OGL Retrocloning or duplicating D&D from the materials WotC is releasing under Creative Commons

While the fight over OGL 1.0a goes on, there is also the fact that it seems WotC will be releasing a lot of the generic "nuts and bolts" of the 5e system via a Creative Commons, albeit leaving out all the setting-specific elements for a fantasy RPG.

Whatever their hostile intents towards the D&D community, that seems to indicate they aren't targeting the gaming community outside 5e D&D with their aggression. The OGL, and SRD's provided an easy, fast way to make D&D compatible games and a promise from WotC they wouldn't go after fans doing it. Now, that promise is gone. . .but the idea of using what they have released via CC to create a D&D retroclone (like one similar to 3e would be my intent) that is outside the OGL seems viable.

So, it makes me wonder, is there, or will there be, a project to create such a thing through the elements they released to CC? Most character classes, races, monsters etc. that people would associate with a D&D-style fantasy game would be things (both in name and general concept) that could be shown to be inspired by or derived from other things. . .novels, non-D&D video games, folklore, history, mythology etc. They don't own the idea of a monk that's based off old Kung Fu movies, or a "fighter" that is a guy in heavy armor with big weapons, or a "ranger" that is an outdoorsman and archer, or a "thief" or "rogue" that's a sneaky guy that stabs people in the back and picks people's pockets, or a "wizard" that is a guy in funny robes and casting spells.

While terms and creatures (and items and spells) that can clearly be shown to be unique to D&D are things that WotC could plausibly make a court case out of, there's a LOT of elements of D&D that
can be shown to not be unique to D&D and have become common throughout fantasy gaming well beyond D&D (and not under the OGL), especially things released in the 1980's and 1990's and aren't specifically WotC's IP, whether or not they were ever in the SRD as a character class, magic item, spell etc.

Am I really the first to think of this, or are others thinking there may be a CC-derived D&D copy or retroclone produced, or at least a library of monsters, character classes, feats, spells etc. released via CC to go with the system core materials they're also releasing?
 

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No, you’re not the first to think of this. Half the TTRPG industry is working out how to do it right now. For us, it’ll take the form of de-OGL-if ting Level Up, but there are other approaches.
Good to know.

I guess it sounds silly of me to ask in retrospect because it seems obvious someone would be doing it, but I'm fairly busy and only peripherally been able to keep track of this mess online with work and school and family stuff also going on so I hadn't seen the details about it.

The idea of trying to reverse engineer D&D into a creative-commons format stripped of demonstrably WotC-unique IP has been on my mind ever since I heard the announcement about releasing the core of the mechanics to CC, but I hadn't seen anything about the projects to actually do such a thing.

Good to know it's being done, and probably being done by people better at it than me :)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Good to know.

I guess it sounds silly of me to ask in retrospect because it seems obvious someone would be doing it, but I'm fairly busy and only peripherally been able to keep track of this mess online with work and school and family stuff also going on so I hadn't seen the details about it.

The idea of trying to reverse engineer D&D into a creative-commons format stripped of demonstrably WotC-unique IP has been on my mind ever since I heard the announcement about releasing the core of the mechanics to CC, but I hadn't seen anything about the projects to actually do such a thing.

Good to know it's being done, and probably being done by people better at it than me :)
Well I wouldn’t say it’s being done at this point, just that people are looking at the viability of it.
 


JEB

Legend
I sincerely hope they add previous editions to the license. It'll make a "roll your own D&D" with everything you like from the history of the game a lot easier.
That would be nice, but I think we can be 99.99999% certain they just mean putting 3.5 into CC. The other editions don't have proper SRDs (4E's SRD isn't suitable for the CC treatment), and would require effort I sincerely doubt they're willing to invest.
 

Haplo781

Legend
That would be nice, but I think we can be 99.99999% certain they just mean putting 3.5 into CC. The other editions don't have proper SRDs (4E's SRD isn't suitable for the CC treatment), and would require effort I sincerely doubt they're willing to invest.
They barely care about 5e's rule set - they're only withholding elements that would allow people to easily develop 1DD-compatible content for obvious reasons. They could put up the entirety of the rules from past editions and go "anything called out as Product Identity is a no-no" and call it a day.
 

Dausuul

Legend
The fun thing about going this route is that you could then slap "Compatible with Dungeons and Dragons" on the cover and Wizards would have no way to stop you.

Aside from the benefit to creators of being able to openly advertise this, it would be deeply satisfying to see Wizards ending up with less control of their brand.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The fun thing about going this route is that you could then slap "Compatible with Dungeons and Dragons" on the cover and Wizards would have no way to stop you.

Aside from the benefit to creators of being able to openly advertise this, it would be deeply satisfying to see Wizards ending up with less control of their brand.
You can do that anyway. There are a lot of people producing compatible materials for various games and no one gets sued over it. Unless you make stuff compatible with GW games.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I hate to say this, but the one good thing that might come out of WotC not allowing their non-mechanic stuff to be used, except possibly under a special and currently undisclosed license, is that this might force creators to be actually creative about their D&D clones.

As I said in another thread, we hardly need to have the same old series of giants and dragons and the like get statted out again and again. And the same goes with classes and races and the like.
 


Haplo781

Legend
You mean take previous editions out of the permissive license they are currently available under and reducing the content to a tenth the amount?
Which editions other than 3.x and 5e are under a more permissive license currently?

Here's a handy chart in case you need a refresher on the ones you might be forgetting about:
Screenshot_20230121-130325.png
 


Dausuul

Legend
You can do that anyway. There are a lot of people producing compatible materials for various games and no one gets sued over it. Unless you make stuff compatible with GW games.
In principle, yes, but the CC license would make it significantly easier and cheaper to avoid infringement. Less stuff to rewrite, less stuff to double-check with counsel, smaller potential for mistakes.

It was even easier using the OGL and accepting the restrictions, which was why it was a savvy move by Wizards -- it gave 3PPs a real benefit in exchange for keeping distance between them and WotC's trademarks. Blowing it up takes away that incentive; and releasing a bunch of stuff under CC reduces the cost of making a clone that doesn't have to play nice.
 


Voadam

Legend
I believe WotC's tweet was that they were looking at putting the older OGL SRDs (so d20 Modern, 3.5, 3e) into SRDs under 1.2. I wouldn't count on a lot of that making it into CC or any non OGL SRD stuff making it in.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I believe WotC's tweet was that they were looking at putting the older OGL SRDs (so d20 Modern, 3.5, 3e) into SRDs under 1.2. I wouldn't count on a lot of that making it into CC or any non OGL SRD stuff making it in.
They said they "are actively looking at adding previous edition content to both the CC and OGL 1.2."
 


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