Dear Wizards of the Coast,
As small publishers and individual creators who create considerable content under the OGL 1.0a, we the undersigned call upon you to reverse course in regards to the leaked, alleged text of OGL 1.1. As the leader of the tabletop roleplaying game industry, your direction guides us all. We believe that this new version of the OGL will hurt both us and, by extension, you, and we ask that you hear our concerns.
The OGL has created a symbiotic relationship between small publishers and yourself. Thanks to the environment fostered by the OGL, many new and inexperienced authors, editors, artists, and other creative persons start out in the industry working for small publishers before going on to work for larger publishers, with a lucky few moving on to work for you. For over twenty years, Wizards of the Coast has benefitted from the OGL by being able to hire professionals—both freelance and full-time staff—who got their start working for small publishers. For this transfer of talent to continue, the relationship between Wizards of the Coast and other publishers both large and small, must remain beneficial both to us and to you, rather than a one-sided deal in which the powerful lord their might over other players in the industry.
We celebrate what you have accomplished with the Dungeon Masters Guild, which provides mutual benefits both for small creators, who get to work with your rich intellectual property, and for you, who in turn can consider the use of their content and, of course, share in their revenue. Meanwhile, the Open Gaming License allows for system-level congruency, creating a more user-friendly experience than what can be functionally done through existing copyright law, while granting creators more freedom in what they produce in exchange for not working with your Product Identity. Both of these separately help to create a symbiotic relationship between you and small publishers according to the needs of individual publishers that provides you with a growing pool of hireable talent and better access to content to enrich your own products.
However, we do not find the terms of the leaked version of the OGL 1.1 tolerable. We cannot agree to it, and we fully believe that you would not agree to such terms were you in our position. The proposed terms threaten to break the symbiotic relationship between you and us fostered by the OGL 1.0a and platforms like the Dungeon Masters Guild by restricting the freedom small publishers have to work within the industry according to the needs of their business. Even those who agree to the proposed license would live in fear of having potentially years’ worth of work upended by a sudden change in the terms of the agreement, as opposed to the environment of stability provided by the perpetual license of the original OGL. Many small publishers would thus be better served working with other systems with more agreeable licenses or creating systems of their own, which would diminish the pool of talent created by the symbiotic relationship otherwise fostered by the OGL 1.0a.
Furthermore, because your proposed changes to the OGL require waiver of a publisher’s right to sue over your decisions regarding OGL 1.1, small publishers in particular who agree to the new license would be forced to operate under fear of a lawsuit from you without the possibility of raising legitimate grievances with you in court, something already inherently difficult for small publishers due to a lack of resources. This again discourages publishers smaller than yourself from accepting the new license, as the risks inherent in doing so far outweigh any potential benefits to our businesses.
The civil court system is the reason why the United States lacks blood feuds of tribalistic camps. By asking us to give up even the possibility of resolving grievances through that system no matter how long the odds, you are instead requiring us to resolve our grievances in the court of public opinion, encouraging tribalism and division in the gaming community.
Not only is this antithetical to a symbiotic relationship, but it is also un-American. It splits the adventuring party the OGL has cultivated for over twenty years.
We ask that you reconsider the license. We are more than happy to discuss the license in order to reach terms amicable to both small publishers and you—hopefully, terms that will encourage our continued symbiotic relationship.
Dale C. McCoy, Jr, President of Jon Brazer Enterprises, LLC
Jason Nelson, CEO of Legendary Games
Christen N. Sowards, Lost Spheres Publishing
Omer Golan-Joel, Owner, Stellagama Publishing
Keith Davies, Owner, Echelon Game Design
John Watts, President/Owner, Independence Games
Jeff M. Hopper, President/Owner, Studio Cat
John Reyst, Owner, Open Gaming Network & d20pfsrd.com Publishing
Steven Trustrum, Misfit Studios
Paul Elliott, Owner, Zozer Games
Jonathan M. Thompson, Owner/President, Battlefield Press International, LLC
Erik Evjen, Owner, IGRE Publishing
Kevin Glusing, Lead RPG Designer/Partner – Samurai Sheepdog
David Flor, President, Darklight Interactive
David Silver, CEO, Silver Games LLC
Adam Meyers, Owner, Drop Dead Studios LLC
Rob Hoffman, President, Valor Infinity Studios, LLC.
Anthony Hunter, Owner of Sleeping Griffon Productions
JP Chapleau, Owner, First Ones Entertainment (FOE)
Michael McNeill, owner, Production Platform 3 Toys
Pedro Barrenechea, rules developer, Paradigm Concepts LLC
Michael Brown, Freelance writer/designer
Michael Johnson, Freelance writer and designer
Bill Bodden, Freelance writer/designer
Robert N. Emerson, Freelance Designer and Developer
Robert W. Thomson, Freelance Writer/Designer and Owner/GM of Marching Order, LLC
George E. Williams, IV aka Loki, Freelance Writer/Designer
Michael ‘Azmyth’ Azzolino – Freelance writer/designer | Professional Game Master
Alyssa Faden, Cartographer