WotC Unveils Draft of New Open Gaming License

As promised earlier this week, WotC has posted the draft OGL v.1.2 license for the community to see.

A survey will be going live tomorrow for feedback.

The current iteration contains clauses which prohibit offensive content, applies only to TTRPG books and PDFs, no right of ownership going to WotC, and an optional creator content badge for your products.

One important element, the ability for WotC to change the license at-will has also been addressed, allowing the only two specific changes they can make -- how you cite WotC in your work, and contact details.

This license will be irrevocable.

The OGL v1.0a is still being 'de-authorized'.
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I think this is pretty ridiculous. Arbitration is expensive for one and you don’t see brands like LoTR or Marvel offering arbitration to decide things when they don’t like how their licensees use their brand.
If we were talking about a closed license, you'd have a point. Closed licenses often have terms like forced arbitration.

The OGL is an open license. Hasbro/WOTC is talking like they are keeping it open while including terms that make it closed. This whole situation is a trojan horse. They want to be treated like Marvel offering a closed license to a company while retaining the power to take that license away at any time. They don't want to be treated like a company that offered limited content (and no brands) under an open license they promised would be in place forever.

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Matt Thomason

I believe this is an oversight and not by design, why else have section 5 in 1.2

"You can make your Content available under any terms you choose but you may not change the terms under which we make Our Licensed Content available."
Any terms - but not under 1.2 itself, as there's so much WotC and SRD-specific text in it. You could go through and edit it into your own, similar, version, yes, stripping out all kinds of inapplicable bits here and there and changing references. You certainly couldn't just pile up multiple sources in the one copy of the license like you can with 1.0a.


Since Kobold Press is a corporation and Wolfgang Baur is a person, I don't see how Baur telling a joke could impact the use of this new non-open OGL.

I suspect this hypothetical is moot because neither Kobold Press nor any other major publishers are going to jump into Hasbro's shiny new locked trunk.
Well again, the language is nebulous and includes "conduct." That presumably means anything from a 10-year old tweet that someone at WotC finds problematic to a tipsy remark at GenCon to...well, whatever WotC wants it to mean.

But yeah, if I'm Kobold--or any other publisher--I'd be very hesitant to sign on to that.

I'm A Banana

It really looks like the big sticking point here is the revocation of 1.0a - it's not something they're budging on, and it's something that is critical for 3PPs who already use it. Revoking the existing SRDs is absolutely a problem. Open content doesn't go back into the bottle, that's not how "open" works. You can put more in, but you can't take out what's already there. It's in the wild, and an attempt to drag it back is absolutely a breach of trust and is reason enough to go with something like ORC. Revoking the 1.0a license for games that aren't even using the SRD is likewise a non-starter. 1.0a needs to remain what it is, to be used by whoever wants to use it, forever.

That's one of the big goals of 1.0a - to ensure that no one company controls D&D, so that it can be played forever by anyone for free, using the SRDs.

And as much as I may believe WotC when they say they think they need to do this, I also think they need to give it up. That's not control they get to have. They can keep the DMsGuild where they police the products entirely, and they can do something like the d20 License if they want people to put a sticker on their product and not be racists (if you embarass them, they get to take away your sticker), but the OGL is not the correct mechanism for protecting WotC's brand.

If they don't want to play by those rules anymore, 6e or 5.5e don't have to use the OGL, but "de-authorization" is the critical issue, and as long as WotC keeps that, I don't see them salvaging this situation.

It's not a "big deal." It's boilerplate.
Just to say, "boilerplate" doesn't mean "good."

Yeah, it's standard when we're talking about those lopsided one-way contracts websites have you sign to make a profile or whatever.

The OGL is not a standard corporate contract, and "boilerplate" should not be assumed to be OK. It's the foundation to an entire industry. Putting language in there that gives WotC power over your products and your legal recourses means that serious businesses don't use it. Which makes it useless as the foundation for an industry.

Boilerplate ain't gonna cut it here, and it's naive at best for WotC to think that it would.

They're not going to use this to take down any material that give Goblins ability score penalties, or make orcs evil. This is literally about the racist crap LaNasa's been trying to peddle with WotC-owned IP.

There are a lot of complicated issues that reasonable people can disagree about. There is nothing to disagree about with NuStar-Frontiers.

Literally don't be actively, forcefully hateful with someone else's toys and you have nothing to worry about.

Even if they overstep, they've already proven they can be cowed by public pressure.

Based policy, honestly.

It has already cost them 600mio dollars of theoretical money. At least it is the shareholders's theoretical money...

but LaNasa can now tell himself that it was he who caused the dip.

I am still thinking about buying in now. It won't get a lot cheaper to buy yourself in. And hopefully it will bumb up. The new draft seems hopeful even with the few points that need correction.

I mean:
who will get a lot of track by rambling against a clause that disallows hatespeech.
And a restriction to VTT will probably increase the value of their own.

This isn't a good faith negotiation in any way. It's a "playtest", which is to say a smokescreen for their illegal schemes. I don't get why we should even bother. It seems designed to funnel the outrage away from public forums and to divide and conquer.

This sounds like the piece of information gotten from the "leak" which was probably at least partially fake. So it has fullfilled its goal...


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Hmm, so they are claiming "Magic Missile" is quintessentially D&D?

Glances at Pathfinder
Yeah I think they’re gonna have a hard time with that. Owlbear, I can kinda see. D&Ds owlbear is distinctly D&D. I saw people talk about how the Druid turning into an owlbear made the D&D movie trailer feel like a D&D movie, for them, along with the gelatinous cube and displacer beast.
Whats your point though, you had plans to release new material under OGL 1.0a ? Old material is fine.

Not sure why people think they deserve to release new material under an old license.
This is a bad take. The OGL was literally written to be perpetual and irrevocable. That was the unambiguous intent of the license. It is completely reasonable to expect that status to hold…in perpetuity, and it is even more reasonable to be upset at the idea of having to jump through new hoops in order to publish new material related to works you’ve been publishing for years and that are the basis of your entire company.
But under the new license, you can keep doing exactly the same thing you did under 1.0 in the same way, except now you have to put the badge on and don't make a negro race inferior to a white race (ahem, Justin and Dave). For 99.9% of publishers, nothing will change with how we were doing it before, except putting the badge on the work.
I think the badge is even optional.
That appears to be what they're saying.
Legally, I don't think they can actually stop third parties from offering 1.0a licenses, they can just stop offering them themselves. So, if everyone starts using the Mongoose pocket handbooks under 1.0a...
Yeah, probably.
I think that what is critical for them here is that such a product is easily repudiated by them, and it’s less risky for a publishers to just use the new OGL or just the CC mechanics. Such a product is, if wotc is able to get hay they want here, unlicensed in the context of D&D. It’s off-brand, bootleg, etc, because it isn’t under the currently approved wotc D&D license.

Which isn’t great, and I think they’re foolish to think they need this, but I also don’t think is an especially bad situation, as long as the new OGL is reasonable.
Okay, people smarter than me: why did they go with CC for the "core mechanics"?
It’s a sign of good faith, that ensures in a truly ironclad way, that they can’t “OGL 1.1” us ever again, at least as far as basic compatibility with D&D 5e goes.

The new OGL allows even more, obviously.

But the CC isn’t under their control. They can’t even vaguely wave a hand toward the idea of being able to revoke it. Ever.

They can’t even go after offensive games or whatever, and anyone who hates wotc now but has content they’ve invested into that used D&D as a base, can make new content that is compatible with that work, as long as that new work doesn’t feature things that aren’t in the CC, all without even touching the OGL.

If I want to make a spellbook for Level Up, and I hate wotc, all I have to do is just make sure that my spells aren’t D&D spells, and don’t reference things that wotc thinks belong to them. Because the mechanical kernel is compatible, the only rules text I might need to reference is CC, and Level Up itself is covered under the OGL 1.0a. I don’t have to be using the same license as level up, to make something that is a combination of CC content and my own new creative work.

Like the OGL has always been, it’s an open hand inviting everyone (except Nazis) into the big tent. It’s a way of saying, “even if this company becomes an evil fascist wart, it simply cannot ever even try to argue that it could hypothetically mess with your creative works made using this work.

In total, the proposal means you can just copy-paste the exact wording, and huge swaths of games that do so will be built upon a lingua Franca that means that no one has to learn a new entire system to go from one game to another, preserving and strengthening the concept of the OGL, but with that “offensive content” caveat.


Staff member
Mod Note:

Because my announcement was in another thread and AFTER the reported posts that brought me here, this is the ONLY warning: DO NOT start or continue discussing the issue of intentional/unintentional/negligent inclusion of bigoted material in RPGs in OGL threads. Discuss it elsewhere if you must, but not in this or any other OGL thread.

Regardless of your position, you WILL get threadbooted. There are 60+ active IGL threads, and adding a contentious topic to another one has too many people indulging their meaner instincts.

Mod Note:

Since the news of the new OGL dropped, a lot of people have decided to rehash the issue of inadvertent/negligent/deliberate bigotry & racism in RPG products in many of the SIXTY+ threads on the topic. This after dozens of threads on that exact topic over the past couple years. Every time this has happened (that we know of), someone has issued a general warning to the thread. Some individuals have gotten personal warnings.

Apparently, that’s not working. A new thread pops up, more dogwhistles, more sealioning.

So now, it’s time to be a bit more direct. The time of issuing warnings about this is done. Consider bigotry in RPGs a “third rail” in the OGL discussions: I see it, you get threadbanned.

Repeat offenders will be given sitewide vacations.

Are we clear?
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No Hateful Content or Conduct. You will not include content in Your Licensed Works that is harmful, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, or harassing, or engage in conduct that is harmful, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, or harassing. We have the sole right to decide what conduct or content is hateful, and you covenant that you will not contest any such determination via any suit or other legal action.

The bold part is the main problem.

While some can praise their "battle" against discrimination, they use is as a tool to control which books are OK to be their competition.

If someone makes a supplement that directly competes with theirs(some version of Tasha's or PHB2 for 1D&D) and objectively is better, you can be damn sure that they will try to find any wording that can be even vaguely interpreted as hateful or shaming to someone.
They can yank your book of market any time, any way they want with this.

They could release their entire back-catalog of everything under a CC license (trademarks and all), and it would still wreak havoc on the OGL 1.0a ecology if they could somehow "deauthorize" that license going forward in return. WotC's contribution to the body of Open Gaming Content out there is frankly miniscule.

Have a look at the section 15 copyright notices here if you don't believe me: Legal Information – d20PFSRD
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A governor with a grudge is not the entire United States Federal Government.

And he's doing it to double screw people over. MANY of those who live in that area did NOT want this. It increases their tax burden, their responsibilities, and a whole slew of other things.

They may not be aligned to the governor's views, so this is a way to stick it to them as well.

This is why it is good to have checks and balances (and Florida does, but more checks and balances would be nice) in government so no one person or branch of government can hurt those who are not seen as important to their ruling aspirations.


Better be sure neither you nor anyone at your company drinks alcohol, or some drunken rant can ruin you. Is there a statute of limitations? Doesn't look like it. Better hope you didn't say something stupid 10 years ago that someone can dig up and use against you. Also, satire and jokes better be clearly marked.
Better yet, the following hypothetical scenario:

Future WotC executive: "If you design a product that is better than ours, and steal our sales, we will be deeply hurt. We will feel harassed and your product is harmful to our bottom line."

2nd executive: "Luckily paragraph 6f exists!!"



I mean, if you call giving them a blank check and assuming they won't cash it a "compromise", then that's certainly something to believe in. As it stands, I tend not to trust a company that has been breaking a whole lot of contracts recently.

I mean, not if the original OGL is gone. You've already given up the game in that regard.

That's actually a good point (in regards to WotC, not necssarily Hasbro. I know they are the same, but they are ALSO different entities and those who may be responsible for the contract breaking at WotC may not be the same people as are at Hasbro or even really recognized in general for their actions).

With the writers and others, there has been several examples of being untrustworthy recently...which is probably not a good look.
Some Elder Scrolls, whatever was around at the time, Oblivion ?

According to Google, Oblivion was released in March 2006
that is why I will be providing feedback about what needs improving. That seems to be the whole point of this exercise

Yes, it is. I hope other people do the same. Hopefully the messages people want to send are sent loud and clear and is taken seriously at Hasbro.

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