D&D content creators outraged over licensing changes, demand the game remain “open”

Dungeons and Dragons logo over official artwork.Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro

D&D content creators are furious over alleged changes coming to the beloved tabletop game’s Open Game License, which allows third-party creators to create and sell their own supplemental products.

The Dungeons & Dragons community is more expansive than ever in 2023, and that’s why a potential change in the game’s real-life economy has sparked real concern from those who make a living off of it.

While Hasbro, through Wizards of the Coast, regularly creates new additions to the game, the current license (OGL) allows for creative gamemasters and players to dream up their own additions to the existing system and sell them. These third-party products were formerly protected under the original OGL, but the new system is far more restrictive.

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D&D content creators band together to “keep D&D open” amid licensing changes

At its core, the Open Game License, released with Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, grants permission for both amateurs and professionals to release content containing the game’s unique mechanics and systems.

Most of the current version explains that these items, which together make up what is called the System Reference Document (or SRD), are perpetually protected as long as the involved parties abide by the terms of the license.

According to Gizmodo’s Linda Codega, the new D&D license (OGL 1.1) will take aim at controlling what kinds of content can be distributed, and has a major focus on making creators report their published works directly to WotC prior to release.

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“It addresses new technologies like blockchain and NFTs, and takes a strong stance against bigoted content, explicitly stating the company may terminate the agreement if third-party creators publish material that is “blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, bigoted or otherwise discriminatory,” they wrote.

Another major change is the introduction of a tiered system which would see creators of different sizes being required to pay back more to Wizards depending on how much money they earned off materials referenced in the SRD.

In the version of the document obtained by Codega, only publishers who make over $750,000 will be required to pay royalties, and even then, it will only be on the amount made after that benchmark.

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Still, these changes have drawn the anger of fans and creators alike.

“The thing is, even if WotC drops OGL 1.1 completely we all know now how badly they tried to screw over the community of 3rd party creators that have allowed their game to flourish,” Game Designer Benjamin Huffman said. “We know they’d hurt all of us for the promise of miniscule gains.”

Another fan kept the message much shorter, simply saying “Wizards of the Coast can eat dirt.”

It’s important to note that the D&D team previously released a post claiming that “the OGL is not going away” several weeks prior to Codega’s report.

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