Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Let Chaos Reign

While there has not yet been any official comment from Wizards of the Coast in response to the supposed draft of version 1.1 of the Open Game License, a number of other creators and companies whose publications depend on the continued viability of the existing 1.0a version have made the current state of their plans known. Here are some of those of which I am aware. Please feel free to add more in the comments below.

That may not seem like a long list but consider the titles. Both Basic Fantasy and Castles & Crusades, two games that play important roles in the prehistory of the OSR, are there, which says a lot, I think, about how much this situation has the potential to up end even our little corner of the wider hobby. Equally important on that front is Old School Essentials, an elegant restatement of the Moldavy/Cook/Marsh rules that has deservedly received a lot of praise – and play – over the last few years. I would not be the least bit surprised to see many more creators and companies issue similar statements in the days to come, particularly if WotC continues its silence on the matter.

At this point, I feel that the damage has been done and is irreparable. Even in the event that Wizards of the Coast issues a repentant mea culpa and presents a new draft of version 1.1 of the OGL that does not attempt to "de-authorize" its predecessor, I'm not sure anyone would believe them. And why should they? The reality is that WotC is a subsidiary of a huge, multinational conglomerate; expecting it to behave in a fashion where anything but the bottom line matters has always been a fool's bet. We might somehow dodge this particular bullet, but there's no guarantee that WotC won't try to pull something similar – or worse – in the future. Why take the risk?

I'd originally planned to keep my Secrets of sha-Arthan fairly close to the conventions of Dungeons & Dragons and its clones. Now, though, I'm less inclined to do so, even if that necessitates rewriting portions of my current draft. As it is, I already don't use any of the character classes, races, spells, monsters, or magic items of D&D, so the rewrites might not be unduly onerous. Plus, it'll give me the chance to make the final game much more its own thing, which is probably what I should have done in the first place. 

Looks like 2023 has already started with a bang. I wonder what more will unfold in the days and weeks to come.


  1. If we get a sea of open but not quite compatible licenses, folks need to remember they can release their original content under multiple license.

    My Blackmarsh has been licensed under the OGL 1.0a and CC-BY for a couple of years now.

    Fate also is for the moment dual licensed under the OGL and CC.

  2. I think you're right: the damage is done and the only thing that could be achieved by WotC backing down is additional time for projects to disentangle themselves from the OGL... unless they roll out an OGL 1.0b that supercedes 1.0a and does nothing but make more explicit the inability to be revoked.

    Which doesn't seem super-likely.

  3. Paizo's Pathfinder and Pathfinder 2 are both OGL.

  4. Autarch's Adventurer Conqueror King System has a new version coming out later this year, and Macris has confirmed that he's stripping out the OGL and SRD content.

  5. My rule book will also undergo revisions.

  6. Autarch declares their intent at the end of https://arbiterofworlds.substack.com/p/the-perfidious-treachery-of-wotc if you'd like it from the horse's mouth

  7. Dan Proctor with Labyrinth Lord (copied from ENWORL):
    Last week I didn't take the OGL kerfuffle very seriously. But since then after looking around I hate to say it but I think the OGL as we knew it will soon be gone.

    That would mean of course that LL 2e is cancelled. Mutant Future relies heavily on open content so it would also go. However, Starships & Spacemen never used the OGL, and Apes Victorious does, but doesn't need to.

    Also notably I will still carry the Pacesetter titles. So it won't put me out of business but it will take away my best selling product line. I'm not sure what that will mean for Labyrinth Lord in the future. If it were reborn it would have to differ a lot from its current form. Things like the spells, magic items, and monsters, at the very least would have to be entirely reimagined.

    So for now I'm taking a wait and see approach. Hopefully we'll have clarity soon. If this does come to pass I'll consult with all of you to see what you'd like to have happen

  8. Frog God Games have also published a Statement at their Homepage https://www.froggodgames.com/