OGL Statement on OGL from WotC

Wizards of the Coast has made a short statement regarding the ongoing rumors surrounding OneD&D and the Open Gaming License. In a short response to Comicbook.com, the company said "We will continue to support the thousands of creators making third-party D&D content with the release of One D&D in 2024. While it is certain our Open Game License (OGL) will continue to evolve, just as it has since its inception, we're too early in the development of One D&D to give more specifics on the OGL or System Reference Document (SRD) at this time."

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It's not clear what WotC means when they say that the OGL will 'continue to evolve' -- while there have been two versions of the license released over the years, each is non-rescindible so people are free to use whichever version of the license they wish. Indeed, that is written into the license itself -- "Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License."

During the D&D 4th Edition era, WotC published a new, separate license called the Game System Licence (GSL). While it was used by third party publishers, it was generally upopular.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Hussar

Legend
I never said anything about a new OGL, I said a new book or SRD.

For example, my homebrew setting contains a plane called The Dreaming. The Dreaming is also the name of a (different) plane in A5e's cosmology, and is declared as PI there. If I decided to write my homebrew setting up as a commercial product and release it under the OGL, and I wanted to include A5e in my s.15 for some reason, I would have to change the name of that plane (or I could ask @Morrus for a separate licence to use the name). If there was nothing I wanted from A5e OTOH, I could continue to use that name with impunity.

EDIT: So to continue your example, if WotC brought out a 5.5 SRD and declared "dwarves" to be PI, one could simply not use the 5.5 SRD, but one could not use the5.5 SRD and use dwarves (without a separate licence).

Unless I have misunderstood something.
Well, yes. If you wanted to include something that has the same name as someone else's PI AND you wanted to use that other company's OGL, then, sure, you'd have to change the name of your stuff.

Now, if you didn't use A5e, for example, then you could use the same name to your heart's content.

Seems pretty fair. Also seems to be a VERY corner case. And, none of it stops you from using material from an older SRD.

I think the problem here is that we're mixing a few different things. The D&D SRD is a pretty specific document in that it specifically doesn't include any PI. That's the point. Now you're talking about using someone else's product, that contains both open and closed content. That's a rather different beast altogether.
 

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The "it's been 10 years" argument is in favor of WotC properly making a new edition that updates the game to what they think all their new players want, not the "not an edition change" half-measure they appear to actually be producing.

Nope. It is not. After 10 years, this seems exactly what is needed. Actually it was needed two years ago, but with the Anniversary right around the corner, this was implausible.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think the problem here is that we're mixing a few different things. The D&D SRD is a pretty specific document in that it specifically doesn't include any PI. That's the point. Now you're talking about using someone else's product, that contains both open and closed content. That's a rather different beast altogether.
We actually go the SRD route also with the Level Up SRD. Easier and clearer for the end user.
 

Reynard

Legend
Referencing an SRD or OGL product in your section 15 just means you can use the Open Content from that document. It doesn't require you to inude anything or prohibit you from including anything from a different (also referenced) document. It certainly doesn't stop you from creating your own content.

One mistake I see a lot in Product Identity statements is people designating mechanics as PI. You technically can't do that. Mechanics derived from OGC in an OGL document are automatically OGC per the OGL. The line is probably fuzzy where the exact line is, but if your complex travel system uses the PCs ability scores and skills to determine outcome, I would think that counts as "derived from" -- I'm looking at you, AiME.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
One mistake I see a lot in Product Identity statements is people designating mechanics as PI. You technically can't do that. Mechanics derived from OGC in an OGL document are automatically OGC per the OGL. The line is probably fuzzy where the exact line is, but if your complex travel system uses the PCs ability scores and skills to determine outcome, I would think that counts as "derived from" -- I'm looking at you, AiME.
Yeah I agree, I also noticed that Mutants & Masterminds d20 states that specific mechanics are their IP [Edit: PI], like the tables for powers. Except, the powers aren't listed in the IP[PI*] because you can't copyright generic superhero powers.

Edit*: Oops, I meant PI (product Identity as stated in the OGL), not IP (intellectual property). Thank you for pointing that out.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah I agree, I also noticed that Mutants & Masterminds d20 states that specific mechanics are their IP, like the tables for powers. Except, the powers aren't listed in the IP because you can't copyright generic superhero powers.


Assuming you’re talking about the OGC declaration in the book, PI (not IP) is Product Identity, a label for a contractually agreed list of content. Copyright doesn’t come into it. It’s a license — contract law, not copyright law.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
Assuming you’re talking about the OGC declaration in the book, PI (not IP) is Product Identity, a label for a contractually agreed list of content. Copyright doesn’t come into it. It’s a license — contract law, not copyright law.
Thank you for the clarification, my mistake I did mean Product Identity, not IP.
 



SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
This is a bit of amazingly bad PR. If OneDnD is going to be entirely backwards compatible, then it's based on open gaming content and people can continue to use the old content based on that version of the license. You can build your own classes, spell systems and what have you, based on what is previously there. And if it's a new thing ... well I was here for 4E. I loved the game in fact. But I also understand that the GSL was horrible and responsible for splitting the hobby. I don't see the upside for this discussion in any way.

This has all the look and feel of someone releasing a PR statement that was in comms rather than a gamer. Mrs. SteveC works in comms right now and there is a very good reason the things her agency releases have both a fact check and legal check process. "Is this right? Is it factually correct? Oh, and is it a legal thing to say or does it open up any liabilities?"
 

This is a bit of amazingly bad PR. If OneDnD is going to be entirely backwards compatible, then it's based on open gaming content and people can continue to use the old content based on that version of the license. You can build your own classes, spell systems and what have you, based on what is previously there. And if it's a new thing ... well I was here for 4E. I loved the game in fact. But I also understand that the GSL was horrible and responsible for splitting the hobby. I don't see the upside for this discussion in any way.

This has all the look and feel of someone releasing a PR statement that was in comms rather than a gamer. Mrs. SteveC works in comms right now and there is a very good reason the things her agency releases have both a fact check and legal check process. "Is this right? Is it factually correct? Oh, and is it a legal thing to say or does it open up any liabilities?"

"We will continue to support the thousands of creators making third-party D&D content with the release of One D&D in 2024. While it is certain our Open Game License (OGL) will continue to evolve, just as it has since its inception, we're too early in the development of One D&D to give more specifics on the OGL or System Reference Document (SRD) at this time."

What exactly in this is so dubious?
They will continue to support the third party ceators. The OGL will evolve. But by design, if you don't like the evolution, you just use the older one...

edit: maybe I don't speak corporate english, so don't most of the gamers. So I can't see bad PR here.
 

Clint_L

Hero
If OneDnD is going to be entirely backwards compatible, then it's based on open gaming content and people can continue to use the old content based on that version of the license.
First, 5e is not based on open gaming content. It is compatible with open gaming content, which is a totally different thing. And since OneD&D is a continuation of 5e, it will still be compatible with open gaming content, which this statement affirms. Actually, even if it wasn't compatible with 5e it would still be compatible with the OGL.

There is no controversy, aside from a clickbait YouTuber trying to generate attention on places like this, among the chunk of the hardcore fanbase which always assumes the worst. WotC has not raised the issue, nor, most importantly, have businesses who rely on the OGL/SRD. This is just people who don't know anything about anything making noises to get attention.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
"We will continue to support the thousands of creators making third-party D&D content with the release of One D&D in 2024. While it is certain our Open Game License (OGL) will continue to evolve, just as it has since its inception, we're too early in the development of One D&D to give more specifics on the OGL or System Reference Document (SRD) at this time."

What exactly in this is so dubious?
They will continue to support the third party ceators. The OGL will evolve. But by design, if you don't like the evolution, you just use the older one...
I'll just put the part that's dubious here:
While it is certain our Open Game License (OGL) will continue to evolve, just as it has since its inception, we're too early in the development of One D&D to give more specifics on the OGL or System Reference Document (SRD) at this time.

Those are words that say "maybe we will put the SRD for OneDnD as open content, maybe not." And, again, depending on how different the rules are, the point may be entirely irrelevant.

The truth is: we don't know what that sentence really means, and I expect many people will be charitable about it. I don't know. What I do know is that it opens the door to ... this thread. And many of the content creators I follow have been very dubious about it, so I can tell you it's creating controversy. And I'll just say it's better to say nothing than to create controversy at this quite early stage. Where is the up side for that statement?
 

I'll just put the part that's dubious here:
While it is certain our Open Game License (OGL) will continue to evolve, just as it has since its inception, we're too early in the development of One D&D to give more specifics on the OGL or System Reference Document (SRD) at this time.

Those are words that say "maybe we will put the SRD for OneDnD as open content, maybe not." And, again, depending on how different the rules are, the point may be entirely irrelevant.

The truth is: we don't know what that sentence really means, and I expect many people will be charitable about it. I don't know. What I do know is that it opens the door to ... this thread. And many of the content creators I follow have been very dubious about it, so I can tell you it's creating controversy. And I'll just say it's better to say nothing than to create controversy at this quite early stage. Where is the up side for that statement?

Nope. Say nothing also did not help.
It is also ignoring the first part of their post...
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
First, 5e is not based on open gaming content. It is compatible with open gaming content, which is a totally different thing. And since OneD&D is a continuation of 5e, it will still be compatible with open gaming content, which this statement affirms. Actually, even if it wasn't compatible with 5e it would still be compatible with the OGL.

There is no controversy, aside from a clickbait YouTuber trying to generate attention on places like this, among the chunk of the hardcore fanbase which always assumes the worst. WotC has not raised the issue, nor, most importantly, have businesses who rely on the OGL/SRD. This is just people who don't know anything about anything making noises to get attention.
Well you definitely have me on a pedantic issue, so you have that going for you. I don't think that 1% of 1% of D&D fans make that distinction, so I decided not to be that precise with my wording.
But as far as saying "OneD&D is a continuation of 5e", well ... we have nothing but what WotC has said so far on that topic. And I've been here long enough to know that WotC itself probably doesn't even know if that's true or not. So on the important point, we are being entirely speculative here.
I do know this: every time there's been a new edition, WotC (and TSR before them) have touted compatibility. That's done in part so that they will keep selling books for the next two years.

The question we have here, and the one that's relevant in terms of the OGL is: will OneDandD be like 3.5 or Essentials for 4E. If it's 3.5, it largely breaks compatibility but if it's Essentials it keeps it. None of us know what the final product is going to be.

And bringing up the OGL and how it will "evolve" and using marketing speak doesn't help anyone.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
WotC's statement is ensuring that they don't over-promise something that is not yet set in stone. Providing a firm statement before things are finalized would be foolish, as they would then have to backpedal if something changed between now and 2024.

Moreover, there is no way to word things that will please everyone who is in paranoid mode. There are decades of games PR disasters to draw on for examples. They gave the best answer they could. They are not going to shoot themselves in the foot just to appease the unappeasable.
 
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Hussar

Legend
If nothing else, the statement indicates an awareness of third parties' concerns.

But here’s the thing.

There are no concerns.

This is 100% invented. Nothing WotC has said or done suggests anything like this. It’s entirely based on an anonymous insider with inside information. Completely unsubstantiated.

But WotC has to waste time on it because people are “concerned “?
 



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