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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Holy moly. Did not expect them to walk back that far.

I mean, even that said, I don't trust this for the future. I full expect One D&D (6.0) to include it's own new license that is much closer to what we saw previously of 1.1.
Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Unless they go way out of their way to break compatibility, it won't matter. 1D&D is set to be so close to 5E that the 5E SRD will meet the needs of 99% of 3PPs.


Part of me wonders if this is a response to all those legal opinions floating around saying the OGL is and always was unnecessary. Like, did they do this in order to avoid a court case that would have tested their ability to actually control who makes D&D compatible material?
In the end, I don't think it was anything specific. By this point, they probably looked at the bigger picture, saw a dozen different potential ways things could go very badly for them, and just said "crap, we gotta turn this around right now".

I presume the next step will be for 1D&D to have it's own separate SRD 6.0, and that will be gated by a genuine and clear GSL 2.0 which will enforce the conditions WotC wanted (albeit probably not the royalty or ownership ones), but only as regards that SRD.

Nobody will be hugely upset, if so, I suspect. So long as WotC is open and transparent about it.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
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.
You will always get some people saying all sorts of stuff.

Yeah, people will want stuff to be as frictionless as possible, but there's nothing stopping future third party publishers from making their books legally created to be compatible with 5E to also be formatted the same as and have the math match 1D&D. As you say, there's plenty of incentive for them to do so.

"Compatible with the 50th anniversary edition of the world's most popular roleplaying game" is comparable to the non-existent compatibility badges that exist right now and that language does the job just fine.


Limit Break Dancing
This is fantastic news, but... yeah, we, uh... :: cough ::

We still need an updated OGL.
Eh, "need" is a strong word. It would be nice to have for some folks, but plenty of others are happy to have just the SRD.
And since publishers are now free to choose between the OGL or the SRD... (shrug)

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