10 RPG Projects Dramatically Changed By D&D’s Open Game License Drama

10 RPG Projects Dramatically Changed By D&D's Open Game License Drama

The last few weeks have been busy for the tabletop gaming community, particularly the Dungeons & Dragons community, as a result of an announcement made by Wizards of the Coast regarding the Open Gaming License (OGL) last December. In 2016, Wizards of the Coast released Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition under v1.0a of the OGL, allowing third-party developers to modify, copy, and redistribute some of the content and mechanics of the game.

RELATED: 10 Biggest Changes To D&D’s Open Game License

In December 2022, however, Wizards of the Coast teased a few details and conversations surrounding the development of a new OGL v1.1, one that would accompany the release of Dungeons & Dragon’s newest One D&D edition. This new OGL, which was rumored to deauthorize v1.0a and be far more restrictive, triggered an outraged response from the tabletop community, prompting plenty of third-party creators to reevaluate their business relationships with Wizards of the Coast.

10 The “Properties & Provinces” Kickstarter By Dragoncrown Games Is Delayed

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With the announcement and development of Dungeons & Dragon’s new One D&D edition, third-party creators now find themselves in an awkward situation. Developing new content for 5e now risks becoming outdated, depending on the timeframe and reception of One D&D, and Dragoncrown Games, a homebrew publishing company, has even announced a delay to their upcoming Kickstarter as a result.

Dragoncrown Games posted an update to their “Properties & Provinces” project in November, announcing that they would be delaying the Kickstarter over concerns about One D&D’s rules and System Reference Document (SRD). The ongoing drama between Wizards of the Coast and the D&D community will most likely extend their delay even further beyond what the developers originally planned.

9 The “Combat Wheelchair” Is Now Moving To Pathfinder

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Sara Thompson, a freelance TTRPG writer, and publisher, developed the “Combat Wheelchair” for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Her supplementary material added rules and statistics to the game regarding wheelchairs and disability aids for adventurers, specifically for players who sought out representation and inclusion in their tabletop experience.

Amid the OGL drama, however, Thompson announced that she would be moving the “Combat Wheelchair” to Pathfinder 2e, another prominent TTRPG that many outraged D&D fans have considered switching over to in light of recent events. While her original 5e material is still available through her social media, the “Combat Wheelchair” will now likely be developed and updated exclusively for Pathfinder.

8 Ghostfire Gaming’s Future Projects Might No Longer Be For D&D

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Ghostfire Gaming, the developers of “Arora: Age of Desolation” and “Grim Hollow: Valikan Clans,” recently announced on their website that the ongoing drama surrounding the OGL has caused them to make alternate plans for their future developments. While their ongoing Kickstarter will still be released under the v1.0a and 5e rules, any newer projects will be developed with other TTRPGs in mind.

RELATED: 15 Tabletop RPGs That Are Simpler Than D&D

While Ghostfire Gaming has not specified which TTRPG they are going to move forward with, the trajectory of their business has already been altered by Wizards of the Coast’s OGL v1.1. Whether for Pathfinder, Kobold Press’ new Black Flag, or some other TTRPG, Ghostfire Gaming’s future works are now likely to deviate from their longstanding loyalty to D&D.

7 The Rook & The Raven Withdrew All Licensing Negotiations With WOTC

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While The Rook & The Raven has historically developed mostly system-agnostic material, such as notebooks and system kits for various TTRPGs, some of their content has included D&D-specific formatting and structure. The company has been careful to avoid using any terminology or language that would make use of any of Wizards of the Coast’s intellectual property, so nearly all of its inventory remains unaffected by any changes to the OGL.

The Rook & The Raven have, however, announced that they are withdrawing all licensing negotiations with Wizards of the Coast as a result of the OGL drama. Any future projects or potential developments that would have been made through a partnership with WOTC no longer exist amid this development.

6 Paizo’s Alternative ORC License Is Now In Development

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One of the biggest and boldest concepts to emerge amid the OGL drama is the development of the Open RPG Creative License (ORC) by Paizo, the publishers of TTRPGs like Pathfinder and Starfinder. Paizo publicly announced their frustrations with Wizards of the Coast, and confirmed that they — alongside several other independent publishers — would be developing the ORC as a system-neutral alternative to the OGL.

Unlike the rumors surrounding the OGL v1.1, which suggests that the OGL can be “deauthorized,” the ORC is meant to be perpetual and irrevocable, according to Paizo. While Paizo themselves do not own the rights to the ORC, they and their partners are funding the legal work to develop a satisfactory draft.

5 Chaosium Is Now A Part Of The ORC Initiative

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While the publishers supporting the ORC license are growing by the day, there were a handful announced at the initial stages of Paizo’s conversation. Chaosium, the publishing company behind TTRPGs like Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon, and 7th Sea, is one of the biggest and most notable supporters of the new license.

While Chaosium has actually not used the WOTC OGL in their developments, they’ve announced their concerns with the ongoing OGL v1.1 conversation and see ORC as a worthwhile investment. This likely means that their future developments and publications will be under the new ORC license, as opposed to the original and independent license they developed in 2020.

4 Green Ronin Is Also An Early Supporter Of The ORC License

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Another third-party publishing company to support the ORC initiative is Green Ronin, the developers behind TTRPs such as Fantasy AGE and Modern AGE. Green Ronin have also written and published sourcebooks and supplementary material for games like Pathfinder and fifth edition, as well as developed cooperative card games like Sentinels of Earth Prime.

RELATED: 10 Best Homebrew Sourcebooks For D&D Campaigns

Green Ronin’s support of the ORC was documented alongside Paizo’s initial announcement of the license’s development, making them one of the founding publishing companies to vocalize support. Their future projects, including their TTRPGs and card games, will likely utilize the ORC as well.

3 Legendary Games Supports The ORC With Its Supplementary Content

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The independent publishers at Legendary Games have announced their support of the ORC alongside Paizo’s initial announcement, which will likely change the trajectory of their future developments and inventory. Legendary Games are known for their supplementary content, sourcebooks, and guides for Pathfinder, Starfinder, and fifth edition.

While Legendary Games’ existing business approach already avoids using any of WOTC’s intellectual property, their future publications might be more focused on Pathfinder and Starfinder instead of fifth edition or One D&D. Now that One D&D is likely to operate under the new OGL v1.1 or v1.2, Legendary Games and other third party publishers will have a harder time avoiding legal overlap with WOTC in future projects.

2 Roll20’s ORC Support Will Likely Affect VTT Platforms

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Roll20, one of the internet’s leading Virtual Tabletop (VTT) platforms, was recently listed by Paizo as a supporter of the ORC in their growing community of independent publishers. Roll20 has maintained a longstanding relationship with WOTC, selling and utilizing licensed material to support online players. This announcement, while still in its initial and undefined stages, will likely change the trajectory of VTTs as a whole.

While Roll20 still currently hosts WOTC and fifth edition content on its site, its public support of the ORC license will likely affect its relationship with WOTC and D&D in the future. Roll20 also hosts content for Pathfinder, Starfinder, Vampire: The Masquerade, and other TTRPGs, many of which have also vocalized support of the ORC license.

1 Kobold Press Is Now Developing Project Black Flag

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Of the third-party publishers to be affected by the OGL drama, Kobold Press is one of the most notable. They have historically been one of the most popular and dedicated creators of independent RPG content, specifically for Pathfinder and fifth edition, and are famous for their “Midguard Campaign Setting” and supplementary adventures.

In response to WOTC’s discussion of a new OGL, Kobold Press not only announced their support of Paizo and the ORC, but revealed the development of a new fantasy ruleset codenamed ProjectBlack Flag. This project is ongoing, open, subscription-free, and will be published under the new ORC license after its playtesting stage.

NEXT: 10 Best Fantasy TTRPGs (That Aren’t D&D)


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