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A Tale of Two Licenses

I’ve been quiet for the last week or so about the ongoing drama about the D&D Open Gaming License.  Having to rewrite or post a retraction to an article less than twelve hours after it went up is frustrating.  And time consuming.  The good news is, we seem to be at the end of the adventure.  WotC made a very simple, very meme-able Twitter post this weekend announcing their surrender.

White text on a black background.  We are leaving OGL 1.0A in place, as is.  Untouched.  We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a creative commons license.  You choose which you prefer to use.  

Red text on black background: Dungeons and Dragons
The flag of surrender?

OGL 1.1 is dead.  OGL1.2 is dead.  OGL 1.0a will remain active and untouched.  The contents of System Reference Document 5.1 will also be offered under a modified Creative Commons license. Which license creators publish under is up to their choice.

Kyle Brink, executive producer of Dungeons and Dragons, published some heavy statistics along with the announcement.  The biggest, and least surprising, is that 88% of respondents to the OGL 1.2 “playtest” survey do not want to publish under the OGL 1.2.  89% of respondents are dissatisfied with the deauthorization of OGL 1.0a.  As usual with WotC reports like this, we don’t have any idea how many actual people responded to the playtest survey.  It’s entirely possible that those numbers are made up, and the playtest survey was only posted so that WotC could save face before caving to pressure from the community.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.

from D&DBeyond

Who won the license war?

Wizards of the Coast lost this one.  I won’t say “we” won, because ultimately I think this has done some lasting damage to the Dungeons and Dragons community.  The license controversy dominated the TTRPG conversation for weeks.  WotC’s latest release teaser came and went with barely a whisper because the company’s been stuck in damage control mode.  The moves taken by companies like Kobold Press and Paizo aren’t just going away.  Project Black Flag is real.  The ORC is still happening. Both move to playtesting in February, the same month Keys from the Golden Vault releases.

Fans of Dungeons and Dragons face a difficult choice.  Do they accept WotC’s apology and move on?  Forgive and forget?  Many of us would like to.  But many others argue that there is no going back from the license war.  Their trust has eroded beyond repair.  Tension remains between those willing to give WotC another chance and committed defectors.  Where for a few weeks TTRPG social media was united against a common enemy, the community is now turning back on itself.  Gatekeeping is on the rise.  Content creators choosing to go back to D&D are facing criticism and personal attacks from the opposing faction.

Where do we go from here?

The aftershocks of the license war continue, and will for some time.  February is sure to be a tumultuous month, as new phases of One D&D enter testing along with the ORC license and Project Black Flag.  I will do my best to stay on top of the changes as they cross my desk, and get you the reader as much info as I can so you can make your own choices.

Are you willing to give Wizards another chance? Has the news about the preservation of OGL1.0a changed your TTRPG buying plans? For my part, I’ve been trying out a lot of new systems (that I hope to tell you all about soon!). Drop your feelings in the comments or hit me up on Twitter at let me know where you stand!

About the Author
Silver has been playing Magic: The Gathering and other trading card games off and on since 1999, and is a lifelong roleplayer. They believe in Rule 0 and The Rule of Cool, and that the gaming table should be a safe space for everyone.

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