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Community Backlash Following Wizards of the Coast OGL Changes

Players have been wondering what new mechanics and changes are coming to D&D’s upcoming sixth edition, One D&D, which is scheduled for release some time in 2024.

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game co-created by E Gary Gygax in 1974.

The game has gone through many iterations in the form of “editions” with the most recent one being Fifth edition, which was released in 2014.

Making their announcement in 2021, the developers of One D&D plan to take what fans most enjoyed about fifth edition and expand upon all manner of aspects including classes, backgrounds and revisions to the official handbooks. At the same time, they also ensure that the upcoming release is compatible with previous edition content.

But recently a leaked document by Dungeons and Dragons’ owner, Wizards of the Coast has many fans of the tabletop RPG concerned and confused. The document suggests that there will be changes to their Open Games Licence which will be replaced by OGL 1.1.

What is an Open Games Licence?

An OGL (Open Game Licence) is a public copyright license owned by Wizards of the Coast that grants tabletop role-playing game developers permission to modify, copy, and redistribute some of the content designed for their games in the use of third-party content.

The OGL was originally introduced for third edition back in 2000. It was replaced by the Game System Licence (GSL) for fourth edition in 2008, but apparently made a return for fifth edition.

OGL 1.1 would potentially render the previous licencing agreement invalid and thus content created under the old licence would be unauthorised.

In the leaked document, it states “This revised license is intended to protect the D&D brand by reducing creator confusion, preventing bad actors from tarnishing it, and preventing large businesses from profiting off it without proper checks and balances.”

What changes are coming with OGL 1.1?

Rumours of an updated OGL circulated through the community, resulting in Wizards of the Coast’s release of an official statement on their forums.

In it, they outline that the OGL is not going away and that people will still be able to “create new D&D content, publish it anywhere, and game with your friends and followers”.

However, upon examination of the leaked document which was posted to twitter, it seems that they intend to do more than what was stated in December and will be cracking down on third-party’s and fans’ creations using the game’s rules. This means that homebrew content will take a hit and that potentially some products using the OGL will no longer be allowed under the new OGL.

One terrifying change gives Wizards of the Coast the ability to "terminate" the license agreement with anyone, anywhere, for any reason provided they give a three days’ notice.

Not only that but should they choose to terminate a licence for a third-party product, they would also have to "destroy all inventory and marketing materials bearing the Compatibility Logo."

Community response

Some people on the internet have responded to the news with memes about pirating WOTC content from now on or mocking WOTC.

Posted on R/DNDMemes

Others are outraged at the alleged changes and have even taken to starting a petition in response.

“The FAQ section alone makes me seethe. If they go through with it there is truly no coming back from this for them,” said one user replying to a tweet of the leaked document.

The new OGL is scheduled for release in early 2023, but this could be changed as we are yet to see Wizards of the Coast’s response regarding the community’s reaction to the leaked OGL 1.1 document.

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