An Open Letter to Wizards of the Coast Concerning the Leaked OGL 1.1


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.

Sincerely,

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

25 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Wizards of the Coast Concerning the Leaked OGL 1.1

  1. Those who do not remember the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them. Wizards…heed this and please reconsider!

  2. I have been a steadfast player, supporter, and purchaser of D&D since 1988. You lost me when 4e came out, did not like the system but disliked the attempt to restrict creators then. I came back for 5e, but you are on the verge of repeating your past mistake by trying to replace the OGL, how disrespectful to your gaming community. Please reconsider.

  3. I have played D&D since 1976. I still play. I also play other systems based on D&D. Your leaked document is not only an attack on the industry, it is completely against what Gary Gygax would have wished. I support this document against your leaked item, and hope you will reconsider your position.

  4. I’m more of a Traveller player/referee than a DnD player/DM; however, that being said I would like to make a few comments based on my experiences of 18 years in the United States, 18 years in Civil Service, multiples of part time jobs like working in the fast food industry, traveled around the world a few times and actually lived in places like Cornwall, Scotland, and South Korea for a year or more.
    Through these experiences I became keenly aware that people around the world are essentially the same. It’s true their customs, laws, and religious beliefs may be a little strange to us but wouldn’t my customs and beliefs be strange to them. However, there are certain things that all human beings share – the need for shelter, warmth, food & water, clothes, and a sense of safety. In addition to all those things need to belong (family, friends), their children to have a better and more successful life, and probably the most important need of every human being in the world – the need to express themselves in created ways such as art, music, drama, literature, writing, scientist, engineer, doctor, nurse, and this list can go on forever without end.
    It’s important we have such creative and talented people so that our civilization can thrive not degenerate into chaos. This is especially true for role playing games like Dungeon and Dragons. Listed below are three brief points I made in favor of open license and against OGL1.1 from a intellectual, cultural, and creative perspectives.
    First, Wizards of the Cost has at their disposal almost an endless supply of creative artists, writers, and publishers helping ‘Wizards’ get their products out in a timely matter, some of which are living in other parts of the world. If OGL1.1 passes I’m of the opinion that its restrictive nature will cause a “brain drain” similar to what happen in Germany just before the out break of World War 2 and the United Kingdom’s “brain drain” in the mid 1980s. “Brain drain” simply means that an organization or nation is loosing talented and creative people at an exceptional high rate, usually because they were treated unfairly or unjustly by an organization or nation. My wife and I have seen one of these ‘brain drains’ first hand when we were station in Scotland (1984-86). All I can say it is a very hard thing to see and hear a nation’s desperation to keep their scientists, engineering, doctors from leaving their country for better opportunities elsewhere to express their many talents and abilities without suffocating restrictions. It would be wise if Wizards of the Coast avoid such a fate.
    Second, there are some in the military that take their DnD books with them when they go overseas. And many of them are either assigned to a base, a station, or a communications site. And in a few cases these ‘bases’ are located in very isolated parts of the world. So a role playing game like Dungeon and Dragons helps pass away the time and keep their minds sharp and alert.
    Lastly, before Wizards of the Coast makes their final decision they might want to discuss with Marc Miller what lead up to the disbanding of the Game Designers Workshop (GDW) in February, 1996. There may be some similarities they might want to avoid.
    In summary, there are many people around the world that play your games with much satisfaction because it is a creative outlet for them. And I imagine at least a few of them have submitted adventure ideas, artistic drawings and concepts, and several small publishers that put out products in honor of Dungeon and Dragons. You can’t accomplished that unless you’re both intelligent and creative. And those are the kinds of people I look for and associate with because they help me see people and nature in different ways that is mutually beneficial for both of us. And there is usually an exchange of our cultural identities so we can better understand each other.
    Simply put we don’t live ‘in vacuum’ and decisions have consequences. It’s usually a good idea to have counsel with the very people that your (Wizards of the Coast) decisions will directly affect.
    Also, keep in mind that your decision will affect how military personnel and people living in other countries will view your new licensing policies if OGL1.1 becomes a reality.
    Hopefully you will listen to your players and those creative and talented people that helped 5e become a success story – Wizards of the Coast didn’t do it by themselves.
    Learn from past mistakes to avoid in the making of future blunders.

  5. If you’d like to add me to the signatures,
    Anthony Hunter, Owner of Sleeping Griffon Productions

  6. As a player and DM since 1979 and creator of my own content since 1986, and one hoping to publish in 2023, I also strongly support this letter to WotC. Please reconsider the OGL 1.1.

  7. As a player, a dungeonmaster, a gamemaster, a storyteller and a generally creative soul. I urge WotC to reconsider.

  8. As a player and aspiring DM who is currently working on homebrew content for 5e for an upcoming campaign, I fully support this letter to WotC. OGL 1.1 is intolerable, and will serve only to vastly restrict the creative output that makes D&D the vibrant and delightfully complex game that it is.

  9. My gateway into the roleplaying world was Basic D&D in the early 1980s. Since then, I have enjoyed many adventures with many different games…but none of that would have been possible without D&D to open the way. In more recent years, I have enjoyed a gaming renaissance with the onset of 5E (no comment on 3E or 4E, as I never played those editions). The quantity–and quality!–of gaming material out there would simply not be possible without the army of creators enabled by the OGL. I urge Hasbro to reconsider OGL 1.1.

  10. I have been playing and GMing TTRPGs since Pathfinder launched. I played 4e and decided pathfinder was more to my liking. That said, 5e was a much better step and I have been playing and buying items for it since shortly after launch. Wizards had bought a lot of good will from me, and thus had earned my patronage.

    If 1.1 goes through and sinks Paizo, it will not drive me to spend more on OneDnD. I will abandon D&D all together. Your changes will kill systems that have little to do you your game, zap creativity from D20 games, and is earnestly a shot across the bow of players and creators.

    In my opinion, it’s an admission that DnDOne will be bad, exploitative, and hyper-moneitized. You’re attempting to sink anyone that can offer an alternative and prevent a move like Paizo’s with 4e. You want to be the only place for D20 fantasy so you can trap players, many of them *kids* into loot boxes, subscription gatekeeping, and micro transactions. You’ll wring money out of people who have very little, and tell kids who gather around a table with one set of books that their fun isn’t profitable enough for you.

    I will not be supporting Wizards of the Coast in any way, shape or form if 1.1 is the path they choose to take. I’ll take my ball and go home, and find new games to play.

  11. OGL 1.1 will do to D&D and gaming in general everything that the “Satanic Panic” of decades past failed to do

  12. I’ve been a consistent player of the game since 1977; during lunches in middle & high school in whatever teacher’s room was made available, quintessential Saturday night games deep into the morning… Then migrating with the game in the Army – Coast to Coast, overseas- through college… community & friendship with friends, family… I’ve come to appreciate that the game system doesn’t really matter – Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the players in my games are nearly unanimous in their aversion to what Hasbro & WOTC are dishing out, and our choice to leave this game behind feels good, knowing that the “D&D” brand doesn’t matter – we’ll all be playing TTRPG’s happily into the future regardless… On to the next adventure

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