Kyle Brink (D&D Exec Producer) On OGL Controversy & One D&D (Summary)

The YouTube channel 3 Black Halflings spoke to WotC's Kyle Brink (executive producer, D&D) about the recent Open Game License events, amongst other things. It's an hour-plus long interview (which you can watch below) but here are some of the highlights of what Brink said. Note these are my paraphrases, so I encourage you to listen to the actual interview for full context if you have time.

OGL v1.1 Events
  • There was a concern that the OGL allowed Facebook to make a D&D Metaverse without WotC involvement.
  • Re. the OGL decisions, WotC had gotten themselves into a 'terrible place' and are grateful for the feedback that allowed them to see that.
  • The royalties in OGL v1.1 were there as a giant deterrent to mega corporations.
  • Kyle Brink is not familiar with what happened in the private meetings with certain publishers in December, although was aware that meetings were taking place.
  • When the OGL v1.1 document became public, WotC had already abandoned much of it.
  • The response from WotC coinciding with D&D Beyond subscription cancellations was a coincidence as it takes longer than that to modify a legal document.
  • The atmosphere in WotC during the delay before making an announcement after the OGL v1.1 went public was 'bad' -- fear of making it worse if they said anything. The feeling was that they should not talk, just deliver the new version.
  • Brink does not know who wrote the unpopular 'you won but we won too' announcement and saw it the same time we did. He was not happy with it.
  • 'Draft' contracts can have dates and boxes for signatures. Despite the leaked version going to some publishers, it was not final or published.
  • There were dissenting voices within WotC regarding the OGL v1.1, but once the company had agreed how to proceed, everybody did the best they could to deliver.
  • The dissenting voices were not given enough weight to effect change. Brinks' team is now involved in the process and can influence decisions.
  • The SRD release into Creative Commmons is a one-way door; there can be no takeback.
One D&D
  • The intention is that all of the new [One D&D] updates they are doing, "the SRD will be updated to remain compatible with all of that". This might be with updted rules or with bridging language like 'change the word race to species'.
  • Anything built with the current SRD will be 100% compatible with the new rules.
  • Brink does not think there is a plan to, and does not see the value, in creating a new OGL just for One D&D. When/if they put more stuff into the public space, they'd do it through Creative Commons.
  • WotC doesn't think of One D&D as a new edition. He feels it's more like what happened with 3.5. They think 5E is great, but coud be better and play faster and easier with more room for roleplay, so there is stuff they can do to improve it but not replace it.
  • WotC is leaning on the community to discourage bad actors and hateful content, rather than counting on a legal document.
  • They are working on an adaptable content policy describing what they consider to be hateful content which will apply to WotC's work (no legal structure to apply it to anybody else).
  • They now have external inclusivity reviewers (as of last fall) who look over every word and report back. They are putting old content through the same process before reprints.
  • Previously cultural consultances were used for spot reviews on things they thought might be problematic, but not everything (e.g. Hadozee).
  • The problematic Hadozee content was written by a trusted senior person at WotC, and very few people saw it before publication.
  • 'DnDShorts' video on the internal workings and management culture of WotC is not something Brinks can talk on, but it is not reflective of his team. Each team has its own culture.
  • In the last couple of years the D&D team hiring process has made the team more inclusive.
  • When asked about non white-CIS-men in leadership positions at WotC, Brinks referred to some designers and authors. He said 'guys like me, we're leaving the workforce, to be blunt' and 'I'm not the face of the hobby any more'. It is important that the creators at WotC look like the players. 'Guys like me can't leave soon enough'.
Virtual Tabletops (VTTs)/Digital Gaming
  • Goal is to make more ways to play ('and' not 'instead') including a cool looking 3D space.
  • Digital gaming is not meant to replace books etc., but to be additive.
  • The strategy is to give players a choice, and WotC will go where the player interests lie.


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So, we should let positions based in privilege, which are thereby not really accurate, go unchallenged?

I jump in and say: no.
But can you just throw people out based on their colour, gender, sexual orientation etc. and hiring based on their colour etc?
Problem is however that too many priviledged people currently occupy too many positions. And waiting another few decades is also out of the question.
I don't have an answer to that dilemma though. Do you?
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Staff member
"Fighting racism with racism" is still itself racist and wrong and shows that WOTC and Kyle Brink are really only about the optics of appearing inclusive when they are anything but.
Mod Note:

You’re not going to win people over with that position. We’ve actually got actual USA case law- some involving my own law school- that explicitly states that considering race to rectify past racism is not itself racism. Considering the harmed does not harm others; giving someone a hand up to your level after they been denied that progress doesn’t push you down.

So you’ve played this card, but it isn’t a winning one. You gambled and lost; all of your poker chips are gone. And so you must leave this particular table.

You are wrong to suggest that diversity hiring is about hiring folks without regard to their abilities.

I did not suggest that. If it came over that way, I apologize.
It all started that I said, at minute 47, Orion Black was quoted to have claimed they felt just as a diversity hire.
I understood it that way, that they did not feel taken serious as a designer, that was what I based my responses on. And on the passage where Kyle said, he wants to hire people based on their abilities, not for who they are.

Edit: As a response to that post:

Post in thread 'Kyle Brink (D&D Exec Producer) On OGL Controversy & One D&D (Summary)' OGL - Kyle Brink (D&D Exec Producer) On OGL Controversy & One D&D (Summary)
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But it needs more than just throwing people out based on their colour and hiring based on their colour

Nobody is doing that. This is simply not the world in which we actually live.

Organizations can do a lot of things. Off the top of my head:
  • audit salaries to make sure people at the same level, doing the same work are compensated equally
  • make sure the hiring process explicitly addresses ongoing discrimination. This can be done by considering a variety of perspectives are included on a hiring committee and that you make an effort to attract minority candidates
  • make sure there are paths for advancement for underrepresented employees. This means taking issues of workplace culture seriously.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I believe most institutions care about diversity as such (they do care about lawsuits, and so put most of their resources into preventing those)

I'm A Banana

But am I or Kyle wrong to assume people want to be hired (mainly*) because of their abilities?
I think we can hold these two ideas in our head at the same time:
  1. In a perfect world, people would get hired purely based on their skill at the task they are being hired for.
  2. In reality, nobody has ever gotten hired purely based on their skill at the task they are being hired for.
Acknowledging the second point means that we have to act, in the real world, as if people doing hiring are flawed and subject to unconscious biases and societal norms and availability pools and timing and budgets and all sorts of things that affect hiring decisions. Because that's what reality is.

Acknowledging that second point also means, that to get the most skilled hire, we need to actively counteract the limitaions of reality, and, to some degree at least, accept that we're never going to do a perfect job of it.

One of the realities (especially in the US) is that white people have been over-represented in most lines of employment historically. One of those counteractions is proactively looking at talent from more socially marginalized pools, harvesting unusual people from unusual places with unusual skills and unique life experiences.


Ok. I've watched the video.
And no, I don't trust WotC or Hasbro as stewards of the game.

Several moments I don't buy:
1) Waging war against Disney and Facebook. (They were clearly targeting smaller businesses with their $750K limit.)
2) Not being able to change on a dime because of "corporate policy." (They sure released everything into Creative Commons in a hurry after the community backlash of v1.2.)
3) They're going to keep 6E open. (Going to have a couple of "addendums" but not enough to play it "accurately.")
4) Cynthia Williams is "as cute as a country button" (or some similar expression. She's shown her colors as a money-grabbing suit.)

But I may take him up on his offer to not invite WotC to the game. I know the game well enough now that I can put all my books in storage and just "wing it." Honestly, I don't think I need D&D anymore.


- Basically my worst conclusions about a squeaky stair being responsible for the Hadozee situation last year were accurate, and basically confirmed who did it: apparently a "very senior designer who was trusted" bypassed rheir then-current internal process to put in that Planet of the Apes reference. So now there is a mandatory external review of every published word by two sensitivity consultants, which is good.
Has this "very senior designer" ever admitted their guilt? Not looking to start another uproar, but I'm sure a mea culpa would be well received on that front, if it hasn't already been delivered.

The whole assumption that one group has to leave (and that it is so good that they do that he cannot wait until they do) is bad when you can simply grow your business and grow the industry and that creates new positions for others to take is just as valid. Pretty arrogant to assume that WoTC in the industry.

I also noted that the trusted senior designer that messed up with slave space monkeys was a “squeaky stair” - I assume a Mearls reference as he is the favorite bogeyman) when it is just as likely that they were trusted as they are far to the left on most issues but maybe they had a blind spot to what they were actually writing. They were trusted and not checked because of that, everyone assumes that what they wrote was perfect.


The whole assumption that one group has to leave (and that it is so good that they do that he cannot wait until they do)
I just rewatched this and it is not what he said. Maybe if folks reacted to the context of what he said instead of creating a strawman to be upset about, less people would be upset.

Right before he said "more people like me that leave the better" he said the creators should reflect the gaming community. He's clearly talking about how moving from everyone in leadership being a white male to being people of diverse groups is a good thing. He is not saying white men aren't welcome in the game at all. He's not saying white men need to leave the hobby.


Has this "very senior designer" ever admitted their guilt? Not looking to start another uproar, but I'm sure a mea culpa would be well received on that front, if it hasn't already been delivered.
Nope, not individually. I do remember the marketing video where a Senior Drsigner was giddy about a Planet of the Apes reference that he snuck in, though, and wondered if people would notice...THEY DID.

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