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

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
If Wizards really wants to protect themselves against hateful or discriminatory content then they need a third party arbitrator. Like the Anti-Defamation League or the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Shudders. I mean third party arbitrators are needed but maybe some less currently biased ones than SPLC.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
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....
No one wants racist and offensive games. It’s just what each of us considers racist or offensive is extremely subjective and not always in agreement. Im good with some group deciding what crosses the line and what doesn’t but I’m not good with wotc being the party that decides if something is too racist or offensive (and I say ‘too’ there for good reason - because everything is racist and or offensive to someone).

*for the obvious reasons

**also Wotc shouldn’t want to be decider either as having a third party decide further insulates their business from content decisions - meaning less potential for public backlash toward them.
 
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Then it doesn't matter that it's not in the CC and you can emulate 5e perfectly. All this haranguing about the OGL is a waste of time.

It's not, because the OGL is extra protection against a lawsuit. Like, they might lose a lawsuit without OGL, but they could still bring it. With OGL 1.0a, it'll get basically tossed immediately because it's them giving permission to use it.

The whole OGL thing is very valuable to take away the threat of WotC becoming a lawsuit bully over trivial things.
 

Remathilis

Legend
It's not, because the OGL is extra protection against a lawsuit. Like, they might lose a lawsuit without OGL, but they could still bring it. With OGL 1.0a, it'll get basically tossed immediately because it's them giving permission to use it.

The whole OGL thing is very valuable to take away the threat of WotC becoming a lawsuit bully over trivial things.
So the ogl is just a promise WotC won't sue you for the things you could already do legally. Not much of a contract, I guess.

Anyway, good luck with your CC 5e clones everyone.
 

So the ogl is just a promise WotC won't sue you for the things you could already do legally. Not much of a contract, I guess.

No, it's much more firm than a promise. It's a legal bulwark, real protection versus the possibility that WotC can get you into a lawsuit that they can basically use their cash flow to bully you in.

Anyway, good luck with your CC 5e clones everyone.

I dunno, I think it's going to end up getting tested anyways. But we'll see.
 

Shudders. I mean third party arbitrators are needed but maybe some less currently biased ones than SPLC.
I'm not sure who you think that would be. Any ideas for a model group?

The SPLC are methodical, and thoughtful, and not particularly aggressive. They have specific, measurable, consistent criteria for classifying a group as a hate group, and whilst not everyone might agree with those criteria, they do follow them predictably, and aren't zealots or ideologs. Indeed the main thing that has got them called "biased" is that publishing race science stuff is a red flag for them, and an awful lot of groups occasionally decide to publish some race science (even if that's not a main focus of that group). I can sorta see why groups are upset given that it's sometimes a tiny amount of their output, but like, maybe don't publish any race science if you don't wanna get called racist lol?

(Which of course is unfortunately relevant to RPGs, given a certain 3E designer decided to become a "race science guy" a few years ago, before repenting, I think.)

Also they have better things to do than check out game books for a corporation, so don't worry too much about them specifically lol.

And the reality is that any group that is chosen will be less methodical, less thoughtful, and more aggressive than the SPLC, so brace, I guess? WotC would be a bull in a china shop by comparison.
because everything is racist and or offensive to someone
That's not really accurate.

There's a huge swathe of stuff that's really never going to be meaningfully offensive to anyone.

I think what you mean is that everyone has blind-spots on what others might find offensive, which isn't quite the same thing.
**also Wotc shouldn’t want to be decider either as having a third party decide further insulates their business from content decisions.
They shouldn't, sure, if that was the genuine and sole reasoning, but it isn't. Their goals here are:

1) Control over what gets created, with this as an easy threat if there's anything they don't like.

2) Control over corporate image. Which is very different from actual issues, both being more sensitive to some stuff, and far less sensitive to others. This is what is likely to make WotC reject any calls for a third-party to handle this stuff, because even if stuff isn't racist, or "sexualized" or whatever, WotC may want to be rid of it anyway.

This is where the particular risk to certain minorities comes in - LGBTQ+ stuff has a history of getting called "excessively sexualized" or the like even when it's no worse than other material which isn't labelled that way.

3) Very distantly behind that, they probably do want to avoid any actual hateful stuff, but that's not the primary motivation. You can tell because they're proposing a post-facto approach - i.e. if someone says "[3PP] did a racism!", WotC will look into it, rather than WotC insisting books be pre-screened or whatever.

What this really tells us is that WotC should be using a closed licence, not an open one.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
I think focusing on the content clause too much is distracting. Yes, it's bad and overbroad. But it's really only there to give them an even semi-digestible reason for doing what they are doing. The real reason they "have to" de-authorize the old OGL is to wring back more IP and more importantly, handicap all digital competition.
 
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Dreamscape

Crafter of fine role-playing games
I think focusing on content clause too much is distracting.
I agree, it's just looking at plant cells under a microscope and ignoring the attempted deforestation. It's clear that the goal here is to neuter the OGL to prevent forward-cloning material for 6E. Everything is only how, not why.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
2) Control over corporate image. Which is very different from actual issues, both being more sensitive to some stuff, and far less sensitive to others. This is what is likely to make WotC reject any calls for a third-party to handle this stuff, because even if stuff isn't racist, or "sexualized" or whatever, WotC may want to be rid of it anyway.
I'm not actually sure that they care about this as much as they claim. If they did they'd realize that releasing rules under a CC-BY puts them exactly in the same "predicament" image wise as releasing rules under the OGL. The OGL requires attribution, so Wizards name is on every product that uses it. But CC-BY also requires attribution and so Wizards name will also have to be on all of those products with no way for them to tell people to stop. There's no real difference.

If their name was a concern like they're saying, they would have thought about that and suggested a CC0 license for those rules instead of a CC-BY. Which allows them to completely wash their hands of anyone using the rules because CC0 does not require attribution and they can claim that those similarities are just because of a common RPG heritage that we all share (which is actually true, but sometimes I think Wizards thinks they own more of that heritage than they actually do).

This is where the particular risk to certain minorities comes in - LGBTQ+ stuff has a history of getting called "excessively sexualized" or the like even when it's no worse than other material which isn't labelled that way.
This is exactly what I spent a few different boxes on the OGL survey explaining to whatever poor employee they make collate the responses. With copious examples. If they're sincere hopefully it's a "oh we didn't think about that - that clause is a problem isn't it" and they drop it. But I have suspicions that they're not actually sincere about it and it's actually a wedge to try to get into the good graces of the community by saying things they think we want to hear about diversity and inclusion (a common corporate tactic, sadly).

What this really tells us is that WotC should be using a closed licence, not an open one.
I also spent some time pointing out all of the ways that this 1.2 OGL does not meet the commonly understood idea of an "open" license and they really should not be calling it an open license when it isn't one. GSL 2 would be a better name for it.
 

Enrahim2

Adventurer
What this really tells us is that WotC should be using a closed licence, not an open one.
Not quite. The traditional point of an open highly post controlled licence like this is that it allow for content created by hobbyist, and a small commercial and blooming undergrowth. The thing ut do not support is the trees. For the real commercial actors closed license is generally accepted to be the way to go.

The trouble here is that the original OGL supported both kind of activities. A single "community" license or a single closed license scheme just don't cut it.

Wizards possibly lethal mistake was that they were presenting the foundations of their community with a license offer drawing on grassroot licensing philosophy, rather than business to business licensing philosophy. Yes, the NDA offer should absolutely have been a closed licensing scheme if they were planning to get rid of the open source style licensing scheme.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
I'm not actually sure that they care about this as much as they claim. If they did they'd realize that releasing rules under a CC-BY puts them exactly in the same "predicament" image wise as releasing rules under the OGL. The OGL requires attribution, so Wizards name is on every product that uses it. But CC-BY also requires attribution and so Wizards name will also have to be on all of those products with no way for them to tell people to stop. There's no real difference.

If their name was a concern like they're saying, they would have thought about that and suggested a CC0 license for those rules instead of a CC-BY. Which allows them to completely wash their hands of anyone using the rules because CC0 does not require attribution and they can claim that those similarities are just because of a common RPG heritage that we all share (which is actually true, but sometimes I think Wizards thinks they own more of that heritage than they actually do).
Good observation, yeah, it really undercuts their whole justification with just this fact alone.

At the very least damning reading it just underlines that they don't expect anybody to use the gutted SRD released in the Creative Commons.
 

Not quite. The traditional point of an open highly post controlled licence like this is that it allow for content created by hobbyist, and a small commercial and blooming undergrowth. The thing ut do not support is the trees. For the real commercial actors closed license is generally accepted to be the way to go.

The trouble here is that the original OGL supported both kind of activities. A single "community" license or a single closed license scheme just don't cut it.

Wizards possibly lethal mistake was that they were presenting the foundations of their community with a license offer drawing on grassroot licensing philosophy, rather than business to business licensing philosophy. Yes, the NDA offer should absolutely have been a closed licensing scheme if they were planning to get rid of the open source style licensing scheme.
The trouble is they just can't have the level of protection/control they seem to want with an open licence that anyone can sign up to and start publishing with.

I think the real solution is just dead simple. Leave the OGL 1.0a alone, but create another, much stricter licence, which gives the badge/seal of approval and maybe some kind of access to being sold on Beyond. Then say anything without the badge isn't WotC approved. I dunno why they're so resistant to that, it achieves all their apparent/stated goals.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
The trouble is they just can't have the level of protection/control they seem to want with an open licence that anyone can sign up to and start publishing with.

I think the real solution is just dead simple. Leave the OGL 1.0a alone, but create another, much stricter licence, which gives the badge/seal of approval and maybe some kind of access to being sold on Beyond. Then say anything without the badge isn't WotC approved. I dunno why they're so resistant to that, it achieves all their apparent/stated goals.
It makes sense, unless you remember that they want to handicap the digital competition and claw back previously granted IP. You can't get around either unless you rugpull OGL 1.0a.
 

Enrahim2

Adventurer
The trouble is they just can't have the level of protection/control they seem to want with an open licence that anyone can sign up to and start publishing with.
From my understanding they have demonstrated that they can. The DMGuild license is as far as I understand open for all, with some pretty heavy controls. Also computer games enabling user generated content tend to have quite heavy control clauses.

So I wonder why you seem to give this general statement?

This is why I think the key issue here is the (highly morraly despicable) attempt of transitioning away from a well used "open source" licensing scheme. In this context only presenting a traditional "open" controled community license don't cut it. Neither would only a closed licensing scheme. I can imagine a combination might have avoided this disaster though.
 

mamba

Hero
Then it doesn't matter that it's not in the CC and you can emulate 5e perfectly. All this haranguing about the OGL is a waste of time.
That is not what I said, if you read the whole post. They own none of these concepts, but they do probably (never been in front of a judge, so no one knows) own parts of their expression (the other being more mechanical).

That is why I said a fireball doing 8d6 damage might in the aggregate, ie if you take a lot more than just that, amount to enough to violate their copyright. Just like two songs sharing one note do not violate copyright, but the more similar they get, you eventually cross a line (probably, much better defined for music than TRRPGs…)
 

The DMGuild license is as far as I understand open for all, with some pretty heavy controls.
That's a fundamentally different approach, though. In particular, it offers a ton more than the SRD, and it requires you to send your module to them to pre-check before they let it through. I'm sure plenty of stuff is outright rejected.

That's part of the problem here - you can't be serious about reputational harm and hateful content and so on if you just wait for the damage to occur and act after the fact, which is what WotC is proposing to do here.
Also computer games enabling user generated content tend to have quite heavy control clauses.
User-generated content is covered by the Fan Content Policy, it has literally nothing to do with anything we're discussing here.
 

mamba

Hero
So the ogl is just a promise WotC won't sue you for the things you could already do legally. Not much of a contract, I guess.
it offers both sides protection. The 3pp that they won’t get sued and WotC that they do not have to find out that most of their stuff is not protected by copyright, so it can stay in this undefined zone where everyone simply pretends it is theirs for as long as 1.0a exists.

Anyway, good luck with your CC 5e clones everyone.
looking forward to them
 
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Dausuul

Legend
No, it's much more firm than a promise. It's a legal bulwark, real protection versus the possibility that WotC can get you into a lawsuit that they can basically use their cash flow to bully you in.
Indeed. From the discussions among the lawyers on this site, it sounded like defending a suit over the OGL would be much simpler than defending a suit over copyright infringement. (For example, apparently discovery -- one of the nastiest, hairiest parts of the process -- would be essentially nonexistent. Note that I am not a lawyer, I'm just paraphrasing what I heard the lawyers say, they could be wrong or I could have misunderstood them, do not bet your business on forum posts by Internet randos.)

I dunno, I think it's going to end up getting tested anyways. But we'll see.
Keep in mind that it only gets tested if Wizards decides to file suit against someone. If all the big 3PPs extricate themselves from the OGL, leaving only a handful of little fish still relying on it, I can't see why Wizards would bother. At best, they get chump change in damages; at worst, the ruling goes against them and OGL 1.0a springs back to life; either way, it's another tidal wave of bad publicity and fan outrage.

However, it sounds as if the VTTs are their real targets here. I'm not entirely clear on how the major VTTs incorporate the OGL, but if they can't easily extricate themselves, and Wizards remains bent on their (deeply stupid and self-destructive) strategy for D&D, then we probably will see it tested in court.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Anyway, good luck with your CC 5e clones everyone.
I'm actually hopeful that we can get enough into the CC-BY or CC0 license that a full CC SRD could be created and used by everyone not-Wizards as a "lingua franca" for a "Tunnels and Tarasques" F20 framework that can be built upon. I'm hoping that the ORC crowd of companies are thinking of a pooled minimal SRD along those lines that can be reviewed by lawyers and placed under an ORC or CC license (or honestly both) for common usage.
 

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