WotC Talks OGL... Again! Draft Coming Jan 20th With Feedback Survey; v1 De-Auth Still On

Following last week's partial walk-back on the upcoming Open Game Licence terms, WotC has posted another update about the way forward.

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The new update begins with another apology and a promise to be more transparent. To that end, WotC proposes to release the draft of the new OGL this week, with a two-week survey feedback period following it.

They also list a number of points of clarity --
  • Videos, accessories, VTT content, DMs Guild will not be affected by the new license, none of which is related to the OGL
  • The royalties and ownership rights clauses are, as previously noted, going away
OGL v1 Still Being 'De-Authorized'
However, OGL v1.0a still looks like it's being de-authorized. As with the previous announcement, that specific term is carefully avoided, and like that announcement it states that previously published OGL v1 content will continue to be valid; however it notably doesn't mention that the OGL v1 can be used for content going forward, which is a de-authorization.

The phrase used is "Nothing will impact any content you have published under OGL 1.0a. That will always be licensed under OGL 1.0a." -- as noted, this does not make any mention of future content. If you can't publish future content under OGL 1.0a, then it has been de-authorized. The architect of the OGL, Ryan Dancey, along with WotC itself at the time, clearly indicated that the license could not be revoked or de-authorized.

While the royalty and ownership clauses were, indeed, important to OGL content creators and publishers such as myself and many others, it is also very important not to let that overshadow the main goal: the OGL v1.0a.

Per Ryan Dancey in response this announcement: "They must not. They can only stop the bleeding by making a clear and simple statement that they cannot and will not deauthorize or revoke v1.0a".

Amend At-Will
Also not mentioned is the leaked draft's ability to be amended at-will by WotC. An agreement which can be unilaterally changed in any way by one party is not an agreement, it's a blank cheque. They could simply add the royalties or ownership clauses back in at any time, or add even more onerous clauses.

All-in-all this is mainly just a rephrasing of last week's announcement addressing some of the tonal criticisms widely made about it. However, it will be interesting to see the new draft later this week. I would encourage people to take the feedback survey and clearly indicate that the OGL v1.0a must be left intact.
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Greg K

Becuase WotC could not anticipate everything ago and some more restrictive clauses could make be healthy overall. And this alternative could be made irrevocable and allow the use of everything that was allowed under OGL 1.0a.
Dancy, the architect of the OGl, stated that the OGL 1.0a applies to more than just table top. If they did not want it to, they would have stated so back then.


B/X Known World
Wizards is suggesting that things that use common gaming terms like used in their SRDs are their IP that they need to protect.

That's the gist of them making claims that they need to retract the OGL in order to "protect" themselves from bad actors using "their IP". That if someone talks about making a Reflex save or a Strength check or casting Magic Missile, then that's making a tie to Dungeons and Dragons and so they need to put out a new OGL to protect from that.

At least that's how I read it.
Exactly. Nothing...NOTHING...OGC or SRD is WotC IP. They explicitly kept everything that was even possibly IP out of it. It's a pure smokescreen.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I want Hasbro to do the right thing because I would actually like to buy Hasbro products in the future. I just got a new Heroquest expansion that I pre-ordered months ago and it may be the last thing I purchase from Hasbro if they don't drop the deceptive business practices they're showing here.
Same. Well, not the expansion, but I bought the deluxe re-launch of HeroQuest, and I buy some 5E products. I was planning to buy the new edition. I would prefer to continue supporting WotC, and for them to continue to honor their promises and obligations to their fans, licensees, and other business partners.

Yeah, when they do something BAD it can be lol.
right... so if we have two sides, 1 thinks side 2 did something bad and 2 thinks side 1 did something bad, both now have 'justification' to do bad things to each other...
But those others haven't done anything bad lately. Paizo has been yelled at for stuff in the past, we can't pretend it hasn't been. It's just been stuff which was a tiny joke compared to this.

Anyone else seeing WotC going through the 5 stages of Grief over their OGL plans?

Step 1. Denial, they didn't say anything at first, and then deny this is a lose for them.

Step 2. Mostly external and they realize this is falling apart, but also angry at the plan itself leading to leaks.

Step 3. Bargaining, the survey, what can we salvage at this point.

Step 4. Depression is next, not sure what that will look externally.

Step 5. Acceptance, most like new OGL is dead.



There's no realistic possibility of the 3PPs being able to "launch first". Saying there is just means you don't understand the law.
Well I have my law degree so I suspect slightly more understanding than you. You’re approaching this from a very didactic point of view - I suggest you check your certainty levels.

Wizards of the Coast could influence intermediaries (Roll20, DriveThruRPG, Kickstarter etc) either through contract, C&D or just leverage working relationships to stop any 3pp selling future products released after de-authorization. 3pp could be forced to sue to seek remedy against that interference… as I said a threat to their business.


Krampus ate my d20s
I am skipping a bunch of pages of discussion here... Apologies if I missed some of the debate over definitions of lying, cyberstalking, and gaslighting.
I see we are conflating two separate issues there is broad dislikefor in the community.

Problem the first, revoking a contract unilaterally and then creating a new contract that specifically allows unilateral revision by WotC/Hasbro. This is the big deal. It undermines trust in WotC as a steward of the flagship RPG. I am not even debating the veracity of being able to accomplish this feat, in a legal sense. It makes them unreliable to form a viable contract. And if they are going to embark on Problem 2...

Problem the Second, the monetization angle. Creating digital tools and play space for D&D has always been a goal of WotC. It is a virtually untapped market for them. The problem with existing platforms is they are disparate and shallow in features. The Great White Whale would be to have a fully complete digital offering of D&D that would need subscription/ micro transactions to operate. It is why we see so many computer and digital specialists in the executive suite. The paper side is ironed out they think. They have had a successful formula for product development and release for a decade. This why we don't see pen and paper guys in VP and Product Manager titles. The problem is that any digital offering requiring payment is a contract and WotC has shown that they do not believe in honoring the original terms of a contract. The trust is broken. Plus, WotC has had a horrible track record of actually bring Digital TTRPG products to the public. DDI, Gleemax, the 3E VTT.

I do not have a problem with WotC creating a paywall service to bring D&D to the digital realm. Many of us are already cobbling together several apps to make it work now. It costs money to develop good tools and digital artwork. I do not mind paying if there is a quality product to be had. I can not, at this point, see myself joining any sort of Digital Initiative while the company is afraid of conversing with its community. Put out a good product and people will buy it. Why all the OGL chicanery? Fear of competition? Pathfinder was the closest to being a viable competitor in the WotC era, but now is a very distant second. There is no real competition to the D&D juggernaut, until you piss off the community. Until you talk down and dismiss the community. This is a disappointing shooting both feet scenario for WotC and they need to fix it.

Wizards of the Coast could influence intermediaries (Roll20, DriveThruRPG, Kickstarter etc) either through contract, C&D or just leverage working relationships to stop any 3pp selling future products released after de-authorization. 3pp could be forced to sue to seek remedy against that interference… as I said a threat to their business.
Yes, they could do that indirect approach. But that would be unlikely to go well for them.


The EN World kitten
But I can see some clasues like explicit NFT and overly kids unfriendliness as a positive clause.
The idea of those things is nice, but the actual implementation can lead to unintended consequences which are potentially worse than what they're trying to eradicate.

NFTs are presumably specific enough that there'd be little impact beyond them. But "hateful/bigoted/discriminatory content" is inherently relative; moreover, the labels are inherently malleable over time. It's not unthinkable that WotC could declare any instance of assigning static ability score modifiers to a race to be bigoted content, and terminate the publisher's license. But a lot of OGL and 5E-compatible products still use those.

If there's any takeaway from this, it's that publishers don't want to operate in an area of uncertainty, especially when uncertainty is introduced where it didn't exist before. Things worked just fine for over two decades without any such clause; there's no flood of racist content that's dragging the community down. Adding such protections in now is a solution in search of a problem, and it has the potential to do more damage than what it seeks to correct.

Played it once too in the 80's. Whole afternoon wasted. Only two turns were taken. I basically sat around for a few hours listening to my friends argue and call each other names. Worst game ever...
we tried to play it twice... both times it took long and ended in arguments...


Dancy, the architect of the OGl, stated that the OGL 1.0a applies to more than just table top. If they did not want it to, they would have stated so back then.
Right. It was written that way on purpose.

IIRC The d20 System Trademark License restricted the use of the d20 Trademark on digital stuff along with a whole lot of other restrictions. That was the plan - to open the game and use the d20 Trademark to control what could or could not be branded with it as an "official" d20 product. Video games and character creation tools were specifically not allowed to carry the d20 logo.

After the folks who created the OGL and the d20STL left the company, the folks who came in either didn't understand the point of it all or didn't realize what they actually had and eventually just dropped the STL entirely. Though they didn't try to get rid of the OGL because they had been saying it was irrevocable and everyone knew it was irrevocable. So they didn't try to revoke it. They tried to create a new edition of D&D that was different enough from 3e that it would not be compatible with the OGL'd SRD instead.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
It’s doesn’t say that, you’re inferring that.

The license cannot be partially deauthorized. Either it is still valid, or it isn’t.

What seems more likely at this point is that they will go forward never mentioning new content under 1.0a at all, and will maybe bully platforms into not carrying new 1.0a content if they want a good relationship with wotc.
That’s an interesting take. It’s certainly possible that this could be the case - that the part they’re omitting is the fact that they can’t actually stop you from publishing new content under 1.0a. If that’s the case, we’d have to wait to see the full wording to confirm it. Though also if that’s the case, I don’t think it would restore 3rd party publishers’ trust enough to get them to come back, so it may be a moot point.

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