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  1. #1
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    Answers on the GSL!

    From the front page:




    WotC's Mike Lescault has just sent me the response to the interview questions we provided to them a couple of weeks ago. Short version: it's "per product line", not "per company"!

    The first five questions are exclusive to EN World; the remainder will also be posted on WotC's own website.
    Q. Does the so-called "poison pill" non-compete clause apply to ALL OGL, or only D&D-based fantasy? (i.e. what if it's based on d20 Modern, d20 Future, or a non-d20 source?)

    A. Its not a poison pill. Its a conversion clause. The D&D 4E GSL applies to fantasy-based products. The d20 GSL, which will come out at an undetermined point in the near future, will be for non-fantasy genres such as Modern, Future, etc. Publishers will be able to decide on a product line by product line basis which license will work best for them.

    Q. Does the GSL contain provisions to prevent a secondary, sister or subsidiary company being created in order to distribute products under the OGL?

    A. There are no restrictions prohibiting the formation of partnerships or subsidiaries, however companies will be bound by the product line declaration under the Game System License.

    Q. How much of WotC's IP is made available via the GSL? Creatures such as beholders and illithids were not available under the old licensing structure. Will they be available under the new structure?

    A. All of those details will be released when the license becomes available on June 6.

    Q. What products would WotC like to see come out of the third party publishers that they are not currently interested in producing themselves?

    A. The easy answer is we want to see quality products that support 4th Edition D&D. Im guessing you want specific examples, right? The GSL is designed for publishers to make Adventures, Fluff, Campaign settings, Alternate Classes, Races, Monsters, Paragon Paths, Epic Destinies, and other creative supplemental products.

    Q. What are WotCs main goals regarding the GSL? Do you believe that third-party products will drive sales of the D&D core rulebooks?


    A. The goals with the GSL include supporting our product line, growing the industry, and supplying consumers with a rich offering of RPG products meant to be used with the 4th Edition of D&D . And, of course, we want to drive sales of the D&D core rulebooks.

    On behalf of Russell Morrissey and all of EN World, thank you for the opportunity to hold this interview.

    Q) Many questions have been raised since the announcement last week. I think the one question everyone wants to know is: is the limitation the GSL places on publication of OGL based products limited on a "per company" basis or a "per product" basis? That is, is the effect merely to limit re-issuing the same product, or is a company that publishes a GSL product thereafter limited in their ability to publish any OGL products?

    A. The restriction is on a per product line basis.

    Q) How does this pertain to a company's catalog of existing OGL-based products? For example, if Necromancer Games publishes a Tome of Horrors 4e, would they have to stop selling their existing 3e OGL products via RPGnow?

    A. Publishers will be able to continue to sell their backlist under the OGL. If those products had the d20 system logo on them there will be a 6-month sell off period after which they will not be able to use the d20 system logo.

    Q) Can existing OGL products be updated to the GSL and what are the restrictions, if any?

    A. Existing OGL products can absolutely be converted to 4e GSL products, so long as they adhere to the terms of the GSL. In fact, we want to see publishers update their popular product lines to 4e.

    Q) What branding opportunities does the GSL offer publishers? Does it allow use of the new d20 logo; or does it allow access to Dungeons & Dragons specific branding?

    A. There will be a compatibility logo. Embedded in this logo is a version of the new D&D logo and copy stating compatibility. This compatibility logo is permissible for use on product and marketing materials. There will be restrictions on placement and maximum size allowed.

    Q) A six-month "sell-off" period has been mentioned with reference to stock carrying the old d20 logo. Is the d20 STL actually going away, or does this sell-off period apply only to those who adopt the GSL?

    A. The d20 STL will be terminated. There will be a sell-off period of six months for products produced under the d20 STL. This is true for both pdf and print products. Were estimating our own backlist stock to be sold through within 3 to 4 months, so allowing six months to other publishers feels fair. Allowing 6 months for pdfs is really pretty generous and we are already in conversations with publishers and PDF sellers like DrivethruRPG.com and RPGNow on how they can make these changes as easy as possible.

    Q) Is the new GSL an open license?

    A. We are not classifying the GSL as open as defined under the open source movement. It is a royalty-free license for permissible usage of specific D&D 4th Edition content including terms, tables, and templates. There is a significant amount of openness to the license and we wanted to provide ease of use and low barriers to entry while still maintaining control over things like the D&D Trademark. The GSL is designed to work with the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

    Q) Is WotC planning on providing an easily available, downloadable copy of the rules available both online and off without a fee?

    A. No. Anyone wishing access to the rules will need to purchase the core rulebooks. The GSL SRD will have a list of the terms, tables, and templates available for use under the GSL and will be available for download at no charge with the GSL itself.

    Q) Are there any "types" of product prohibited by the GSL? For example, the old d20 STL prohibited the inclusion of character generation or advancement, meaning that a standalone game could not be created, while the OGL alone did not. Does the GSL contain these restrictions? Are any other types of product restricted?

    A. Most of what was in the d20 STL has been pulled into the GSL. For example, no product can describe a process for creating a character or applying the effects of experience to a character. The new license is meant to work with the core D&D rules. The final details will be announced when the license is released in June.

    Q) Are products required to adhere to any 'community standards' clause, or anything similar?

    A.. Yes. The community standards that were in the d20 STL are now wrapped up into the GSLs.

    Q) Is the GSL a perpetual license, or is it revocable by WotC for reasons other than violation?


    A. The Game System License Is revocable as it is tied to the D&D trademark and other intellectual property. Because of this Wizards needs to maintain control of the license.

    Q) Why is October 1st the selected date for release of third-party materials, as opposed to, say, GenCon, which would be a far more useful launch date?

    A. Our initial intention was to have third-party materials ready for release at GenCon, however there is no way that anyone could develop a true quality product in the short time between now and GenCon. We think that October 1st is more reasonable, and will also allow publishers to take advantage of holiday sales.

    Q) Will any third-party publishers be permitted to release product under the GSL prior to October 1st?

    A. No. October 1st is the permissible on-sale date for all third party publishers.

    Q) Is there anything that you wished wed asked that we havent?

    A. You didnt ask about my 4E character.

  2. #2
    Man, and just as I was getting nervous that we wouldn't see anything this week.

    Thanks Mike!

    --G

  3. #3
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    I'll be interested to see how these two clauses work together - I'm guessing the devil is going to be in the detail of what the GSL actually says.

    'The D&D 4E GSL applies to fantasy-based products.'

    'There are no restrictions prohibiting the formation of partnerships or subsidiaries, however companies will be bound by the product line declaration under the Game System License.'
    Last edited by crazy_cat; Monday, 5th May, 2008 at 07:56 PM.

  4. #4
    For those interested in the sblock is the list of original questions.

    Spoiler:

    1) Many questions have been raised since the announcement last week. I think the one question everyone wants to know is: is the limitation the GSL places on publication of OGL based products limited on a "per company" basis or a "per product" basis? That is, is the effect merely to limit re-issuing the same product, or is a company that publishes a GSL product thereafter limited in their ability to publish any OGL products?

    2) Does the so-called "poison pill" non-compete clause apply to ALL OGL, or only D&D-based fantasy? (i.e. what if it's based on d20 Modern, d20 Future, or a non-d20 source?)

    2a) Is the restriction on companies who produce GSL material to not publish OGL material restricted to D20SRD based material, or does that affect other game systems released under the OGL (such as the Action! System)?

    2b) How does this pertain to a company's catalog of existing OGL-based products? For example, if Necromancer Games publishes a Tome of Horrors 4e, would they have to stop selling their existing 3e OGL products via RPGnow?

    2c) Does this restriction apply to the OGL specifically, or to any type of license? Would publishing content under the GSL prohibit a publisher from publishing open game content published under a non-OGL/GSL licence (eg: Creative Commons)?

    2d) Does the GSL contain provisions to prevent a secondary, sister or subsidiary company being created in order to distribute products under the OGL?

    2e) Can existing OGL products be updated to the GSL and what are the restrictions, if any?

    3) What branding opportunities does the GSL offer publishers? Does it allow use of the new d20 logo; or does it allow access to Dungeons & Dragons specific branding?

    4) How much of WotC's IP is made available via the GSL? Creatures such as beholders and illithids were not available under the old licensing structure. Will they be available under the new structure?

    5) Similar to the previous questions, some spell names were altered under the old licensing structure (Mordenkainen, Tenser, etc.) Will a similar approach be used under the GSL? (Do any powers or rituals actually contain such named entities?)

    6) A six-month "sell-off" period has been mentioned with reference to stock carrying the old d20 logo. Is the d20 STL actually going away, or does this sell-off period apply only to those who adopt the GSL?

    7) Is the new GSL an open license? Will it allow publishers to use each others' content under the provisions of the license?

    8) How does the new licensing policy affect fan created works? What is WotC's current policy on such works?

    8a) Will utilities similar to d20SRD.com be prevented from existing under the GSL?

    9) What products would WotC like to see come out of the third party publishers that they are not currently interested in producing themselves?


    10) Are there any "types" of product prohibited by the GSL? For example, the old d20 STL prohibited the inclusion of character generation or advancement, meaning that a standalone game could not be created, while the OGL alone did not. Does the GSL contain these restrictions? Are any other types of product restricted?

    10a) Are products required to adhere to any 'community standards' clause, or anything similar?

    11) A major criticism of the old licensing structure is that it caused a product-bloat due to the low bar to accessibility; it is common wisdom that the d20 logo lost its value because of this. Will the GSL address this problem?

    12) Is the GSL a perpetual license, or is it revocable by WotC for reasons other than violation?

    13) What mistakes do you feel were made regarding the old licensing structure (the OGL and d20 STL)? What has prompted the shift in policy? Specifically, what about it is undesirable now that was desirable when it was adopted?

    13a) What are WotC main goals regarding the GSL? Do you believe that third-party products will drive sales of the D&D core rulebooks?

    14) Does use of the GSL grant WotC access to IP or materials created by third-party publishers?

    15) Why was the GSL developed in secret, and what is the reason for the confidentiality surrounding it?

    15a) Why did development of the GSL take so long? Was this time period the reason the $5000 fee was dropped?

    15b) Why is October 1st the selected date for release of third-party materials, as opposed to, say, GenCon, whch would be a far more useful launch date?

    15c) Will any third-party publishers be permitted to release product under the GSL prior to October 1st?

    16) Will future D&D products from WotC be added to the list of material made available via the GSL?

    17) Will WotC continue to sell its own d20 PDFs (D20 Modern, 3.5 D&D, 3.5 Eberron, 3.5 Forgotten Realms, etc.) after the d20STL expiration date, or will those d20 products be retired or expired?

    18) Can you explain the two different licenses (the GSL and the d20 GSL) we're expecting to see? Thus far, we know that the GSL is for "fantasy" and the d20 GSL is for other types of genre. How are the two distinguished in licensing terms? What stops a company, for example, from using the GSL to produce a World War 2 supplement, or the d20 GSL to produce a sword-and-sorcery adventure?

    19) Is there anything that you wished wed asked, that we havent?



    I noticed a few questions were not answered that I would have liked to see answers to.

    7) Is the new GSL an open license? Will it allow publishers to use each others' content under the provisions of the license? [y] The first part was answered the second not.[/y]

    8) How does the new licensing policy affect fan created works? What is WotC's current policy on such works?

    8a) Will utilities similar to d20SRD.com be prevented from existing under the GSL?

    8b) Is WoTC planning on providing an easily available, downloadable copy of the rules available both online and off without a fee?

    11) A major criticism of the old licensing structure is that it caused a product-bloat due to the low bar to accessibility; it is common wisdom that the d20 logo lost its value because of this. Will the GSL address this problem?

    13) What mistakes do you feel were made regarding the old licensing structure (the OGL and d20 STL)? What has prompted the shift in policy? Specifically, what about it is undesirable now that was desirable when it was adopted?

    13a) What are WotC main goals regarding the GSL? Do you believe that third-party products will drive sales of the D&D core rulebooks?

    15) Why was the GSL developed in secret, and what is the reason for the confidentiality surrounding it?

    15a) Why did development of the GSL take so long? Was this time period the reason the $5000 fee was dropped?

    16) Will future D&D products from WotC be added to the list of material made available via the GSL?

    17) Will WotC continue to sell its own d20 PDFs (D20 Modern, 3.5 D&D, 3.5 Eberron, 3.5 Forgotten Realms, etc.) after the d20STL expiration date, or will those d20 products be retired or expired?
    Last edited by Brown Jenkin; Friday, 2nd May, 2008 at 10:52 PM.

  5. #5
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    Well, before this gets ugly--there's no reason it should, but these threads always do--I'd like to thank Scott and WotC not just for answering, but for providing an answer that should sooth a lot of the other publishers' fears.

    And thus, albeit I'm sure this wasn't their intention, ensuring that I'll continue to have multiple potential employers.

  6. #6
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    So, lets just take a hypothetical:

    Paizo Pathfinder is a product line. It can be 3E/OGL, or 4E, but not both. When a 4E comes out, no more 3E pathfinder.

    But, you could have 3E pathfinder and a 4E line of products called, say Paizo Paragon, that could support 4E. As long as it is seperate from Pathfinder.

    Sound correct?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TerraDave
    So, lets just take a hypothetical:

    Paizo Pathfinder is a product line. It can be 3E/OGL, or 4E, but not both. When a 4E comes out, no more 3E pathfinder.

    But, you could have 3E pathfinder and a 4E line of products called, say Paizo Paragon, that could support 4E. As long as it is seperate from Pathfinder.

    Sound correct?
    Sounds right. And Paizo will be interesting to watch. I assume that Pathfinder is a safe bet to stay 3E/OGL, but what about the stand alone Game Mastery Line, and if Game Mastery Line stays OGL, I wonder if Paizo will come up with a new product line.

    Anyway, good good news. I am excited to see the adventure path and monster book from Necro.

    RK

  8. #8
    Goods news! No doubt most publishers will still like to see the actualy license, but this goes a long way to making the GSL work. No OGL and GSL on the same product line (whatever that means), and existing OGL can be converted without problems. Sounds like it's all good them. Good job, Scott, Mike and WotC!

    Pinotage

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    Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
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    Sounds correct, Dave.

    Brown Jenkin, note that question 8b in your list was answered - you may have just missed it. The answer was no.

  10. #10
    The GameMastery line contains only supporting products like flip-mats, map tiles, cards, and other game aids from now on. The GameMastery modules are being rebranded Pathfinder modules with the next one to be released, and I don't think different product lines would apply to two lines that are both set in Golarion anyway.

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