Notwithstanding a harm-limiting apology (opens in new tab) from Wizards of the Coast after the disastrous reception to their scheduled update of the Open Gaming License (opens in new tab), the conversation is far from over. The company hasn’t really backed down from its plans for the OGL, but is moving forward 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 reprehensible situation than what we looked at earlier. The original plan seemed to be to simply impose new restrictions and royalties without discussion, and the new design (opens in new tab) drops many of the most controversial elements of the leaked OGL 1.1 we originally saw. But essentially it’s not a return to the original OGL – in fact it’s still retroactively revoking that license, still putting more powers in the hands of WOTC.

The D&D OGL drama in a nutshell

  • Since 2000, the Open Gaming license has allowed other companies to create D&D-based products without royalties or supervision.
  • A license update – OGL 1.1 – has been leaked. It has withdrawn the original version – OGL 1.0 – and imposed new restrictions, as well as possible royalty payments.
  • Universal outcry from the community led WOTC to apologize and announce that a new version was being worked on: OGL 1.2.
  • OGL 1.2 removes many, but not all, of the controversial elements of 1.1, and still repeals OGL 1.0.
  • WOTC has promised to release key D&D rules under a Creative Commons license – it claims that material published before the new OGL will be covered.
  • The vast majority of the community still wants OGL 1.0 to remain.

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

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Fundamentally, what people want is the freedoms they already enjoyed – to create content for D&D without the specter of corporate superiority. To get any closer to that will require 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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By wy9m6

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