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.


Janich said...

You might already know, but the Basic Fantasy RPG community is doing a rewording of everything OGL right this moment, with escape in mind.
WOTC is forgetting we had to be freedom fighters just to play, to begin with. And it is still us who introduse our children to systems. The more ekspensive products get, the more WE have to be villing to pay. We can just not. Someone might get the core 6the edition books, but supplements aren't going to sell. And online? Wh really control access? Cut the power.

JB said...

Yep. I think the thing is only a big deal for folks who want to continue riding the coattails of Hasbro's latest-greatest. But you know how it is (panic in the streets...).

JB said...

By the way: sorry you've been suffering. Prayers and best wishes that your health recovers going forward.