OGL 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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

They literally can't, dude.

The financial uncertainty of it is obviously too high right now. WotC created this situation.

Their only really choices are either to wait until the fallout of this resolves somewhat - likely months but could be multiple years - or keep going but change. And I'm sure they're aware that they'll lose a bunch of people by going ahead with a different system, but they might make some money rather than none.

I mean, think about it - it's entirely possible that in the time between their KS going up, and books actually being printed and sent out, WotC could win a case re: the OGL 1.0a, and even if they lost on appeal or whatever, they could potentially cause absolute chaos for the Vynestra people.
They literally can dude.

I am not saying it’s without risk but other companies are, so it’s obviously not impossible. It is a gamble. But is it more of a gamble than postponing it another year and switching to systemless/PF2, especially after spending money advertising on Facebook as 5E compatible? Maybe but maybe not. And yes WoTC created the situation it is certainly not the creators fault.

I agree some systemless books can be great. I have a couple.
 
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Yeah, i would have backed as well but I'm pretty doubtful now. Systemless D&D settings aren't really my personal cup of tea, and neither is PF2.

I'm hoping that if Black Flag or some similar 5e-clone gets sufficient traction they might release the original mechanical material as well in parallel with the PF2 mechanics, but Black Flag is really still only in its embryonic stage right now, so isn't really an option yet.

It's going to be a massive amount of work for them. There was a level 1-6 minicampaign that'll have to ported over to the new system, as well as spells and player options etc etc. I understand why they made the decision they did, but it sucks.
 

They literally can dude.
Not if they're financially responsible.

You CAN ride a motorcycle at without a helmet whilst wearing only speedos (at least in some states). But you're a total moron and a jerk if you do.
I am not saying it’s without risk but other companies are, so it’s obviously not impossible. It is a gamble.
You need to think about this a bit harder.

You're talking about people who have already launched their Kickstarters (yes/no?). Some of them are going to be gambling that WotC will put out some kind of blanket thing where they say "Yo existing Kickstarters using the OGL 1.0a are fine but no more" or that they'll have their product in existence in some form in a six-month "grace period" WotC might do.

But that's people who've already launch, and they are driving around without a helmet, though maybe in leathers rather than speedos.

But you're demanding, and stamping your foot about a company who haven't even got to Kickstarter yet. WotC could drop the OGL 2.0 TOMORROW and they could easily say "1.0a is dead as of NOW".

That's different to if you've already launched a Kickstarter with certain terms and are thus to some extent committed. Do you see how it's different?
 

Not if they're financially responsible.

You CAN ride a motorcycle at without a helmet whilst wearing only speedos (at least in some states). But you're a total moron and a jerk if you do.

You need to think about this a bit harder.

You're talking about people who have already launched their Kickstarters (yes/no?). Some of them are going to be gambling that WotC will put out some kind of blanket thing where they say "Yo existing Kickstarters using the OGL 1.0a are fine but no more" or that they'll have their product in existence in some form in a six-month "grace period" WotC might do.

But that's people who've already launch, and they are driving around without a helmet, though maybe in leathers rather than speedos.

But you're demanding, and stamping your foot about a company who haven't even got to Kickstarter yet. WotC could drop the OGL 2.0 TOMORROW and they could easily say "1.0a is dead as of NOW".

That's different to if you've already launched a Kickstarter with certain terms and are thus to some extent committed. Do you see how it's different?
You have a very aggressive tone. I am not demanding or stamping my feet. Excuse me for having an opinion you don’t like. Your accusations aside some companies have launched 5E kickstarters since the OGL information has come out. Does that make them irresponsible?
 

I am not saying it’s without risk but other companies are, so it’s obviously not impossible. It is a gamble. But is it more of a gamble than postponing it another year and switching to systemless/PF2, especially after spending money advertising on Facebook as 5E compatible? Maybe but maybe not. And yes WoTC created the situation it is certainly not the creators fault.
If anyone ends up in court fighting WotC over the revocability of 1.0a, it won't be one of these brand new publishers on their first kickstarter. These are overwhelmingly passion projects done in someone's spare time. Would YOU like to explain to your partner that your hobby side-hustle has gotten you involved in what will inevitably be a long and gruelling legal fight against a multibillion dollar corporation and that if it doesn't go your way you might lose your house, but on the upside you're striking a brave blow for the principles of open gaming?
 



@humble minion. Obviously not. I am not saying I would either. I simply stated that some companies have/did/would.
Yeah, I get what you're saying.

At the end of the day, the only certainty we have regarding the future of the OGL right now is uncertainty. Different publishers are going to have different risk appetite, different legal advice, different legal jurisdictions, and different estimate of both their delivery time and WotCs schedule for releasing whatever horrible quasi-OGL they come up with next. Everyone in the 3pp space is, to some degree, gambling right now.
 

mamba

Hero
Would YOU like to explain to your partner that your hobby side-hustle has gotten you involved in what will inevitably be a long and gruelling legal fight against a multibillion dollar corporation and that if it doesn't go your way you might lose your house
I do not believe this is how it works. I would expect nothing for quite some time, and then maybe a C&D. And if that comes along, then you can still agree to the OGL 2.0, only if you do not want to do that would you then have to defend the irrevocably of 1.0a. Am I misunderstanding this?

So the risk is more in having to agree to an as of now unknown 2.0, but assuming the concessions WotC promised are in it, that should have little impact compared to being under 1.0a (ie no fees, no sublicensing to WotC).

To me it is worth considering when the alternative is a year delay. Alternatively, delay until the dust settles / 2.0 is released and then decide if the terms are acceptable. That should happen relatively soon, you can still decide to switch systems and delay then.

Ultimately they have to make that decision and I am sure they are thinking about their options a lot, but announcing now that you push it back by a year is surprising to me.
 



LordRuyn

Explorer
Indeed. I was lucky to be able to get mine. The Advanced Player's Guide has an expected delivery date of March 6th, and Amazon has raised the price of the beginner box by 10 euro. Local stores only stock the localized books, not the English ones. In Italy, Giochi Uniti has also announced they are working on making official Italian PDFs available. Till now they've only had the hardbacks.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I do not believe this is how it works. I would expect nothing for quite some time, and then maybe a C&D. And if that comes along, then you can still agree to the OGL 2.0, only if you do not want to do that would you then have to defend the irrevocably of 1.0a. Am I misunderstanding this?
I think you are correct, Professor DM on the DungeonCraft Channel said the same in a recent video. I believe in most common law places you get a nasty letter to stop what you are doing before they can issue proceedings.

So the risk is more in having to agree to an as of now unknown 2.0, but assuming the concessions WotC promised are in it, that should have little impact compared to being under 1.0a (ie no fees, no sublicensing to WotC).

To me it is worth considering when the alternative is a year delay. Alternatively, delay until the dust settles / 2.0 is released and then decide if the terms are acceptable. That should happen relatively soon, you can still decide to switch systems and delay then.

Ultimately they have to make that decision and I am sure they are thinking about their options a lot, but announcing now that you push it back by a year is surprising to me.
I do wonder how a kickstarter that asked for $100k for the project and $4mil for the legal defence fund of the OGL would do round about now.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Arcanum Worlds Canada has this to say regarding their Raiders of the Serpent Sea Kickstarter.

“OGL
This does not and will not affect Raiders of the Serpent Sea directly. I am confident reason will prevail. Unfortunately, it has affected the availability of contractors I was relying upon at this stage of the project. The largest effect is that any potential VTT development is delayed until the OGL situation is clarified. An indirect repercussion of that is that I was also going to use the VTT-enhanced maps in the digital map pack. That cannot happen now. But I understand many of you are starting campaigns so I will prepare a "Brent version" of the digital maps, hopefully to align with the release of the campaign guide pdf. Later we will update these maps when I have access to "enhanced versions".”

 

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It’s reportedly out of stock all across the US too.

Also rumored to be out of stock at distributors and Amazon.

And the other thing is dnd books have reportedly slowed way down.

Still not entirely clear.
I went by 3 FLGS and a Barnes and Noble over the weekend and could not find a single PF2e core rulebook. I'm surprised I found the Beginner Box to buy, but kinda glad it worked out that way. Given the conversations people have had in other threads about how WotC introduces their game to new players in the various Starter Set products, I get to experience learning PF2e through their introductory product and see for myself on how well does Paizo do at teaching how to play.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
It’s reportedly out of stock all across the US too.

Also rumored to be out of stock at distributors and Amazon.

And the other thing is dnd books have reportedly slowed way down.

Still not entirely clear.
It's only anecdotal, but my extended group, which includes some folks with a decent amount of disposable income, has hit the brakes on my WotC purchases until reason prevails. Money is flowing to Kobold Press instead.
 

Horacio

LostInBrittany
Supporter
It’s reportedly out of stock all across the US too.

Also rumored to be out of stock at distributors and Amazon.

And the other thing is dnd books have reportedly slowed way down.

Still not entirely clear.
Out of stock or really expensive in France, either in Amazon Fr or in most FLGS. Both English and French versions...
 

Jerik

Explorer
Just saw in a post on RPG.net that Ulisses Spiele has announced it's planning on licensing its games through ORC, including TORG, Fading Suns, The Dark Eye, and even a few games that have only been released in German.

(Unfortunately, I don't have a direct link to the original source of the information, which was apparently a Twitch stream Ulisses Spiele did, and even if I did, it was apparently in German. I think this link should lead to the Twitch channel, though, so it shouldn't be hard to find it if anyone's interested (and can understand German).)
 


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