ORCs Versus the Evil Wizards

A summary of this thing I've been angry about on fediverse all week/month, and how it affects my plans.

So, Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro had been working on their "One D&D"/6E playtest/previews, which has been previously held in only moderate contempt here. And then they decided to update the license.

Since 2000, we've had the Open Game License (OGL) 1.0a, which lets you reuse anything else put under it, like the System Reference Document (SRD) of D&D 3.0; I used that in my Stone Halls & Serpent Men game, mainly to copy spells & monsters. This has allowed a massive ecosystem of vaguely-D&D-ish games to flourish, as well as used for very not-D&D games like Legend and OpenQuest, and Cepheus Engine.

  • 2022-12-21, WotC announced a new OGL 1.1, with onerous financial terms on big earners, and no creative use outside books & ebooks. Nobody liked this, but we could keep using the 1.0a license, right? I started making plans to migrate off their SRD, but otherwise not super concerned. Future of OGL games is in some peril.

  • OGL 1.1 fiasco timeline

  • Saturday 2023-01-07, Basic Fantasy RPG started rewriting their books to get out from under the OGL, and go full CC-BY-SA. This is a pretty drastic solution, but legally the safest. It looks to me like BFRPG might be the new post-WotC "core OSR book".

  • Monday, the actual license was leaked, and it's a clusterfuck.
    Registering with WotC, revocation of 1.0a licenses, WotC gets to moral-police you and shut down anything they don't like; screwed if you like weird horror, sex, drugs, or violence in your games.

    Gizmodo report is pretty reasonable.

    The claim they can revoke the 1.0a license is the rough part. The original license was meant to be irrevokable, but that wasn't in the licenses it copied from (GPL, etc.), so it doesn't say that.

  • Tim Cask

    the money-grubbing pomposity of Hasbro and WotC trying to squeeze third-party produces to death — don't they make enough already? Could their insipid releases be the cause of their reduced revenues, or is it those nasty little third-party guys that have kept the hobby alive and growing? The new OGL 1.1.

    Tim Cask encourages WotC to fuck off

  • Matt Finch on how this affects Swords & Wizardry

  • Ryan Dancey, formerly of WotC and creator of the OGL, said:

    Yeah my public opinion is that Hasbro does not have the power to deauthorize a version of the OGL. If that had been a power that we wanted to reserve for Hasbro, we would have enumerated it in the license. I am on record numerous places in email and blogs and interviews saying that the license could never be revoked.

  • ArsTechnica RPG fans irate

  • Thursday, a leak from inside WotC circulated:

ogl leak

  • Then WotC cancelled their livestream, while an angry mob gathered on Roll for Combat's livestream. Yes, Dr Frankenstein, the villagers are coming for you and your monster.

  • At which time, Paizo announced their own Open RPG Creative License (ORC) … Paizo doesn't use a CDN, so their site's been down most of the day from being hugged to death, in the mean time quoted here.

Paizo does not believe that the OGL 1.0a can be “deauthorized,” ever. While we are prepared to argue that point in a court of law if need be, we don’t want to have to do that, and we know that many of our fellow publishers are not in a position to do so.
We have no interest whatsoever in Wizards’ new OGL. Instead, we have a plan that we believe will irrevocably and unquestionably keep alive the spirit of the Open Game License. …
In addition to Paizo, Kobold Press, Chaosium, Legendary Games, and a growing list of publishers have already agreed to participate in the Open RPG Creative License, and in the coming days we hope and expect to add substantially to this group. …
We’ll be there at your side. You can count on us not to go back on our word.

I'm slightly disappointed their promo image is their dumb Human Fighter "iconic" leading the charge, and not an Orc.

WELL THEN

So my retroclone is toast. I'd have to scrub a lot of monster & spell text to get rid of the SRD, and that's being done better by BFRPG. I can package some of what I wrote as a sourcebook for that. It's B/X-ish, not Holmes, but I'm adaptable, and I can fix some of the tone by making new species-as-class combinations and minor rules tweaks. Might be a good zine type thing.

My roguelike is based on my retroclone, but it's mostly naming issues, easily fixed. Fucking Hasbro claiming OGL doesn't cover videogames, I'll show them a pantomime.

I toyed with shifting to d100 and I can borrow more from OpenQuest than Legend and be legally safer, but I dunno if that's useful to anyone. Just play OpenQuest, delete all the divine & shaman nonsense, and throw 50% more zombies at everyone, and it's just like I'd done it!

My sword & planet game I'll keep working on, and either release as CC-BY-SA, or ORC, depending on how that looks.

UPDATE 50 MINUTES LATER

Oh, WotC's PR flacks sweated this all night:

However, it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1.

[canned Big Bang Theory laff trak, meme face of Sheldon looking cross but robotic]

It has become clear that it is no longer possible to fully achieve all three goals while still staying true to our principles. So, here is what we are doing.

[paraphrasing]

  1. Removing our principles.
  2. Doubling down on extortion over non-book products and anything Pat Pulling would've objected to.
  3. Fuck over "major corporations" some other way.

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