TTRPG Conspiracies Part 2.

WotC’s image is hurting right now. Their Public Relations people know it. Hasbro’s stock drop showed it. #StoptheSub , #DnDBeGone have proven devastatingly effective. WotC needs a big, shiny, smiling win if they want One D&D and it’s overpriced Unreal Engine microtransactions to survive in 2024. It’s just my theory, but what better way than with the crew that brought so many people into the game? Then again, WotC does seem pretty oblivious to the fans these days…

The other Matt Mercer Effect.

Anyone who knows anything about Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition knows the awesome power of Critical Role and Dungeon Master, Matt Mercer. This Actual Play broadcast has brought thousands, maybe closer to a million new players into the D&D game for the first time. Kudos to Matt and his merry cast of voice actors. Love it.

Now, I am guilty of talking trash about Matt Mercer and the effect he is commonly associated with. I have nothing personal against Matt. (We share a birthday oddly enough.) The original Matt Mercer Effect is the notion that new DMs struggle to run a game that compares to Critical Role. New DMs don’t necessarily have a huge repertoire of accents, voices, NPCs, game knowledge, etc the same way Matt Mercer does.

Make no mistake- Matt Mercer is awesome at what he does both in-game and in real life. Aside from being a top notch DM, creating a lush campaign world, developing his own D&D content, starting his own company, and running a world renowned Actual Play, Matt Mercer is a major onboarding engine for the D&D 5E game. That is the other Matt Mercer Effect. He is a magnet for new D&D players.

I admire Matt Mercer and Critical Role.

As I discussed yesterday, many of us in the TTRPG hobby would love to work for a game company and make real money doing what we love. Matt Mercer is definitely living the dream. I admire that. He gets to write, create, and enjoy D&D on a regular basis. We should all be so lucky.

Arguably, Matt and Critical Role would not be where they are today without the Open Game License 1.0a and accompanying System Reference Document from Wizards of the Coast. There are more than one D&D 5E sourcebooks based on Critical Role. Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount is a Wizards of the Coast D&D Sourcebook. Likewise, Call of the Netherdeep is a WotC sourcebook.

Here’s where the river of profits parts ways, maybe?

Tal’dorei Reborn, set in Mercer’s Exandria, is an OGL sourcebook, meaning it will be affected in all of the OGL drama that is currently gripping the community. WotC was even a sponsor of Critical Role up until Q3 of 2022. I have not found anything indicating a continued relationship between WotC and Critical Role at this time. I minimum presume Non Disclosure and Non Disparagement Agreements are still in place for Critical Role cast and crew. Such agreements are usually binding for many years. (I’m NOT a lawyer, but it’s my personal experience.)

Critical Role put out a statement in regards to the OGL debacle and the massive fan outrage at WotC. #DnDBeGone and former spokesperson Ginny Di led to a mass cancellation of D&D Beyond subscriptions. D&D Beyond was once the sponsor of Critical Role before everything started changing hands. Wizards of the Coast was the sponsor of Critical Role Season 3.

This is Critical Role’s stance on the OGL debacle. c/0 Twitter.

And now the Tinfoil Hat Society convenes.

Bear in mind I don’t know anyone inside WotC or Critical Role. Everything I say from here on out is speculation and/or conjecture. Please use your own discernment while I attempt to connect the dots.

Critical Role’s statement about the OGL was very neutral as one would expect from people behind NDAs. The language around supporting creators leans toward the fans. The language about diversity, etc leans toward OGL 1.2 a bit more. It’s hard to read, as it should be. Critical Role is trying to make nice with everybody right now. Yay money, right?

Everyone keeps asking if Critical Role is going to abandon D&D either as a result of the OGL turmoil or the (pending) release of One D&D. I think Critical Role is going to back WotC and the new digital platform to the hilt. Wizards of the Coast absolutely needs Matt Mercer and crew almost as much as Critical Role needs a huge corporate sponsor.

Wizards needs a miracle right now if they want to save D&D.

While it is true that Critical Role started out as a Pathfinder Actual Play, the show really caught on as D&D 5E. IF/F WotC wants to pull themselves out of the muck, they’re going to need something like Matt Mercer and/or Critical Role. The show is pretty much a massive endorsement for whatever game they’re playing. There’s no real denying it.

WotC’s image is hurting right now. Their Public Relations people know it. Hasbro’s stock drop showed it. #StoptheSub , #DnDBeGone have proven devastatingly effective. WotC needs a big, shiny, smiling win if they want One D&D and it’s overpriced Unreal Engine microtransactions to survive in 2024. What better way than with the crew that brought so many people into the game? Then again, WotC does seem pretty oblivious to the fans these days…

A LOT of things happened behind NDAs with the OGL 1.1 scandal.

I don’t want to paint Matt Mercer and Co in a bad light. I low key hope I’m wrong about all of this. I’m by no means trying to side with WotC on anything. But I’m looking at this whole situation and thinking, “What would I do if I were WotC?”

We know WotC approached several key content creators and told them what was going on, presumably with OGL 1.1, and asked them to sign NDAs in return for the information. Some went along with it. Others did not. Some of the creators that agreed are obviously still keeping quiet or even still quietly cheerleading for WotC. (Hey, I wouldn’t want to lose my gig being a DM in a castle, either. “Look at Dragonlance. Ain’t it cool?”)

We also know from Kickstarter coming forward after the NDA expired that WotC offered some sweetheart deals or negotiated better terms with some than others. Kinda scummy on WotC’s part, but not unexpected given the circumstances.

What if- Just WHAT IF WotC offered Critical Role one of those sweetheart deals? WotC is a big corporate sponsor offering a better percentage on royalties than they’re willing to give the little guys. All CR had to do was sign the deal with the proverbial devil.

Critical Role was already on board from 5E. Again, not saying anything bad about the CR crew or Matt Mercer. They’re running a business. What would be best for business? Signing on the dotted line or chancing it with some other game knowing full well everything OGL- including Tal’Dorei Reborn- was going to be under fire with the next license agreement? Think about it. What’s safest and most profitable for everyone?

The “new” news.

Obviously the Critical Role cast and crew can’t really come out in favor of another game unless they didn’t sign a deal with WotC or all deals were voided when WotC backed off OGL 1.1 in favor of the OGL 1.2 draft. We won’t know anything until either CR breaks their silence or One D&D goes live sometime in 2024. My guess is CR stayed with Wizards of the Coast.

However, Linda Codega has hinted at a big news drop sometime on 1/24 probably involving the OGL debacle. An interview with Matt Mercer or someone from Critical Role. Could this be the case?

Could CR have signed with WotC and kept it non-exclusive? I’d want to keep my options open in case being WotC’s poster child and veritable pariah in the #TTRPGCommunity didn’t work out. Maybe explore other game systems and back other companies until the company and the cast could get out from under the Reptilian Overlords at Hasbro. We’ve recently learned of Hasbro Initiative 2.0 or some such nonsense where the smelly megacorp is dumping some of their lower producing branches.

I hate to say it, but I guess we’ll see what happens. I wish Matt Mercer and Critical Role all the success in the world. It’s good to see one of us ttrpg nerds hit the big time.

Hey, I could be wrong about everything. It’s just a hypothesis, subject to testing. I’m just a small time blogger with a nose for TTRPGs and kooky conspiracies. Thanks for stopping by. More on this as things develop.

The Length and Breadth of OGL 1.0a

I know I’m just a simple guy with a blog. I still dream big dreams of writing that award-winning, best selling RPG adventure module, new sourcebook, or a campaign. I want to make a little money to help my family out and maybe invest in more gaming books. Honestly, I’d settle for some street cred amongst my fellow game fans and a bit of side cash.

I was recently reminded how many games rely on this thing.

I’m a TableTop RolePlaying Game nut from wayyy back. I live for TTRPGs these days. Ever since becoming unemployed, they’re one of the handful of things that keep me sane. The recent Dungeons & Dragons Open Game License flap with Wizards of the Coast has me pretty concerned about the future of my hobby.

TTRPGs have really been more than a hobby to me ever since I ran my first D&D game at the age of 10. My friends didn’t want to be Dungeon Master, so they taught me the game and then basically turned it over to me. It just kinda stuck. I was hopelessly and irreversibly hooked. Not in a negative way. I mean, there were way worse things I could have gotten hooked on.

Decades have gone by. Editions of D&D have gone by. I’m still up to my eyeballs in game books both in print and pdf. When the OGL scandal broke, I took stock of just how many 3.5 and 5E books I rely on. Turns out, quite a few.

The fantasy outside of the fantasy.

I’d be willing to bet money a lot of aspiring DMs/GMs probably dreamed of working for T$R back in the old days. (*The good, original T$R with Gygax and Co, not that other new thing we have nowadays.) Seriously, a lot of my heroes were RPG designers back then.

Many of the original T$R crew have moved onto greener pastures. Rest in Peace. But many of the second and third generation T$R guys are still going strong. Unfortunately, some of them passed from the golden embrace of T$R into the hands of Wizards of the Coast, but they’ve since gone onto great things. Sadly, most of the old school crew no longer works for WotC, and it really shows.

It used to be pretty tough to break into the industry as a writer. I’ve talked about this in previous articles. It was kinda the wild west when it came to RPG design. You either knew somebody and got in with an established company or created your own game/publication and hoped to survive. There was not a ton of cash in the industry then. It was more about (nerd) prestige.

Times have changed since the 80s and 90s. The Open Game License from Wizards of the Coast changed everything about the industry and the hobby, too. Entire game companies sprouted out of the OGL back in the day. Many of them are still around in one form or another. The industry went from “Tough break, kid,” to “Look what I made with the OGL, Ma!”

Anything from an entire genre-spanning RPG to a single D&D adventure could be created quick and dirty and thrown up on one of the various distribution sites for a pretty reasonable percentage, even for free. People started making enough to buy more gaming books just by producing their own character sheets and such. Talk about a great time to be in the hobby!

The stuff I want to be creating and for whom.

Pathfinder 2E. and/or Dungeon Crawl Classics. were top of my list. What’s Old is… would be fun, too. I also love ICONS from Ad Infinitum. (*I’m a big Steve Kenson fan.) Index Card RPG is great. D&D 5E or one of its many derivatives. (No link needed.)

I could literally name companies and/or games all day that I would go to work for tomorrow if they were hiring. Probably not WotC because I hear their management is awful and the employees are miserable. Of the games I listed, Pathfinder and DCC grew out of the OGL.

Why is that a problem? If the OGL gets deauthorized as WotC is incessantly pushing for it, there won’t likely be a free flow of content from any former OGL products or companies. I’m not even honestly sure how much I trust third party product distributors such and DriveThruRPG or even DMsGuild.com any more. It’s not that I have issues with OneBookShelf specifically, but the ability to keep producing D&D OGL 1.0a content might become severely limited in the very near future.

Genuine concern for what lies ahead.

I truly fear for Paizo Inc, Goodman Games, Troll Lord Games (Frog God and Necromancer games included) and even Old School Renaissance companies such as Necrotic Gnome. This is not a good time to have a 5E book or even a retroclone of D&D in the works. Sure, we can still probably print the old stuff, and that’s great. (*WotC has sort of assured us the old stuff will remained untouched for now.)

But what happens when Paizo goes to put out a Pathfinder 2E sourcebook after OGL 1.2 (or whatever they’re calling it today) takes effect? Companies could suddenly find themselves in court with Lawyers of the Coast in a big Intellectual Property dispute. No one wants that, except maybe Hasbro.

The panic created by this OGL mess alone has been enough to cause a downturn in the #TTRPGIndustry. Suddenly massive hoards of product has gone on sale by third party publishers to get what they still can while the OGL is still intact. Meanwhile, other projects are being scrapped or revised to include non-WotC OGL systems. It’s sad because a lot of freelance writers and artists are out of a job. With no money coming in, it’s hard to support a hobby or pay rent on time.

The McCorporate stooges at WotC just don’t get it.

They’re already done some serious damage to the industry with the leak of OGL 1.1 the legal abomination. Now the #TTPRGCommunity is squabbling amongst itself in places over information leaks and who’s telling the truth. Personally, I think it’s all intentional. I think it’s part of WotC’s plan to take over the industry and squash their competition completely.

They don’t see the OSR movement. They don’t see other TTRPGs that aren’t D&D. It’s rumored that one of the WotC/D&D execs has never played the game. He thinks it’s a MMORPG computer game or something. (*Sad.) They don’t see people at other companies or independent writers just trying to get by. I have doubts as to whether or not WotC execs ever dreamed of being anything beyond money-grubbing corporate weasels.

The WotC execs also don’t see all of the third party companies in the industry and the families that depend on their income. WotC execs don’t have to wonder if their next paycheck will come or how much it will be. They don’t see the drop or panic in third party sales. The fans do, but when has that ever mattered to Hasbro/WotC honchos?

Rumor has it that WotC employees are straight-up miserable, especially at the lower tiered echelons. Opinions are solicited, but honesty is not welcomed from the lower ranks. Even some mid-upper level people are allegedly scared to speak up about the OGL or any of the One D&D stuff. Some employees have even agreed that management can be draconian and thoughtless at WotC.

Who’d want to work like that unless nothing else was available? Imagine landing a dream job working for WotC making D&D a reality? Only to find out that it’s just as miserable or more so than working for McDonald’s? It’s bleak.

Maybe the instability was all part of the plan.

Yes, the Tinfoil Hat Society has arrived at the party. Again we see a fine line between absolute intentional genius Machiavellian planning or utter blunt stupidity. I’m banking on the genius side, myself. Hasbro/WotC execs are a lot of things, but stupid ain’t usually one of them. I might not like or agree with them, but I do low key respect most of them.

The other problem that I keep coming back to the OGL on is the WotC rumor mill. $30 subscription tiers to their new Unreal Engine Virtual “Table Top?” Not impossible. Even if the rumor was false, WotC could just as easily circle back around and jack up the price later. All they want to do is drain our wallets. I don’t even think the product matters in some cases.

I think the ground above Mr Gygax’s grave is getting warm from all the spinning beneath it. All of us dreamers are living the disappointment that comes with the OGL controversy and TTRPG market instability. Some people are abandoning their Actual Plays, YouTube careers, and even campaigns over this OGL nonsense. It makes me sad to see fans going from this hobby. But, a certain Wizards of the Coast exec allegedly wants an all-digital platform because he sees D&D as a video game.

If WotC thought the canceled D&D Beyond subscriptions were bad, wait til they see what happens to the new Honor Among Thieves movie. There’s already a boycott movement going for the movie. There are already boycotts going on Hasbro products. It’s going to get worse before it gets… somewhere? (*I can’t say “better.”)

Here’s where I sit.

I know I’m just a simple guy with a blog. I still dream big dreams of writing that award-winning, best selling RPG adventure module, new sourcebook, or a campaign. I want to make a little money to help my family out and maybe invest in more gaming books. Honestly, I’d settle for some street cred amongst my fellow game fans and a bit of side cash.

I feel pain for people announcing 5E projects right now. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Yes, better now than when WotC ruins the OGL, but what happens if the D&D fan base dries up due to all the McShenanigans going on inside WotC? What happens to the companies that once relied on the OGL as their primary means? Obviously small companies aren’t going to want to hire freelancers right now. That just leaves the other option.

Not gonna lie. It feels like 1996 all over again. The best option for doing much of anything in the TTRPG industry is going to revolve around independent efforts published on my own. I intend to find a workable OGL from another company or work with some sort of core rules tied to a Creative Commons License. The only major difference now is the pdf market makes things a little easier.

#OpenDnD

#DnDBeGone

#StoptheSub

#DnDONE (Emphasis on “DONE.”)

#BoycottHonorAmongThieves

#BoycottHasbro

Thanks for stopping by. You really are part of my #ttrpgfamily if you’re here reading this. Game on. Keep gaming. Things are changing. Let’s stick together no matter what.

Partial Retraction from January 18th.

I messed up. Turns out the alleged leak about WotC not reading surveys was at least partially false.. I ran with it. It looked credible at the time. Sorry for the confusion.

All three sources of this alleged WotC leak have deleted their Twitter posts regarding its veracity.

Before I say anything else, please be nice to at @DnD_Shorts @itsginnydi and @nerdimmersion . They mean well. They’re good YouTubers. They’ve been embroiled in the Open Game License mess from early on. We wouldn’t be where we are now without them.

The following statement was more or less proven false:

The statement was given to DnD_Shorts but was later proven false.

I want to reiterate I have no ill will toward any of these three YouTubers. They got this information from what they believed to be a credible source. I figured all three people couldn’t have gotten it wrong. Surely someone would have spoken up sooner, right?

I screwed up. This statement has been retracted by all three from Twitter. I apologize for any confusion or misunderstandings it may have caused.

There’s a “however” coming.

However, I still stand by the notion that these surveys are little more than a public relations tactic aimed at smoothing over the ruffled feathers of the community and little else. That is my opinion from years of Journalism and Public Relations classes.

The January 18th statement from Wizards of the Coast Executive of D&D, Kyle Brink was, in fact, a somewhat cleverly done PR event. They are trying desperately to get the public back on good footing with WotC and One D&D.

I also believe the One D&D surveys are a waste of time. They might look at the data to make sure everyone agrees with them, but I highly doubt anyone takes the comments into consideration.

I think whatever the higher-ups and WotC and Hasbro have planned are going to go through no matter what the fans say. Remember, fans are just “obstacles between WotC and their money.” I seriously doubt anyone is going to read thousands of comments, most of them negative.

WotC will listen to all of the praise and adoration of their “true” fans. The fans that tell them what a great job they’re doing with the OGL will go right to the top of survey comments and get noticed. The rest? Not so much. In short, I think WotC could give a rip less about the rest of us.

Sorry I posted misleading information. Thank you for keeping me honest. Have a great day.

Wizards of the Coast Finally Spoke.

We’re not just gamers. We’re people. There is no ill will toward the writers, artists, editors, designers, people who answer the phones or any other regular non-management staff member at WotC. We do not wish physical violence on anyone. Ever. Period!
WotC, please learn to respect us.

We’re talking, of course, about the Open Game License 2.0.

After being hounded on Twitter, Facebook, by phone calls, and emails over the course of eight days, WotC issued a statement on what used to be the popular D&D Beyond website. DDB was a strange choice for this release given hundreds, maybe thousands of fans recently canceled their subscriptions following news of the OGL 1.1 leak. Well known D&D spokesperson Ginny Di loudly canceled her subscription to the TTRPG mega site in protest of the new OGL’s treatment of third party content creators.

#OpenDnD
#DnDBegone
#StoptheSub
#OpenRPG

The TableTop RolePlaying Game community was not screwing around. In addition to the massive outcry against WotC and the OGL 1.1, several game companies have broken off and are working to create their own Open RPG Creators License or #ORC License for short. (Clever acronym given the Tolkien-esque nature of the hobby.)

What WotC said will NEVER be mistaken for a proper apology.

Fans have reacted. I have a lot to say about it myself. You know what’s even worse? WotC has already started revising the statement while it’s live on the DDB site. Next week, it might look completely different.

I’ve got a larger article planned where I discuss the whole response one piece at a time. For now, I’ll just say it was somewhere on the spectrum between slimy and terrible.

Screenshot 4 hours after the statement was released.

For now, I’m just going to say it looks like they tried. I’m not saying they did a good job, but they sorta tried. I’m going to let it soak in for a day or two before I really get into the meat and bones of this statement and what it means to me as a writer/designer/Dungeon Master/Player. There has also been another info leak to key content creators that I’ll touch on later.

The responses to this WotC statement on the DDB site and Twitter were overwhelmingly negative. Some very well known content creators for D&D on YouTube, various artists, writers, and fans all put WotC and the above statement on blast. Some of it was a little toxic. Most of it was honest and on point. For once the community really did function as such in complete outrage over the disrespect shown by WotC today.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. “You’re right. We got caught in with our hands in the cookie jar. Forgive us.” was the sentiment WotC presented, only more arrogant and completely showing a lack of empathy. They’re about to find out that the OGL 1.0A was a big deal to the #ttrpgcommunity and #ttrpgindustry. They literally put the lives of others at stake just to squeeze a pile of money out of their competitors. It was not cool. Never will be.

There is no beef with WotC employees.

We’re only interested at shouting at the people in charge. The average cubicle inmate has never been nor should ever be the target of insults, humiliation and scorn. We’re saving all the truly toxic negativity for the higher ups that proposed and enacted this OGL nightmare.

To be super clear- There is no ill will toward the writers, artists, editors, designers, people who answer the phones or any other regular non-management staff member at WotC. We do not wish physical violence on anyone. Ever. Period!

The slimy higher ups at WotC have a lot of learning, healing and fence-mending to do. Again, I wish them no physical ill will. I will honestly say I’m pretty mad at the higher ups at WotC and fck Hasbro. The corporate McShenanigans need to stop so we can get back to making good TTRPGs again.

We, as a united #ttrpgcommunity are not going to forget what happened today or the OGL 1.1 as it was presented. We’re going to examine every word in whatever OGL 2.0 document that is presented. Ain’t none of us signing anything, so I hope WotC is smart about leaving that sht out of the document. And I speak for a lot of people who would normally not come together for any reason when I say we’ll never stop fighting this until OGL 1.0A is upheld OR something similar is put in place so we can still enjoy our shared TTRPG experience.

We’re not just gamers. We’re people. WotC, please learn to respect us.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I have a lot more on this topic coming up. We aren’t done with any of these issues by a dmn sight. I’m not giving up. I’m not going anywhere. Keep fighting the good fight. #OpenDnD.

Dear Wizards of the Coast (Part 4)…

Look, I got no love for corporations. I was fired from a Fortune 500 company over a year and a half ago. Big, nasty, unfeeling, uncaring corporations can burn in a hole for all I really care. BUT- I never begrudge anyone the right to earn a living no matter who they work for!

Some visuals to help jar your memory, WotC.

You see these books? Each and every one of them published by an independent third party publisher. Each one of them has artists, writers, layout designers, editors and printers that worked hard to make someone’s dream come to fruition. Please- @Hasbro, Please- @Wizards_DnD Stop and consider carefully what you want to do with the Open Game License 1.0 before you release 1.1.

Kobold, Frog God, Necromancer Games, Dren Publications and various DMsGuild authors.

#OpenDnD isn’t just some cute hashtag we came up with for social media. It’s an attempt to keep people’s’ jobs, PLEASE. If you (WotC) eliminate OGL 1.0 hundreds of people will lose their livelihood! Do you care at all???

Large and small publishers alike owe their livelihood to OGL 1.0A.

Say what you would like about some of the companies depicted here, but their hard working, creatively talented minds build all of this from D&D. In most cases for 5E. You know, that game you (WotC) are replacing with this abomination that is rapidly becoming One D&D. Yeah…

I understand you’re a big, weasely, slimy corporation under an even bigger, slimier corporation, Hasbro. But did you ever consider that even though they’re competition, these businesses you’re wanting to squash actually employ people?!?

Look, I got no love for corporations. I was fired from a Fortune 500 company over a year and a half ago. Big, nasty, unfeeling, uncaring corporations can burn in a hole for all I really care. BUT- I never begrudge anyone the right to earn a living no matter who they work for! Always take care of your family.

Fateforge, the three blue hardcovers and the big box in the photo were created by Studio Agate. They’re a French company. Powered by the OGL 1.0A license. Do you know how much work they put into Fateforge? AND- Jim Searcy of Studio Agate is a big supporter of other RPG and miniatures wargames on Kickstarter. Do you (WotC) really think these people are going to want to sign your unreasonable OGL 1.1 agreement?!?

Here’s another example of a company the OGL 1.1 is going to royally screw over:

Pathfinder Second Edition by Paizo, Inc

I get that the shortsighted goofballs at WotC/Hasbro don’t remember they’re the company ultimately responsible for the creation of Pathfinder. Paizo grew out of OGL 1.0. They give Dungeons & Dragons a run for its money every day. They’re not perfect, but they’re an amazing game company that employs a lot of people in the RPG industry. Do you, WotC/Hasbro, really want to put this many people out of a job with your McCorporate greed?

Are you going to hire anyone after they lose their jobs because of this OGL 1.1 bullsht? Has any of the massive outcry from the #RPGCommunity on social media reached your high tower of McCorporate stupidity??? Do you realize that WotC is going to be “under monetized” as all Hell because the OGL 1.1 can literally DESTROY the ENTIRE RPG INDUSTRY by cancelling the OGL 1.0A?

A bunch of former D&D players are going to be out of jobs. Word will spread like wildfire of all of the layoffs and unemployment caused when entire game companies shut down because of the very toxic chain reaction caused by OGL 1.1.

These aren’t just pretty words on a screen or a piece of paper. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. These aren’t just individuals- there are entire families affected by this OGL 1.1 document! How do you sit in your corner office at WotC HQ and not realize this stuff?

People are already upset, and OGL 1.1 isn’t live yet.

Troll Lord Games is just one company in a near-blind panic over OGL 1.1.

Companies all over the #TTRPG Industry are already bailing on 5E.

Congratulations, WotC. You win. Companies are dumping 5E products at a discount just to get rid of them. They know that if OGL 1.1 invalidates the prior OGL that their product will be worth less than the paper it’s printed on.

Even if OGL 1.1 doesn’t go live, which is looking doubtful right now, WotC has lost a lot of the D&D fan base and countless sales because of the ill will in the industry. Did you (WotC) stop and consider the absolute PR nightmare this thing was going to cause. Are you (WotC) that oblivious?

You could probably set me up with free D&D books for life and I’d tell you where you can stuff em at this point, WotC. Throw in free movie tickets? That’ll be a good laugh when I stay home. I dare say nothing you (WotC) could possibly do will silence me from continuing to shove this issue in your cute little corporate faces until things are fixed. #OpenDnD .

Someone convinced OneBookShelf to take this down from DriveThruRPG.com

The Fck WotC Bundle from Frog God Games was an interesting and somewhat funny take on the whole situation. I wonder how well it sold. I find it interesting that anyone in their right mind is still buying OGL product for 5E or any other aspect of the D20 game.

At this point, I dunno if I’ll ever buy anything made by HASBRO ever again. I’m even looking at Renegade Studios games sideways. That’s a damn shame because I loved Power Rangers RPG. I came into 2023 wanting to create (free) adventures for Transformers and GI Joe here on my site. WotC ruined that good will. I’ll actively encourage people to boycott WotC, Renegade, and all Hasbro products if OGL 1.1 comes to fruition. Think about all that revenue the bad word of mouth advertising is going to cost Hasbro.

I was writing free content for an OGL 1.0A game, Dungeon Crawl Classics. Yet another company: Goodman Games, that will probably fold under the weight of OGL 1.1. I can’t stress enough how this legal maneuvering and ill will from WotC is destroying the community of people I care about. People who work hard to create lots of fun games. Remember fun?

Please take note of the highlighted passage.

Frog God/Necromancer Games are serious about this. It’s gonna get ugly real fast in the TTRPG Industry if the OGL 1.1 ever goes live. Stuff’s already getting real, not just with this company, but many of the larger companies around the industry. WotC might not have to worry about OGL 1.0 properties any more, but all new game with its own truly Open License might be coming. Let that sink in, WotC. You’ve (WotC) already made things worse for yourselves.

This isn’t even me in truly rebellious mode.

You don’t want to meet that guy. I’m just getting warmed up. WotC needs to get their collective McCorporate heads out of their fuzzy little butts and squash the OGL 1.1. Every day they delay action or faff about trying to smooth ruffled feathers in the community without doing anything is another day more companies jump ship from D&D and WotC in general. I wonder how bad Hasbro is going to freak out if this D&D ill will spills over into Magic: the Gathering sales.

This is a good place to leave the discussion for now. I’ll be back tomorrow, of course. #OpenDnD isn’t going away. The fans aren’t going to just let this go. WotC is literally destroying and industry they helped build and started a war with a big chunk of D&D fandom. It ain’t over yet.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Lots more to discuss on this topic, if you can believe that. I appreciate everyone who stops by. Please, tell friends.

Dear Wizards of the Coast…

Not that you care. Not that anyone @Wizards_DnD reads this or anything else the fans are trying desperately to tell you. Out of curiosity, do you think Hasbro is going to be okay with their stock prices plummeting steadily until 2024 when you bring the abomination that is One D&D out to a hostile fan crowd? Your “lifestyle brand” won’t mean sht if the game itself dies.

A letter almost as “Open” as the Open Game License 1.1.

Dear Wizards,

First off, let me just beg you, please don’t sue me. Thank you. Not appearing in court any time soon is high on my bucket list.

Second, let’s chat a bit about this tragedy called OGL 1.1. See, you might not realize the gravity of what you’re doing to fans, players, and content creators. Oh, not to mention you’re offending the heck out of Dungeon Masters. Some of us depend on third party OGL content for livelihood. Others like that content as consumers.

When you don’t put out enough quality content in a given year to keep us all interested, we like to pick up third party OGL content. As a DM, I particularly enjoy monster supplements. The new OGL 1.1 will have provisions crafted into it that will simply cause a lot of third party creators to simply vanish. As much as you hate competition, you’ll also be killing the game of Dungeons & Dragons. Not to mention causing even more unemployment.

See, I know it’ll sound crazy, but some of the third party content creators are big enough to employ one or more artists, editors, and additional designers. I understand corporate giants like Hasbro do this, but smaller companies don’t tie their employees up in endless meetings that only result in a more mediocre product. The OGL forces licensees out of business because they can’t afford the royalties you’re asking or just plain wipe them out using completely unreasonable legal terms or conditions. Hence more unemployment.

Not that you care. Not that anyone @Wizards_DnD reads this or anything else the fans are trying desperately to tell you. Out of curiosity, do you think Hasbro is going to be okay with their stock prices plummeting steadily until 2024 when you bring the abomination that is One D&D out to a hostile fan crowd? Your “lifestyle brand” won’t mean sht if the game itself dies.

But the fans love Wizards of the Coast, right?

After the shenanigans with the OGL? No. NO, the fans do not love you. You’ve single handedly managed to unite separate parts of the D&D fan base into one giant mob with pitchforks and torches. See, some of us have family and friends who are content creators and you’re royally screwing them over. Needless to say we think the terms and conditions in the OGL 1.1 are ridiculous and unacceptable.

You say you’re “under monetized.” You want more money from players. Did you stop to consider what the DMs think of this plan? Clearly no.

See, we don’t just spend time fixing all the mechanical errors and filling massive gaps left by your overpaid staff designers. Some DMs like to collect third party content. Some DMs like to produce third party content because the pittance we make covers the new content we consume. Don’t tell me you hate that plan, too?

Right now, the message we fans are getting is pretty clear. You are asking us, players, DMs, and content creators, to basically hand you free material to publish. I understand you want to squash the competition like Microsoft or Hasbro would, but it’s clear you have no actual clue what you’re doing in the TableTop RPG industry.

I’m just getting started. I’m mad. I’m not going away. I won’t be silenced.

More on this topic tomorrow. Thanks for reading all you non-WotC family. I find this topic of the OGL quite upsetting.

To D&D or Not To D&D?

So, here’s the decision many derivative IP creators are faced with now- keep producing 5E compatible game content OR switch to another game entirely for upcoming releases. Personally, I’m okay running 5E D&D and compatible games, but when I finally get a product ready to roll out? It’s not going to be 5E. Plenty of other game companies have their own OGL and SRD for their core systems.

Aye, there’s the rub. Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of the OGL battles, or break for other game systems. That is the question today.

It’s been an eventful week in TableTop RolePlaying Game news. We went from talking about Wizards of the Coast’s claims of being “under monetized” to the raging debate that continues over the Open Game License. The TTRPG industry seems paltry compared to what is happening in the real world, but I don’t have the time or inclination to cover all of that here.

What I am here to cover is TTRPG issues that affect the hobby and its participants. Personally, I’ve had my own beef with the #OSR crowd and their respective gatekeepers. If the Old School Renaissance/Revival/ Renewal/ Regeneration/Re-whatever-this-week is the only alternative to regular current edition Dungeons & Dragons? I’d rather sit quietly in the corner and roll dice while mumbling to myself. Yes, there are other fantasy TTRPGs, but we’ll get into that further in.

I think D&D 5E RPG designers are headed for a crossroads.

The Open Game License and System Resource Document in the D&D 3.0/3.5 days and again in 5E opened the door to a massive flood of games powered by the D&D rules. With the announcement of the OGL 1.1 this may be coming to a screeching halt. The spin doctors at WotC think they’ve soothed everyone’s jangled nerves at the prospect of revoking the OGL. They seem to think their announcement here fixed things in the community. I think they’re delusional.

There are a couple of key points WotC is carefully avoiding in their rhetoric. They seem to be avoiding commenting on DMsGuild.com in all their various proclamations. They don’t seem to be saying much about their plans for One D&D nearly as much as 5E. But, according to earlier releases, One D&D is supposed to be 100% retro compatible. I really get the impression the spin doctors are avoiding further panic over what is looking more and more like an exclusive VTT platform and WotC-only web sales.

Yeah, you’ll still be able to make all the 5E content you want for commercial sales. WotC assumes we all believe 5E and One D&D are going to be practically the same even though so far they really haven’t been. They’re trying to smooth over ruffled feathers in 2022 before the uproar in 2024 hits. One D&D is already looking like a whole new world from where we are now.

So, here’s the decision many derivative IP creators are faced with now- keep producing 5E compatible game content OR switch to another game entirely for upcoming releases. Personally, I’m okay running 5E D&D and compatible games, but when I finally get a product ready to roll out? It’s not going to be 5E. Plenty of other game companies have their own OGL and SRD for their core systems.

The negative side of where this could end for the D&D OGL.

Not to be a total Debbie Downer, but we’ve seen WotC pull this maneuver before. Fourth Ed D&D abruptly closed the door to third party licensing. There really was no OGL for 4th Ed. Wizards of the Coast earned the nickname “Lawyers of the Coast” and aggressively clamped down on anyone that even remotely appeared to be squatting on their IP. Thus Pathfinder 1E was born.

While WotC was litigiously pursuing anyone trying to make 4E content without permission, Paizo Publishing was doing their own, beautiful thing with the D&D 3rd Ed OGL. For a while Pathfinder even surpassed D&D in sales. Fans still emphatically recommend Pathfinder any time someone complains about D&D.

If WotC wants to make the OGL not-so-open by slapping down all kinds of terms and conditions: that’s on them. It’s going to be their loss. I dare say a lot of creators are going to bail. They can have their big, funky lifestyle brand D&D that had better include egg on their faces.

What if Critical Role had been exclusively a Pathfinder actual play podcast? Would D&D 5E be where it is now? I have doubts.

Hasbro is going to probably change their tune real quick when it comes to WotC if they start spending more on lawyers & litigation chasing down IP violations. Remember, Renegade Studios is Hasbro property, too. What if- WHAT IF Renegade had to take over a failing, scaled-down D&D brand? What if One D&D was reduced to a frail shell of their Unreal Engine Virtual TableTop and a very basic boxed set game. Renegade is pro at making board games.

I think WotC had best watch their step when tinkering with the OGL. Yes, they said a lot of things in that article. But I’m still skeptical that they’re not going to get squirrely with the whole thing. Again, history is not on their side when it comes to reigning in the IP. If we’re looking at another situation similar to 4th Ed. Woe is them if the fan base bails out to another game or just sticks strictly to playing 5E.

I currently steadfastly refuse to recommend any #OSR games. The subculture that has hatched amongst a lot of the OSR guys is more than slightly toxic. It’s been made clear that the OSR doesn’t really want the new crowd of 5E players around. New ideas apparently scare them. Let them play Moldvay B/X in their mom’s basement just like the old days.

It’s not as “Open” as it looks, either.

About the time I see that we have to sign, register, and display badges on our products, that strikes me as more of a limited licensing agreement. I’m not a lawyer. I could easily be reading it wrong.

Having to report your revenue to WotC? Having to tell WotC what you’re selling? Registration website? Now we’re jumping through a lot of hoops for a supposedly open license. I wonder if we’re going to see another era of Lawyers of the Coast or Wizards of the Court. Time will tell.

Onward and upward, I guess.

I want to get back to writing games. I want to keep creating whether it’s the kind of generic, system agnostic stuff I’ve been doing, Dungeon Crawl Classics, or another set of game mechanics entirely is another matter. I want to get back to asking, “What’s the best that can happen?” It’s fair to note that I don’t actually consider DCC to be part of the #OSR as many of the pundits have likewise proclaimed.

I’ve also got some more Monster of the Week content on the horizon. I’m contemplating bringing Power Rangers RPG back into my lineup. I’ve also wanted to tinker with Transformers RPG, GI Joe, and SCP. (*No, not any kind of mashup with SCP other than MotW.)

In terms of fantasy RPG alternatives, my first recommendation is Pathfinder 2E. I’m pretty invested in that game and I think it’s high time to give it a chance. The only beef I have with Paizo and Pathfinder as a creator is being bound to “generic fantasy” or their world of Golarion which I’m not always 100% keen on. It’s okay, but it ain’t great.

I’m also considering building a Cypher or Cortex RPG fantasy setting. FATE is not out of the question. Open Legend RPG is another good system to build a game in as well. Again, these are all (mostly) licensable games that will allow creators to make quality RPG content for their game system without too much hassle.

Personally, I’m also still working out details on my own space/sci-fi/mecha RPG. More on that as it develops, but it’s not fantasy related. It’s a new system that I’m slowly creating. I may also work out a fantasy game IF the rules are right for it. No idea what I’m calling any of it yet. LOL!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that things turn out better than predicted with the new One D&D. However, I’m going to continue to do my own thing regardless. Keep on gaming.

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