that is “blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, bigoted or otherwise discriminatory.” (Hooray!)

 

One of the biggest changes to the document is that it updates the previously available OGL 1.0 to state it is “no longer an authorized license agreement.” By ending the original OGL, many licensed publishers will have to completely overhaul their products and distribution in order to comply with the updated rules. Large publishers who focus almost exclusively on products based on the original OGL, including Paizo, Kobold Press, and Green Ronin, will be under pressure to update their business model incredibly fast.

 

This is no mistake. According to the document procured by io9, the new agreements states that “the Open Game License was always intended to allow the community to help grow D&D and expand it creatively. It wasn’t intended to subsidize major competitors, especially now that PDF is by far the most common form of distribution.” (note: this is unquestionably a not-subtle-at-all shot a Paizo and its Pathfinder/Starfinder RPGs)

 

 

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What will happen to the original OGL?

 

The original OGL granted “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license” to the Open Game Content (commonly called the System Resource Document) and directed that licensees “may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.” But the updated OGL says that “this agreement is…an update to the previously available OGL 1.0(a), which is no longer an authorized license agreement.”

 

The new document clarifies further in the “Warranties” section that “this agreement governs Your use of the Licensed Content and, unless otherwise stated in this agreement, any prior agreements between Us and You are no longer in force.”

 

According to attorneys consulted for this article, the new language may indicate that Wizards of the Coast is rendering any future use of the original OGL void, and asserting that if anyone wants to continue to use Open Game Content of any kind, they will need to abide by the terms of the updated OGL, which is a far more restrictive agreement than the original OGL.

 

 

Now, let's get to the $$$ part because this is where the rubber meets the road as WotC executives well and truly believe that D&D is severely "under-monetized".

 

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Will OGL publishers have to pay royalties?

 

Probably not. Unless they are making over $750,000, licensees get to keep the money they earn. But the new OGL states that the Commercial Agreement “covers all commercial uses, whether they’re profitable or not.” So if you go into the red on a Kickstarter that earned $800K in backing money, you will still owe Wizards of the Coast, regardless of the fact that you did not profit from your venture.

 

“Note that if You appear to have achieved great success... from producing OGL: Commercial content, We may reach out to You for a more custom(and mutually beneficial) licensing arrangement,” the document notes, indicating that WotC is open to creating custom contracts and agreements, but at their discretion. This could indicate that “subsidized competition” like Pathfinder might not get a great deal.

 

The revenue tiers are as follows:

 

A. Initiate Tier. If You have registered at least one Licensed Work but haven’t generated $50,000 or more in total (gross) revenue from OGL: Commercial products in a given year, You are at the Initiate Tier.

 

B. Intermediate Tier. If Your Licensed Work(s) have generated more than $50,000 in total revenue in a given year but less than $750,000, You are at the Intermediate Tier.

 

C. Expert Tier. If Your Licensed Work(s) have generated at least $750,000 in total revenue in a given year, You are at the Expert Tier.

 

According to the document, “If, and only if, You are generating a significant amount of money (over $750,000 per year across all Licensed Works) from Your Licensed Works, The revenue You make from Your Licensed Works in excess of $750,000 in a single calendar year is considered “Qualifying Revenue” and You are responsible for paying Us 20% or 25% of that Qualifying Revenue.”

 

The draft goes on to explain that if you make $750,001, you will owe Wizards of the Coast 25 cents, as they are only asking for royalties on the one dollar made in excess of the Expert Tier. As stated in their announcement in December, WotC suspects that “less than twenty” companies are at the Expert Tier.

 

 

Sure, that doesn't sound too bad at all, but here's the kicker that would get my alarm bells sounding if I was a third-party D&D content creator of any size:

 

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WotC also gets the right to use any content that licensees create, whether commercial or non-commercial. Although this is couched in language to protect Wizards’ products from infringing on creators’ copyright, the document states that for any content created under the updated OGL, regardless of whether or not it is owned by the creator, Wizards will have a “nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use that content for any purpose.”

 

This means that WotC will effectively "co-own" any content created by a third-party creator, won't be required to pay that third-party creator a single penny in royalties, and will be able to monetize that content until the heat death of the universe, even if they terminate the license of that third-party creator which they can do for any reason, provided 30 days' notice is given.

 

Needless to say this has created nothing short of storm within the third-party D&D creator community within the last 24 hours since the initial leak of the draft 1.1 license which occurred during this livestream with Stephen Glicker & Mark Seifter who from the Roll for Combat live play channel (the actual leak and discussion occur at 39:30).

 

 

As a follow-up, the hosts brought on a NY-based contract lawyer to discuss the terms and conditions of the draft 1.1 OGL (note: I haven't watched this particular video yet):

 

 

Those who will be most significantly impacted by this new version of the OGL will be the relatively small content creators (i.e. not Critical Role or Paizo) like The Griffon's Saddlebag, a well-known magic item creator, who posted this truly despondent video earlier this week after reviewing the draft OGL 1.1 license:

 

 

If this OGL 1.1 license releases in its final form more or less substantively unchanged from the draft version, it could very well be the catalyst for the most potentially significant fundamental change in the relationship between Hasbro/WotC and the TTRPG content creator community in decades.

 

I can thoroughly appreciate the sentiment of Hasbro/WotC that they've left "money on the table" regarding D&D for years and watched as Paizo and the other third-party content creators have managed to carve out their own relatively successful niches using the system that D&D pioneered. I don't blame them for wanting to capture at least some of that value.

 

What I certainly can and will blame them for is apparently going about it in one of the most draconian, ham-fisted, and shortsighted ways possible where there is a not-insignificant potential for it to backfire so very spectacularly that it could effectively bring the TTRPG Renaissance to a sudden, screeching halt.

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10 hours ago, Commissar SFLUFAN said:

I can thoroughly appreciate the sentiment of Hasbro/WotC that they've left "money on the table" regarding D&D for years and watched as Paizo and the other third-party content creators have managed to carve out their own relatively successful niches using the system that D&D pioneered. I don't blame them for wanting to capture at least some of that value.

 

What I certainly can and will blame them for is apparently going about it in one of the most draconian, ham-fisted, and shortsighted ways possible where there is a not-insignificant potential for it to backfire so very spectacularly that it could effectively bring the TTRPG Renaissance to a sudden, screeching halt.

 

Most of the money left on the table is imaginary or never would have made it into WotC's pockets anyway. WotC and Games Workshop are the respective biggest games in town and they behave as if their brands ARE their respective hobbies. It should absolutely either be beneath them to go after small creators for the equivalent of crumbs falling off their tables or they should acknowledge that this stuff is a direct pipeline into their ecosystems.

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2 hours ago, Commissar SFLUFAN said:

I am in possession of the OGL 1.1 PDF and it's just as draconian as all the reporting has indicated.

 

It is so wild to watch companies like Hasbro go the the IP equivalent of full austerity measures for the same reasons right wingers do... the notion that someone else might make a penny off "their" dollar drives them fucking insane.

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So I've seen some talk from publishers and other creators about moving away from D&D...

 

KOBOLDPRESS.COM

Kobold Press Announces New Core Fantasy Game As Dungeons & Dragons moves toward the 50th anniversary of the game, foundational changes are afoot in the tabletop roleplaying game arena. While we wait to see exactly what shape the Open Gaming License might take in this new era, Kobold Press is also moving forward with some clear-eyed work on work … Kobold Press Announces New Core Fantasy Experiment Read More »

 

I'm curious now. I can't be the only one that thinks If/when more folks start jumping ship, there's nothing WotC can do to backtrack there. Right? Even if they came out tomorrow and said 1.1 is no longer going to happen, I don't see how it changes the math. You have to assume that the seed has been planted and even if they backtrack tomorrow, that doesn't say anything about next week.

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10 hours ago, Ghost_MH said:

So I've seen some talk from publishers and other creators about moving away from D&D...

 

KOBOLDPRESS.COM

Kobold Press Announces New Core Fantasy Game As Dungeons & Dragons moves toward the 50th anniversary of the game, foundational changes are afoot in the tabletop roleplaying game arena. While we wait to see exactly what shape the Open Gaming License might take in this new era, Kobold Press is also moving forward with some clear-eyed work on work … Kobold Press Announces New Core...

 

I'm curious now. I can't be the only one that thinks If/when more folks start jumping ship, there's nothing WotC can do to backtrack there. Right? Even if they came out tomorrow and said 1.1 is no longer going to happen, I don't see how it changes the math. You have to assume that the seed has been planted and even if they backtrack tomorrow, that doesn't say anything about next week.

 

Gamers are bad at walking away from things they like and are invested in. D&D is one of the more convoluted and expensive RPGs out there but it's still the most popular by far. Obviously a lot of people have been funneled into it from content not made by WotC but the second biggest RPG is Pathfinder and it's an enormous drop in terms of player count and revenue between them.

 

I suspect this will move the needle a bit, but D&D is going to be just fine. To wit, a good deal of the chatter online around... most big Games Workshop releases, be it paint, new editions, etc., is critical at best if not straight up negative. But it generates clicks so creators don't feel like they can ignore it. Even painters who don't really play ANY games will fuck with Warhammer models and tutorials on their channels because it brings in views.

 

So I dunno where this goes, really. But similar to videoogames, I suspect your average person who sits down at a table to play a D&D campaign doesn't really care about this.

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10 hours ago, Kal-El814 said:

 

Gamers are bad at walking away from things they like and are invested in. D&D is one of the more convoluted and expensive RPGs out there but it's still the most popular by far. Obviously a lot of people have been funneled into it from content not made by WotC but the second biggest RPG is Pathfinder and it's an enormous drop in terms of player count and revenue between them.

 

I suspect this will move the needle a bit, but D&D is going to be just fine. To wit, a good deal of the chatter online around... most big Games Workshop releases, be it paint, new editions, etc., is critical at best if not straight up negative. But it generates clicks so creators don't feel like they can ignore it. Even painters who don't really play ANY games will fuck with Warhammer models and tutorials on their channels because it brings in views.

 

So I dunno where this goes, really. But similar to videoogames, I suspect your average person who sits down at a table to play a D&D campaign doesn't really care about this.

 

I get that gamers are bad at walking away, but it's the third party publishers and smaller creators I'm wondering about. I'm sure for like 99% of people, they'll keep their subscription going without a care in the world.

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49 minutes ago, Ghost_MH said:

I get that gamers are bad at walking away, but it's the third party publishers and smaller creators I'm wondering about. I'm sure for like 99% of people, they'll keep their subscription going without a care in the world.

 

Yeah it's going to be an interesting scene for sure. I've seen more third party creators publicly talking about ditching their sub and/or not making D&D content anymore until things change than I'd expected. A non trivial number of them have their whole small business based on D&D adjacency so... I really don't know what to expect.

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Alright, let's update this for the recent events, shall we?  Because things appear to be reaching a critical mass!

 

First, Roll for Combat, the YT channel, to whom the existence of the OGL 1.1 was initially leaked, posted this 2021 video of a Canadian lawyer discussing his 2019 PhD thesis (358 pages including appendices) on the OGL and what a far-sighted document it was at the time:

 

 

Next, Roll for Combat interviewed Ryan Dancey, one of the original creators of the OGL back in 1999/2000, and what their intent was behind its creation and whether or not he thinks it can be revoked (spoiler warning: he doesn't):

 

 

That brings us today where WotC was supposed to have a livestream where they were going to officially announce what they're now calling OGL 2.0.  However, this email from a confirmed WotC employee was sent to multiple news outlets today and all hell broke loose:

 

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Linda Codega -- the Gizmodo writer who published that extensive article a few days ago -- also vouched for the authenticity of the release.  She then published this article this afternoon:

 

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GIZMODO.COM

The new Dungeons & Dragons Open Game License was expected on Thursday afternoon, but a fan campaign against changes has caused the company to hesitate.

 

 

Remember that announcement livestream from WotC that I mentioned earlier in this post?  Well...

 

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Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast has apparently cancelled an announcement about its updated Open Gaming License for a second time this week. Inside sources at Wizards of the Coast tell io9 that the company is scrambling to formulate a response to backlash against the new OGL that has occurred over the past week, following io9's story about a leaked draft of the document.

 

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According to io9 sources, the new OGL, now known as OGL 2.0, was supposed to go live on Thursday afternoon, along with a detailed FAQ explaining changes and addressing fan concerns.

 

But when D&D personality Ginny Di tweeted that people should cancel their D&D Beyond subscription in order to send a clear message to Wizards of the Coast regarding what the fanbase thinks of the developments around the Updated OGL, the message was widely shared. A stream of subscribers turning off their payment to D&D Beyond appeared to temporarily shut down the landing page for subscription cancellations because of server errors.

 

 

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The result of these cancellations and their impact on the bottom line of Wizards of the Coast is not negligible, according to io9's sources at the company, and has caused upper management to scramble to adjust their messaging around the situation, leading to the delays in the OGL release.

 

Wizards of the Coast also cancelled a pre-scheduled D&D Beyond live stream on Twitch, which had been set for 3:00 pm on Thursday, although the company stated on its Discord that this was done to update a previously agreed-upon schedule, rather than as a response to the purported announcement.

 

 

Other sources from inside WotC have indicated that the volume of D&D Beyond subscription cancellations have genuinely shaken WotC executives.

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21 minutes ago, Kal-El814 said:

 

Yeah it's going to be an interesting scene for sure. I've seen more third party creators publicly talking about ditching their sub and/or not making D&D content anymore until things change than I'd expected. A non trivial number of them have their whole small business based on D&D adjacency so... I really don't know what to expect.

 

From Frog God Games and Necromancer Games:

 

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Frog God Games and Necromancer Games will not sign the new Open Game License (OGL) Version 1.1. We believe that what Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) is doing is wrong, in bad faith, and likely illegal. We fully believe that the strength of the industry is based on multiple people with diverse approaches to making rules, settings, and adventures for our favorite game.

 

Twenty-three years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars ago, Clark Peterson and I started a tiny company called Necromancer Games. At midnight on the day 3rd Edition was released, we released the first 3rd party published adventure to support it, The Wizard's Amulet. Our company then worked with WOTC to put together the 1.0A OGL. The promise that we could start, grow, and operate a business creating adventures for D&D was in the bedrock of what has become my life's work.

 

We have published for D&D's 3.0, 3.5, and 5th Editions. We have published for Pathfinder, Swords and Wizardry, Old School Essentials, and Castles and Crusades. We have published over 500 unique products over the years and even built our own warehouse. All of this was done with the blessing of WOTC through the 1.0A OGL and a contractual promise that we could do this. Third-party publishers like us made the D&D brand larger and more universal.

 

We are not offended by their desire to make money off the 3rd party publishing market. We are offended that unless we give them the permanent right to use and sell our intellectual property with no compensation, we cannot continue to operate. We are offended that unless we give them the right to let them revoke our ability to publish at any time with only 30 days' notice, we cannot make any more books. We are offended that even though we have spent thousands of dollars on making virtual tabletop versions of our games, we can't do it anymore.

 

WOTC sounds like Darth Vader talking to Lando Calrissian in the Empire Strikes Back "… I am altering the deal, pray that I do not alter it further." Deauthorizing the 1.0A OGL is deeply unfair, likely illegal, and evil.

 

WOTC, in bad faith, is breaking a promise, clear and simple. Now, they want to pull the rug out from under us. They are intentionally damaging not only Necromancer Games and Frog God Games, but the entire industry.

 

If they proceed and succeed in deauthorizing the 1.0A OGL, we will have to stop production. We will lay off staff and quit hiring and paying 70 or so freelancers. We will have to cancel projects we have spent tens of thousands of dollars on already. This will put us, and several dozen other companies out of business. Putting 3rd party publishers out of business will create a monoculture of work in D&D that prevents diversity of thought and makes it so only one company has input into the hobby. This has a real effect on people, real people, not just companies.

 

We do not care about One D&D. What we do care about is our ability to use the perpetual 1.0A OGL granted to us in 2000 by WOTC, as they promised we could.

So, what does all this mean for Necromancer Games and Frog God Games?

 

First, it means we need to stand up to them, fight, and continue working under our existing license. In this case by "we" I mean everyone who is a creator in this industry. Second, we need to band together to create a non-OGL and non-WOTC version of a System Reference Document (SRD) that can forever be used by anyone. Why, you ask? WOTC has proven itself to be untrustworthy and we all need to wean ourselves off them as soon as we can. We will work with our friends in the industry and have been in conversation with many of them already about doing this. Go Black Flag!

 

What you can do to help is to buy books from us and other 3rd party publishers right now so we can afford to continue to operate, pay our people, and keep our pool of artists and writers from starving. Look for opportunities to let WOTC know that what they are doing is wrong, be it with social media or with your wallet.

Have no fear, we are sticking around. We know it's going to be a bumpy ride for a while, but if the fans support us, Necromancer Games and Frog God Games, as well as dozens of other companies like us, we will win this war and continue to make great products for the hobby

 

 

Neil Gaiman and Wil Weaton shared this post from Cory Doctorow:

 

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MOSTLYSIGNSSOMEPORTENTS.TUMBLR.COM

Last week, Gizmodo’s Linda Codega caught a fantastic scoop — a leaked report of Hasbro’s plan to revoke the decades-old Open Gaming License, which subsidiary Wizards Of the Coast promulgated as an...

 

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If you’re a game designer who was pissed off because the OGL was getting ganked — and if you’re even more pissed off now that you’ve discovered that the OGL was a piece of shit all along — there’s a lesson there. The OGL tricked a generation of designers into thinking they were building on a commons. They weren’t — but they could.

 

This is a great moment to start — or contribute to — real open gaming content, licensed under standard, universal licenses like Creative Commons. Rolling your own license has always been a bad idea, comparable to rolling your own encryption in the annals of ways-to-fuck-up-your-own-life-and-the-lives-of-many-others. There is an opportunity here — Hasbro unintentionally proved that gamers want to collaborate on shared gaming systems.

 

 

And finally, Paizo decided to end the day with this (which caused their site to crash from traffic):

 

Paizo Announces System-Neutral Open RPG License

 

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For the last several weeks, as rumors of Wizards of the Coast’s new version of the Open Game License began circulating among publishers and on social media, gamers across the world have been asking what Paizo plans to do in light of concerns regarding Wizards of the Coast’s rumored plan to de-authorize the existing OGL 1.0(a). We have been awaiting further information, hoping that Wizards would realize that, for more than 20 years, the OGL has been a mutually beneficial license which should not–and cannot–be revoked. While we continue to await an answer from Wizards, we strongly feel that Paizo can no longer delay making our own feelings about the importance of Open Gaming a part of the public discussion.

 

We believe that any interpretation that the OGL 1.0 or 1.0(a) were intended to be revocable or able to be deauthorized is incorrect, and with good reason.

 

We were there.

 

 

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Paizo owner Lisa Stevens and Paizo president Jim Butler were leaders on the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards at the time. Brian Lewis, co-founder of Azora Law, the intellectual property law firm that Paizo uses, was the attorney at Wizards who came up with the legal framework for the OGL itself. Paizo has also worked very closely on OGL-related issues with Ryan Dancey, the visionary who conceived the OGL in the first place.

 

Paizo does not believe that the OGL 1.0a can be “deauthorized,” ever. While we are prepared to argue that point in a court of law if need be, we don’t want to have to do that, and we know that many of our fellow publishers are not in a position to do so.

 

We have no interest whatsoever in Wizards’ new OGL. Instead, we have a plan that we believe will irrevocably and unquestionably keep alive the spirit of the Open Game License.

 

 

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The new Open RPG Creative License will be built system agnostic for independent game publishers under the legal guidance of Azora Law, an intellectual property law firm that represents Paizo and several other game publishers. Paizo will pay for this legal work. We invite game publishers worldwide to join us in support of this system-agnostic license that allows all games to provide their own unique open rules reference documents that open up their individual game systems to the world. To join the effort and provide feedback on the drafts of this license, please sign up by using this form.

 

In addition to Paizo, Kobold Press, Chaosium, Green Ronin, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and a growing list of publishers have already agreed to participate in the Open RPG Creative License, and in the coming days we hope and expect to add substantially to this group.

 

 

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The ORC will not be owned by Paizo, nor will it be owned by any company who makes money publishing RPGs. Azora Law’s ownership of the process and stewardship should provide a safe harbor against any company being bought, sold, or changing management in the future and attempting to rescind rights or nullify sections of the license. Ultimately, we plan to find a nonprofit with a history of open source values to own this license (such as the Linux Foundation).

 

Of course, Paizo plans to continue publishing Pathfinder and Starfinder, even as we move away from the Open Gaming License. Since months’ worth of products are still at the printer, you’ll see the familiar OGL 1.0(a) in the back of our products for a while yet. While the Open RPG Creative License is being finalized, we’ll be printing Pathfinder and Starfinder products without any license, and we’ll add the finished license to those products when the new license is complete.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Air_Delivery said:

Sounds like WotC unintentionally made everyone aware how vunerable they are to a private corporations whims and even if they backtrack, they can't undo what they have done. 

 

That is absolutely the case.

 

But it's also the case that WotC is counting on the sheer ubiquity and inertia of D&D to simply overwhelm the new awareness of that vulnerability.

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7 hours ago, Ghost_MH said:

Assuming subscribers really are bailing at a rate that is freaking out execs and all the major third parties are gone and not coming back. What, short of creative commoning everything, could WotC do to stop the bleeding?

 

Probably nothing in the short term, but I'm really not sure that they're all that concerned about the bleeding as long as they get their long-term goal of dominating the virtual tabletop space which is where they believe the future of the hobby is heading.  They'll gladly endure the loss of the third-party content as a trade-off for that outcome.

 

Also, the mainstream press is now picking up the story:

 

Dungeons & Dragons & fear & loathing (Financial Times)

 

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If FTAV had a quid for every time we’ve written about Wizards of the Coast in the past couple of months, we’d have £2, which isn’t a lot, etc . . . But the seaside sorcerers are once again stirring the cauldron.

 

In November, we caught up with accusations by Bank of America that the games group was “killing its golden goose”, Magic: The Gathering — now it seems to be leering menacingly at its, uh, silver swan, Dungeons & Dragons.

 

After testing Magic players’ patience with a “flood the zone” approach to card releases, D&D’s role players are recoiling from reports WotC, a crucial part of board games kingpin Hasbro, is looking at clamping down on the plethora of games that utilise its rules framework.

 

 

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The D&D community appears to be very peeved, while #StopTheSub (NSFW) on Twitter is full of angry nerds and at least one thread of poorly-written erotica. Unsubscribing from D&D Beyond seems to be go-to way of showing discontent.

 

Hasbro investors, meanwhile, don’t seem to be particularly fussed, with its shares roughly the highest since before BofA gave Magic a kicking.

 

Will it matter? We’ll say this: it’s certainly bold of WotC to do battle with both its key fanbases at the same time. Maybe the dice will be on their side.

 

 

 

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WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM

Wizards of the Coast, which owns the game, is preparing to change longstanding licensing rules

 

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“I almost cried about it two nights ago,” said Baron de Rapp, who is 36 and lives in Tennessee. He’s been playing D&D since he was nine years old, learning the ins and outs from older relatives who shared plans, called “adventures”, which map out a general storyline for each game. While some adventures are written by D&D itself, many others are written by individual “dungeon masters”. Under the proposed license, these plans could soon be owned by Hasbro.

 

“It honestly feels like your grandfather paid for your college education, and now that you’re 40 years old and have a stable career, he says you owe him 25% of all the money you’ve been making,” he said.

 

De Rapp moonlights as a dungeon master – the person responsible for guiding a group of players through an adventure and describing various elements and encounters in that imaginary world – at corporate team-building events and runs a local high school’s club. The one word that sums up his feelings now is “betrayal”.

 

“Many people are simply leaving the game altogether,” said William Earl, a 28-year-old YouTuber whose videos largely focus on D&D culture. He said he had cancelled his subscription to D&D Beyond, Hasbro’s digital game companion, and would never buy another WoTC product.

 

 

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Can someone more familiar with this stuff clarify for me exactly what kind of stuff is affected by all this, or I suppose how much stuff we're talking about here.

 

How much of this is stuff to help you play D&D specifically vs using the D&D system to play other games?

 

I'm curious because it seems to me that if you're selling books that are add-ons to D&D specifically, these proposed changes would be terrible and your ability to move to a different system would be pretty limited. If you're simply using some of the D&D mechanics to ease players into a different game, then I can imagine that the backlash to this proposal might be enough to move you towards this new ORC thing.

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6 hours ago, TwinIon said:

Can someone more familiar with this stuff clarify for me exactly what kind of stuff is affected by all this, or I suppose how much stuff we're talking about here.

 

How much of this is stuff to help you play D&D specifically vs using the D&D system to play other games?

 

I'm curious because it seems to me that if you're selling books that are add-ons to D&D specifically, these proposed changes would be terrible and your ability to move to a different system would be pretty limited. If you're simply using some of the D&D mechanics to ease players into a different game, then I can imagine that the backlash to this proposal might be enough to move you towards this new ORC thing.

 

In short: practically everything would be impacted if the draconian OGL 1.1/OGL 2.0 came into effect.

 

Let's start with this very good explanation of what the original OGL 1.0/1.0a represents from a poster at ResetERA:

 

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What the OGL allows you to do is publish products which are mechanically compatible with D&D. This is, technically, something which could be done anyway — mechanics aren’t subject to copyright any more than I can copyright 2+2=4. There’s a whole industry of retroclones based off of this precedent. What’s subject to copyright is the text used to express them. The OGL is a convenience that allows people to simply publish their product and say ‘this is compatible with [we’re not allowed to say D&D 5E but D&D 5E]’ rather than carefully having to reinvent the D&D-shaped wheel each time and risk going to court if their wording isn’t precise enough.

 

The stipulations of the OGL 1.0/1.0a allowed for third-parties to create the plethora of supplementary games that directly contributed to the TTRPG Renaissance, from major publishers like Paizo and Kobold Press to the dozens games/other materials that have proliferated on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms.  If you open a TTRPG source book or other material that says "Compatible with 5E" or similar language on the cover, you will see printed in its entirety OGL 1.0a.  Even the second edition of Paizo's Pathfinder RPG whose mechanics have moved far enough away from its D&D 3.5E roots to be practically its own system continues to print the OGL 1.0a in its materials for reasons completely unrelated to game mechanics (keeping the game approachable for third party publishers, the legal costs of establishing a separate Paizo-specific license, etc.). In addition, the OGL 1.0/1.0a provisions were used by the developers of the virtual tabletops platforms as a guideline in creating those systems under the assumption that it  applied to them as well.   The fact of the matter is that OGL 1.0/1.0a has been effectively inextricably woven into the fabric of the TTRPG system.

 

And OGL 1.1/2.0 in its current form would effectively take not a match, but a flamethrower to that fabric.

 

To give an example, the provisions of OGL 1.1/2.0 discussing the use of virtual/electronic tools if implemented would force ALL of the virtual tabletop platforms out of existence because according to the text, the intent of the OGL 1.0/1.0a was to solely cover "printed media and static electronic file formats"  and therefore WotC would lay claim to the actual tools (electronic character creation sheets, setting creation tools, scenario creation tools, etc.) used by the VTTs.  

 

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture of how utterly devastating the implementation of OGL 1.1/2.0 would be for the TTRPG community.  In fact, I've heard a couple of attorneys suggest that if it was ever upheld in court that it could potentially have significant ramifications within the software open source community!

 

To conclude this post, remember that Canadian lawyer who wrote a nearly 400 pages long PhD thesis on the OGL 1.0/1.0a and was featured in one of the videos I posted yesterday?  He was a guest on the Roll for Combat YT channel today to discuss OGL 1.1/2.0:

 

 

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8 hours ago, Brian said:
638091876829710721.jpeg
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Although we are not yet able to release the OGL at this time, we would like to update you on how things are developing, and the goals we have in mind fo...

 

 

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That was why our early drafts of the new OGL included the provisions they did. That draft language was provided to content creators and publishers so their feedback could be considered before anything was finalized.

 

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

 

It was totally a draft version intended to solicit "feedback" that was attached to executable contracts that were sent to multiple third-party creators over the Christmas holiday with a deadline of January 13 to be signed/executed.

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10 hours ago, Commissar SFLUFAN said:

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

 

It was totally a draft version intended to solicit "feedback" that was attached to executable contracts that were sent to multiple third-party creators over the Christmas holiday with a deadline of January 13 to be signed/executed.

 

You miss all the shots you don't take!

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On 1/12/2023 at 10:37 PM, Commissar SFLUFAN said:

From LegalEagle:

 

Haven't watched it yet, but it should be good.

 

 

Well, this is a new take. He basically thinks even the original OGL is worthless because it grants permission to do something everyone already had permission to do because you cannot copyright or trademark game rules. He argues WotC can own a copyright on the actual text of the rules and prevent people from reprinting them same as any artwork they've created, but they can't stop anyone from creating or selling anything and just saying it's D&D compatible.

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53 minutes ago, Ghost_MH said:

 

Haven't watched it yet, but it should be good.

 

 

Well, this is a new take. He basically thinks even the original OGL is worthless because it grants permission to do something everyone already had permission to do because you cannot copyright or trademark game rules. He argues WotC can own a copyright on the actual text of the rules and prevent people from reprinting them same as any artwork they've created, but they can't stop anyone from creating or selling anything and just saying it's D&D compatible.

 

I've always suspected / wondered if it was fear of litigation that kept people in line even if people didn't think they would be "breaking the law." As he noted, you cannot copyright game mechanics because someone would absolutely already own the copyright to "roll dice and move X spaces" or "draw a card." And there's a lot of stuff that's clearly intended to be used in D&D / 5E that just doesn't say it at all or implies it can be hacked to 5E.

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12 minutes ago, DPCyric said:

I'm pretty sure this was coming down from Hasbro and someone inside WotC leaked it to start a riot and shut it down ahead of time. Really seems to be a lot of head butting between WotC and upper management.

 

WotC blows plenty of ass on its own.

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4 minutes ago, Kal-El814 said:

 

WotC blows plenty of ass on its own.

 

Absolutely the MTG decisions over the past few years turned me away from spending money on it and now I just grind the F2P train on Arena. I just think they would have rather just left the OGL as it was with all the bad press they are already dealing with lately.

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On 1/14/2023 at 11:27 AM, Kal-El814 said:

 

I've always suspected / wondered if it was fear of litigation that kept people in line even if people didn't think they would be "breaking the law." As he noted, you cannot copyright game mechanics because someone would absolutely already own the copyright to "roll dice and move X spaces" or "draw a card." And there's a lot of stuff that's clearly intended to be used in D&D / 5E that just doesn't say it at all or implies it can be hacked to 5E.


Sure, things like using stats, modifers, saving throws and all that can't be protected but I think the problem is that characters, spells, items and monsters as described in D&D are copywritable. Now I haven't played D&D in 20 years but I'd imagine these 3rd party campaigns are using characters, spells, items and monsters as described in the various D&D manuals and novels. 

 

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12 hours ago, Ghost_MH said:

Uhhhhh...so I previously asked if there was anything that could save WotC outside of creative commoning D&D, and then...

 

avernus.jpg
WWW.POLYGON.COM

‘We’re giving the core D&D mechanics to the community’

 

How many people cancelled their subscriptions to make this happen?

More canceled after this, because the language changed, but the intent didn’t. 
 

their stock is down again this morning.

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  • Commissar SFLUFAN changed the title to Update: Hasbro/WotC appears to have capitulated

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