Paizo How will OGL 1.1 affect Pazio, PF1 and P2?

Reynard

Legend
If I were WoTC, determined to destroy Open Gaming, and thinking evil-rational, I would indeed be offering VERY generous (NDA'd) bespoke licence terms to Paizo, Kobold Press, and other major players. It would be worth spending millions of $ now to neutralise them as opponents.

That's what the rational Evil Overlord would do. But it's a funny thing, even IRL, few villains act with that kind of cold rationality. Everything I'm hearing indicates that WoTC leadership is thinking more like Gollum when Bilbo took the Ring. They think Paizo "stole their IP" and they are "out for blood". Apparently this kind of seemingly deranged attitude can actually impress investors, at least until the consequences become clear. They seem much more Putin 2022 than Putin 2012, to use a political analogy.
I think that is exactly what they will do. They are going to shore up partnerships with the most consequential 3PPs (and probably other content creators) and thus be able to claim they aren't killing Open Gaming when they are. You really can't blame a company like Kobold for getting on board, either, given the vast majority of their revenue is generated from 5e compatible OGL content.
 

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Reynard

Legend
There's also Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous video games that would go away, so Owlcat is involved.
I can't imagine a world where they let this pass peacefully.
Obviously those games are based on Pathfinder and pretty true to the tabletop systems so they are descended from the OGL, but I have never looked to see if either game actually carries the OGL.
 

ReshiIRE

Adventurer
There's also Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous video games that would go away, so Owlcat is involved.
I can't imagine a world where they let this pass peacefully.
That's an interesting question to raise.

Surely they cannot be affected, right? Because that could bring the wider game industry into the mix. Which could affect WoTC's own licensed titles?
 

FormerLurker

Adventurer
I wouldn't place too much hope in Paizo launching a big fight back.

Here's how I see things: WotC's big goal at the moment isn't about money per se (the OGL is small fry) - the main thing they want is to end Open Gaming as a concept. That means getting people to stop using the OGL 1.0 and, ideally, avoiding a challenge in the courts. They know that Paizo are the company best placed to launch that challenge, and also the ones with the most to lose.

Meanwhile for Paizo this is an existential threat - their existing games are too bound to the OGL to carry on as they are, and a court case would be at best highly expensive and very risky.

If I were WotC, therefore, I would offer Paizo a license to continue using anything and everything in the 3e and 5e versions of the SRD, royalty and reporting free, for X years - long enough for them to see out the current editions of Starfinder and Pathfinder. In return, they'd sign away their ability to use the OGL, and the new editions when they come would need to be new enough to avoid the need for an ongoing license.

And that way they both get what they want: Paizo carry on without legal headaches or risks, and WotC nullify their biggest risk. (It also explains their radio silence - negotiations are likely ongoing at how many years they need.)

And if that is the case, I absolutely couldn't fault Paizo for taking the deal. As I said, it's an existential threat, and they have too many people depending on them not to at least consider it strongly.
Paizo was burned by WotC when they pulled Dragon and Dungeon magazines, and then again when WotC didn't let them preview the 4e rules. They won't tie their company to a license that WotC could yank again at any time.
Paizo will fight.
Paizo will almost certainly launch a GoFundMe or some equivalent, tapping the entire gaming community for funds to fight. And likely ask for an injunction blocking the 1.1 OGL until the trial is complete, so they can continue selling in the meantime.

Similarly, WotC doesn't want competition. That's part of the point of pulling the 1.0a license. They'll know if Pathfinder goes away the #3 game (or #4 as 3PP were #3) will be an insignificant threat.
They're not going to bother with an olive branch when they're getting what they want. Especially when PF2 could be around for another six or seven years.

As for why there's silence... Paizo likely knows this is not a set deal yet. The D&D team and the Paizo team are actually pretty close. There's a lot of former Paizo workers in the D&D team. There's probably a lot of quiet "off the record" chatter. Paizo knows not to start a fight now and push WotC into an early reactive response when the fan community and public backlash might be working.
If Paizo stirs up their fans, the outrage seems manufactured and based around non-D&D fans. WotC management can more easily dismiss it as the competitors customers. If Paizo is silent and neutral, then WotC can be more uncertain and worried about lost sales.
 


Staffan

Legend
Re injunctions, this does not look at all like the kind of case where an injunction would be obtainable here in England. I know in the USA you can do forum shopping for an amenable judge, and I've seen weird interim injunctions granted, but they don't tend to last long at all. I find it hard to believe WotC could get a blanket injunction to stop sales under the OGL pending trial.
My understanding of injunctions (which admittedly mainly comes from watching Legal Eagle videos) in particular is that injunctions are a tool for preventing possible "irreparable harm", which is almost never of a financial nature.

For example, let's say I'm Pentex. I run an industry that creates a lot of toxic waste, and I want to dump it into the nearby river. Someone sues me to stop me from doing that, and let's say that the laws are a bit muddy on the issue of whether I can dump this particular type of toxic waste in the river. The court could very well find that my toxic waste could kill off a lot of wildlife in that area, and serve me with an injunction stopping me from dumping things until we get this whole thing sorted.

But if I'm publishing a book that might infringe on someone else's copyright. The only harm to them would be financial. The court would be unlikely to grant an injunction preventing me from publishing the book. If I eventually lose the suit, the damages will probably be higher if I went ahead and published it, because at that point I've made actual money from it.
 

darjr

I crit!
I don’t know if they need to fight. Just change the license going forward and change what’s in new products.

Whatever whoever at WotC thought they were doing it seems they made a thing people do not want and can walk away from. The desired thing is to just ignore WotC now.
 

Reynard

Legend
Just for my own clarity: if WotC does come out with something that effectively stops Paizo from publishing OGL 1.0a material, it would be incumbent on WotC itself to sue to stop Paizo, not Paizo having to sue to keep publishing, right? And in that case couldn't Paizo (and everyone else) keep publishing for years until it was sorted?
 

Retreater

Legend
Just for my own clarity: if WotC does come out with something that effectively stops Paizo from publishing OGL 1.0a material, it would be incumbent on WotC itself to sue to stop Paizo, not Paizo having to sue to keep publishing, right? And in that case couldn't Paizo (and everyone else) keep publishing for years until it was sorted?
They could, but it would be financially risky to continue with business as usual after receiving a Cease and Desist. They could be liable for millions of dollars worth of damages.
 



FormerLurker

Adventurer
They almost certainly will not!
What's your reasoning?

They'll need money for a protracted legal battle with Hasbro lawyers. They might not be able to sell existing products, and any "fundraiser" items would have production costs to make, reducing the total funds available for lawyers.
Collection donations from the fans seems like the best way, either on an existing platform (GoFundMe) or setting up something on their own website.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What's your reasoning?

They'll need money for a protracted legal battle with Hasbro lawyers. They might not be able to sell existing products, and any "fundraiser" items would have production costs to make, reducing the total funds available for lawyers.
Collection donations from the fans seems like the best way, either on an existing platform (GoFundMe) or setting up something on their own website.
Paizo is a multi-million dollar company with over 100 employees. They don't run fundraisers for legel fees.
 

FormerLurker

Adventurer
Paizo is a multi-million dollar company with over 100 employees. They don't run fundraisers for legel fees.
Right. Over a hundred employees.
Paizo likely has some decent cash reserves. Probably stretched after the shippocalypse and due to the pandemic. But they can probably coast for a few months. But six? A year? All while paying for office space in Redmond, Washington and the full salaries & benefits of its unionized employees.

The next three or four months of Paizo products are likely already locked in, at various production stages of printing or shipping. Including the big hardcovers Starfinder Ports of Call, the Fists of the Ruby Phoenix collection, and like three special editions. Plus the monthly adventure paths. All of which would be in the red, and would hurt Paizo if they had to just sit in a warehouse.
They might be able to have some employees strip away the mechanics for later releases and do system neutral adventures and campaign books, but getting those books to fans would be months away.

Then add expensive lawyer fees on top, in a protracted legal battle that might last a year.

Either they crowdfund lawyer fees or they cut most of their staff.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Right. Over a hundred employees.
Paizo likely has some decent cash reserves. Probably stretched after the shippocalypse and due to the pandemic. But they can probably coast for a few months. But six? A year? All while paying for office space in Redmond, Washington and the full salaries & benefits of its unionized employees.

The next three or four months of Paizo products are likely already locked in, at various production stages of printing or shipping. Including the big hardcovers Starfinder Ports of Call, the Fists of the Ruby Phoenix collection, and like three special editions. Plus the monthly adventure paths. All of which would be in the red, and would hurt Paizo if they had to just sit in a warehouse.
They might be able to have some employees strip away the mechanics for later releases and do system neutral adventures and campaign books, but getting those books to fans would be months away.

Then add expensive lawyer fees on top, in a protracted legal battle that might last a year.

Either they crowdfund lawyer fees or they cut most of their staff.
🤷

I'm willing to place a sizeable wager? That's how sure I am that Paizo will not launch a GoFundMe for legal fees. :D
 

JThursby

Adventurer
I don't understand the commentators saying that Paizo's only remaining move is to roll over and die. Do people think they are some mom-and-pop shop with no money whatsoever? That they had never once considered the possibility that the OGL may come under attack and have no plan, no response? The vast majority of their product is already legally distinct from D&D now, they can just rip out the OGL and replace it with something else going forward if they really have to.
Either they crowdfund lawyer fees or they cut most of their staff.
In what universe is a single legal battle (assuming one is fought at all) going to be harder to withstand than the entirety of the Pandemic? If the company was so fragile and on a razor's edge of going kaput, Covid would have killed them first. There's also the ability to just run a big sale if they need quick capital. Or they can get a loan. Lots of possibilities out there without just declaring defeat without a fight.
 


JThursby

Adventurer
I've seen some speculation that PF2E is far enough away from the 3E SRD that it doesn't actually need the OGL, and that they can simply strip the OGL from the book and use some other license to allow their 3PP commubity to produce for it. I don't know how valid that is.
I couldn't find the original reddit post, but this image was shared by Rise of the Rulelords on Twitter, which has a quote from Michael Sayre of Paizo management on why 2e is still using the OGL. TL;DR, it didn't really have to, but did anyways because they estimated it would have been less of a headache for 3pp.
1673203211641.png
 


Yeah, from that is sounds like -for Paizo at least - simply not using the OGL is a possibly viable route out of this.
The kicker for them is though PF2 is steps away from OGL stuff; starfinder isn't. It may mean they need to accelerate SF2 which may be very inconvenient.
 

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