Dungeons & Dragons’ OGL isn’t worth fighting for


 Despite a damage-controlling apology (opens in new tab) from Wizards of the Coast in the wake of the disastrous reception to their planned update to the Open Gaming License (opens in new tab), the conversation is very much not over. The company hasn’t actually backed off from its plans for the OGL, instead moving forwards with a 1.2 version that will be “playtested” with the community (opens in new tab), as part of a more transparent process open to feedback.

That’s certainly a less objectionable situation than we were previously staring down the barrel of. The original plan seemed to be to simply impose new restrictions and royalties without discussion, and the new draft (opens in new tab) drops many of the most contentious elements of the leaked OGL 1.1 we saw originally. But, fundamentally, it isn’t a return to the original OGL—in fact, it still retroactively deauthorises that license, and it still places increased powers in WOTC’s hands. 

The D&D OGL drama in brief

  •  The Open Gaming License has allowed other companies to make D&D-based products since 2000, without royalties or oversight.
  •  An update to the license—OGL 1.1—was leaked. It revoked the original one—OGL 1.0—and imposed new restrictions as well as potential royalty payments.
  •  Universal outrage from the community led WOTC to apologise and announce work on a new version—OGL 1.2.
  •  OGL 1.2 removes many but not all of the contentious elements of 1.1, and still revokes OGL 1.0. 
  •  WOTC has pledged to release the core D&D rules under a Creative Commons license—it claims that will cover material published before the new OGL.
  •  The vast majority of the community still just wants OGL 1.0 to remain in place.   

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

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 What people fundamentally want is the freedoms they were already enjoying—to create content for D&D without the spectre of corporate overreach. To get something closer to that is going to take a serious fight between the community and Wizards of the Coast. More than likely that fight is simply unwinnable. Increasingly, I don’t think it’s a fight worth having.



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