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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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Wizards of the Coast DnD debacle

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16 Jan 2023 14:17 #337865 by dysjunct

Msample wrote: I think you mean WotC gets $ from CR.


No, CR is receiving money from WOTC. WOTC sponsors the show. Sometimes (but not always) their sponsorship is directed, e.g. having CR plug D&D Beyond.

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16 Jan 2023 14:35 #337867 by dysjunct

Ah_Pook wrote:


I am pretty skeptical of this take. In the past two decades since the OGL release, non-d20 systems have absolutely exploded. There's thousands just on itch.io alone. Larger players such as Free League and Modiphius routinely win industry awards, rake in millions on Kickstarter, and top sales lists at IGN and DriveThru. Medium- and small-players still have enough of a market presence to support multiple full-time staff; e.g. Magpie Games set an all-time Kickstarter record for the Avatar RPG, which does not use d20 or the OGL.

The tweet also conflates (a) the Open Gaming License with (b) d20 games that use the System Reference Document to establish compatibility with D&D. There are many OGL games that don't use the SRD. They use the OGL to allow community members to create and publish content without having to work out individual licenses with each person. Monte Cook Games is a prominent one; they use an in-house system but release it under the OGL. Although, with this recent debacle, Cook is now looking for a different license that more clearly protects the rights of small creators.

So if WOTC's goal in 2000 was to create an environment where they have a near monopoly, then I think they've clearly failed. D&D is a lot bigger than it was back then, but so are all other RPGs. My own experience is that I've never had any issues recruiting players for non-D&D games. D&D is an excellent game if you want a crunchy system and high fantasy adventure. The further away you move from that, the worse it gets. No amount of licensing or legal shenanigans is going to change that.

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16 Jan 2023 17:22 - 16 Jan 2023 17:22 #337874 by Shellhead
Saw this excellent post in a friend's Facebook feed, from veteran rpg writer/non-D&D player John Wick. No, not that John Wick.

"Dear D&D Gamers,

I am not a fan of your game. It's no secret. It just doesn't scratch my RPG itch.
However, I am a fan of YOU.

You meet on a regular basis, chat with your friends, roll dice, tell stories, speak in funny voices, and love the hobby. You buy books, you bring new players into the hobby and buy their first set of dice for them (it's a tradition!), you talk about games, you think about games, and maybe, sometimes, even try games that aren't D&D.

I consider you part of my tribe. If you show up, I give you hospitality because we're all in this together.

So, when I hear you're distressed about your favorite game, I feel it, too. Forget all the politics and money and the rest of that crap. You feel your favorite game is in trouble. My favorite game was in trouble for a little while, and so, I understand.

But, I'd like to tell you a secret. A secret of Deep Magic.
You don't need the OGL to play D&D.

You can re-write the Players Handbook in your own words, use the exact same system, buy art, get someone to do the layout, send it off to Drivethrurpg and offer it in both print and PDF format. Because nobody can copyright your favorite RPG.

Can they copyright "drow?" Yes.
Can they copyright "illithid?" Sure.
Can they copyright "beholder?" Yep.

But here is the DEEP MAGIC my friend. Listen carefully.
All of this is made up.

Gygax turned "hobbit" into halfling. Do you love halflings less? No, you do not. He also took Jack Vance's magic system and made it his own. He took Elric's Law vs Chaos. His first game did not have thieves, but you take one look at the Grey Mouser and you can see exactly where they came from. (Yes, I know someone else came up with the thief. I'm a roll and can't get sidetracked.)

You can turn "drow" into "ytholae".
You can turn "illithid" into "cthului."
You can turn "beholder" into "dire watcher."
You can do that. Nobody is stopping you.

The fact of the matter is: nobody can copyright your favorite game. Because while someone else came up with the rules, YOU come up with the world. Your players and their characters, the NPCs, the stories, the forests and dungeons they explore... YOU made all that up. It is yours. It will ALWAYS be yours.

And if you're afraid of losing the rules... don't. You can write up your own version of the rules, play them with your friends, and if you like what you come up with, you can print them up and sell them.
That's what Gygax did. That's what Ken St. Andre did (Tunnels and Trolls). That's what Mark Miller did (Traveller). That's what Greg Stafford and Steve Perrin did (Runequest). That's what Mike Pondsmith did (Cyberpunk). That's what Robin Laws did, that's what Ken Hite did, that's what Lee Gold did, that's what Emily Care Boss did, that's what Lisa Smedman did, that's what Liz Danforth did, that's what Jess Hartley did, that's what Danielle Lauzon did... and yeah, that's even what I did.

Your game is safe because it is in your own head. You know how to play it. You have the books, your notes, your dice, your friends and your imagination. Nobody can take that from you.
Not even an 800 lb gorilla in Providence, RI."
Last edit: 16 Jan 2023 17:22 by Shellhead.
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16 Jan 2023 17:54 #337875 by n815e
That’s an amazing sentiment.

But most people won’t do it, nor will they be interested in joining someone who does.

I have a friend that plays only Warhammer and won’t touch another game. It’s not because he loves the game so much, or the way the company treats customers or any of that. It’s because it’s the most popular; he can pop into a store and find opponents (he never really does this); he can go online and find people to chat with about it; he can have some sort of gaming identity by collecting and playing a game that others do and have a common topic of interest in. With most other games, that isn’t as possible.
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16 Jan 2023 22:09 #337877 by Gary Sax
Understanding coordination games (like Bach or Stravinsky at its simplest form en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_sexes_(game_theory) ) gives you profound insight into why a number of things are the way they are; this is a Bach or Stravinsky coordination problem. And Wizards of the Coast knows it.

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17 Jan 2023 09:39 #337882 by jason10mm

Shellhead wrote: Saw this excellent post in a friend's Facebook feed, from veteran rpg writer/non-D&D player John Wick. No, not that John Wick.


I just wanna say that if this "John Wick the RPG gamer" person isn't a HUGE proponent of that 80's Phoenix Command hyper realistic "a turn is a tenth of a second and bullet speed matters" RPG then it is a crying shame :P

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17 Jan 2023 10:06 #337883 by dysjunct
This John Wick designed Legend of the Five Rings (both the RPG and the CCG), 7th Sea (both RPG and CCG) and a slew of other games.

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17 Jan 2023 13:57 #337888 by Sagrilarus

n815e wrote: But most people won’t do it, nor will they be interested in joining someone who does.


Sure they will. I am proof.

Short of a "sanctioned event" (a really impressive display of doublespeak in the first place) you can do whatever you want including using the original IP without permission. Maybe you can't post it on the Internet to make money without modifications first, but that's really easy and affects maybe 0.1% of all players.

What are they gonna do? Get a subpoena for your weekly Zoom call? Raid your basement on game night? Find locals and play. The good shit on the Internet is the stuff that is NOT canon.
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20 Jan 2023 12:50 - 20 Jan 2023 13:34 #337932 by ubarose
My understanding is that the objection was over the following terms:

  1. 25% royalty on revenue from any OGL creator earning above $750,000 per year in sales
  2. The right for WotC to use any content created under the license for any purpose
  3. A ban on virtual tabletop simulators

Realistically, these terms do not impact someone creating for their own use.

At first glance, #1 doesn't seem unreasonable, until you notice that is $750,000 in sales. There are a several popular creators/publishers who do $750,000+ in sales, but don't realize 25%+ in profit. To stay in business, they would have to raise their prices by 25%.

#2 means you don't own your work. WotC could conceivably republish it whole cloth and not pay you a penny. WotC did try to clarify that this wasn't their intent, but rather that the purpose of this term was to reduce the ridiculous (ridiculous is my word not theirs) number of claims they receive each year that they stole or copyed someone's work. I completely understand their motivation here. They have, like an entire department whose job is to be like, "Dude, don't be fucking absurd."

#3 is an attempt to eliminate all competition with D&D Beyond, which is a major money maker for them. The reason for the objection to this from both players and website owners is obvious.

So this was a bombshell for creators, publishers and websites whose entire business model was based on original OGL which allowed them to print "compatible with DnD" on their product and still retain ownership of their work, and sell it at a competitive price.

For players it would have meant a combination of price hikes on some 3rd party materials, fewer 3rd party products being created for DnD, and fewer choices for online play.

Fortunately, WotC back peddled on these 3 terms. My understanding is that they were highly motivated to eliminate these 3 onerous terms by the significant financial hit they took from folks cancelling their subscriptions to D&D Beyond. So consumer activism does have an impact. This activism may have been sparked in some by a misunderstanding as to the impact of the new OGL on their personal ability to create their own materials...but, whatever. It got the job done.
Last edit: 20 Jan 2023 13:34 by ubarose.

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25 Jan 2023 03:40 #337993 by thegiantbrain
That's pretty much it. The other thing that set the cat among the pigeons, and still is, was the term in the new OGL that deauthorised the OGL 1.0a. Although the license exists in 'perpetuity' that doesn't actually mean it will always be around in legalese, it just means it doesn't have an end date. A lot of folk were worried they would have to sign up to the new OGL to keep creating DnD compatible content.

That seems to have changed a bit with recent announcements and especially the change from wizards that the core rules will be under a creative commons license. We covered this on the most recent Brainwaves that will be up on here soon. We had interviews with Linda Codega who broke the story and a local publisher who is affected by the changes.
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27 Jan 2023 16:12 #338087 by dysjunct
WOTC relents:

www.dndbeyond.com/posts/1439-ogl-1-0a-creative-commons

They have released the 5e SRD under Creative Commons, with attribution only. (You credit WOTC but are allowed to make commercial use of your product, and are not required to put your derivative work under any particular license.)

I believe it was Churchill who said “Wizards of the Coast will do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.”

Although I am too much of a cynic to believe that this was anything other than the bare minimum WOTC thought was necessary to stave off a full-scale revolt.
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