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D&D responds to community comments with new licensing terms

Official art from the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing game featuring a group of adventurers battling a great red dragon in a dungeon.
The new OGL 1.2 is subject to community feedback, known as playtesting, which will be addressed on or before February 17. | Image: Wizards of the Coast

In a Announcement on the DnD Beyond website, D&D executive producer Kyle Brink introduced OGL 1.2, the latest version of the Dungeons and Dragons Open Gaming license. Brink emphasized that this version of the license does not contain any of the ownership, royalty and revenue reporting requirements found in the more restrictive OGL 1.1 that leaked last week.

Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) — the Hasbro-owned publisher of Dungeons & Dragons — has released the new version ahead of the self-imposed deadline from Friday 20 January. Unlike the previously leaked draft, OGL 1.2 will be subject to community feedback known as “playtesting” in the tabletop gaming community.

One of the biggest concerns for the D&D community is that the new license was intended to replace the original OGL 1.0a and could be retroactively applied to all content and products published under the license.

WOTC now explicitly says that older content is not affected by the new OGL 1.2. “Nothing will affect content you’ve already published under OGL 1.0a,” said Brink. “That will always be licensed under OGL 1.0a. Your stuff is your stuff.” In the announcement, Brink said the original OGL is being revoked to allow WOTC to exercise its protective options against publishing harmful, discriminatory or illegal content covered by OGL 1.2. “We want an inclusive, safe gaming experience for everyone,” said Brink. “This is very important to us, and OGL 1.0a didn’t give us any way to guarantee it.”

Kyle Brink’s summary of the new D&D Open Game License 1.2:

Virtual Tabletop Policy: We will continue to support VTT use for both OGL makers and VTT operators. The Virtual Tabletop policy describes this.

Ownership Disputes: You own your content. You don’t give Wizards back any licenses, and for any ownership disputes, you can sue for breach of contract and monetary damages (instead of holding products that other players wait for while we sort it out).

No Hateful Content or Behavior: If you add harmful, discriminatory, or illegal content (or engage in such behavior publicly), we may terminate your OGL 1.2 license to our content.

Creator Product Badge: You have the option to add a badge to your OGL works. Once we receive your feedback on the badge, we’ll create a guide on how to use and display it.

In addition to introducing OGL 1.2, WOTC also revealed that the core game mechanics for D&D will be under a Creative Commons license. It’s a move that’s likely to win back some favor with the D&D community. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization dedicated to overcoming “legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity”, and will manage the basic rules and mechanisms of D&D, taking it out of WOTC’s control for good.

“We give the core D&D mechanics to the community through a Creative Commons license, which means they are completely in your hands,” said Brink. “If you want to use typical D&D content from the SRD, such as Owl Bears and Magic Missiles, OGL 1.2 grants you a perpetual, irrevocable license to do so.”

The transparency of these updates will follow a more sincere apology published by Brink earlier this week, after some D&D fans found out WOTC’s initial apology for the leaked OGL 1.1 a bit disingenuous. Addressing the concerns of the wider TTRPG (tabletop role-playing game) community, Brink said, “Our language and requirements in the draft OGL were disruptive to creators and did not support our core goals of protecting and cultivating a inclusive play environment and limiting the OGL to TTRPGs, then we made things worse by being quiet for too long.” Brink added: “We are hurting fans and creators, when more frequent and clear communication could have prevented so much of this.”

The blog post announcement that OGL 1.2 will be updated sometime later today with a link where fans and players can provide feedback on the design. The feedback survey will remain open until February 3, and WOTC will address any feedback or updates before February 17. “The process will take as long as it takes,” says Brink. “We’ll keep iterating and getting your feedback until we get it right.”

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