Following last week’s disastrous response to public outrage over the leak of the Open Gaming Licenses 1.1 document, Dungeons & Dragons trying again. Executive Producer of D&D, Kyle Brink, a new statement was released talking about the team’s goal for a new OGL document. You can find the full post on D&D Beyond, but I wanted to point out a few things and then dive into the first draft of the new OGL 1.2.
As for Brink’s statement, it is much better than the crap put out before. This statement takes ownership of many of the mistakes Wizards of the Coast made during this fiasco. I still take it with a grain of salt, but it definitely comes across as more sincere and genuine than the first answer put out. Second, Brink outlines that the new OGL 1.2 will be more community-driven and handled in a similar way to playtest materials for Unearthed Arcana and D&D only where they will share the draft, take comments for at least two weeks, and then get back to us with what they heard from the public. Brinks also pledged the following items:
Your video content. Whether you’re a commentator, streamer, podcaster, beoplay cast member, or other video creator on platforms like YouTube and Twitch and TikTok, the Wizards Fan Content Policy always has you covered. The OGL will not (and will not) touch any of this.
Your accessories for your owned content. Any changes to the OGL will not affect your ability to sell minis, novels, clothing, dice and other things related to your creations, characters and lives.
Unpublished works, such as contracted services. You use the OGL if you want to publish your works that refer to fifth edition content through the SRD. This means that the OGL does not affect commission work, paid DM services, consulting, and so on.
VTT content. Any updates to the OGL will still allow any creator to publish content on VTTs and will still allow VTT publishers to use OGL content on their platform.
DMs Guild content. Content you post on DMs Guild is published under a Community Content Agreement with Dungeon Masters Guild. This is not changing.
For OGL 1.0a content. Nothing will affect any content you have published under OGL 1.0a. That will always be licensed under OGL 1.0a.
Your income. There will be no financial reporting or royalty requirements.
Your ownership of your content. You will continue to own your content with no sublicense requirements.
This statement was very refreshing and I appreciated it. Then, the next day, Brink made another post with the first draft of OGL 1.2. As I was writing, I didn’t have time to thoroughly look at the actual OGL 1.2 documentation included, but I wanted to highlight what Brink put into the post. If you’ve read the actual document, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
There is a lot to cover here. At the start, D&D using a Creative Commons license for the game’s core mechanics. This means that anyone can use the mechanics and because they are going through the non-profit Creative Commons, they don’t have the license and can’t suddenly take them back. That said, it should also allow WotC to still achieve their goal of stopping people who try to use the license to create “offensive or harmful content” depending on the terms they set in the license .
Second, it is designed to affect only tabletop RPG (TTRPG) published content including books, electronic publications, and virtual boards. That means your play podcast or video series or stream is all safe. If you are not doing D&D supplements or VTT content to use with D&D, fear not.
Thirdly, they still aim to deauthorize OGL 1.0aa. The team admits this is a sore spot, but the idea is to close loopholes so that someone who makes “offensive or harmful content” can’t get out of trouble by claiming OGL 1.0aa instead of OGL 1.2.
Fourth, OGL 1.2 will be completely irrevocable except for the part that talks about how you must mention Wizards in your work and the part that talks about how you and Wizards can contact each other. These are reasonable exceptions in my opinion because no one can predict the future.
From my cursory glance at everything, this is a step in the right direction, but nowhere near perfect. I know a lot of people are going to yell about how you can’t copyright game mechanics, and you’re right. However, you can copyright phrases and other features used in mechanics. For example, WotC may copyright the terminology “attack of opportunity” so while you might want to use that mechanic, you could not use the phrase “attack of opportunity” in the same context as you would have to say something all the time. lines of “attack when their attention is diverted” or something else. I’ll defer this point to an actual game designer, Jessica Markrum which was briefly related to in a relatively short thread on OGL 1.2.