Friday, January 20, 2023

The OGL is Still Dead...but Might Become an Undead Weapon

I have made no secret about stepping away from Hasbro and WotC for years now. I was never going to give them any money for any new sparkly version of DnD regardless of this whole OGL mess. While I will not be using any OGL from Hasbro going forward, I do want to raise a klaxon, warning anyone who thinks that any concessions Hasbro gives publishers are worth a morality clause, or that a morality clause is something that should be a part of any other Open License.

In order to demonstrate how strongly I feel about this, I give you James Raggi — someone whose published works I largely dislike and will no longer purchase for reasons of personal morality:

Morality clauses are weapons and you can never predict how and when they will be used, who will use them, and who will be the target. Weapons always have unintended consequences.

I try to stay away from politics, but there is a really illustrative political example that hopefully makes my point. Under Obama, the Democratically controlled Senate got rid of an old gentleman's agreement that certain weighty measures required a two-thirds majority rather than a simple majority. They had things to accomplish and needed the weapon of a simple majority to beat down their Republican opponents. Little did they expect Trump to win in 2016 and have that very same weapon of a simple majority get used against them again and again and again. Trump's legacy is going to have a much longer and larger effect on the United States because Democrats created a weapon they never imagined would get used against them.

Any morality clause in the upcoming Hasbro License or in the ORC License will weaponize our hobby. If this is tied to the legal language of irrevocable, it will be a weapon that anyone can use against anybody now and forever with consequences we can't even imagine.

Please allow me the freedom to choose for myself what is morally acceptable and what I feel comfortable supporting with my money, my time, and my play. I pray you do the same, lest we all someday become a target for weapon that never needed to built in the first place.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Future of Prokopius Press

This is likely the most popular thing
Prokopius Press has ever produced.

WotC has officially responded to players of every stripe cancelling their D&D Beyond subscription and hitting Hasbro the only place that hurts: their pocket book. As far as I am concerned, this move by players is about three years late, but I'll take it. The response by Hasbro was not impressive.

As I stated in my last post, Hasbro has shown itself to be wholly unreliable when it comes to keep up their end of the deal when it comes to the OGL. For all intents and purposes, this means that the OGL is dead. This puts me in a bit of a pickle because I have produced a number of games and modules over the years using the OGL. 

Since most of these have been free or PWYW, I have no real fear of WotC ever bothering to come after me, but I really don't want to be associated with Hasbro at all. You may have noticed, all the various links to my free stuff son't work. While some of that is negligence on my part (Google being Google), I am not going to fix those links until I figure out a way to strip the OGL content from all of my works and/or find another license to operate under.

Matt Finch will be releasing his most recent version of Swords & Wizardry with a new license, Autarch will be producing their own license for the next version of ACKS, and the big boys in the 3rd party world of RPGs (Paizo, Kobold, Green Ronin, Chaosium, etc.) are working on a generic Open Game license that will be known as ORC. I will be looking into each as they become public. Since I am a hobbyist first and publisher second, I have no real need to operate under any of these, especially if I do my due diligence and make all of my stuff truly my own.

I will also endeavor to move away from Google. I will not shut this blog down. Indeed, I probably will continue to post general thoughts, news, and other such posts from time to time. As I work to make make all of my stuff non-OGL, I'd like a space that I feel more comfortable using going forward.

When I land in that new space to share the work I do, I will announce it here and have a permanent link to direct you to the next chapter of Prokopius Press. 


Thursday, January 12, 2023

The OGL is Dead! Long Live the Open RPG License!

The last few days have been fascinating to watch. I think Hasbro vastly underestimated their customer base and the Dungeons and Dragons brand has been severely damaged. It will be interesting to see how they try to repair it.

In the meantime, 3rd party publishers like Kobold Press, Frog God Games, and Autarch have all officially declared that they will not be signing the OGL 1.1. Basic Fantasy (one the the pioneers in the world of Retro-Clones) is currently getting rid of all the OGL language in their products. There have been several statements that even if the original OGL can be upheld in court, Hasbro has shown itself to be a bad actor and can no longer be trusted. I don't see how any publisher going forward can use the OGL, even if Hasbro walks back on OGL 1.1. For all intents and purposes, the OGL is dead.

Enter folks like Kobold Press and Autarch who are moving forward with non-OGL game systems and Paizo hosting a website dedicated to creating a new Open RPG license that can used by anybody, and Frog God Games calling for publishers to band together to create these systems and this new license.

I will echo the words of Bill Webb of Frog God Games: if you care about this hobby, buy some books from publishers you like so they can keep their lights on long enough to get these things done. I have.

Godspeed to everyone who is trying to put food on the table. May the apparent darkness of today lead to a very bright tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

OGL 1.1: D&D is Dead! Long Live D&D!

My last post here was back in June (!) of 2022. If I am honest, it has a lot to do with the fact that I am not really all that invested in RPGs at the moment. I am happily and busily printing and painting away in my latest deep dive into the world of miniature war gaming. I also have to admit, 2022 was a very painful year…literally. Spent some time in the hospital and am currently still trying to figure out the source of the pain I have currently been in for the last several months. So, I hope you excuse my complete lack of activity here on the old blog.

The world of D&D, however, is currently going through a major crisis in the form of the OGL 1.1. To which I say: D&D is dead! Long live D&D! Hasbro has every right to change the OGL for whatever edition they want to produce going forward; however, that OGL will only be legally binding for that edition, and possibly 5e (thought I don’t believe so). The original architects of the OGL created it specifically to protect the game and those who play it from a major corperation trying to do what Hasbro is currently trying to do: kill the game (whether they realize it or not).

Game mechanics are not copywritable in the U.S., and the legal scope of the OGL simply makes certain descriptions of mechanics and monsters their legal property. Everything else is Open Content usable by anyone. The intent was that if the owner of the D&D brand ever went out of business or decided that D&D would no longer be published, the game itself could survive under other names, with different descriptions, published by other companies. Paizo’s Pathfinder is not only the direct result of the OGL, but was the intention of the OGL — because WoTC was abandoning 3.5e in order to produce 4e. Those folks who wanted 3.5e to continue had the ability to. Not only do we still do, we still have the ability to produce games that emulate older editions as well. Long live D&D (just not under that name).

If you recall, back in july of 2020, I wrote this post in response to a disclaimer WoTC placed on all their legacy content of DTRPG and DM’s Guild. They haven’t changed the language and I have spent a dime on their products since. I would highly recommend everyone adopt the same same attitude. Hasbro has clearly demonstrated that they do not care about the game, about the community, or about you. In turn, you have absolutely no obligation to support them in any way, especially financially.

Instead of relying on major corporations to curate and control the IPs we love, we ought to either support the independent creators that are producing great alternatives, or start producing our own.

It also might be worthwhile to start working on rewording the entirety of whichever SRD you like the best and then releasing that document as Open Content under a different license to give all of us yet another legal haven to ensure the game we love can live on for generations to come.