As I expected, the tabletop games industry has entered Interesting Times (in the Chinese proverb meaning of the phrase).
Gamers collectively began to unsubscribe from D&D Beyond — the online tool set for Dungeons & Dragons, to send a message to WOTC/Hasbro. This was, apparently, not a small amount of lost revenue.
Yesterday, Paizo (publishers of Pathfinder), along with a still-growing number of other publishers announced that they’re developing a system-agnostic irrevocable license which will be called the Open RPG Creative (ORC) License. (Click through to read the announcement.)
Today, WOTC released their statement, which was basically: “Uh… oops. My bad. More info coming later.” They attempt to address some concerns, but spin-doctor their way around the major issue — the attempted “de-authorization” of OGL1.0a. I suspect they’re still going to try to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
This is not an abstract issue for me. My FAR WEST game uses OGL1.0a, in the form of the Open D6 rules which were released as open content by the previous owners of West End Games, as well as some elements of the FATE system, also released under OGL1.0a. I’ve struggled for a decade to get that game finally released, and I’ll be damned if I am going to have the rug pulled out from under me when the finish line is in sight.
I’m certain that I could release under existing US Copyright Law, which specifies that systems and processes are not protected content — but whether the courts feel that includes RPG systems is not a matter of settled law. I’m certain that it could be proven to be so in court, but would require expensive litigation against a massive corporation. OGL1.0a offer a ‘safe harbor’ that would prevent that litigation.
I’m hoping that the forthcoming ORC license includes language that grandfathers in material that was opened under OGL 1.0a. I’ve signed up to the mailing list, and will be doing what I can to offer suggestion in that direction.
I suspect there will be further updates to this story.
According to a story at io9, it looks as though WOTC is trying to put the OGL genie back into the bottle: https://gizmodo.com/dnd-wizards-of-the-coast-ogl-1-1-open-gaming-license-1849950634
The biggest (and most egregious) change — it claims to “de-authorize” the previous version of the OGL (something which goes against the original language of the OGL, which is perpetual).
I wonder what “unauthorizing” the OGL 1.0 will mean for the non-WOTC-derived content — since other rules systems were released under it, by other companies. (D6, FATE, Runequest, Traveller, etc.). I suspect that the “unauthorization” (on it’s face a violation of the original terms of the OGL) will only apply to D&D content, so if you’re producing D&D material you MUST use 1.1.
Funny thing, WOTC originally addressed the question of changes to the OGL back in 2004 (from the internet archive): https://web.archive.org/web/20040307094152/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/oglfaq/20040123f
Q: Can’t Wizards of the Coast change the License in a way that I wouldn’t like?
A: Yes, it could. However, the License already defines what will happen to content that has been previously distributed using an earlier version, in Section 9. As a result, even if Wizards made a change you disagreed with, you could continue to use an earlier, acceptable version at your option. In other words, there’s no reason for Wizards to ever make a change that the community of people using the Open Gaming License would object to, because the community would just ignore the change anyway.
I suppose we’ll wait and see, but one thing is for sure — the tabletop games industry is about to experience some Interesting Times.
January is the month where I am finally undergoing some long-neglected dental care.
For those of you who aren’t American — for Reasons ™, dental care isn’t considered part of your health insurance. You have to have separate dental insurance, which doesn’t cover nearly as much of the cost. For this reason, my wife Laura and I bitterly joke and refer to teeth as “Luxury Mouth Bones.” Taking care of your teeth COSTS.
I’ve already had some work done today, and at the end of the month I’ll be getting an extensive amount done (partial dentures, in fact), which will hopefully cover me for some time. And, because I’m over 50, I’m *also* scheduled for a colonoscopy late in the month.
I don’t like having this much work done — my wallet definitely doesn’t like it, and in the case of the dental stuff, it butts up against some pretty hard-wired phobias of mine — but over the past year I’ve seen colleagues suffer strokes and heart attacks, and I know that the route to better health passes through these medical adventures, so I’ll suck it up.
This probably qualifies as TMI, but I’m laying it all out on the table here, in the hopes that somebody will read it and make the decision to take batter care of themselves. The costs and aggravation and anxiety are a pain in the ass, sure, but the results are better than the alternative.