Dungeons &Dragons is the most popular tabletop RPG out there. Whether you’ve watched the Critical Role animated series, or Stranger Things, or played D &D yourself, you’ve probably heard of the game in some capacity and understand its general thrust.
To keep it fresh, Often Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Dungeons &Dragons, will release a new edition of the game every so often. These new editions usually keep what worked from their predecessors, while trading what doesn’t work for some new mechanics. The 5th edition of Dungeons &Dragons is the most popular so far, and so Wizards of the Coast has quite a task to make its successor.
However, it seems the famous tabletop RPG company is stumbling before the new edition, OneD &D, is even out. Wizards of the Coast have found considerable controversy as they seek to introduce a new Open Game License policy that imposes many severe restrictions on third-party homebrew content. Essentially, this forces players to consume only Wizards of the Coast content, which goes directly against the policy in the previous OGL 1.0.
Homebrew, a term that essentially covers all Dungeons &Dragons content not created by Wizards of the Coast, and it’s how many content creators make money by producing adventures and stories that players can put into their campaigns. To stifle that creation by placing heavy restrictions on it has quickly turned Wizards of the Coast into public enemy No. 1 for many D &D &D players.
A host of additional rules are coming to content creators, including limits on what they can create and sell using the OneD &D system, but without going too deeply into the rules of the new OGL, all you need to know is that on the content creation side, people are not happy.
In fact, they are so unhappy with the proposed OGL that they united to form a petition condemning the new license. More than 26,000 people have signed this petition at the time of writing, criticizing how the new OGL essentially makes it mandatory for creators to report their revenues and projects to Wizards of the Coast for approval, which could then lead to those projects being shut down and large sums of royalties being taken.
Obviously, if you’re not someone who makes Dungeons &Dragons content for a living, but just want to make your own monsters and stories for you and your friends, you don’t have to worry too much about these changes, because Wizards of the Coast doesn’t track every D &D & D game that goes through or anything like that. The main problem here, however, is that people who worked for years on the old OGL, built their livelihood on the Dungeons & Dragons 5E system, are now at risk of having that work severely restricted and possibly taken away from them.
That’s another major problem people have with the OneD &D OGL. The fact that Wizards of the Coast gets the legal right to reproduce and resell creators’ content without permission or compensation. This is an obvious red flag and then some for many Dungeons &Dragons creators, who would roll the dice when they published something because Wizards of the Coast might like the look of it and reproduce it.
Although there are alternative systems to Dungeons &Dragons, many of them are actually threatened thanks to the new OGL. Pathfinder, 13th Age and Traveller may not be household names like Dungeons &Dragons is, but they each have their own fan bases, which have also heavily criticized the new OGL.
Creators can’t even jump back to older Dungeons &Dragons editions because OGL 1.1 overrides the friendlier policies of the previous OGL. For those opposed to the new OGL, this is a clear move toward a monopoly on tabletop RPGs, and while it makes sense from a money-making standpoint for Wizards of the Coast to profit from content made from their systems, it has caused significant backlash.
So how to proceed? Well, in the short term we will have to see, as if the petition becomes popular enough, Wizards of the Coast may take some notice of it. If OGL 1.1 passes, however, we may see the end of key resources that have helped players find Dungeons & Dragons games online, as well as books that offer additional adventures, monsters, characters and more to a campaign. For those who create Dungeons & Dragons content, it’s a scary time, even if the average player may not notice much difference in the long run.