WotC Backs Down: Original OGL To Be Left Untouched; Whole 5E Rules Released as Creative Commons

Hundreds of game publishers sigh in relief as, after extensive pressure exerted by the entire open gaming community, WotC has agreed to leave the original Open Gaming License untouched and put the whole of the 5E rules into Creative Commons. So, what's happened? The Open Gaming Licence v1.0a which most of the D&D third party industry relies on, will be left untouched for now. The whole of...

Hundreds of game publishers sigh in relief as, after extensive pressure exerted by the entire open gaming community, WotC has agreed to leave the original Open Gaming License untouched and put the whole of the 5E rules into Creative Commons.

So, what's happened?
  • The Open Gaming Licence v1.0a which most of the D&D third party industry relies on, will be left untouched for now.
  • The whole of the D&D 5E SRD (ie the rules of the game less the fluff text) has been released under a Creative Commons license.

WotC has a history of 'disappearing' inconvenient FAQs and stuff, such as those where they themselves state that the OGL is irrevocable, so I'll copy this here for posterity.

When you give us playtest feedback, we take it seriously.

Already more than 15,000 of you have filled out the survey. Here's what you said:
  • 88% do not want to publish TTRPG content under OGL 1.2.
  • 90% would have to change some aspect of their business to accommodate OGL 1.2.
  • 89% are dissatisfied with deauthorizing OGL 1.0a.
  • 86% are dissatisfied with the draft VTT policy.
  • 62% are satisfied with including Systems Reference Document (SRD) content in Creative Commons, and the majority of those who were dissatisfied asked for more SRD content in Creative Commons.
These live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons.
The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we're acting now.
  1. We are leaving OGL 1.0a in place, as is. Untouched.
  2. We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a Creative Commons license.
  3. You choose which you prefer to use.
This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don't control that license and cannot alter or revoke it. It's open and irrevocable in a way that doesn't require you to take our word for it. And its openness means there's no need for a VTT policy. Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There's no going back.

Our goal here is to deliver on what you wanted.

So, what about the goals that drove us when we started this process?

We wanted to protect the D&D play experience into the future. We still want to do that with your help. We're grateful that this community is passionate and active because we'll need your help protecting the game's inclusive and welcoming nature.

We wanted to limit the OGL to TTRPGs. With this new approach, we are setting that aside and counting on your choices to define the future of play.
Here's a PDF of SRD 5.1 with the Creative Commons license. By simply publishing it, we place it under an irrevocable Creative Commons license. We'll get it hosted in a more convenient place next week. It was important that we take this step now, so there's no question.
We'll be closing the OGL 1.2 survey now.

We'll keep talking with you about how we can better support our players and creators. Thanks as always for continuing to share your thoughts.

Kyle Brink
Executive Producer, Dungeons & Dragons


What does this mean?

The original OGL sounds safe for now, but WotC has not admitted that they cannot revoke it. That's less of an issue now the 5E System Reference Document is now released to Creative Commons (although those using the 3E SRD or any third party SRDs still have issues as WotC still hasn't revoked the incorrect claim that they can revoke access to those at-will).

At this point, if WotC wants anybody to use whatever their new OGL v1.x turns out to be, there needs to be one heck of a carrot. What that might be remains to be seen.

Pathfinder publlsher Paizo has also commented on the latest developments.

We welcome today’s news from Wizards of the Coast regarding their intention not to de-authorize OGL 1.0a. We still believe there is a powerful need for an irrevocable, perpetual independent system-neutral open license that will serve the tabletop community via nonprofit stewardship. Work on the ORC license will continue, with an expected first draft to release for comment to participating publishers in February.


 

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I wasn't clear: if their goal is to release 1D&D/6E under a new, restrictive license, in order to ensure that folks can't circumvent that license just be reffering to the 5.1 SRD (in the same way they retrocloned earlier editions) they will have to make the changes to 1D&D/6E significant (as they did with 4E vs 3.x).

Let's goooooooo let's make some wild new mechanics. Give me weird proprietary dice, WotC, you cowards!
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Publishers rejoice!

Alejandro Jodorowsky Fun GIF by Endless Poetry
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
That closes the gap for things that only rely on the SRD. But take something like Night of Frozen Shadows (part 2 of the Jade Regent AP), which in addition to the SRD uses Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary, Necromancer Games' Tome of Horrors III, as well as three monsters (separately credited) from Tome of Horrors, Revised.
So here's the thing - if they release the 3.x SRD under a CC-BY license then there is no need for us to worry about this anymore. Because the reason it is a problem is because Wizards could claim they were deauthorizing the license for everyone putting all of those works and the material shared between them into limbo.

If both SRDs are under a CC-BY license then there's zero incentive for Wizards to do that unless Loki becomes the CEO and just wants to cause some weird chaos. (If the 3.x SRD isn't put under a CC-BY license then yes, there might be some incentive there to mess with some companies, but even there if the major companies get off the OGL and put their future works under a different license that incentive decreases anyway).

I'm not concerned that Green Ronin or Necromancer are going to sue anyone for reusing their content that they put under the OGL if CEO Loki decides to deauthorize the OGL in the future. The risk is with Wizards behaving badly. And the SRD under CC-BY is basically laying down their weapons.
 

Staffan

Legend
Goodness gracious, how many edge cases do we feel WotC needs to worry about before we are just okay with it all?
To me, the real power of the OGL is not just opening up Wizards' stuff. That's a strong foundation, but the real strength is in letting people build not just on that but on the stuff that's built on it.

Or heck, take Pathfinder 1 which in addition to listing the SRD in its section 15 also listed the Book of Experimental Might from Malhavoc Games. That's a company that's been lying fallow for years.

Don't get me wrong, this is definitely a win. But putting the 5e SRD, or even older SRDs, under CC doesn't entirely remove the risk to older stuff.
 

I wasn't clear: if their goal is to release 1D&D/6E under a new, restrictive license, in order to ensure that folks can't circumvent that license just be reffering to the 5.1 SRD (in the same way they retrocloned earlier editions) they will have to make the changes to 1D&D/6E significant (as they did with 4E vs 3.x).

I don't think so. But i was wrong before.
I don't trust WotC lawyers. I do trust the designers. They have proven that they are able to create a fun and accessible game.

To compare it with LevelUp, both are good games, they target different audiences. 5e however is less complex and this is a good thing for the entry game.
 


Solauren

Explorer
Some recovery by WOTC and Hasbro on this.


Can they try to pull something in the future?

Not really. Yes, they still have protection over alot of D&D related material (i.e the Forgotten realms, the characters within, etc), but that was always the case. If someone violates that for commerical purposes, WOTC is well within their rights to bring down the +10 Holy Dread of Copyright Violators Great Club on them, and I'd support that.

They could, in theory, release a new rule set in the future, and refuse from the get go to make it OGL/CC or whatever. That's fine. That's their right.

The important thing is, they won't touch what's already out there.

I can now go out and start a 'Retro RPG' publishing company under OGL1.0a, and make stuff for the old D20 System, PF1E, PF2E, and D&D5.X, and no one can do a damn thing about it except ignore me.

And that's how we wanted it.
 


Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I don't think so. But i was wrong before.
I don't trust WotC lawyers. I do trust the designers. They have proven that they are able to create a fun and accessible game.

To compare it with LevelUp, both are good games, they target different audiences. 5e however is less complex and this is a good thing for the entry game.
Sure, and 4E is a great design that suffered because it was called D&D. My point was more about the idea that this move with the OGL and the 5E SRD doesn't necessarily reflect their intention of controlling the VTT space and closing off 1D&D/6E under a restrictive license.
 

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