OGL Over 1,500 Publishers Support Paizo's Upcoming Open RPG Creator's License

Paizo has revealed some of the 1,500+ tabletop RPG publishers who have expressed an interest in their new Open RPG Creator's License (ORC), describing the group as the 'ORC Alliance'.

The license itself is still being worked on, so these 1,500 publishers have not actually seen it or signed anything. But they have indicated to Paizo that they support a new, truly open, irrevocable industry license.

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Over the course of the last week, more than 1,500 tabletop RPG publishers, from household names going back to the dawn of the hobby to single proprietors just starting out with their first digital release, have joined together to pledge their support for the development of a universal system-neutral open license that provides a legal “safe harbor” for sharing rules mechanics and encourages innovation and collaboration in the tabletop gaming space.

The alliance is gathered. Work has begun.

It would take too long to list all the companies behind the ORC license effort, but we thought you might be interested to see a few of the organizations already pledged toward this common goal. We are honored to be allied with them, as well as with the equally important participating publishers too numerous to list here. Each is crucial to the effort’s success. The list below is but a representative sample of participating publishers from a huge variety of market segments with a huge variety of perspectives. But we all agree on one thing.

We are all in this together.
  • Alchemy RPG
  • Arcane Minis
  • Atlas Games
  • Autarch
  • Azora Law
  • Black Book Editions
  • Bombshell Miniatures
  • BRW Games
  • Chaosium
  • Cze & Peku
  • Demiplane
  • DMDave
  • The DM Lair
  • Elderbrain
  • EN Publishing
  • Epic Miniatures
  • Evil Genius Games
  • Expeditious Retreat Press
  • Fantasy Grounds
  • Fat Dragon Games
  • Forgotten Adventures
  • Foundry VTT
  • Free RPG Day
  • Frog God Games
  • Gale Force 9
  • Game On Tabletop
  • Giochi Uniti
  • Goodman Games
  • Green Ronin
  • The Griffon’s Saddlebag
  • Iron GM Games
  • Know Direction
  • Kobold Press
  • Lazy Wolf Studios
  • Legendary Games
  • Lone Wolf Development
  • Loot Tavern
  • Louis Porter Jr. Designs
  • Mad Cartographer
  • Minotaur Games
  • Mongoose Publishing
  • MonkeyDM
  • Monte Cook Games
  • MT Black
  • Necromancer Games
  • Nord Games
  • Open Gaming, Inc.
  • Paizo Inc.
  • Paradigm Concepts
  • Pelgrane Press
  • Pinnacle Entertainment Group
  • Raging Swan Press
  • Rogue Games
  • Rogue Genius Games
  • Roll 20
  • Roll for Combat
  • Sly Flourish
  • Tom Cartos
  • Troll Lord Games
  • Ulisses Spiele
You will be hearing a lot more from us in the days to come.
 
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Illegal implies that some sort of law is being broken... Which one would that be? I think this is just a contract dispute, where which possibly WotC is in the wrong, I certainly hope so! But who exactly is going to take WotC to court over this? I suspect 99,99999999% of the people won't. I can see that one lawyer that was weighing in on the matter doing it and Paizo maybe financing it if that lawyer does it for peanuts...

But otherwise... WotC is the bully with a big stick and some might be 'posing' as opponents, but non are actually stepping up to the plate yet. They are still safe behind the fence. And in my experience, as long as your stick is big enough, you can get away with a LOT of things...

And at a certain point I'm wondering if Paizo is not better of with the new OGL being restrictive (or a de-autherized OGL 1a) and won't fight it, because it is the direct cause for the ORC alliance existing... So will anyone even seriously go to court with WotC over this? And I say seriously, because I can see a LOT of nutters coming out of the woodwork... I do hope that a Paizo will go to court with a proper lawyer to get this de-authorization issue ironed out, one way or the other. Maybe they can get it in front of Judge Clark Allen Peterson? @Orcus we summon thee! ;-)

I think this mistakes who has to make the first move. No one can really take WotC to court over anything, it requires WotC to take someone to court to defend their product. That's the stick you talk about: the threat that they will attempt a legal remedy of something they see as a violation of the new OGL.

For Paizo, it'd be better to have both 1.0a and ORC in play since 1.0a guarantees them protections for some of the stuff that has been previously available and ORC allows them to not get rug-pulled under some new OGL by WotC. And while I use Paizo, this is basically true of anyone who is in the same market, especially some of the bigger 3PP releases.
 

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Imaro

Legend
None. ORC is simply a license that publishers may use to open up their own gaming material. Expect several different SRDs (from different companies, for different game systems) to be released under ORC.
Oh ok... well ill definitely be interested in what rule systems are made available... especially those that aren't based on D&D... but honestly this seems like alot of fanfare with very little substance as of right now.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Oh ok... well ill definitely be interested in what rule systems are made available... especially those that aren't based on D&D... but honestly this seems like alot of fanfare with very little substance as of right now.
For the general public/non-NDA crowd, this situation is less than three weeks old. There's a ceiling on what one should expect to have happened by this point.
 

Oh ok... well ill definitely be interested in what rule systems are made available... especially those that aren't based on D&D... but honestly this seems like alot of fanfare with very little substance as of right now.

It's only just come out, so it's hard to judge what we are getting. But having a large repositories of SRDs that are not controlled by the companies themselves and instead a neutral third party is definitely a nice step forward for open gaming.
 


Cergorach

The Laughing One
The question is irrelevant. You brought up DMsGuild publications.
DMsGuild is D&D. The 1500+ 'publishers', I assume, are (former) OGL 'publishers'.

The reason I brought up DMsGuild publications is the fear of lack of D&D (compatible) material, there is no lack of D&D material. And while I have my doubts about the quality of the majority of the material, that still leaves a bunch of decent material. And every sale of that DMsGuild material is money for WotC.

How many of those 1500+ 'publishers' would have gotten over that $750k/year, now or ever? How many of those 1500+ 'publishers' actually make (significant) D&D compatible products. Many of the great ones have moved to their own systems, some of which might not even use the OGL anymore.

To me it's clear that WotC/Hasbro wants to monetize and pull back all the OGL 'users' to D&D an the WotC/Hasbro income stream (it's pretty clear that won't work). So from my perspective WotC/Hasbro doesn't care about those that don't make them money (large enough to go over that $750k revenue mark). DMsGuild doesn't have that $750k revenue mark, everything you ask money for there, WotC/Hasbro gets a big chunk of, so to WotC/Hasbro that is 'relevant'.

Either the DMsGuild is where players get most of their 3pp, or small DMsGuild publishers don't matter and won't impact how the community at large interacts with dnd. You can't have both.
Of course I can. You act as if all 50 million D&D players act the same way. Most never buy anything beyond anything official D&D (if that), maybe a VTT service to play online, but that's it. Then we have a group that just buys stuff with a D&D label on it, such DMsGuild. Then we have a group that buys D&D compatible stuff (via OGL). There might be some overlap in the latter two, just as there is some overlap between people who ride the bus and own a car...

You try to push two different issues into the same equation:
1.) Lack of D&D material (DMsGuild and fan generated stuff).
!=
2.) The relevance to WotC/Hasbro of a large amount of tiny OGL publishers that will leave the OGL behind (ORC alliance).

Look, I like Paizo (and a bunch of other publishers on the above list) a LOT more then I ever like WotC/Hasbro. But Hasbro is a BIG multinational, to date I've seen nothing but a mob confronting them, with Paizo leading the charge. A lot of people might go for a David vs. Goliath story, but what they seem to forget is that before David ever showed up, Goliath slew a lot of little people... David was just the guy that slew the giant, claiming Paizo as a 'David' before the actual slaying is unrealistic in my book. I certainly hope that Paizo does some giant slaying, but it is kinda unrealistic in my experience...

If WotC/Hasbro does the right kind of backpedaling, how many of those 1500+ will actually drop the OGL when push comes to shove? On one hand we have business people that will see concerns for making money evaporate, on the other we have business people that will continue to see a long term threat via the OGL from WotC/Hasbro. Not to mention the non-business people 'publishing' stuff...
 

Staffan

Legend
Interesting. Do any of those have a license to publish IP of note? I note that Cubicle 7, Fria Ligan, Edge Studios, and Free League all aren’t on the list? Should we read anything into this?
First, Fria Ligan and Free League are the same thing, just in Swedish and English. Other than that:

Green Ronin does Mutants & Masterminds and their series of AGE games with Fantasy AGE and Modern AGE being "generics" and also doing licensed versions of Dragon Age and the Expanse.
EN Publishing has published a highly successful 5e clone called Level Up. They've also done quite a few licensed games, though I think they've mainly used their own game, What's Old Is New, for those. I hear they also run an obscure web forum — seriously, who uses those these days?
Chaosium does Call of Cthulhu and Runequest.
Monte Cook Games has the Cypher System and a number of games using that as an engine like Numenera or The Strange.
Pinnacle Entertainment Group is Savage Worlds, which includes things like Deadlands.
Ulisses Spiele is (I believe) Germany's biggest RPG publisher, and also publishes a lot of things for the international market. Their biggest games are The Dark Eye, TORG Eternity, and Fading Suns.
Pelgrane Press mainly does 13th Age from a D&D-centric point of view, but they also publish the Gumshoe series of games among other things.
 

TheSword

Legend
First, Fria Ligan and Free League are the same thing, just in Swedish and English. Other than that:

Green Ronin does Mutants & Masterminds and their series of AGE games with Fantasy AGE and Modern AGE being "generics" and also doing licensed versions of Dragon Age and the Expanse.
EN Publishing has published a highly successful 5e clone called Level Up. They've also done quite a few licensed games, though I think they've mainly used their own game, What's Old Is New, for those. I hear they also run an obscure web forum — seriously, who uses those these days?
Chaosium does Call of Cthulhu and Runequest.
Monte Cook Games has the Cypher System and a number of games using that as an engine like Numenera or The Strange.
Pinnacle Entertainment Group is Savage Worlds, which includes things like Deadlands.
Ulisses Spiele is (I believe) Germany's biggest RPG publisher, and also publishes a lot of things for the international market. Their biggest games are The Dark Eye, TORG Eternity, and Fading Suns.
Pelgrane Press mainly does 13th Age from a D&D-centric point of view, but they also publish the Gumshoe series of games among other things.
Sorry I should have been clearer, I meant other than free licensing. Good shout on Fria Ligan.

It sounds like from your list Chaosium and Green Ronin are the only ones, with Expanse, Dragon Age and Call of Cthulhu. Everyone else seems to be using open source/unlicensed stuff.

I was surprised to see some of the big licensee names not on the list though and was interested in whether they were either waiting or concerned with how the issue would play out with their own licensors.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
Well that's Pathfinder creator and Paizo lead designer Jason Bulmahn, isn't it? I'd argue that he's 'relevant'.
That directly explains why MG is on the list...

I'm purposefully not talking about specific writers/artists, I'm talking about 'publishers'. And while Jason Bulmahn might be a great lead designer at Paizo, does that make him an excellent writer/businessman? I haven't read the Minotaur Games stuff, so I can't say. But I can say he's not a great illustrator... But that's not the point, the point is MG is making stuff for Pathfinder RPG and MG is tiny. MG has been around for ~10 years, half of the products on DTRPG have been published back in 2013 as 6 page products. The two most recent as 'hacks' for PF2E.

In what regard is this relevant for WotC/Hasbro. This won't ever generate them money via license fees, the recent stuff is even being written for an RPG that is a direct competitor to D&D (PF2E). From a D&D players perspective, the material they might use isn't compatible with the current version of D&D (5E), from a D&D DMs perspective the blue maps might be relevant and maybe the old stuff could be converted to new stuff. But how many D&D 5E DMs would bother with that when there's so much more 5E compatible stuff out there (or even D&D 5E stuff)?

The OGL and SRD were a vessel that was supposed to keep D&D the biggest game in town, but that only worked when the D&D stayed close to the original OGL/SRD. When WotC tried to go into a drastic different direction with 4E that was the second time WotC handed Paizo half their business on a platter. With 5E WotC tried to put that genie back into the bottle, but they already created a monster. And that Paizo monster allowed the creation of other tinier monsters that do their own thing instead of depending on whichever direction the D&D wind is blowing. And that has created a whole lot of published material which D&D/WotC/Hasbro doesn't profit from, not even indirectly.

A Malhavoc Press (Monte Cook) was relevant back in the 3E/3.5E days, Monte Cook Games is now 'relevant' as long as they make 5E compatible materials and/or they kept using the new OGL and WotC would see some money from them (I was wondering if WotC/Hasbro would claim x% on only the OGL revenue or ALL the revenue)... Imho that makes a Monte Cook Games 'relevant' and a Minotaur Games not...

From your business (perspective) how 'relevant' is a tiny unsuccessful product compared to a very successful big product at your company? Are the Level Up products not a whole lot more 'relevant' to Enworld then WOIN was? Although that might change drastically with the OGL shenanigans...
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That directly explains why MG is on the list...

I'm purposefully not talking about specific writers/artists, I'm talking about 'publishers'. And while Jason Bulmahn might be a great lead designer at Paizo, does that make him an excellent writer/businessman? I haven't read the Minotaur Games stuff, so I can't say. But I can say he's not a great illustrator... But that's not the point, the point is MG is making stuff for Pathfinder RPG and MG is tiny. MG has been around for ~10 years, half of the products on DTRPG have been published back in 2013 as 6 page products. The two most recent as 'hacks' for PF2E.

In what regard is this relevant for WotC/Hasbro. This won't ever generate them money via license fees, the recent stuff is even being written for an RPG that is a direct competitor to D&D (PF2E). From a D&D players perspective, the material they might use isn't compatible with the current version of D&D (5E), from a D&D DMs perspective the blue maps might be relevant and maybe the old stuff could be converted to new stuff. But how many D&D 5E DMs would bother with that when there's so much more 5E compatible stuff out there (or even D&D 5E stuff)?

The OGL and SRD were a vessel that was supposed to keep D&D the biggest game in town, but that only worked when the D&D stayed close to the original OGL/SRD. When WotC tried to go into a drastic different direction with 4E that was the second time WotC handed Paizo half their business on a platter. With 5E WotC tried to put that genie back into the bottle, but they already created a monster. And that Paizo monster allowed the creation of other tinier monsters that do their own thing instead of depending on whichever direction the D&D wind is blowing. And that has created a whole lot of published material which D&D/WotC/Hasbro doesn't profit from, not even indirectly.

A Malhavoc Press (Monte Cook) was relevant back in the 3E/3.5E days, Monte Cook Games is now 'relevant' as long as they make 5E compatible materials and/or they kept using the new OGL and WotC would see some money from them (I was wondering if WotC/Hasbro would claim x% on only the OGL revenue or ALL the revenue)... Imho that makes a Monte Cook Games 'relevant' and a Minotaur Games not...

From your business (perspective) how 'relevant' is a tiny unsuccessful product compared to a very successful big product at your company? Are the Level Up products not a whole lot more 'relevant' to Enworld then WOIN was? Although that might change drastically with the OGL shenanigans...
You'd have to define 'relevant'. I'm not sure how it's being used in this context. You mean as in 'popular'?
 


Cergorach

The Laughing One
You'd have to define 'relevant'. I'm not sure how it's being used in this context. You mean as in 'popular'?
I mean for a business to make drastic changes to their business model.
In the case of WotC/Hasbro to do the backpedaling it has shown (for now).
In the case of Enworld to have had their last WOIN kickstarter almost three years ago and 25 A5E/5E kickstarters since...

I mean how well does it sell. Which indirectly translates to a certain level of popularity, but not necessarily. I mean a single 5E kickstarted book doing a couple of million is 'relevant' and ~1350 'publishers' combined maybe making the same numbers in revenue over a decade isn't 'relevant'.

But on the other hand, how 'relevant' would Monte Cook Games be (to this discussion) if it was already using only the Cypher System (License)?

It's not just about popularity, money or system. It's a combination of that and then primarily viewed from a WotC/Hasbro perspective (and to a certain extend their customer base), because after all the ORC alliance is being formed to pressure WotC to change it's mind. And (possibly) provide an alternative to the OGL...
 
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mamba

Hero
the ORC alliance is being formed to pressure WotC to change it's mind. And (possibly) provide an alternative to the OGL...
I think it is formed to sever the reliance on the OGL, now that it becomes restrictive.

When Paizo releases the PF2 SRD under ORC and someone makes a new PF video game, WotC cannot say ‘computer games are not covered by the new OGL, so this PF game needs a license from us’.

Also, obviously to build a common pool of products that cannot be obliterated again, like WotC is doing right now
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
I think it is formed to sever the reliance on the OGL, now that it becomes restrictive.
I think it should be, as that is the better long term gain. BUT I wonder how many will go back to the old/new OGL if/when they see that they can work/profit from it.

When Paizo releases the PF2 SRD under ORC, WotC cannot say ‘computer games are not covered by the new OGL, so this PF game needs a license from us’.

Also, obviously to build a common pool of products that cannot be obliterated again, like WotC is doing right now
That is assuming that WotC/Hasbro doesn't just ram a lawsuit down somene's throat that claims that the works they've made are under the OGL licence they agreed too two decades ago and that license has been amended. Don't underestimate the unreasonableness and vicousness of large companies with more money then sense and a battalion of lawyers... TSR is a good example of that, but Games Workshop also has quite a long history of that kind of behavior...

Just because you think you've got your license in order doesn't mean there isn't someone out there with a big stick... The old OGL is a perfect example of this... I don't understand that people think that an ORC license is suddenly immune from shenangians.
 

I think it should be, as that is the better long term gain. BUT I wonder how many will go back to the old/new OGL if/when they see that they can work/profit from it.

It's very hard to profit from something when the entire thing can be brought down on your head without any recourse. It may or may not be about profit, but simply long-term stability in that case.

That is assuming that WotC/Hasbro doesn't just ram a lawsuit down somene's throat that claims that the works they've made are under the OGL licence they agreed too two decades ago and that license has been amended. Don't underestimate the unreasonableness and vicousness of large companies with more money then sense and a battalion of lawyers... TSR is a good example of that, but Games Workshop also has quite a long history of that kind of behavior...


Just because you think you've got your license in order doesn't mean there isn't someone out there with a big stick... The old OGL is a perfect example of this... I don't understand that people think that an ORC license is suddenly immune from shenangians.

If WotC wants to do that, they can try, but these lawsuits aren't exactly favorable ground since they have people who were actually there when OGL 1.0a was created, along with a pretty extensive list of statements which repeat their interpretation of the OGL as meant to be unrevocable.

Like, the whole point of this is to avoid court through threat. If you go to court, someone could take this and win, and that's not an unlikely possibility here: in fact, I'd say it's probably likely that they'd lose because of all the previous statements in that regard. They'd rather have uncertainty which scares off the little names because if they confirm in court they can't just revoke OGL 1.0a, that's a massive loss for them.
 


mamba

Hero
That is assuming that WotC/Hasbro doesn't just ram a lawsuit down somene's throat that claims that the works they've made are under the OGL licence they agreed too two decades ago and that license has been amended.
let them try that.... I am sure Paizo factored that risk in when deciding to release the ORC license and told us they would remove the OGL from their PF2 products going forward
 

It's very hard to profit from something when the entire thing can be brought down on your head without any recourse. It may or may not be about profit, but simply long-term stability in that case.



If WotC wants to do that, they can try, but these lawsuits aren't exactly favorable ground since they have people who were actually there when OGL 1.0a was created, along with a pretty extensive list of statements which repeat their interpretation of the OGL as meant to be unrevocable.

Like, the whole point of this is to avoid court through threat. If you go to court, someone could take this and win, and that's not an unlikely possibility here: in fact, I'd say it's probably likely that they'd lose because of all the previous statements in that regard. They'd rather have uncertainty which scares off the little names because if they confirm in court they can't just revoke OGL 1.0a, that's a massive loss for them.
I hate to push back on my favorite Green Lantern…but I disagree with the first reply above about the hard to make a profit if the rug can be pulled out…. I think barely 20-30 creators or publishers can say their 5e OGL products make a profit enough to say this is their main job. So if it’s a side job/hobby for the other 1470 on this list, a rug gettin ripped isn’t a deal breaker for paying rent. The OGL gave them the chance to share their creation with other fans, not pay the rent. So take all 1500 and the sales in units and dollars are still a drop in the bucket to WoTC 5e sales. And again, in a years time after whatever Orc puts out, will there be enough interest and sales to keep them making products. Let’s be realistic in the expectations in the future.
 

I hate to push back on my favorite Green Lantern…but I disagree with the first reply above about the hard to make a profit if the rug can be pulled out…. I think barely 20-30 creators or publishers can say their 5e OGL products make a profit enough to say this is their main job. So if it’s a side job/hobby for the other 1470 on this list, a rug gettin ripped isn’t a deal breaker for paying rent. The OGL gave them the chance to share their creation with other fans, not pay the rent. So take all 1500 and the sales in units and dollars are still a drop in the bucket to WoTC 5e sales. And again, in a years time after whatever Orc puts out, will there be enough interest and sales to keep them making products. Let’s be realistic in the expectations in the future.

I would honesty disagree a bit? I didn't realize before this whole thing but there have been multiple 5E $1M+ kickstarters since 2020. While I suspect most creators can't keep the lights on with their work alone, there are definitely groups that can and would be particularly impacted. They'd also likely be the ones who were being bargained with when it came to Wizbro's carrot and stick.

But more than that, it's nice to have a steady side-flow of cash, even if people take their cut. In today's day and age, that's the difference between covering rent or not, sometimes. Being able to just lose all rights to your content because of a decision that you can't contest might not be like losing a job, but you're losing cash as well as your body of work. Still unconscionable.
 

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