OGL 1.2 reactions

The following is my entry for the main free entry text block at the beginning of the OGL 1.2 “playtest” survey. As such, the second person “you” is WotC. Note that one function of the “playtest” is to kill the momentum of backlash to WotC. If we all publicly post our feedback, that will keep the issue salient, which it needs to remain since I am highly skeptical they’ll get the survey results and say “the people have spoken, we are reissuing the OGL 1.0a and adding the word ‘irrevocable.”

Good: Creative Commons for abstract game mechanics. You couldn’t copyright that stuff anyway, but it is good to make it clear that you agree and remove any uncertainty about creators having to defend against frivolous litigation over mechanics.

Good: Clarifies that material published under 1.0a does not need to be pulped. You probably have to concede this under contract law but, again, it’s good to see you agree and remove any uncertainty.

Good: No royalties, reporting, etc

Bad: OGL 1.2 deauthorizes the OGL 1.0a for SRDs already released under it. This is a breach of trust with the community and contradicts the universally understood intent of OGL 1.0a. If you want to only release OpenDND under a restrictive license like OGL 1.2 or GSL, that is your right, but no backsies on SRD 3.5 or SRD 5.1 (and also, no damage to various 3rd party SRDs unrelated to D&D but using OGL 1.0a).

Bad: the joint and class action clause will make it hard for the community to defend its rights if you act in bad faith

Bad: the severability clause gives you the right to unilaterally revise the OGL any time you lose a case.

Bad: The morals clause. For the community, the discretionary power claimed in the clause would only work given trust, which has been broken by the OGL fiasco. It is also a bad idea for Wizards as it will draw you in to adjudicating every culture wars dispute involving third party content, with the result that everyone on the losing side of a dispute will blame you. Think about the Spelljammer fiasco, do you want that every month for third party splatbooks? A morals clause would be essential for branded content hosted on DM’s Guild, but for OGL content, you want Schelling’s credible commitment to be able to say “sorry, that’s not up to us, under the OGL we don’t have the power to do anything about that.”

Bad: In the blog post that promised 1.2, you stated podcasts are allowed under fan content. However fan content only protects free podcasts and so neither fan content nor OGL 1.2 explicitly protect content like Patreon subscriber only episodes. Such episodes are probably legal under fair use, but the license should remove uncertainty on the matter. If I were creating actual plays for a living, I would be scared about getting sued for reading the occasional passage from PHB.

Overall this draft is an improvement over the leaked version but is still unacceptable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Comments (



%d bloggers like this: