3rd-Party Apps for 5E Rising From The Dead!

To quote Monty Python, "I'm not Dead Yet!" Over the last few months, a number of D&D 5E third-party electronic tools have been removed from the web at WotC's request. Some of the creators of these tools cited Cease-and-Desists and posted angry "closing down" messages, while others indicated they'd had friendly requests to observe WotC's IP rights. What's interesting is that some of these tools are now reappearing, apparently after having met WotC's requests as to what can or can't be included - whch appears, at least at first blush, to be Basic Rules material, along with some minor trademark usage restrictions.

A couple of notable examples include Pathguy's D&D Next character generator. He closed his generator last month, leaving a closing message, but now the generator is back and running, noting that "I've been granted specific permission by WoTC to publish and distribute this generator. However, I've been asked to limit my "Fifth Edition" character generator to the content of the free online D&D Basic Rules."

That's not the only one that's risen from the grave! The d20 Fight Club for Fifth Edition iOS app was removed from Apple's App Store, citing an actual "cease and desist order from Wizards of the Coast". This, too, is back, under a new name! The creator notes that "To be compliant with Wizards of the Coast copyrights and trademarks this app will no longer contain any content from the Dungeon Master's Guide or use the trademarks "Dungeon Master" and "D20"

So what's happening? It seems that two things are going on. First, the C&Ds folks are talking about don't sound like they're particularly stern, and WotC is happily working things out with the creators of these apps and the like. Secondly, it appears that WotC is limiting use of certain trademarks (which is hardly surprising) and allowing content from the Basic Rules, although that's not 100% clear.

Does this hint at any kind of longer-term policy or license? These are individual agreements at present, but this may be a clue as to what we migh be able to expect in the future.

The D&D Tools website is still closed, but that was a rather different kettle of fish.

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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
"d20 System" is, as is the d20 System Trademark Logo, but "d20" itself is not. I assume that the creator means the former.
 
So perhaps what we will see soon is some sort of Basic Compatibility License? That seems like the sort of thing WotC might want to see to support sales of the Core Rules while not stepping on the toes of WotC released APs. It could also herald an expansion of the Basic Rules, short or long term. Interesting.
 

evilbob

Villager
I get that their IP is their IP and they don't want others infringing - that's perfectly fair. It's sad that something that people really, really want and can use - like an online character generator (for all PHB characters) - still doesn't exist ~8 months after it should have been released.
 

Kramodlog

Adventurer
From an exchange of post I had with Morrus, apparently WotC would need to make SRD-like document to have an OGL. Imagine where that is on WotC's list of priorities, the hours of work and the number of jurors that would be required to do this.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
From an exchange of post I had with Morrus, apparently WotC would need to make SRD-like document to have an OGL.
That's not what I said. I said that's what they did last time, not that that's what they need to do.
 
What would they need to do? Their isn't any license in the published books, so they would need to do something.
All they would have to do is attach a "Use" policy to the Basic Rules, outlining what is and is not covered and how to avoid a C&D. I feel certain they *will not* produce an SRD of any sort since that would very likely lead to a muddying of the waters between what WotC is hoping to do and what folks already using the OGL are trying to do. WotC wants people to buy the Core books and does not want to make short adventures. A Basic License of some sort serves both of those purposes.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What would they need to do? Their isn't any license in the published books, so they would need to do something.
There's lots of ways to approach it. A license on their site describing what was available for use would do the trick. The SRD was just an easy way to describe what was available for use.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That's not what I said. I said that's what they did last time, not that that's what they need to do.
Well, in order to license content, you do need to be able to stipulate what content is covered by the license. Exactly how you do that can vary.
 

neobolts

Explorer
Technically, yes. But they haven't said which jury. :)

(Or, for a more serious answer: I don't think WotC have actually said that, have they?)
They have said the conversion document is being delayed by jury duty. However, you should assume that the civic duty of the residents of Washington is the biggest obstacle to product development across the board. :cool:
 
Technically, yes. But they haven't said which jury. :)

(Or, for a more serious answer: I don't think WotC have actually said that, have they?)
They said jury duty was responsible for the delay in the conversion document(s). Interestingly, those conversion documents, in conjunction with the OGL and 3.5 SRD, may as well serve to open up 5E to the OGL because it pretty much proves that any 5E content in the conversion document is "derivative." Obviously that has no impact on trademarks, but could serve to embolden folks on the fence about putting out unofficial 5E support.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
This is a point in favor of my pet "BASIC = OGL" theory. Which would be less awesome than all of 5e being OGL, but not at all a bad thing, and potentially more realistic.

But I have never been one to settle for what others deem realistic. ;)
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Let's also not forget that I'm pretty sure the only reference we have received about a potentially imminent OGL for 5E thus far was from Christopher Perkins in a tweet... which is not even close to being any official notification we can hang our hat on. I'm pretty sure that anything that comes across his Twitter feed should be taken with a massive grain of salt. He's the story guy for D&D... he ain't a part of the business end of things.

At this point in time, WotC has not officially announced anything about the potential arrival of an OGL (or any license for 5E for that matter.)
 

neobolts

Explorer
[COM][/COM]
This is a point in favor of my pet "BASIC = OGL" theory. Which would be less awesome than all of 5e being OGL, but not at all a bad thing, and potentially more realistic.

But I have never been one to settle for what others deem realistic. ;)
This makes crazy sense as a theory. Basic=OGL would bring in all the needed rules, as well as the basic structural framework for races, classes, items, monsters, etc. Yet it also locks down enough content (i.e. the material unique to the actual books) to please the internal voices that want to lock down stuff. It would work way better than an awkward list of names like we worked with in 4e.
 

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