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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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Hopefully permanently. Though WotC has burned so much goodwill I'm not certain whether to celebrate yet.

How do we know we can trust them?
I sort of I feel like this was never a relevant question. Corporations are groups of people who change through time. Trusting the organization as a whole is trusting something that doesn't really exist as an entity. Heck, I suspect the people running the OGL show changed as this went forward and probably to a group of people who were less clueless. I was getting that sense as soon as this Kyle fellow came onto the scene. Not saying it was him, just the timing of when an actual person began talking to us was around the time it seemed like their attitude was changing.

In other words, you shouldn't ever actually trust a corporation. That's why you have agreements and licenses and things, in this case, like creative commons.



That is classy. It felt questionable at the time, but a big thanks to whoever at WOTC pushed for them to poll the community like it was a playtest. Those percentages had to have had some impact.
Perhaps. Just as likely (if not more so) that it was something else/instead, too. I expect there were other metrics and data points involved in an about face like this. And whatever it was, it was a complete 180, notwithstanding a dump of $146m into DDB and at least 8 -- and maybe 9 figures in the VTT. That's a lot of dough to do some serious talkin to get shouted down.

Someday, an exec will quit or be fired and all of that behind the scenes stuff will come out in a stream of secret data, like so much vomit on the table (except more likely into a podcast microphone).

And that will be quite a listen, when it ultimately does emerge!

I'm not sure how to feel about all of this. I was at the "lawyers drafting sep agreements, sorting stuff into piles of Mine and Hers, and booking dates to see other people" stage after 3 weeks of this. This went on for too long and it went too far to just decide to instead order pizza, sit down on the couch and watch Netflix together as if nothing happened.

It's going to take me a while to process this.
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The Scythian

Full disclosure: I haven’t read this whole thread.

But I’m totally sure this change of heart is because Hasbro desperately wants to improve goodwill with the community before the D&D movie comes out. Hasbro sees the movie, media, and merch as their meal ticket, not any of this gameplay stuff.
WotC just spent almost $150 million to purchase D&D Beyond. They have also hired expensive engineers to put together a state-of-the-art VTT. By the time the project is done, it might end up costing as much as they spent on D&D Beyond. They have announced to shareholders that they intend to create a "recurrent spending environment" to "unlock the type of recurrent spending you see in digital games". The goal, as WotC's president has explained, is to create opportunities for players to spend money after they have purchased the game.

A company that wants to make money licensing stuffed owlbears doesn't spend $150 million and counting to create a digital toolset for the upcoming edition of their game. Don't get me wrong, they're not going to turn down that sweet stuffed owlbear money, but that's not where they believe the future is.


Here's a Q?

Is there a path forward for a OneD&D that is extremely similar to 5e if 5e is ALL in Creative Commons?

Or does this mean One D&D has to take a hard turn to compete with 5e?

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