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

Wizards of the Coast Announces OGL 1.2.

We love the game. The OGL fracas is beginning to unravel the #ttrpgcommunity in strange and stressful ways. Some of us would very much like to get back to creating fun monsters to battle and magic items to find. Unfortunately, we can’t because we have all this quasi-legal sludge to muck about in.

Content Creators Cringe. Sorry to say many are NOT convinced.

Wizards of the Coast dropped this little nugget of joy on 1/19: https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/1432-starting-the-ogl-playtest

This message came with a new copy of the OGL 1.2. (*I wish they’d settle on a number.) The new OGL “Playtest” (*Horrible term used with a legal document, in my opinion.) has gotten a lot of negative reactions so far.

As the drama around the OGL continues, more and more content creators are moving toward other games. Pathfinder, the original alternative to D&D is getting lots of positive press. Paizo Inc, creators of Pathfinder are working with other game companies as well as Azora Law to create the Open RPG Creators (ORC) License. #ORCLicense . (*Azora Law was the firm involved in the creation of the original OGL for WotC.)

I’ve read the new OGL 1.2. I’m not thrilled.

There’s tons of coverage about this on YouTube already. I’m not going to get into every detail. Please look into the massive number of opinions on YouTube and Twitter and use your own discernment regarding the issue itself.

The main sticking point for many people, including myself, is the revocation/deauthorization of the OGL 1.0a. That’s not okay. The old license wasn’t broken.

WotC is including a Creative Commons License in regards to some mechanics. That’s great on the surface, but it doesn’t solve ALL of the problems. There are a LOT of things not given over to Creative Commons.

I’m not a lawyer, as with most of the TTRPG Community. OGL 1.2 looks to me like it’s riddled with loopholes. It seems sketchy. Honestly, I don’t trust it or WotC.

I’m also not a Virtual TableTop guy. I wasn’t planning to subscribe to the new D&D VTT because it looks a little too much like Fortnite to me. The only thing I will say, is WotC seems to want to dominate the VTT space in the same way they want to take over the entire TTRPG Industry.

Surveys.

I’m going to be blunt. I think their survey is going to be bullshit. (*Duckies are on vacation. 🦆) Yes, I’m going to fill it out. I have zero faith that any comments on the survey will be read or considered. WotC could literally have upwards of 60,000 comments if the Change.org petition taught us anything. There’s no way in Hell WotC can digest that many comments.

Many people have said it and I’ll say it again. Surveys are a cheap Public Relations tactic used to try to appease angry fans. (*And we’re still angry.) It makes it appear that someone outside of WotC has anything to say about what they’re going to do. Trust me family, as much as I hate it, we really have NO SAY in what WotC is going to do. They simply don’t care. WotC is going to push through their agenda no matter what we say on a survey.

I also have a hunch that the wording of the survey is going to have no room for condescension from or negativity toward the license. If I had to guess, our options are going to be “agree” or “agree more.” WotC wants the fans to tell them what a great job they’re doing. Problem is, WotC sucks out loud and they know it! (My opinion.)

Badges?!?

The new OGL mentions Creator Badges. Using content in the license can be marked by one of three styles of badges depending on what level the badge is issued? Purchased? Agreed upon? Sorry. The whole badge thing seems vague and sketchy to me.

If I had to guess, badges are going to require a bunch of stuff that was originally released in OGL 1.1. So, if you want a creator badge maybe you have to submit your work to WotC for review and/or endorsement. You’ll probably have to sign the license for a badge. You’re probably going to have to pay royalties in agreement to receive a badge. It’s like the bloody blue checkmark on Twitter.

I am eager to read the requirements for Creator Badges. I think it looks like a scam. I think it’s going to open creators up to having their work stolen. There definitely looks to be a lot of squabbles over badges. Seems like a lot of trouble.

It all comes back to the D&D GAME.

The one point that is frequently overlooked in all of the OGL drama is that we all love Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a Role Playing GAME. Legal crap aside, many of us love playing and creating homebrew content for the game. Yes, some creators want to actually sell their homebrew for all to enjoy.

But, can’t we just use DMsGuild.com ? You could, but… Do you really want to trust Wizards of the Coast with your work? Good old DMsGuild is covered by a different animal than the OGL The Community Content Agreement has different terms and conditions than the OGL. You can learn more about how their process works here. Please remember the Community Content Agreement is more readily subject to change.

We love the game. The OGL fracas is beginning to unravel the #ttrpgcommunity in strange and stressful ways. Some of us would very much like to get back to creating fun monsters to battle and magic items to find. Unfortunately, we can’t because we have all this quasi-legal sludge to muck about in.

Please Remember Third Party Creators.

I’ve heard of games being cancelled because of this OGL thing. Hey, keep playing D&D. The game itself isn’t a mess any more or less than it was before. We love D&D, just not the company in charge of its development. When it comes to enjoyment of the game, making characters, hanging with your crew, creating epic tales and rolling dice together- keep going!

I dare say that even the game designers at WotC deserve our respect and admiration. Their Reptilian Overlords at Hasbro and WotC bosses can go kick rocks for all I care. I would love to sit down for coffee with the bosses at WotC and have a nice, long chat. I promise I won’t even cuss in front of Cynthia Williams. They seem like nice people underneath it all.

BUT, please love and support THIRD PARTY CONTENT CREATORS. They’re what all this fuss boils down to. The OGL is the license that grants artists, writers, designers, and editors to do what they do best. The OGL allows third party creators to do what they love and be rewarded with a small amount of money in return. Please show them some love before handing money over to the big, slimy, nasty corporation that is WotC.

Even Paizo, Kobold Press, Troll Lord Games, Frog God Games, the DMsGuild content creators, Monte Cook Games, and others deserve some financial support right now. I love what so many individual authors on DMsGuild and DriveThruRPG are doing right now. With the OGL up in the air, many are wondering if they’re going to make rent in the coming months.

Thanks for stopping by. More on the OGL story and other D&D news as it develops. Please by kind to one another. I know a lot of us fans are getting pretty stressed. I see it in the content creators more every day. Take care of yourself so you can take care of loved ones.

I appreciate you. There is a #ttrpgfamily. We’re all a part of it together. Keep fighting the good fight.

#OpenDnD
#StoptheSub
#DnDBeGone
#ORCLicense
#DnDONE emphasis on “DONE.”

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