Dear Wizards of the Coast (Part 3)…

Does anyone at Wizards of the Court/Lawyers of the Coast remember the last time so much ill will was shown toward the fans. 4th Edition? Fans and writers being taken to court right and left for Intellectual Property disputes? No, no one at WotC nowadays seems to have any clue. That’s how we got here with OGL 1.1.


I grew up playing D&D, reading Marvel comics, and watching professional wrestling.

Would you like to know how I’d really like to end this dispute? Steel cage match between myself and Chris, the Punchline Writes Itself, Cocks! To quote the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage, “We’re doing this right now. Somebody ring the bell!”

Alas, my kung fu skills and pro wrestling moves will not be put to the test this day. I wasn’t kidding about Chris Cocks. His Hasbro bio is linked here if you don’t believe me. We’re all trying so hard to restrain ourselves from the obvious d🦆ck jokes and other juvenile puns around this man’s last name. Glad he’ll never read this.

If 2022 has taught me anything, it’s the power of Grognard.

Back to the wrestling analogy- “Cocks! I’m gonna be doin this until I’m a hundred and two years old. I ain’t goin anywhere. They’ll have to pry my dice from my cold, wrinkled, old hands. Roll for Initiative!”

Oh, oh crap. Is “initiative” a trademarked term? Is it cool under the System Resource Document? Is WotC’s hit ninja lawyer squad going to charge the ring? <gasp> Oh noes. I might have violated OGL 1.1 in all of its assanine glory and gotten myself thoroughly cancelled. Only I ain’t signed nothin, brother.

See, I’ve been a roleplaying gamer since about 1982. You can take away OGL 1.0. Sure. Great. Whatever. You can enstate some sort of long-winded legal bullsh🦆t. That’s fine. I’ll still find an RPG out there to play and enjoy. It just won’t be D&D. WotC can kiss my butt.

And, sorry to tell you this, Ms Williams and Mr Cocks, but there are thousands of guys just like me out there who will be shouting down your One D&D brand as well. Much of the ttrpg industry WotC is trying to control or squash was propped up on the OGL. Your lifestyle mega brand plans for One D&D are probably going to be pretty weak at the rate you’re going. May as well call it, “D&DOne.”

Someone may have misled you to the delusion that all the D&D fans are somehow the young crowd that the antics of Critical Role brought into the game.

Only problem is, the game of D&D, (the thing the crafters of Open Game License 1.1 seem to have forgotten,) is much older than 5E. I was running D&D when Matt Mercer was still a twinkle in his mommy and daddy’s eyes. Y’all at WotC better figure out real quick that yes, there ARE other editions of the D&D game. Cripes, WotC even sells them over on the OneBookShelf sites. Ya ought to know by now. You should know better by now.

Wizards of the bloody Coast wasn’t even a company when some of of started running D&D games. Yeah, Adkinson got some clout with Magic: the Gathering back when and acquired T$R when it was most vulnerable. I promise you. No matter how much the erroneous fools at WotC think they understand D&D in terms of demographics? They don’t know enough. They don’t know the TTRPG industry.

If D&D goes the way of OGL 1.1? Does WotC have any clue what’s going to happen next? Entire game companies have already stated they have new, non-WotC OGL games in the works. One D&D is going to have so much competition on the market that WotC better pray they sell a lot of D&D t-shirts, because their D&D game is going to be in the dumpster fire faster than 4th Edition.

You want more player money because D&D is “under monetized.”

Yes, we want D&D to make money. 5E was due for an edition change. Okay. We, the fans, understand that WotC employees are people with families to feed, too.

But for God’s sakes, why did WotC have to be so awfully ruthless with OGL 1.1? Did they really foresee wiping out half the industry and putting dozens of independent writers out of business with it? Was that the evil plan all along?

Does anyone at Wizards of the Court/Lawyers of the Coast remember the last time so much ill will was shown toward the fans. 4th Edition? Fans and writers being taken to court right and left for Intellectual Property disputes? No, no one at WotC nowadays seems to have any clue. That’s how we got here with OGL 1.1.

I dare say WotC is going to have to do a LOT of fence mending and spin doctoring to get fan trust or even loyalty back. Even then, a lot of us old guys, the ones who regularly talk about the Old School Renaissance movement, are never going to trust WotC again. (In fairness, they might not have before.) What’cha gonna do, WotC? What’cha gonna do when the OSR runs wild on you?

A regular network of OSR gamers has sprouted up around the OGL 1.0. Yes, many of them have blogs and YouTube channels. One such channel even seems to think they don’t need an OGL and are telling people to keep rolling without it. I wish them well in the future. BUT, the OSR is a strong TTRPG subculture and a force to be reckoned with.

Say what you will about the #OSR movement, they do have some things going in their favor.

WotC should really have done some research before they OGL 1.1 was written. The OSR movement has built some really great D&D style retro clone games. The best part is- many of their games are free downloads or really cheap in print form. OGL 1.0 is the reason the OSR was started in the first place. The OSR will still be distributing a game similar to D&D (without signing any agreement) for FREE for decades to come.

Would WotC like to know the difference between 5E and the OSR? I bet they would know if they ever played the game before 5E. See, a lot of OSR style retroclones are built on the old B/X Moldvay D&D. Oh, WotC doesn’t see editions? Well, wish you’d sure as hell seen that one. Because old school Basic/Expert D&D is far simpler, far easier to grasp, more adaptable, and easier to introduce new players to the game. Y’all kids don’t get it.

I can literally make a Basic style D&D character almost from memory with a few minor exceptions in less than 5 minutes and be ready to play. Try that with 5E. A basic style character takes fraction of the effort to make and can still be just as dramatic.

What’s that, WotC? One D&D characters are going to be all online? Like Fortnite that uses the same Unreal Engine? Hmm. It’s almost like WotC doesn’t understand the TABLETOP part of TTRPG. Wonder if dice are even still going to be part of the character creation process. What about character sheets? Or do we just buy skins like in Fortnite.

Shredding the industry by ruining the OGL and all of the good faith that came with it is just going to cost WotC a bunch of money.

Good luck with the witch hunt to find out who leaked OGL 1.1, btw. They did the industry a favor. They might have done it as a part of a cunning plan at WotC. I’m not sure what cheesing off thousands or even a million fans would do to make more money. Gawrsh, I sure hope Mr Cocks has been briefed on the plan.

Making a smart move look dumb is exactly the kind of thing an evil mastermind might do divert attention from true genius. Or whatever plan WotC had for OGL 1.1 was just plain stupid and evil to begin with. But maybe that’s what an evil genius would have us think? We’ll never know for sure.

WotC is digging a hole so deep with OGL 1.1 that they don’t even realize it yet. All of the tons of OGL 1.0 licensed product is never going away just because we can’t legally produce more. I’m not going to burn all of my dozens of third party 3E and 5E books just because we can’t sell new ones. The older editions of the game aren’t going away just because some new, shiny video game D&D gets released in 2024.

What’s the best that can happen, WotC?

WotC has yet to release an official statement as of yet. There was a Tweet from DnD Beyond that they would be making a statement… super helpful, guys. I’ll have much more to say about the statement by WotC and the OGL 1.1 document itself after I finish reading it and all of its legalese corporatized jargon. RPGs are sometimes like learning a new language. RPG legalese is like learning a dead language in reverse.

Thanks for stopping in. More to come. I can’t believe the last few days have really happened.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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