OGL: What Are The Publishers Saying [UPDATED]

While many publishers are still holding frantic meetings and consulting lawyers, and others are still in 'wait and see' mode, some have already indicated how the new draft OGL v1.1 affects them and their plans going foward. Many eyes are on the larger companies, such as Pathfinder producer Paizo, which has yet to make any public statement.

Uncharted-Journeys-Fully-Funded-Cubicle-7-768x432-40405250.jpg

First off, here's the position from us here at EN Publishing (read more at the link):

Like everybody else in the Open Gaming community, we at EN Publishing have been scrambling to understand what WotC's leaked plans mean for us as a company, and how best to proceed forward. We feel a deep responsibility not only to our customers, creator community, freelancers, and employees, but also to the wider Open Gaming community. We have been publishing under the OGL for over 20 years, supporting and expanding the game we love.

At present, we do not know how this will all play out. Whatever happens, it is clear that we cannot operate in an environment where our very existence lies at the whim of another company, and so we are taking steps to secure the core of our business in the future. To this end we are looking into the practicalities of a two-pronged approach.

1) We will be investing more heavily in What's OLD is NEW, our in-house lifepath/d6 dice-pool system, beginning with a new starter set. This will be available to third party creators under the most open, non-revocable license* we can find.

2) We have begun investigating the possibility of 'de-OGL-ifying' Level Up: Advanced 5E. This is a big task, but we have a head-start in that in A5E we rewrote every word of the 5E SRD (and expanded it greatly), with only names (spells, classes, etc.) remaining the same. There are legal nuances to this, so we can't go into too much detail, but rest assured we will make sure we are covering ourselves. Again, we will make this available under the most open, non-revocable license* we can find.

Paizo has spoken up, and they are making a brand new Open RPG License!

We believe, as we always have, that open gaming makes games better, improves profitability for all involved, and enriches the community of gamers who participate in this amazing hobby. And so we invite gamers from around the world to join us as we begin the next great chapter of open gaming with the release of a new open, perpetual, and irrevocable Open RPG Creative License (ORC).

They commented on the current debacle also:

Paizo does not believe that the OGL 1.0a can be “deauthorized,” ever. While we are prepared to argue that point in a court of law if need be, we don’t want to have to do that, and we know that many of our fellow publishers are not in a position to do so.

OGL architect Ryan Dancey stated clearly that he did not believe that the OGL could be 'deathorized':

Yeah my public opinion is that Hasbro does not have the power to deauthorize a version of the OGL. If that had been a power that we wanted to reserve for Hasbro, we would have enumerated it in the license. I am on record numerous places in email and blogs and interviews saying that the license could never be revoked.

Cubicle 7 on how it affects their upcoming 5E exploration hardcover, Uncharted Journeys:

We hope everyone had a good weekend. We're sure a lot of folks have seen the recent news that there may be changes to the Open Game Licence (OGL) so we wanted to give a quick update. If you're not up to speed, you can read the excellent report from Linda Codega here.

Just to allay any fears, any changes to the OGL 1.0a will not affect Uncharted Journeys as it is already published and currently on its way to the printers. However, it may impact future Vault 5e products, including our upcoming Broken Weave Kickstarter which may instead move to the award-winning C7d6 system.

We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will have more information if and when OGL 1.1 launches. Until then, have a great week!

Troll Lord Games made the following statement:

Step 1: liquidation of all current 5e stock, never to be revisited again, in any edition.

And of future products:

The upcoming product will not have the OGL. Codex of Airdhe, Adventurers Armory, Dragon's Crucible. more to be announced later.

They went on to say:

TLG has been a longtime supporter of WoTC and Dungeons and Dragons. We started playing D&D in 1976. The news about the OGL 1.0 (a), if it is true, and it is important to note that as of this moment nothing official has been released, is rather disappointing. Supporting the new OGL, in the form it appeared in the leaked commentary, is not an option for us at TLG. If it manifests in this speculated form, it is an unnecessarily harsh treatment of the entire TTRPG family, those who played, play, and who publish. It is basically an admission of distrust in the people who play their game, the very ones who bring it to ever greater heights of expression. TLG does not share that philosophy. The only thing that maintains our stance in this ttrpg family is the family itself, creators, publishers, players, game masters, their own families, and friends who cheer them on from the sidelines. TLG will not sign this leaked OGL, nor participate in it in any way. Castles & Crusades and all the Siege Engine games are powered by the Siege Engine Attribute Check Mechanic, which is owned entirely by our parent company Chenault & Gray Publishing. What little pieces of the SRD leaked its way into our game over the years, we'll quietly remove, and carry on making and publishing games for us all to play.

Matt Colville's MCDM is in the middle of producing it's 5E monster book, Flee Mortals!

MCDM have taken advice from counsel and we do not think any of this stuff affects the development of Flee, Mortals!

MCDM has gone on to announce the end of its 5E ARCADIA magazine, although the Patreon itself will continue to develop setting-based and worldbuilding content instead.

But moving forward, we’re going to start rotating in more worldbuilding stuff for Orden and the Timescape. There will not, at first, be any mechanics for these articles: they’ll just be like an ongoing Gazetteer of our multiverse. If you’ve read our books, or watched The Chain of Acheron, or Dusk, we’re gonna give you a LOT more info on all that. Maps! NPCs! More Time Raider lore! Wode Elves, The City of Capital, The Greatest City in This or Any Age!

The $10 Tier

This has been the ARCADIA tier for the last two years, but July is the last 5E ARCADIA issue. After that this is just the “MCDM+ But It Costs $10 Tier.” There’s always a few folks who want to show more support, and this is the tier for them

Monte Cook Games does not use the OGL, but Monte Cook posted about it.

I was there was the original OGL was created. I know first hand how hard those drafting it tried to sincerely make it so that it would last forever and would never screw over anyone that used it. So when we decided to create a Cypher System open license with the same goals, of course we used the OGL as a model. And now after two days of potential WotC shenanigans, people are looking at our open license as though it's dodgy. Sigh.

Gavin Norman of Necrotic Gnome posted about the future of Old School Essentials.

As you may have heard, Wizards of the Coast is poised to release a new version of the Open Game License (v1.1). Parts of the license have been leaked online and it appears that Wizards' intent is to revoke the current version of the OGL, forcing creators to adopt the new version. Whether this is actually legal for them to do, under the terms of the license, is open to interpretation.

A huge number of games, including our own Old-School Essentials, are founded on the Open Game License. If that license were revoked, such games would be in jeopardy. The leaked version of the new OGL includes some extremely unappealing terms, most notably granting Wizards a "nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license" to use content released under the OGL "for any purpose".

Needless to say, we are making various contingency plans in anticipation of the official release of the new OGL. Once the official release happens and we've had time to fully digest its implications, we will announce any possible alterations to our publication schedule.

Chris Gonnerman of the Basic Fantasy RPG said (read the full thing here, as it's long):

It doesn't matter whether Hasbro releases their new license or not. It doesn't matter whether it stands up in court or not. Their attempt to invalidate the license we've always depended on and then to effectively steal what we've created demonstrates that they are an existential threat to our game.

So, what do we do?

We excise the OGL.

Dan Proctor of Labyrinth Lord anticipates cancelling LL 2E.

Last week I didn't take the OGL kerfuffle very seriously. But since then after looking around I hate to say it but I think the OGL as we knew it will soon be gone.

That would mean of course that LL 2e is cancelled. Mutant Future relies heavily on open content so it would also go. However, Starships & Spacemen never used the OGL, and Apes Victorious does, but doesn't need to.

Also notably I will still carry the Pacesetter titles. So it won't put me out of business but it will take away my best selling product line. I'm not sure what that will mean for Labyrinth Lord in the future. If it were reborn it would have to differ a lot from its current form. Things like the spells, magic items, and monsters, at the very least would have to be entirely reimagined.

So for now I'm taking a wait and see approach. Hopefully we'll have clarity soon. If this does come to pass I'll consult with all of you to see what you'd like to have happen.

Patreon Creator DM Dave made a call for people not to sign the new license, and outlined his plans going forward (another long one, read the full post here).


Fortunately, we've been making quiet preparations for this for the last month.

Dungeons & Lairs will (carefully) continue until 2025.

You may have noticed that there are a whole lot of new Dungeons & Lairs to which you may not have access. These were all published before the new year to ensure that they were under the protection of OGL 1.0a. So we have over 100 new adventures to polish and release with art, etc., until 2024 and a little beyond.

Of course, Wizards could still come after us if they wanted and say it doesn't count. But for now, we plan to continue to publish 5e content as we edit the existing documents.

We can't create new Kickstarters or any other content.

However, we will no longer be able to create any content beyond that, not unless they backpedal significantly.

We don't plan to support Wizards in any way beyond protecting our Patrons and contractors.

This Patreon was built on Fifth Edition content and we have a lot of contractors employed. As such, we will continue to produce Fifth Edition content.

Even so, I'm very angry about this.

When they announced they were doing OneDND last year, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assured my colleagues that they wouldn't destroy the 1.0a. That they couldn't if they tried. They tried to do it with 4th edition, and it was a bloody disaster.

But I was wrong.

And in fact, it's even worse than what we feared.

I'm not sure I could support a company so willing to harm its good faith with the third-party community that spent the last decade helping them build their brand.

Kobold Press has announced it is "Raising the Flag" and developing a new game.


Kobold Press has been and always will be committed to open gaming and the tabletop community. Our goal is to continue creating the best materials for players and game masters alike.

This means Kobold Press will release its current Kickstarter projects as planned, including Campaign Builder: Cities & Towns (already printed and on its way to backers this winter).

In particular, Deep Magic Volume 2 will remain fully compatible with the 5E rules. We are working with our VTT partners to maintain support for digital platforms.

As we look ahead, it becomes even more important for our actions to represent our values. While we wait to see what the future holds, we are moving forward with clear-eyed work on a new Core Fantasy tabletop ruleset: available, open, and subscription-free for those who love it—Code Name: Project Black Flag.

WotC's previous Executive Producer of D&D, Ray Winninger, who left the company in October 2022, tweeted in support of open gaming.

I believe it's not in the long-term interests of either the D&D community or the D&D business for WotC to move forward with something like the leaked plan. I hope the people running the show either reverse course or prove me wrong.

Frog God Games/Necomrnacer Games posted a lengthy statement:


Frog God Games and Necromancer Games will not sign the new Open Game License (OGL) Version 1.1. We believe that what Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) is doing is wrong, in bad faith, and likely illegal. We fully believe that the strength of the industry is based on multiple people with diverse approaches to making rules, settings, and adventures for our favorite game.

Twenty-three years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars ago, Clark Peterson and I started a tiny company called Necromancer Games. At midnight on the day 3rd Edition was released, we released the first 3rd party published adventure to support it, The Wizard’s Amulet. Our company then worked with WOTC to put together the 1.0a OGL. The promise that we could start, grow, and operate a business creating adventures for D&D was in the bedrock of what has become my life’s work.

We have published for D&D’s 3.0, 3.5, and 5th Editions. We have published for Pathfinder, Swords and Wizardry, Old School Essentials, and Castles and Crusades. We have published over 500 unique products over the years and even built our own warehouse. All of this was done with the blessing of WOTC through the 1.0a OGL and a contractual promise that we could do this. Third-party publishers like us made the D&D brand larger and more universal.
We are not offended by their desire to make money off the 3rd party publishing market. We are offended that unless we give them the permanent right to use and sell our intellectual property with no compensation, we cannot continue to operate. We are offended that unless we give them the right to let them revoke our ability to publish at any time with only 30 days’ notice, we cannot make any more books. We are offended that even though we have spent thousands of dollars on making virtual tabletop versions of our games, we can’t do it anymore. WOTC sounds like Darth Vader talking to Lando Calrissian in the Empire Strikes Back “… I am altering the deal, pray that I do not alter it further.” Deauthorizing the 1.0a OGL is deeply unfair, likely illegal, and evil.
WOTC, in bad faith, is breaking a promise, clear and simple. Now, they want to pull the rug out from under us. They are intentionally damaging not only Necromancer Games and Frog God Games, but the entire industry.

If they proceed and succeed in deauthorizing the 1.0a OGL, we will have to stop production. We will lay off staff and quit hiring and paying 70 or so freelancers. We will have to cancel projects we have spent tens of thousands of dollars on already. This will put us, and several dozen other companies out of business. Putting 3rd party publishers out of business will create a monoculture of work in D&D that prevents diversity of thought and makes it so only one company has input into the hobby. This has a real effect on people, real people, not just companies.
We do not care about One D&D. What we do care about is our ability to use the perpetual 1.0a OGL granted to us in 2000 by WOTC, as they promised we could.

So, what does all this mean for Necromancer Games and Frog God Games?

First, it means we need to stand up to them, fight, and continue working under our existing license. In this case by “we” I mean everyone who is a creator in this industry. Second, we need to band together to create a non-OGL and non-WOTC version of a System Reference Document (SRD) that can forever be used by anyone. Why, you ask? WOTC has proven itself to be untrustworthy and we all need to wean ourselves off them as soon as we can. We will work with our friends in the industry and have been in conversation with many of them already about doing this. Go Black Flag!
What you can do to help is to buy books from us and other 3rd party publishers right now so we can afford to continue to operate, pay our people, and keep our pool of artists and writers from starving. Look for opportunities to let WOTC know that what they are doing is wrong, be it with social media or with your wallet.

Have no fear, we are sticking around. We know it’s going to be a bumpy ride for a while, but if the fans support us, Necromancer Games and Frog God Games, as well as dozens of other companies like us, we will win this war and continue to make great products for the hobby.

Alligator Alley Entertainment's announcement:

We’ve received many questions regarding the rumored changes coming to the Open Gaming License (OGL), and how it will affect the future of Esper Genesis. I will start by saying Alligator Alley Entertainment will continue to produce and release all our current projects as planned.

Over the past year, we had already been working on alternatives to the OGL that would preserve compatibility with our current products. While WotC/Hasbro has yet to make an official statement, the new license in its current form would force us to relinquish control of our IP while providing us with no benefit or compensation. We have no intention of accepting those terms as they are.

We have always been a steadfast supporter of third-party publishers, who were pivotal in breathing life back into the gaming community. We believe the best solution is for all of us to create a single, unified front toward maintaining the spirit of open gaming. We are ready to contribute however is needed to pursue that cause.
 
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From direct, personal experience, upper management does not react to the downgrade. If they are reacting, it is to the problem that lead to the result that lead to the downgrade. In Hasbro's case, they had a surge in MTG and D&D during covid but very quickly the market soured on entertainment assets (see the major streaming company stock performance) and Hasbro had become really reliant on WoTC making lots of money.
You must have had the luck to have had smarter upper management than my own direct, personal experience has been. I wouldn't trust upper management to have better than a 50/50 shot of even identifying correctly the problem that led to the result of the downgrade.

But it seems we're not really disagreeing on the root cause, although maybe I'm highlighting the icing on the cake more than the actual cake itself. I think a huge part of the problem is Hasbro's over-reliance on WotC when WotC was at an unsustainable peak, and I think now that it's starting to show the inevitable result of both mismanagement and the inevitable tides of fortune, they're trying to defib it back to prior levels with desperate moves. Why else would Williams attempt to reassure investors that they believe D&D is under-monetized, but they've got plans to "get it back on track?" Likely because her performance review depends on the quixotic task of making WotC as profitable as it was in 2020-2021.
 

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Vaalingrade

Legend
So I doubt that this move will make a significant impact on the sales of say OneD&D/5.5. As you said most people aren't that invested in whether the OGL exists or even aware of it. I do think it will make an impact in say 5,10,15 years as less and less people enter and stay in the hobby decreasing the market share as a whole. The most likely long term end result of what Hasbro/WOTC are doing is that in a decade no one uses the OGL 1.1, because the agreement is terrible and WOTC can't be trusted to not use it to screw you, leaving WOTC as the only people making money off of D&D which is itself making a lot less money.
I wouldn't discount the changing culture so hard.

People are less loyal to brands and more loyal to personalities and creators. If those leave and don't end up making deals that let them continue to exist, so too with a big chunk of the fandom.

Modern players care less about D&D for being D&D and more for being the game CR or Dimension 20 play or that Dungeon Dad explores or that Pointy Hat improves. As someone said elsewhere, WotC has become Kleenex'd: D&D is just a word for Fantasy Roleplaying.
 

WotC have shot themselves in the foot on so many levels. It totally smacks of upper management or lawyers making a decision, expecting fans and 3PP to just be grateful they can play in their sandbox, no matter the cost.

Instead what they’ve done is:
- Piss off a big chunk off their fan base and lose the goodwill they’ve built over the past decade.

- Try to bully small- and medium-sized publishers into signing their new OGL, and instead rile them up.

- Eliminate most 3rd-party support for D&D as companies won’t want to risk WotC pulling the rug out from under them again at some point in the future.

All for a couple of million dollars that is barely a drop in the ocean for a mega-corporation the size of WotC/Hasbro.
 

Clint_L

Hero
That's not a road WotC wants to go down. DnD is 98% derivative IP with the serial numbers barely filed off.
I don't think that's the case. There is a lot of gray area, to be sure, but Hasbro has clear ownership of a LOT of D&D, including many things that CR and other 3PP have used. For example, Marisha Ray's current character is a D&D Hollow One. That is pretty specific.

It's kind of like trying to publish a book about a Jedi Knight. You don't have to make it about Obi Wan for Disney to sue you on the grounds that Jedi Knight is itself protected IP.

But I'm not a lawyer so take anything I write on this topic with about 10 million grains of salt.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Modern players care less about D&D for being D&D and more for being the game CR or Dimension 20 play or that Dungeon Dad explores or that Pointy Hat improves. As someone said elsewhere, WotC has become Kleenex'd: D&D is just a word for Fantasy Roleplaying.
That's not "modern players"; it's always been that way. That's a large part of what Jon Peterson's book The Elusive Shift is about.
 

gweinel

Explorer
I'd think that of all the bigger players, CR is probably the most insulated from this. They're really a "lifestyle brand" unto themselves, aren't they? Seems like they could fairly easily shove off from D&D to spin off their own thing, since so much of what they are derives from the characters and setting and stories, not the specifics of he game. And if they chose to really make a stink about this, there would be millions of Critters - gamers and not - who'd be happy to amplify that hullaballoo.
I'm not super familiar with the WotC/CR relationship so maybe I'm missing something obvious, but it seems to me that WotC needs CR more than CR needs WotC.
I think we will see divide and conquer strategy. It would be foolish if Wizard of the Coast didn't approach CR and make a deal in order to have them with them. The same probably will apply for one or two big players.
I am not support it, but it wouldn't surprise if we see Mercer supporting WotC.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I don't think that's the case. There is a lot of gray area, to be sure, but Hasbro has clear ownership of a LOT of D&D, including many things that CR and other 3PP have used. For example, Marisha Ray's current character is a D&D Hollow One. That is pretty specific.

It's kind of like trying to publish a book about a Jedi Knight. You don't have to make it about Obi Wan for Disney to sue you on the grounds that Jedi Knight is itself protected IP.

But I'm not a lawyer so take anything I write on this topic with about 10 million grains of salt.

I think that right now a lot of people are speaking out of anger, and also trying to project their feelings of karmic vengeance on the situation.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that. The people here, the people who support the 3PPs- we aren't the most representative sample of the TTRPG community. And there is a lot of idle speculation and wishful threats being made.

In the end, hopefully things will work out. But I am slowly beginning to think that Hasbro is quite serious about putting D&D under full corporate control.

I would not be surprised if, after the initial vanilla announcement (expressing disappointment that third party publishers are spreading rumors about an unreleased OGL), Hasbro goes on the offensive and states that this is really about protecting the brand, which is why there was an emphasis on possibly offensive content- and maybe have some examples, too.

Who knows?
 

Transformer

Explorer
I will chip in to say that their lowering stock prices is pretty much Hasbro's own fault. for about.... 6? years or so they've repeatedly made decisions with MTG that have focused on making short term profits over the long term health of the hobby, and I've been waiting for it to bite them in the ass. Now their solution to "We messed up the long term sustainability of our cash cow" is to try and shoot the long term sustainability of another product for a quick buck WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY THEIR IN THIS POSITION TO BEGIN WITH!
Hasbro has annoyed me for a long time. This is just the largest and most recent example.
My theory is that in the minds of the Hasbro execs, they are prioritizing the long-term over the short-term. They're thinking "we need to take a temporary PR hit so that we can get full control over our game and IP, and only then can we set up our VTT/one-stop-shop-for-the-D&D-lifestyle-brand, which will hopefully print billions of dollars a year."

I don't think they anticipated the sheer scale and unanimity of the backlash, though. Or maybe they did. I dunno. This DnD Beyond statement is gonna be real interesting.
 

My theory is that in the minds of the Hasbro execs, they are prioritizing the long-term over the short-term. They're thinking "we need to take a temporary PR hit so that we can get full control over our game and IP, and only then can we set up our VTT/one-stop-shop-for-the-D&D-lifestyle-brand, which will hopefully print billions of dollars a year."

I don't think they anticipated the sheer scale and unanimity of the backlash, though. Or maybe they did. I dunno. This DnD Beyond statement is gonna be real interesting.
it's January 2023... they would rather you get mad and swear off D&D now, so you can "COME BACK" for 1D&D next year for the 50th
 

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