WotC To Give Core D&D Mechanics To Community Via Creative Commons

Wizards of the Coast, in a move which surprised everbody, has announced that it will give away the core D&D mechanics to the community via a Creative Commons license. This won't include 'quintessentially D&D" stuff like owlbears and magic missile, but it wil include the 'core D&D mechanics'. So what does it include? It's important to note that it's only a fraction of what's currently...

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Wizards of the Coast, in a move which surprised everbody, has announced that it will give away the core D&D mechanics to the community via a Creative Commons license.

This won't include 'quintessentially D&D" stuff like owlbears and magic missile, but it wil include the 'core D&D mechanics'.

So what does it include? It's important to note that it's only a fraction of what's currently available as Open Gaming Content under the existing Open Gaming License, so while it's termed as a 'give-away' it's actually a reduction. It doesn't include classes, spells, or magic items. It does include the combat rules, ability scores, and the core mechanic.
 

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toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
It's not a long document. I've read through and compared it to 1.0a. The major changes are:

(1) Ability to moderate hateful product. Previously, they couldn't do a thing if someone used the OGL to create a racist version such as "white skinned races in this setting get a +1 bonus to all ability scores due to superior evolution, and dark-skinned races have a -2 Intelligence penalty..." And I joke not when I refer to a specific product that has been covered on this site which pretty much did this.

So, to be able to do this, they're deauthorizing games under 1.0a so no one can continue to create content under it and bypass any restriction on racist stuff that hurts the brand.

(2) Waiver of class action & venue clause, auto termination of license. This is standard fare in almost every legal document. I'm frankly shocked it wasn't included originally. It makes up a substantial portion of the document.

(3) Virtual Table Top visuals. This is extremely specific. You cannot create a visual of, for example, a magic missile streaking across the map. You can use everything else about it such as text of the spell. This is intended to keep anyone from turning VTTs into video games under the guise of being a "table top" game. Otherwise, VTTs run as normal.

THE GOOD STUFF
  • Creative Commons license for the core D&D rules (listed specifically by page in the SRD), forever. That's huge. Basically D&D is handing over the reins to the core rules as they currently exist.
  • Just like before, everything you make under this is yours, always and forever, no royalties or any of that nonsense. 3PP can keep doing what they're doing, so long as it's in the SRD or Creative Commons.
  • You can use everything in the SRD 5.1, all 400+ pages of elves and magic and so on. This means yes, you can use the term "owlbear" because it's in the SRD, and "magic missile." You cannot use "beholder" because it's specifically designated "product identity" and off limits. You cannot use D&D art and have to draw your own owlbear. Same as always.
  • WOTC wants an avenue to shut down anyone using their brand to peddle hateful, racist product. However, see the "ambiguous" line.
THE BAD STUFF
  • No more product for prior editions because it's not in the SRD 5.1. The original license was more generic. So, no 3E, 4E. And I get why it might not be popular, but if you're business savvy, WOTC isn't dumb. They want to sell a specific product. If folks are using old 3rd edition books with fresh material from a 3PP, WOTC doesn't make money. That's bad for them. It's not complicated.
  • They can revise the SRD 5.1 at will (except core rule Creative Commons licensed material, which is being carved out). It's somewhat hidden in parentheses. That's a big deal. If D&D modifies the SRD for, let's say, version 6E, and 6E no longer has owlbears or magic missiles, you don't have license for those.
  • If you want to litigate, you're in Washington, no jury trial or class action. But this isn't new to the legal world. Nearly everything you sign your name to has such a clause.
THE AMBIGUOUS STUFF
  • The "hateful" clause needs fixed. It allows WOTC to shut down your license if it deems your product "hateful" (e.g. racist, discriminatory, illegal). The intent is good. The clause is not. It provides absolutely no recourse for the author, not even legal. Out of all things, this concerns me the most because it is subject to abuse without any chance at review, and it could shut down an entire company.
  • You can now add a D&D badge to your product. Good I guess?
  • Severability clause. This isn't novel and is a part of many legal contracts. Basically WOTC can say if even 1 part of this machine doesn't work, then none of it works and boom, no license. Or they might not.
 

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Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
So, I actually went through the parts of the SRD that will be released in CC, and it includes:

  • The core advancement mechanics of exp, leveling up, multiclassing
  • Backgrounds and feats (with one example of each), languages, traits, the two-axes alignment system
  • The entire mundane equipment section
  • The entire rules on using ability scores (so proficiency, six ability scores, the skill list and saving throws included) and downtime
  • The entire rules on combat
  • 5E-style Vancian casting, spell components, spell area/duration rules
  • Monster stat block principles
  • Conditions
Honestly? I think I'm happy with that (other parts of the deal, especially the VTT policy notwithstanding). Most D&D retroclones (and offshoots) are probably safe basing their mechanics on this basis, and this deal ensures that the core principles of D&D will always be in a safe harbour that is (importantly!) not in WotC's control.

@Morrus, since you guys reworded everything in the SRD and 5E's core engine is released in this way, do you think it would be possible to continue making Level Up content only with the CC rules? I know it's too early to give a specific answer, but to me this sounds like you guys don't need to de-OGLify Level Up anymore!
Any content creator already has all of these things without any license whatsoever.

Every person and corporation can safely ignore any attempt to regulate "ideas", "rules", and "processes" − especially and explicitly gaming rules cannot be copyrighted.

Boycott the Hasbro-WotC CC.
 

Remathilis

Legend
If they add all previous SRDs to CC, and CC really is forever, that's 90% of the issues gone immediately.
I feel it will be like the 5.1 is added; rules but no mechancis. Still, that is a huge opprertunity for anyone looking to make 3.x (or maybe other?) edition material...
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
The D&D core mechanics (SRD Pgs. 56-104, 254-260, and 358-359) are going to be licensed to us under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International. So what exactly does this include/not include?
Races
Classes
Spell Lists
Spell Descriptions
Monster Lists
Fantasy-Historical Pantheons
Planes of Existence
Miscellaneous Creatures
Non-Player Characters
Character advancement
Multiclassing
Alignment
Languages
Inspiration
Backgrounds
Equipment
Adventuring Gear
Tools
Mounts and Vehicles
Trade Goods
Expenses
Feats
Ability Scores and Modifiers
Advantage and Disadvantage
Proficiency Bonus
Ability Checks
Skills
Strength
Dexterity
Constitution
Intelligence
Wisdom
Charisma
Saving Throws
Time
Movement
The Environment
Resting
Downtime Activities
Order of Combat
Combat Movement and Position
Actions in Combat
Making an Attack
Cover
Damage and Healing
Temporary Hit Points
Mounted Combat
Underwater Combat
Spellcasting
Monster Types
Monster Traits and Abilities
Legendary Creatures
Conditions

Basically, they're keeping all their stuff that wasn't in the SRD. Note that magic items, artifacts, certain monsters, certain spells, etc. were never in the SRD to begin with.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
This all seems incredibly reasonable and fair. I don't want people making racist and offensive games. They're making the new license irrevocable. They're making the core rules creative commons, so they can never go away and WotC can't every touch them.

I can't wait to see how the community and YouTubers attack this....
OK then...

First, I agree, I don't want people making racist or offensive games. But I do worry that WotC may make bad calls as to what counts as racist or offensive. If a game includes artwork of a person (human or non-human) with a bone through their nose, is that a racist caricature or is it an homage to a real-world form of nose piercing presented in a way that doesn't misappropriate or degrade the cultures that used that type of body mod? It would depend entirely on the way it was presented in the game, of course, and we'd have to hope that whoever is making the call actually takes the time to understand what the game is doing rather than making a knee-jerk reaction.

In other words, are they going to get sensitivity readers to field complaints about a particular book being bigoted, and are they then also going to listen to them?
 

Flobby

Explorer
It's not just the names they're leaving out though, it's literally the rules for the classes. Like, no class progression chart, no levels that abilities show up, etc. You don't have enough info to even make a Subclass.
Sure you do. the level progression table and terms like feats are all included.
 

Summary of relevant points:
1) The OGL 1.0a is still going to be de-authorized for new products.
2) There is a new license that only permits you to use the things that are already the most clearly not copyrightable.
3) The new license specifically claims as D&D identity things that have been commonly used under the OGL for a long time, such as magic missile.
4) If you use this new license, WotC can revoke your right to use it at any time for almost any reason related to or unrelated to the game content or RPG publishing (which is what imprecise morality clauses amount to in practice).
5) Hasbro has not actually backed down on anything of import with this announcement.
6) This announcement is another round of more refined obsfucation because they are unwilling to abandon their future plans, plans which require them to deauthorize the OGL 1.0a and be able to dynamically control who and how is permitted to use their new license.

When I saw the title I thought, as far-fetched as it sounds, maybe they actually are completely changing their plans. But no, they still are attempting to pull a fast one on the entire role-playing and OGL dependent community.

This strengthens my belief that they are so invested they will do just about anything to achieve their goals in point 6. Most likely there will be a third round after everyone catches on to these points in a couple of days. It will be refined in phrasing again, but still will insist on their two goals in point 6.

After that third round demonstrates that they still can't fool everyone, and that those who were temporarily distracted are smart enough to actually communicate with the rest of the community so that the vast majority of people realize they aren't changing the essential points, they will attempt something completely different.

My prediction ends there, because I can't think of any smart decisions they can make at that point. They've backed themselves into a corner by committing to goals that the market and other content creators will not accept before realizing that would be the case. Purely speculatively possibilities include: They might try to defend their right to deauthorize the OGL in court, and as a pretty good predictor (who is not a lawyer) I think they will fail spectacularly if they do. They might cut their losses and basically stop investing in the D&D brand, reducing their spending on producing products for it until it is either maintained by a skeleton crew, or just not maintained at all (a more dramatic version of what happened when 4e didn't go as planned). They might sell D&D off to a third party (though as I understand it, Hasbro is not known to do this). Or, to get really unlikely, WotC (including MtG) might just collapse. The most far-fetched possibility is that they will "surrender" and give up those two essential goals. (A little bit of hyperbole in that last sentence, but I do think it's rather unlikely.)
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
.....
  • You can use everything in the SRD 5.1, all 400+ pages of elves and magic and so on. This means yes, you can use the term "owlbear" because it's in the SRD, and "magic missile." You cannot use "beholder" because it's specifically designated "product identity" and off limits. You cannot use D&D art and have to draw your own owlbear. Same as always.
.....
  • .No more product for prior editions because it's not in the SRD 5.1. The original license was more generic. So, no 3E, 4E. And I get why it might not be popular, but if you're business savvy, WOTC isn't dumb. They want to sell a specific product. If folks are using old 3rd edition books with fresh material from a 3PP, WOTC doesn't make money. That's bad for them. It's not complicated.

In general, with 1.2 you can make supplements exactly like before, and you can make a new rules-set, just like before.

So I disagree on "prior editions". I think OSIRIC or OSE could take out one license and put in the other one. Whatever is from the SRD--and it really is just some names, like magic missile, that would be exactly the same.

I guess for those that copied bunches of 3e text there might be a problem. Something like PF 1, maybe? But you can certainly retro-clone with it.
 

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