January 19th, Interrupted.

The last month or so has been tumultuous because of happenings in the TableTop RolePlaying Game industry. It’s a mess that I am drawn to because I’m very passionate about my hobby. But life goes on outside of the TTRPG world. I’d love to talk about other issues, but the #TTRPGIndustry has been in my purview for 4 decades.


Normally this is when I celebrate Freedom Day.

The last month or so has been tumultuous because of happenings in the TableTop RolePlaying Game industry. It’s a mess that I am drawn to because I’m very passionate about my hobby. But life goes on outside of the TTRPG world. I’ll touch briefly on a few things in this life update.

One of the very disturbing things with this whole Wizards of the Coast Open Game License crisis is the number of their employees that have apparently been terminated at their Dungeons & Dragons branch for giving an honest opinion when asked for one. That’s pretty despicable. Turns out I know a guy who was once canned from a McCorporate job for doing something similar. It royally sucks.

Fast life updates.

My kids are currently home from school. Since Winter Break they have been out of school more than they have been in it. Professional Development days for teachers have taken up several of these days off. There was also an incident where all of the school’s servers had to be shut down due to an incident with a hacker. Followed by MLK day and more Professional Development.

You may have noticed some menu items have vanished from my site recently. New and different content is on the way. The rate at which people and businesses come in and fall out of my life varies from day to day.

My SSDI hearing date is finally set. I’m more than a little anxious about it. That money would really help my family right now. My wife is doing the best she can, but turns out a teacher’s salary in Iowa doesn’t really keep a family of 6 afloat indefinitely. If SSDI doesn’t work out, things are gonna get real bleak around here.

You may have noticed the cute little ducky emoji in some of my recent articles. I decided to start dropping the cute little ducky into the middle of certain words in an effort to keep things more PG-13-ish. I know some will say I should just keep using harsh language as I have in the past. I prefer to think of this as editing out the word with a quack. I borrowed this idea from YouTube animator/gamer/content creator Dingo Doodles and others who use the quack to cover various four or five letter words.

This is interesting times for my favorite industry.

[Update: The OGL story is moving faster than I can keep up with it. Please be patient. Full breakdown of WotC and OGL 1.2 coming soon.]

I’ll talk more about this tomorrow, and probably the rest of the week. I’m someone who would like to work as a freelancer in the TTRPG industry or possibly start my own company. This is a horrible time to freelance in that industry because Wizards of the Coast and parent company Hasbro decided to tamper with a 20+ year old OGL that has been sustaining the industry.

The TTRPG hobby/industry is not all about D&D contrary to what some might have you believe. A lot of companies and freelancers bank on that OGL protecting them from lawsuits so they can make 5E content or derivative content without fear of being sued out of existence by WotC and their crack team of ninja hit lawyers. “Lawyers of the Coast/Wizards of the Court” chased down a lot of Intellectual Property infringement cases back in the 4th Edition days and even before that.

The OGL flap centers around the deauthorization or abolishment of what used to be an “Open” Game License meaning game mechanics and terms were okay to use as outlined in the official System Reference Document. This means one can create their own game or derivative based on it as long as one doesn’t use certain copyrighted terms owned by Wizards of the Coast. Everything else is fair game as long as a copy of the OGL is attached and those pesky WotC-owned terms are avoided completely.

This ranges from copying and pasting the entire SRD into a document as a base for an entire game to just using one or two terms in a specific manner such as “ability scores” or “Armor Class.” Back many years ago the Supreme Court of the United States made it illegal to copyright game terms. One can’t simply go and copyright chess or checkers, for example. But with the OGL and subsequent SRD in place since 2000, game designers and writers have come up with all sorts of games, sourcebooks and articles based on it.

It doesn’t have to be a fantasy game, either. I have plenty of OGL Wild West, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Sci-fi and Horror supplements. D20 Modern from WotC operates under the OGL as well. Entire companies has sprouted up around the OGL. Goodman Games, makers of Dungeon Crawl Classics and Paizo Inc, who created Pathfinder are just two examples of such companies. For those who follow this site, I was making DCC content for free with Goodman’s blessing. I was getting ready to use Pathfinder for #Dungeon23. Not any more, unfortunately.

That’s what happened to literally every company that runs off of the OGL last week. Projects were scrapped or put on hold. Freelance writers and artists were put on hold or not contacted. Layoffs and/or firings from smaller game companies are expected. I suspect a lot of writers are going to move onto greener pastures as a result. Maybe that’s what WotC intended all along?

GRR! Why can’t we have nice things, WotC?

Hope springs eternal, but doesn’t pay the rent.

“Hope” is one of those words Law of Attraction experts say never to use. Basically, it’s already there in an LoA Universe. We don’t have to “hope” because we know it’s coming. Don’t hope, intend for things to happen. But I’m using “hope” here because I’m making some points about what the TTRPG industry is facing.

We hope Hasbro/WotC don’t put up an OGL that deauthorizes the old OGL 1.0A. No OGL that is truly “Open” includes paying royalties, declaring profits, and signing contracts. We hope we can scramble around and get another TTRPG built and get it on Kickstarter, Patreon, or DriveThruRPG soon. We hope Paizo’s #ORCLicense gets put in place fast enough to save some of our work.

We hope WotC does the merciful thing and leaves OGL 1.0A exactly the way it was. There’s still a minute chance? No?

We intend to have an industry that thrives, but alas WotC and their Hasbro Reptilian overlords are hindering it. The horrible fact is that indie companies, artists, and writers are panicking big time. “Hope we can pay the rent next month” is more of what they’re thinking. YouTubers, artists, and writers alike have quit their regular day jobs to make D&D content under the OGL. A lot of us might be updating resumes and dusting off that interview clothing to go back to a “regular” job (which royally sucks.)

As a side note, why is a company that made a BILLION dollars last year worried about the next largest competing company that maybe pulled in four or five million? Hasbro, are you really that desperate to crush businesses that should not even appear on your radar? What kind of sick weirdo gets their jollies off seeing small companies and individuals suffer as a result of ill-conceived notions? I mean, who does that?

What does it mean for me?

I’m a little thtuck here.

I’m a prospective freelance writer. I’d be good at it assuming I could get over my social anxiety and depression long enough to accomplish something. But if companies were nervous about hiring before, they’re downright skittish now. My only other hope is to grind out my own game on my own system, come up with art, and pray that it sells.

This is a good time to be a blogger, however. We’re not going to stop pounding out determined article after another denouncing the heads of WotC and Hasbro for what they did and what they’re doing. Every leak, every time one of their flaws is exposed, we will cover it.

I’m part of a movement that will save jobs, the game of D&D perhaps, and the industry as a whole. It’s rumored that Hasbro and even WotC execs think the fans are an obstacle between them and more money. Those execs have no idea the kind of obstacles we can put up if their attitudes don’t visibly improve.

That’s where we are now.

That’s all I’ve got for today. It breaks my heart to see others suffer. I hate the fact that people I care about, a game that I once enjoyed, and an entire industry that I loved is falling apart at the seams because one corporation had to try to monopolize it. One nasty, awful, stinking, lousy corporation literally holds all the cards.

Thanks for stopping by. We’ll persevere. We always do. Keep believing in a benevolent Universe and a brighter future. Game on.

#StoptheSub
#DnDBeGone
#OpenDnD
#DnDONE

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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