Dungeon Master’s Workshop and OGL 1.1

Dungeon Master’s Workshop will not sign the new Open Game Licence (OGL) 1.1. We categorically reject Wizards of the Coast’s ability to de-authorize OGL 1.0a, which has allowed for mutually productive partnerships for the past 20 years. Their attempts to pull the rug out from under the creators—who have supported the brand and grown D&D into the world’s greater roleplaying game—are wrong, in bad faith, and almost certainly illegal.

We also categorically reject their demands that we pay royalties to use what we have already been allowed to use royalty free in perpetuity, or to hand over the rights to control our intellectual property and allow WotC to use and sell what we create without permission, compensation, or even credit. These are demands that no creator could accept, and WotC is wrong to make them.

This is not the first time that WotC has broken faith with their players. In 2008, they created the Game System License (GSL) to serve as an updated third-party publishing licence for fourth edition. It was rejected by creators as “a Frankenstein monster” and “an unmitigated disaster”, and it drove out nearly all third-party producers who might have managed to salvage what was undoubtedly the worst edition of the game. Those responsible for this debacle were quietly (and rightly) phased out of the company in time for fifth edition’s release in 2014, and the new leadership deliberately released the new edition’s System Reference Document (SRD) under OGL 1.0a, signalling that they had learned their lesson.

Sadly, the content of the new OGL proves that this wasn’t the case. If OGL 1.1 is officially announced, we predict that it will irrevocably damage the brand. Nobody wants to hitch themselves to a wagon that’s tried to steal their horses twice.

Several major 3PPs (third-party publishers) have already announced their intentions to create an entirely new system, including Kobold Press and MCDM, and others have declared their intentions to move to other game systems like Pathfinder. While we at DMW have also written off WotC, we haven’t written off fifth edition, and we are already working with other creators to create a non-OGL and non-WotC version of a SRD that can be used commercially, royalty free, forever. No take-backsies.

What can you do to help? There are lots of ways. You can open your wallet and buy products from us and other 3PPs right now. You can open your mouth and let WotC know that you don’t support their decision. You can boycott Hasbro products, and even the new D&D movie. Money and reputation are the bread and butter for the people pushing this licence; it will only be abandoned if it poses an imminent threat to those sacred values. Make it clear that grasping for our tranche will cost them.

The future of D&D as a brand may not be certain, but we are committed to the future of D&D as a game. We’ve been playing for over 20 years, and we’re not about to let corporate malfeasance and avarice sabotage it. We didn’t declare this war, but we’re going to fight it. And with your help, we’re going to win.

Feature Image Credit: Tyler Jacobson

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