Paizo Posts New Draft of ORC License

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A second draft of the Open RPG Creative (ORC) license has been posted by Paizo, incorporating changes based on feedback on the first draft.

This second draft incorporates changes and suggestions from hundreds of participating publishers on the ORC License Discord community, adds significant clarity to key terms and definitions, substantially increases the size and scope of the project’s official FAQ, and introduces several basic quality-of-life improvements across the board.

You can download a copy of the ORC license and its associated FAQ/AxE (Answers and Explanations) document below. Our intention is to solicit “final” feedback on the ORC License Discord until the end of the day NEXT Monday, May 22nd. We intend for this wave of commentary to be the last round before presenting the truly final version of the license, which we plan to release by the end of May.

Our deepest thanks to all project participants. Your feedback has been invaluable in making the ORC License an ideal open gaming license that will serve the community long into the future.

A new era of open gaming is nearly here!
 

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dbolack

Adventurer
I'll just note that seeing several publishers and content creators very angrily calling out WotC during the OGL Fiasco and changing their avatars to "Open DnD" while simultaneously opening up little to none of their own content by using highly restrictive OGC declarations that back in the 3.x era would have widely been considered license violations was interesting to observe. 🤔
Citations please?
 

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kenada

Legend
Supporter
At the time I joined the discussions, no, I would not say explicit. The louder parts of the (pre)fanbase did, but there's always a chunk that claims to speak for the silent majority. My mistake was assuming they wanted feedback. :)
That’s fair. I wasn’t part of those discussions, so I’m going by what they’ve said in the AxE. There are mentions of creating a “virtuous cycle” and wanting to make sure people give back (to protect it). I find some of their comparisons to software a bit dubious. There’s not really a contributor dynamic with RPGs. The development of RPGs is very cathedral-style. You sometimes see repos that allow minor contributions, but usually the designers are doing their own thing. The dynamic for RPGs seems more that publishers occasionally use each other’s stuff (like how Paizo’s adventures for PF1 often include monsters from Tome of Horrors Complete or an NPC or monster with a class from another publisher’s book).

I have yet to do research on how CC-BY works for print and/or mixed content. That might work. I have seen claims. Dunno.
From what I understand, you just need to follow the attribution requirements specified by the original publisher to use CC-BY content. A couple of games I have that use CC-BY content are Shadowdark (the 5.1 SRD) and Into the Dark (the BitD SRD). Neither make their material available for others to use under a permissive license, though Shadowdark does have a reasonably generous (but not permissive) third party license. I expect as more people make material for D&D using the CC-BY SRD, there will be more examples of how to use it.
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
There are two obvious safe harbor spaces here. The way that OGL was used ( misused/misread. Pick your poison ) where a publisher could designate something as "don't use please, thanks" or the ORC way of "all crunch is open." Both have value but slightly different use cases.
There’s also third party licenses like what Shadowdark uses, though I’m sure there other publishers with something similar. It’s not permissive — you can’t take it to make your own game; but you can make content for the system and retain ownership of content you create. Obviously, when drafting one’s own third party license, you’ll want to consult a lawyer to make sure it’s done properly. That’s one of the nice things about these boilerplate licenses (someone did that already, and they presumably did a good enough job).
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Honestly, good. Fie on them. The “traditional approach” involves exploiting of a lack of clarity in the license. What I’m calling is unreasonable is the expectation that others should continue producing content for their benefit. Note that I’m not calling out preferring a permissive license. That’s fine. What’s at issue is the want for maintaining the status quo with a defective license.


My guess is there will be a mix. There will be systems with a stripped down SRD licensed under CC-BY, and there will be games using the ORC license. There will also be games with special licenses for making content for their game, but you won’t be able to use their mechanics for a new game. There’s no need for everyone to use the same license or approach.
Honestly, moving forwards I expect the majority of smaller publishers will be making OGL or CC D&D content.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Honestly, moving forwards I expect the majority of smaller publishers will be making OGL or CC D&D content.
That’s probably the case already, and I agree. D&D is the overwhelming market leader, and I don’t expect that to change unless Hasbro does something really stupid (like mothballing D&D). It’s always going to have a sizable creator ecosystem.
 

If I understand dbolack correctly, they're concerned that taking several normally uncopyrightable concepts ('roll a die', 'compare against a number','success is based on the comparison') and combining them in a novel way might not be protectable if other ORC content appears in the product, because the ORC is so generous in how it defines open game content.

So an innovator who makes the next Advantage/Disadvantage 'breakthrough' can't prevent everyone and their uncle using it in their products. I'm not sure that's a huge problem for me –we had various terms used before the 2016 SRD made it much easier to use the official 5e language (making things much less confusing), and the actual mechanics cannot be copyrighted, although there could be an argument that using the base components in a certain way was so innovative that it is copyrightable.
Interpreted this way (and I reserve judgment as to the motives of others, just commenting on this point) its an 'I want to have my cake and eat it too' kind of thing. That is, suppose you do create some super innovative game mechanics that you believe is protectable and you want to protect it, then why is your game ORC (or OGL)? The WHOLE POINT of open source is the sharing of everyone's innovations together in such a way that everyone can benefit from all of them collectively. If you are not part of that community, don't hold with those ethics, then you should not BE a part of it. I'll definitely grant you access to MY secret sauce for you to remix and use, but you gotta do the same for me! That IS the core of the deal, period. So, as you depict it here, and as I understand that depiction, its bad faith.
 

dbolack

Adventurer
That’s fair. I wasn’t part of those discussions, so I’m going by what they’ve said in the AxE.

There wasn't an AxE at that point - which certainly would have made things smoother. :)

There are mentions of creating a “virtuous cycle” and wanting to make sure people give back (to protect it). I find some of their comparisons to software a bit dubious. There’s not really a contributor dynamic with RPGs. The development of RPGs is very cathedral-style. You sometimes see repos that allow minor contributions, but usually the designers are doing their own thing. The dynamic for RPGs seems more that publishers occasionally use each other’s stuff (like how Paizo’s adventures for PF1 often include monsters from Tome of Horrors Complete or an NPC or monster with a class from another publisher’s book).

That can depend. For example, there was/is a nontrivial second-tier publisher set for Mutants and Masterminds.

From what I understand, you just need to follow the attribution requirements specified by the original publisher to use CC-BY content. A couple of games I have that use CC-BY content are Shadowdark (the 5.1 SRD) and Into the Dark (the BitD SRD). Neither make their material available for others to use under a permissive license, though Shadowdark does have a reasonably generous (but not permissive) third party license. I expect as more people make material for D&D using the CC-BY SRD, there will be more examples of how to use it.

I'll look into it deeper. I'm largely concerned with this more as a root source publisher and making sure that downstream folks can tell what's cool from print without uglifying up the presentation.
 

dbolack

Adventurer
Interpreted this way (and I reserve judgment as to the motives of others, just commenting on this point) its an 'I want to have my cake and eat it too' kind of thing. That is, suppose you do create some super innovative game mechanics that you believe is protectable and you want to protect it, then why is your game ORC (or OGL)? The WHOLE POINT of open source is the sharing of everyone's innovations together in such a way that everyone can benefit from all of them collectively. If you are not part of that community, don't hold with those ethics, then you should not BE a part of it. I'll definitely grant you access to MY secret sauce for you to remix and use, but you gotta do the same for me! That IS the core of the deal, period. So, as you depict it here, and as I understand that depiction, its bad faith.

It's not bad faith. It's a different valuation on trade. And choice.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Interpreted this way (and I reserve judgment as to the motives of others, just commenting on this point) its an 'I want to have my cake and eat it too' kind of thing. That is, suppose you do create some super innovative game mechanics that you believe is protectable and you want to protect it, then why is your game ORC (or OGL)? The WHOLE POINT of open source is the sharing of everyone's innovations together in such a way that everyone can benefit from all of them collectively. If you are not part of that community, don't hold with those ethics, then you should not BE a part of it. I'll definitely grant you access to MY secret sauce for you to remix and use, but you gotta do the same for me! That IS the core of the deal, period. So, as you depict it here, and as I understand that depiction, its bad faith.
Wanting a new OGL replacement to work in the same way as has been industry standard for 20 years hardly seems in bad faith.
 
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I don't know about the poster you questioned, but O think the main downside for me is WOTC is not a part of it, which means their content won't be covered under it, or games built off of their content. That is well over 50% of the market.

Back when WOTC was insistent on deauthorizing the OGL, ORC had a lot more momentum because it looked like it was possible 3rd party creators would have nowhere else to go. Now that this is no longer an imminent threat I think many of them are following the $$$ and going back to WOTC and that makes this less of a priority since WOTC is not included in it.
ORC is stuck in the same room with the same elephant as all other open licenses WRT any D&D-like, WotC can still sue you and simply say that your ripping them off. This was ALWAYS the business case for using the OGL and it hasn't changed one bit! Given that reality OGL will always have a huge extra appeal over ORC et al. as it IS a pretty good bet WotC won't come after you for using it. Now that they've clarified their understanding of OGL as being irrevocable and viral, or at least stated they don't intend to press that issue, it seems like the more desirable of the two licenses, from a legal standpoint. ORC is probably a better choice if you are designing a game 'whole cloth' that is not in any way D&D-like, though, as it seems to clarify certain points, though I am still personally of a mind that CC licenses are more proven and may work better.
 

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