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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As long as i get to be the frog
So now they make One D&D completely incompatible with 5e and release no 3rd party license for creators for it. So they get their walled garden but by a different means. Cos this is all just about 5e and previous editions. They will move us all onto One D&D and then the cycle starts all over again.....
I have faith they won’t do that. Not because I trust them but because I think they know that just like now with the OGL and just like with 4e when they had a popular game and changed it and removed the OGL that it will end badly.

I'm A Banana

This is wonderful news. Almost all the credit to the fans and the media on this one, by making it big news and by making our voices heard, they understood and changed track. The fans read the fine print, knew what was at stake (better than WotC did!) and told them what we wanted. I'm happy they listened.

A little credit has to go to WotC for being willing to change track. That ain't easy, and I hope they take it as an opportunity to start rebuilding that trust that they lost, where possible. They've done some irreparable damage, but they've at least stopped the bleeding. Maybe they can build on from this in a healthy way going forward.


I most likely wont get to give this pitch again for a wile... so

May I suggest TORG, it isn't OGL so it in no way supports D&D, it IS still roll d20 roll high, but it has a much more skill focused aspect (weapon skills are just a type of skill) and the best part is that even though by defualt setting it is a modern world being invaded by fantasy worlds, each fantasy land has it's own sub set of rules...

SO you want to play Rifts, this system can do it. You want to play Deadlands this system can do it. You want to play SHadowrun this system can do it. You want to play in the DC or Mavel (or generic superhero) you can mostly do that if you keep it to street level. You want high fantasy you can do that. You want to do a more sword and sorcery feel it can do that...
Heh, thanks. But one person at my table is starting a SWADE game for us tonight in a weird pseudopocalypse setting we co-created, I'm learning PbtA so I can run Root (unless it turns out more people want to play Spire, Star Trek Adventures, or Task Force Raven for SWADE, in which case I'll run one of those instead), another one of our GMs is happily switching his much-anticipated "thieves guild" game from D&D to Cypher, his preferred system, and yet another GM[1] of ours has already been running CoC for us. And I have an idea for a "not-World of Darkness" game that would work well for Fate.

[1] All that to-do about the GM shortage amused us, because literally only one person at our table of six hasn't GMed for us at one point, and that's only because she has a soul-sucking job that makes it hard for her to buckle down and plan out a game.


So: are the publishers and games created under the OGL actually safe now?

My trust for Wizards is low; I would like to know that the CC for 5.1e would preclude them from trying this again next year?


Good news. Now we just need some blood to be spilled (I suppose firing a couple of the corporate chuckleheads is an acceptable substitute) and then the healing can begin.


There it is.

And the lesson we can take there is:

  • Never let anyone tell you the other guy is too big when you've got a million at your back.
  • Never accept 'it's just business' as an excuse.
  • Never give up the good fights.

We did a good thing for a lot of people over this path month. We managed to come together and protect our community nad its memebers.

But never let your guard down, and make sure you diversify.

If could happen again.

While it's technically possible for WotC to try to "de-authorize" the OGL 1.0a next month, with the 5.1 SRD released to the Creative Commons I really can't see any business case for doing so. I would feel safe publishing 3rd party content under the OGL now.

I don't think WotC decided to cave on all fronts simply out of pure desperation, they must have figured out that their business plans for 1D&D still work even if they have to share the D&D mindspace with 3rd party publishers.

I still don't trust WotC, but I feel confident that at least for the near future, their interests and my interests are mostly aligned.

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