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 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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Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
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.
But putting out a 1.0b license wouldn't do that either for a company like Malhavoc, because it would need to be re-released under the 1.0b. Which, as a defunct thing, isn't likely.


Chaotic Looseleaf
This is fantastic news, but... yeah, we, uh... :: cough ::

We still need an updated OGL.

13 years of SRD 3.x-based OGC development is still in the wind, and any non-Wizards-SRD OGC released under the OGL is still at risk of deauthorization.

Personally, I'm still more excited for the multiple compatible rulesets being developed under the ORC (in conjunction with CC D&D) and I hope that initiative does not stall out.

Too early to say about oneD&D, but if it remains as compatible as we were promised I will be even more shocked than I am at this moment.


Well, One D&D is coming out next year. Unless they change a lot and very quickly, it's going to be compatible enough with 5E that one can use the 5E CC content to write for it indefinitely.
Since we've only had two playtests, they have lots of stuff they can retool to be different enough. And honestly it doesn't even need to be radically different from 5e. "Just different enough" will be enough to keep most people from wanting to put forth the effort. I keep seeing people over on the Level Up board ask if there's been a conversion for such-and-such monster or spell into LU rules, despite LU being totally backwards compatible.

I'd say that of the people who buy One, many, perhaps even most, of them aren't going to buy anything 5e related to use with it.


But putting out a 1.0b license wouldn't do that either for a company like Malhavoc, because it would need to be re-released under the 1.0b. Which, as a defunct thing, isn't likely.
No, because 1.0(a) specifically allows the use of Open Content under other versions of the license.

The problem with using old stuff under the proposed 1.2, as I understand it, is that 1.0(a) plus notifications in the actual documents define things as Open Content and allows you to do certain things with it. But 1.2 was silent on the use of Open Content – it only dealt with Our Licensed Content, Our Unlicensed Content, and Your Content.

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