Dungeons & Dragons OGL: here's what will change (maybe)

Dungeons & Dragons OGL: here's what will change (maybe)

Dungeons & Dragons OGL

Changes coming for Dungeons and Dragons and its Open Gaming License, i.e. the legal document that governs how third parties (publishers, kick starters and content creators) can integrate the basic rules of the game into their creations role of Wizards of the Coast. This topic, however technical and complex, has sparked a great controversy within the gaming community as the revelations about the possible future of the Open Gaming License will have a direct impact on anyone who wants to create Dungeons & Dragons licensed content in the future . Particularly if the changes were to be confirmed, there would be severe limits on new content, which would have to be reported directly to Wizards of the Coast.

Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is available for purchase online. In this article, the conditional is a must to describe the changes that could occur in the future of the Open Gaming License: a necessary precaution since what has emerged so far derives from a draft of the document leaked in mid-December and therefore at the moment there is no official of these changes.

That said with the change of the Open Gaming License, the current document will no longer be valid and it will no longer be allowed to create new content under the current guidelines.

Dungeons and Dragons Open Gaming License: what could change

Dungeons and Dragons OGL: What it is and how it could change New Dungeons and Dragons OGL: What will it mean for creators? What it means to register with Wizards of the Coast Royalties Kickstarter's role in the future of Dungeons & Dragons When might these changes take effect? Why Wizards of the Coast might not go any further Some final thoughts

Dungeons and Dragons OGL: what it is and how it could change

The Open Gaming License (henceforth OGL) is a document used for the creation, by third-party authors and publishers, of content that is based on Dungeons & Dragons and reproduces its game mechanics and main characteristics such as character species (the races), classes, equipment and general game structures, including combat, spells and monsters. This regulatory system was created in 2000 in support of the third edition and has allowed anyone who wanted it, whether they were professional or amateur designers, to deal with the creation of their own role-playing game using a well-tested and well-known game system.

The direct consequence of the diffusion of the OGL has allowed a great diffusion of the game of role, but it also allowed outside publishers to compete directly with Wizards of the Coast products. Over the years Wizards of the Coast has tweaked the original OGL several times, even including royalty-free versions, however the new version coming with One D&D should significantly revise the terms of the license.

Based on on the current document the OGL will take a jolt, as up until now it grants you a “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license” to open game content and the ability to use any licensed version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any content of open game originally distributed under any version of this license.

The new draft of the OGL 1.1 will be an extremely full-bodied document that will include within the new terms and conditions also new technologies such as blockchain and NFT and content deemed sensitive issues such as racial, gender, homophobic, or any content that Wizards of the Coast deems discriminatory.

How to As mentioned above, with the arrival of the new OGL there will be a termination of the license agreement and this will lead many of the interested parties to review their content to comply with the updated rules. This will have an immediate influence on publishers such as Paizo , Kobold Press and Green Ronin whose flagship products are based entirely on derivative products of OGL and who will thus be forced to apply new solutions for their games.

At the basis of this stance there is therefore a principle of competition, as Wizards of the Coast has openly declared that the Open Game License has always been intended as a tool that would allow the gaming community to grow Dungeons & Dragons in creative way and not a tool that would facilitate the main competitors.

What the OGL will be an epochal change in the history of role-playing games, given the extent of the possible consequences, for this Wizards of the Coast clearly expects them to be greeted by the public with some resistance . The publisher's attitude, while appearing to be serious about this revolution, also leaves room for openings to public scrutiny, with the possibility of reviewing the most controversial and unwanted aspects.

New Dungeons OGL and Dragons: what will it mean for authors?

Should the original license no longer be usable, every single licensed publisher will be affected by the new agreement. This will result in a first step in the approval process where all commercial content must be reported to Wizards of the Coast, both for new products and existing material.

The document also states that for any content created under the updated OGL, whether or not owned by the creator, Wizards shall have the non-exclusive right to use such content for any purpose.

Among the upcoming changes will be also more detailed and specific regulation on the types of content that third-party creators will be able to make available and profit from: the updated license will only allow the creation of RPGs and supplements in printed media and electronic files. It will not allow anything else, including but not limited to such things as videos, virtual tables or VTT campaigns, computer games, novels, apps, graphic novels, music, songs, dances, and plays.

This kind of content will be permitted only to the extent permitted by the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy or agreed to separately between creators and publisher.

Creators will be required to distinguish their original content from licensed content so that a user is thus able to immediately distinguish which is the original content from the licensed one. This can be achieved through a number of graphical tricks, such as different colored fonts, asterisks on the page or by inserting a separate list which will collect all the original elements of Dungeons & Dragons.

The updated OGL will be divided into non-commercial and commercial agreements, with a differentiation of the rules based on earnings from direct sales or from the diffusion and accessibility of contents.

In fact, a multi-level earnings system will be envisaged, a new system of royalties and rules for the use of crowdfunding . The new OGL will also include a regulation reserved for Patreon and platforms that allow tips and the direct support of creators, which will provide for the status of non-commercial subject if the contents are also available for free elsewhere.

What means registering with Wizards of the Coast

Anyone wishing to commercially develop content that takes advantage of the OGL will need to apply to the publisher, submitting a description of the licensed work, contact information, on the publication market and its price to the public.

As far as the creators are concerned, they will have to use a badge that identifies them, after sending the published content. This process will be managed through the Dungeons & Dragons digital platform and D&D Beyond. This point in particular represents one of the major critical issues raised by fans, as it is difficult to apply and more onerous in terms of time and energy for small creators.


Despite the presence within the new document of a royalty system, these will be calculated within a certain earnings threshold. the new terms state that the trade deal will cover all commercial uses, whether they are profitable or not. There are currently three revenue tiers based on revenue recorded in a calendar year ($50,000, $750,000, and $750,000+), however Wizards of the Coast says in the new filing that highly successful projects will be eligible for customized licensing agreements Win-Win for Both Parties

While $750,000 may seem like a large number, it should be noted that this figure refers only to gross revenue, which is the total of all money generated by a project. Therefore, this value does not take into account the expenses that each author has to bear. This is a generic estimate, but it must be taken into account that the commissions due to the various founding and distribution platforms must also be subtracted from the expenses for artists, writers and marketing.

The role of Kickstarter in the future of Dungeons & Dragons

One of the crowdfunding platforms preferred by authors, both of derivative and original products, is undoubtedly Kickstarter. However, its dominance could be accentuated in the future because in its new incarnation the OGL will provide, for "Expert" level projects (i.e. those above $750,000) royalties of 25% of eligible revenues, if the work is not financed through Kickstarter, while for those who use it this will be only 20%.

Although there is no official collaboration between Wizards of the Coast and Kickstarter, the two companies have deemed it appropriate to reach an agreement that could protect somehow the authors. Regarding the conditions related to crowdfunding, all authors will be required to comply with certain clauses aimed at further strengthening the correct use of the OGL license.

When could these changes come into force?

At the moment there is still no official date for the entry into force of the new OGL, nor any official statement from Wizards of the Coast about what has emerged in recent weeks. However, it is presumable to think that when the new conditions are communicated there will be clear timescales.

The document contains dates for the entry into force, but the timescales are rather tight for adapting and accepting the new agreements. According to what is reported in the document, the expected date of release is January 4th with the deadline for submitting an application January 13th 2023, very unrealistic timing if we consider the fact that this article was published a few days after January 4th.

Why Wizards of the Coast may not proceed further

At this point of the article we wanted to leave room for a small final twist: what if Wizards of the Coast could not proceed with the implementation of a new OGL?

This is not mere sensationalism, but it adds one more variable hitherto ignored: a legal clause within the original OGL.

To bring this detail to light Ryan Dancey , one of the fathers of the original OGL, who has decided to take part in the general conversation these days by bringing his point of view and his expertise on the subject.

For Dancey, Hasbro would not have the power to revocation read older versions of the OGL because the license itself would not allow it. In his post Dancey refers to a specific passage, Clause 9, which concerns the ability to update the license.

9. License Update: Wizards or its Designated Agents may issue updated versions of this License. You may use any licensed version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

This detail could therefore put the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons in the position of having to review very carefully its intention to invalidate the previous versions, because a hasty move of this type would give third parties the possibility to legally challenge the question.

Some final considerations

As far as we have been able to analyze from the document, we can say that in the future, publishing content somehow related to Dungeons & Dragons will prove to be a more difficult process, which will lead various authors, publishers and creators to develop alternative projects so as not to have to lose (even only in part) ownership of their work, or resize projects so as to remain below a certain royalty threshold.

If on the one hand it is an operation that will lead to greater control and protection of the Wizards game system, as this new version of the license is formulated to Certain concerns and perplexities can only be legitimate, especially as regards smaller authors and creators.

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