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

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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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I say it's a half-measure because they put only half of what was available in the OGL into Creative Commons. Half of what they freely shared, they are not freely sharing. Instead, you need to enter into an agreement with them where they can decide, at any time, to stop sharing it with you.

Their use of the word irrevocable is something of a misdirection. They say this means "that content licensed under this license can never be withdrawn from the license." Which means, they won't take the existing SRD away and replace it with a text that says "Sorry Suckers" or what have you. But, what they can do is lock you out of the license any time they like cutting off your access to the material. No license for you = no SRD for you. So they are very specific not to make it mean the thing that people want to say about the OGL 1.0 that WOTC can't nullify use of the license.

What WOTC puts in the Creative Commons (Which is roughly half the SRD) would be truly open and available to all to use no matter what they decide later.

What WOTC puts in the OGL1. 2 would be free to use so long as WOTC decides it's OK for you to use it.
No. It’s nowhere near half. It’s about 15% of the 5.1 SRD that’s going to be put into CC. Races, classes, monsters, spells, and magic items are not included. That’s a lot of the SRD left out.
 

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sigfried

Adventurer
No. It’s nowhere near half. It’s about 15% of the 5.1 SRD that’s going to be put into CC. Races, classes, monsters, spells, and magic items are not included. That’s a lot of the SRD left out.
Fair enough. I have a bias in which parts of the document I find personally valuable. :)
 

dave2008

Legend
I say it's a half-measure because they put only half of what was available in the OGL into Creative Commons. Half of what they freely shared, they are not freely sharing. Instead, you need to enter into an agreement with them where they can decide, at any time, to stop sharing it with you.

Their use of the word irrevocable is something of a misdirection. They say this means "that content licensed under this license can never be withdrawn from the license." Which means, they won't take the existing SRD away and replace it with a text that says "Sorry Suckers" or what have you. But, what they can do is lock you out of the license any time they like cutting off your access to the material. No license for you = no SRD for you. So they are very specific not to make it mean the thing that people want to say about the OGL 1.0 that WOTC can't nullify use of the license.

What WOTC puts in the Creative Commons (Which is roughly half the SRD) would be truly open and available to all to use no matter what they decide later.

What WOTC puts in the OGL1. 2 would be free to use so long as WOTC decides it's OK for you to use it.
I understand why you would assume it is a bad faith attempt. And I agree that sections 6 and 7 need correction/removal and I also want section 5 to bake-in share-a-like. But this, IMO, is a discussion that can lead to improvement. I believe they are trying to give more (with the CC and OGL 1.2) than what 1.0(a) currently provides. They just need to clean things up a bit. I will reserve my final judgement until we get the final documents, but I think there plan has real merit and can lead to something better than we have now. However, I agree that it is not there yet.
 

dave2008

Legend
No. It’s nowhere near half. It’s about 15% of the 5.1 SRD that’s going to be put into CC. Races, classes, monsters, spells, and magic items are not included. That’s a lot of the SRD left out.
However, from what I have heard it does include the description of this things. So you can recreate them (make your own versions), just not copy the actual spells and monsters without using the OGL, which has always been the case.
 

Voadam

Legend
However, from what I have heard it does include the description of this things. So you can recreate them (make your own versions), just not copy the actual spells and monsters without using the OGL, which has always been the case.
Which is why the bare bones CC portion of 1.2 is no replacement for the rights people have under 1.0 OGL with the SRD WotC released under the OGL. You are essentially just as safe harborless in making class, monster, and spell stuff from the base of the new CC as if you were working outside of the OGL.
 

dave2008

Legend
You are essentially just as safe harborless in making class, monster, and spell stuff from the base of the new CC as if you were working outside of the OGL.
That is not true at all. People assume that, but it has never been tested in court. A court could easily determine that what is being release is covered under copyright. The only thing we know about uncopyrightable "game mechanics" is that it does cover things like rolling dice and moving tokens. It has never been tested what applies to an RPG. The whole point of the original OGL and now the CC is so we didn't have to test those waters.

And again, they are offering an OGL with an SRD! That is still an option. We now have three avenues: CC, OGL, DMsGuild. I think this is incredibly generous. Now, I think the OGL 1.2 needs work, but I believe it can be made to be a suitable replacement for 1.0a. It is not there yet, but it can get there.

Also, the OGL 1.0a is still out there and, IMO, valid. It will not have any future SRDs release for it, but it is still a function document and 1.2 doesn't change that.

Last thing I will also mention is that WotC said they plan to release more editions to the CC and OGL 1.2. I assume they mean 3e, but wouldn't it be awesome if they released 1e, 2e, or 4e too. I don't think they will, but they could and that too would a big jump in content that can be used.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yep. I plan on making my own 5e clone using the CC mechanics pretty much verbatim. I kinda hope they put the updated rules kernal for ODD in the CC as well, though I doubt it. I have a feeling the skill rules especially are going to be more what i want than the current 5e mechanics. But I built a whole system that rides almost entirely on it's 36

No one said "everything under the 5e rules". Even the OGL doesn't grant that. The CC proposal makes it possible to copy-paste the core mechanics of 5e in specific without any possibility to a copyright claim for using their expression of the ideas contained therein. This is all the bulk of the original OGL does, barring things like allowing the free use of certain named elements that are pretty clearly copyrightable as specific expressions of ideas. But a game using that core rules kernel is compatible with 5e dnd, and never has to worry about a copyright claim based on that similarity.

It's not that KP could just continue all the same products, it's that they can easily just keep doing what they have been doing, creating new stuff that builds on that ruleset, just being more distanced with the creative work side of it to keep it non-deriviitve. So, no new Ghoul Empire products, unless they don't actually reference the specific idiosyncratic features of 5e dnd ghouls, and instead just use KP worldbuilding material and brand new mechanical options. Not only that, they could put out a new game product that just presents original classes based on broad fantasy archetypes that aren't the same as those in the dnd PHB.

They could probably even put out fighter subclasses, by just not explicitly naming the fighter, but that would be awkward, and at that point they'd be better of using the OGL just in terms of product clarity.
Yeah, the things missing from the Creative Commons proposal are exactly the things which Kobold Press has been making for nearly 10 years for 5E: Monsters, Spells, Class and Race stuff. I thinkntheybwould have to make their own base Classes, but if they build them to work with 5E's core rules, then it would still be useful for people still sticking with 5E/OneD&D, and frankly gives Kobold a chance to break out of the stereotypes set by WotC.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Which is why the bare bones CC portion of 1.2 is no replacement for the rights people have under 1.0 OGL with the SRD WotC released under the OGL. You are essentially just as safe harborless in making class, monster, and spell stuff from the base of the new CC as if you were working outside of the OGL.
The 1.2 OGL covers everything in the 1.0a SRzd. In addition, it gives people all the rules needed to build a game with no strings attached. So if Kobold doesn't want to do 1.2 OGL work, they can still make Monsters, Spells, Races, and Classes for 5E/OneD&D under Vreative C9mmons. That's tremendous.
 

Staffan

Legend
Which is why the bare bones CC portion of 1.2 is no replacement for the rights people have under 1.0 OGL with the SRD WotC released under the OGL. You are essentially just as safe harborless in making class, monster, and spell stuff from the base of the new CC as if you were working outside of the OGL.

That is not true at all. People assume that, but it has never been tested in court. A court could easily determine that what is being release is covered under copyright. The only thing we know about uncopyrightable "game mechanics" is that it does cover things like rolling dice and moving tokens. It has never been tested what applies to an RPG. The whole point of the original OGL and now the CC is so we didn't have to test those waters.
That's what "safe harborless" means. The OGL 1.0a + various SRDs tells you "if you do this, we're cool." That's the safe harbor. Go beyond that, and you may be sued, and since there's very limited precedent there's little to say how courts will rule. That's safe harborless.
 

Haplo781

Legend
Hasbro-WotC is trying to prevent the gaming community from having access to "classes" like "Wizard" and "Fighter".

The gaming community absolutely can have and use these names and concepts in a roleplay game.

It would be stupid to sign away ones right to use these public domain English language terms and concepts.
Introducing the Mage and Warrior
 

Voadam

Legend
That is not true at all. People assume that, but it has never been tested in court. A court could easily determine that what is being release is covered under copyright. The only thing we know about uncopyrightable "game mechanics" is that it does cover things like rolling dice and moving tokens. It has never been tested what applies to an RPG. The whole point of the original OGL and now the CC is so we didn't have to test those waters.
Are you suggesting that the core d20 mechanic released under the CC would be protected copyright, but monster and class and spell stuff would not?

The OGL provided a safe harbor for its OGC.

The CC provides a safe harbor for only the core mechanics released under it.

Monster and class and magic stuff is not under the safe harbor of the CC.

Using the CC you are under no safe harbor from the CC for making a module using orcs. Under the CC you are under no safe harbor under the CC in making a monster that casts magic missiles or fireball. You might or might not be able to do it under copyright law, but you are not within a safe harbor from a WotC license. This is the same as publishing under no license.

If you have a 5e ability check in your product that specific part could be within the CC safe harbor.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Are you suggesting that the core d20 mechanic released under the CC would be protected copyright, but monster and class and spell stuff would not?

The OGL provided a safe harbor for its OGC.

The CC provides a safe harbor for only the core mechanics released under it.

Monster and class and magic stuff is not under the safe harbor of the CC.

Using the CC you are under no safe harbor from the CC for making a module using orcs. Under the CC you are under no safe harbor under the CC in making a monster that casts magic missiles or fireball. You might or might not be able to do it under copyright law, but you are not within a safe harbor from a WotC license. This is the same as publishing under no license.

If you have a 5e ability check in your product that specific part could be within the CC safe harbor.
The new OGL also provides that safe harbor, but the Creative Commons material means that anyone willing and able to make all-new Spells, Monsters, Races, and Classes (all of which Kobold Press already does in large quantitiesat decent quality) has a second even more safe haven if they want to stick to purely CC material.
 


Voadam

Legend
The new OGL also provides that safe harbor, but the Creative Commons material means that anyone willing and able to make all-new Spells, Monsters, Races, and Classes (all of which Kobold Press already does in large quantitiesat decent quality) has a second even more safe haven if they want to stick to purely CC material.
All-new would be the operative word there. Whether Kobold's Darakhul Ghoul 5e PC race is all-new is not clear, or how much they would have to modify to make it all-new. Whether they can use the same race format, or the same race powers that were derived from the 5e SRD ghoul, or even to what extent the concept is copyright derivative of the srd ghoul are not covered by the CC material safe harbor.
 

sigfried

Adventurer
I understand why you would assume it is a bad faith attempt. And I agree that sections 6 and 7 need correction/removal and I also want section 5 to bake-in share-a-like. But this, IMO, is a discussion that can lead to improvement. I believe they are trying to give more (with the CC and OGL 1.2) than what 1.0(a) currently provides. They just need to clean things up a bit. I will reserve my final judgement until we get the final documents, but I think there plan has real merit and can lead to something better than we have now. However, I agree that it is not there yet.
I'm not to concerned about their intent. I know others are, but a corporation just doesn't have any kind of character, good or bad, it's like "True Neutral," whatever makes the most money or they think makes the most money is what they do. Here, they are balancing commercial competition with goodwill.

I don't see how they can give more than the OGL 1.0 offers regarding compatibility and content. The only improvement is the branding badge, which has some value. The 1.2 offer gives WOTC significantly more control than 1.0 and offers the same text.

They could just leave the 1.0 OGL in place and make a license with a morality clause in return for using the compatibility logo. That would be perfectly reasonable, and its what they did with the d20 logo back in the day during the 3e era.

I'm not sure if you are a publisher or not. If you think the 1.2 terms are good, then by all means, sign up. I'm not going to hold it against anyone who wants to do business with WOTC, that's a personal decision and it's not a question of morality or ethics in my view at least.
 

I know others are, but a corporation just doesn't have any kind of character, good or bad
That's definitely not true.

There's an extremely wide variance in terms of what the management of various corporations is willing to accept, in terms of ethics. It's to some extent self-filtering, in that corporations who behave worse tend to attract management with lower ethical standards, but pretending all corporations are equally focused on making money at all expenses is just not supportable by history/reality. Corporate leadership often chooses to do ethical or unethical things, to support more ethical or less ethical policies, and the calculation isn't always as simple as $$$.

I'm not going to hold it against anyone who wants to do business with WOTC, that's a personal decision and it's not a question of morality or ethics in my view at least.
I mean, it's fine to not care, but to say it's "not a matter of ethics" is just to flatly misunderstand what the word ethics means.
 

sigfried

Adventurer
There's an extremely wide variance in terms of what the management of various corporations is willing to accept, in terms of ethics. It's to some extent self-filtering, in that corporations who behave worse tend to attract management with lower ethical standards, but pretending all corporations are equally focused on making money at all expenses is just not supportable by history/reality. Corporate leadership often chooses to do ethical or unethical things, to support more ethical or less ethical policies, and the calculation isn't always as simple as $$$.

I mean, it's fine to not care, but to say it's "not a matter of ethics" is just to flatly misunderstand what the word ethics means.
You make the point well.

I think it's fair to say, that at any given moment, different corporations display different levels of ethical integrity, but ultimately, they are guided by shareholders and the board, and those things can and do change resulting in new leadership and new behaviors. Unlike private ownership in which, until the owner changes, the character of the business tends to be more consistent (for better or worse).

So, Kobold Press is Wolfgang Baur, more or less. The company will reflect his ethics. WOTC is no individual, it's a collective and the leadership can and does change fairly often and their leadership is sworn to serve shareholders first and foremost. Shareholders are investors, they mostly just care about a return on investment. A private owner can have all kinds of interests but most public corporations only have one true interest, the others are ancillary.

I think whether you do business with WOTC is not an ethical consideration. They are not a criminal company, they aren't physically hurting anyone or endangering their lives. I don't like what they are doing but for me, it's just not personal enough to rise to the level of being an ethical concern whether someone enters into a contract with WOTC or not. It's a free choice people can make.

Now if WOTC goes on the warpath and sues people for actions that are pretty clearly not in violation of copyright or trademark laws, then I do think that would be unethical.
 

I think it's fair to say, that at any given moment, different corporations display different levels of ethical integrity, but ultimately, they are guided by shareholders and the board, and those things can and do change resulting in new leadership and new behaviors. Unlike private ownership in which, until the owner changes, the character of the business tends to be more consistent (for better or worse).
Yeah, that I'd agree with.

I think whether you do business with WOTC is not an ethical consideration. They are not a criminal company, they aren't physically hurting anyone or endangering their lives. I don't like what they are doing but for me, it's just not personal enough to rise to the level of being an ethical concern whether someone enters into a contract with WOTC or not. It's a free choice people can make.
I'd still suggest it's an "ethical" decision, it's just one that's not hugely important to you.

Now if WOTC goes on the warpath and sues people for actions that are pretty clearly not in violation of copyright or trademark laws, then I do think that would be unethical.
I mean, if they want this to stick, they're pretty going to have to, but I guess we'll see.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, the things missing from the Creative Commons proposal are exactly the things which Kobold Press has been making for nearly 10 years for 5E: Monsters, Spells, Class and Race stuff. I thinkntheybwould have to make their own base Classes, but if they build them to work with 5E's core rules, then it would still be useful for people still sticking with 5E/OneD&D, and frankly gives Kobold a chance to break out of the stereotypes set by WotC.
Yep. Tbh best case scenario for like 5 years from now would be if they do the CC thing, and then get ordered by a court that they can’t revoked the OGL, but obv that isn’t something anyone should bank on.


Well okay I guess the best case of new leadership goes “we can get people back and work toward being the dominant voice in the industry with a healthy and positive brand image if we start by putting out an explicitly non-revocable OGL with SRDs of all editions of D&D!”

But like…I doubt it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
All-new would be the operative word there. Whether Kobold's Darakhul Ghoul 5e PC race is all-new is not clear, or how much they would have to modify to make it all-new. Whether they can use the same race format, or the same race powers that were derived from the 5e SRD ghoul, or even to what extent the concept is copyright derivative of the srd ghoul are not covered by the CC material safe harbor.
Sure, but that's all quite doable.
 

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