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You, Me, and the D&D Open Game License

by Mike on 16 January 2023

On 5 January 2023, Linda Codega of Gizmodo described a new leaked version of WOTC's Open Game License. This new license heavily impairs third party publication of D&D compatible material. Worse, it attempts to "deauthorize" the current (and actually open) Open Game License almost all third party publishers of D&D-compatible material used for over twenty years. It's a complete fiasco. No, not the fun one.

Wizards of the Coast released a statement walking back royalties but saying nothing about the worst parts of the license: revocation of the 20 year old OGL 1.0a, requirements to register products, and the ability to change or terminate the agreement at their will.

For more details of the OGL situation; what it is, what it means, and what you can do about it; check out my Thoughts on the OGL.

But what does the OGL horror show mean for you and me?

D&D is Still Ours

I still love D&D. I'm hurt by WOTC's decision to cause so much stress and harm to the creators who pour so much of their time, money, passion, and energy into making this game so great. It's been an awful couple of weeks.

But I love D&D anyway. WOTC can't take D&D away from us. We own the books. We own our dice. We own our ideas. We can always play D&D. Maybe that D&D is 5th edition. Maybe it's Old School Essentials or Numenera or Shadow of the Demon Lord.

It's all still D&D to me.

You don't have to quit playing D&D. The custodians of the D&D brand have made good choices and bad choices for 50 years. 5th edition was a great new direction that brought D&D to the height of its popularity. The potential release of this new OGL is clearly terrible, alienating tens of thousands of D&D's biggest voices and biggest fans.

But we can still play D&D.

If you want to use this opportunity to help third party publishers and try some other RPGs out, now's a great time. Here's a list of some awesome RPGs — some similar to D&D and some quite different.

Many of these systems offer free previews to give you an idea what they're like.

If you want to keep running 5th edition, here are my favorite third-party 5e products over 2022.

We can play a whole lot of D&D without needing WOTC's permission.

What About Sly Flourish?

I'm not sure how this affects Sly Flourish yet. So far, not much. I'll continue offering advice to help you run your games, D&D or otherwise. I'll still talk about D&D but I'll probably focus more on advice suitable for any fantasy RPG.

My books and the material on the Sly Flourish Patreon are all pretty system agnostic. Pivoting away from the OGL won't be hard.

The Lazy D&D Talk Show might change. I'll probably cover other RPGs more than I have and keep my focus on third party products you might not have heard of. I'll probably stop promoting WOTC books if they're not interested in others even existing.

I'm Here For You

I always focus my drive and attention on you, the GMs running games for your friends and family. You're the cornerstone of this hobby, whatever system you run and whatever products you use to support it. Big companies don't matter. Brands don't matter. You matter. Your game matters. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to run awesome games. I'm not veering from that purpose. WOTC chose their path — one of greed and hubris and condescension for their best customers, biggest supporters, and greatest fans. My path is not theirs and neither must it be yours. Your game matters. Not theirs. Whether you use their system or not. It's your game. And I'm here to help you run it.

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