Foundry VTT Author Chimes in on OGL 1.1

Oofta

Legend
Are you talking about 5E? Because superiority isn’t NOT the reason for 5E D&D’s success. The reality is that the vast majority of players aren’t familiar with other TTRPGs and are hesitant to learn. It’s like playing board games with your relatives at Christmas—a lot of the players only know how to play Monopoly (or Clue or Life) and don’t like boardgames enough to want to learn any others. They’re playing the familiar game to avoid being left out, but aren’t interested in doing the work of learning which games they like better.
I've tried other RPGs off and on over the years, mostly at cons. I stick with D&D because I prefer the system and the latitude of styles when it comes to campaigns. You may prefer a different system, but D&D has several qualities that make it work for me and the people I play with.

Yes D&D has a massive head start over most other systems, but saying that people just don't know any better feels dismissive of people's opinions and preferences.
 

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Quarzis

Villager
It was for "political" reasons - though I don't think this is really "politics". @Umbran will correct me if necessary, I'm sure.

[And I apologize in advance if it is]

What happened was last February, Russia invaded Ukraine. Various Western nations announced financial sanctions on Russia and Russians, and in particular, took steps to ensure that it would be really hard to send money to (or get money out of) Russia to and from the West.

About 2-3 weeks after the invasion and as sanctions were being discussed in the media and announced by the UK, Canada, the USA and much of the rest of the West, there was an expansion DLC released for Wrath of the Righteous, the PC Game for PF1. The game is written by Owlcat, a Moscow based developer and published by its parent, which is a corporation based in Cyprus. I don't have anything against the devs in Owlcat, but the purpose of our financial sanctions is not to express our outrage to the people of Russia -- it's to make their lives difficult and so make it more difficult for Putin to govern that nation. And Owlcat's finances are based in Cypus. As a lawyer, I know that is a RED FLAG.

If you know anything about international banking, you know that Cyprus has the most corrupt banking system in the West. If you think you can track money that goes into a Cypriot bank? You can't; not really.

So as the DLC was announced, Paizo shilled for Owlcat -- as I am sure they were contractually obligated to do on both Twitter, via-email and on Paizo's website.

I took exception to this, because in the context at the time -- and at all times since -- sending money in a way that it certain to reach ordinary every day Russians just living their lives in Russia has been something that all of us,. collectively, in the West have been morally and legally against doing. Business as usual with Russia and Russians was not okay.

I posted on this very topic on Paizo's message board to complain about it. Tonya Woldrige DELETED MY POST suggesting that I was discussing "politics" and that was not okay on Paizo's boards. That was a deliberate and convenient lie, imo.

I cancelled my subscriptions the next day (I like to wait and not do things when I am angry). I ceased all development of a PF2 version of RotRL I was doing as a for pay gig for Foundry VTT, ended all work I was doing on the Automated Animations and SND FX for PF2 for Foundry VTT (free project, I was ~half done) and suspended two Pathfinder 2 campaigns indefinitely. Another player of mine, who runs Agents of Edgewatch ended his campaign that same day.

This was a difficult decision for me, as many of the top level creative people at Paizo are people I consider to be personal friends. I bear them no ill will -- but this was more than "just business" to me.

And just like that, after being a Paizo superfan and literally owning every product they had ever released, in any format, (including some really obscure ones from 2003) I was out.

If and when the war In Ukraine comes to an end, I will reconsider my position. If, before that should occur, WotC does something really offensive with the OGL 1.1, I will, perhaps, also reconsider.

But for now, that's why I am here, running Rime of the FrostMaiden and Shadow of the Dragon Queen via Foundry VTT, and how it is that WotC recently got a whole lot more of my money.
Hmm… I had no idea about this. Guess, I’ll have to switch over to Pathfinder. Your contention that ALL of us in the West are morally against paying hard working people just because they happen to have a certain nationality and a government they likely didn’t even vote for is one of the more frightening things I have ever read. Gods forbid others should disagree with your political view (or point out that it was political). Paizo just earned a lot of respect in my book for standing against the outrage brigade.
 

I'm not privy to any discussions that may or may not have happened between WOTC and Foundry, but I strongly suspect the opposite to be the case - that FVTT has tried to become an official licensee on some level, but came along at a time when WOTC was solidifying plans for their own VTT... so they joined the game too late.
When I don't know what two parties have discussed, I try not to make assumptions on what the two may or may not have discussed. Nor do I assume large corporations are inherently evil.
The SRD was out there and available and in widespread use elsewhere - were they supposed to ignore the largest part of their market in the name of being "fair" about Hasbro's profit margins?
SRD is not at issue (with me).
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Are you talking about 5E? Because superiority isn’t NOT the reason for 5E D&D’s success. The reality is that the vast majority of players aren’t familiar with other TTRPGs and are hesitant to learn. It’s like playing board games with your relatives at Christmas—a lot of the players only know how to play Monopoly (or Clue or Life) and don’t like boardgames enough to want to learn any others. They’re playing the familiar game to avoid being left out, but aren’t interested in doing the work of learning which games they like better.
Indeed. D&D is the biggest in PART because it's a good game, but in large part because of First Mover Advantage and Network Effects.

D&D being the biggest is self-reinforcing, as long as the publisher doesn't screw it up. As Ryan Dancy explained quite clearly when it was instituted, PART of the point of the OGL was to ensure no publisher or owner could lock D&D away, and PART of it was the business advantages gained from the enhanced network effects. Turning quite a large portion of the RPG-publishing industry into support for D&D and reinforcement of its preeminence. It was in fact a smart business move. Enlightened self interest is a thing.
 
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As a big PF2e fan and an ardent support of Ukraine, I’m shocked and concerned to hear this! I wasn’t aware, so thanks for this. I don’t own any Owlcat products, and I won’t buy any for the foreseeable future. I’m still supportive of Paizo… but you’ve made me think twice.
Owlcat moved out of Russia right after the war started. The reason they moved to Cyprus is cause they did not want to be associated with Russia.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
Indeed. D&D is the biggest in PART because it's a good game, but in large part because of First Mover Advantage and Network Effects.

D&D being the biggest is self-reinforcing, as long as he publisher doesn't screw it up. As Ryan Dancy explained quite clearly when it was instituted, PART of the point of the OGL was to ensure no publisher or owner could lock D&D away, and PART of it was the business advantages gained from the enhanced network effects. Turning quite a large portion of the RPG-publishing industry into support for D&D and reinforcement of its preeminence. It was in fact a smart business move. Enlightened self interest is a thing.
It's worth remembering the circumstances under which the OGL was made: the AD&D brand had failed.

TSR became insolvent and the entire RPG business, such as it was, was caught up in the paralysis of that event. Retailers were affected for ~nearly a year due to the "printer problem". WotC ultimately bought TSR, and its new custodians embarked on a course to ensure that something like that would never happen again. Nobody else in the business wanted it to happen again, either.

The RPG business -- to describe it as an "industry" is even now a puffed up brag -- was not going to be caught staring motionless into the headlights again. The OGL was created so that would be avoided in the future, while at the same time, giving every other RPG company an opportunity to marshal their resources and contribute to a new D&D and D20 brand going forward. It was to be a big tent -- all would be able to find their space within it and have a chance to flourish, serving the same game.

It is worth remembering that at the time in 2000, the opinion of WotC was that adventures for D&D were not profitable. That was an aspect of the business that WotC did not want to service. For the most part, WotC envisioned that adventures would be principally written by 3pp, not WotC. THAT was also very much the context in which the OGL was issued.

AND IT WORKED.

Yes, there were some rough spots; yes, most other RPG games ultimately retreated from a carte blanche D20 approach. But in the main? This approach worked. 3.xx was successful -- wildly so.

We know what happened in 2008 and that did not go nearly as well. And it turned out that by 2010, Paizo had proven that adventures were profitable.

That took some reassessment by WotC. It recalibrated and by late 2015, it was clear that 5e was successful.

Over the past three years? It's clearly been a runaway hit. The salad days are back. No longer is WotC looking for others to serve core aspects of its RPG business. Now it wants to exclude others from participating in that business and so reap a richer harvest.

What they may end up reaping instead, is a whirlwind.

The OGL worked not only because it was commercially successful -- but it was commercially successful because it was legally binding. So much so that extricating itself from the OGL going forward, while still keeping a foot in the present state of the game, is both a legal and business problem that is FAR easier said than done.
 




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