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The OGL, D&D, and My Next Project
If you haven't seen the hubbub, WotC is becoming a cyberpunk megacorp, and it may ruin D&D for everyone. (Plus, a free preview of my next project!)
First off, if you haven’t seen Linda Codega’s excellent report on Hasbro/WotC and the open-gaming license, you should check it out here:
The thread is great and explains a lot, and the article of course goes into more specifics.
Such as the mention of blockchain and NFTs and microtransactions. Which is exactly what we all want from D&D, right? RIGHT?
The really brief TL;DR of the thing is that WotC and Hasbro are going to release a new document that outlines how D&D third-party publishers (3PP) can release their work.
It’s predatory in almost every way, from 25% royalties on crowdfunding campaigns to access to all of their products to do with as they see fit (even IP-protected and owned ones). Sheesh.
The interesting thing to think about is that the agreement is very similar to what’s already done at DMs Guild. But you know that going in on DMs Guild, and you balance that by having a single marketplace where people know you can get “official” third-party content.
So it’s generally fine for people like me. But there’s a reason most major 3PP don’t use it as their primary marketplace.
Also, you have to register each and every D&D creation with WotC for approval, even if it’s a dumb-ass parody subclass like my College of EMOtion bard.
But with the OGL updates, it means that things from the FATE roleplaying system to Pathfinder to Kobold Press’s Midgard setting are all up for grabs for WotC to do what they want and take a cut.
Because they added in an “if you modify the old OGL content, you’re automatically using the new one” clause.
A cut is fine, but actual royalties for just a license aren’t generally 25% of your annual revenue (over 750k at least).
There’s a lot more, but you can check out Linda’s article for full details.
I’m Pissed Off
For me so far, my work has been in the DMs Guild, so I’ve been leashed in with anything I create anyway. That’s been fine by me because I don’t make my living at it, and I like having the marketplace. But…ugh.
I have been wanting to branch out, work on additional and longer-form content, and I wanted to do it with 5e rules. My Dragon Quest FM partner and I are working on a JRPG-themed 5e world. Well, we were. Now…who knows what it’ll be.
But it sure af isn’t going to be D&D, 5e or OneD&D, either one.
TBH, nothing I write is going to be D&D anymore after this. Because this is a major breach of trust from the licensor to licensee, and if cyberpunk has taught me anything, once a megacorp starts down this road, there’s no turning back.
Caveat: I may continue to write my holiday stuff as D&D on DMs Guild because those products and characters are already locked into that ecosystem. So the Claus for Concern 2 Christmas book I have planned, as well as anything else for Halloween using Fizzbang Frazzlepop is going to be there—because of the strict licensing that already exists makes it so they have to be.
Speaking of Cyberpunk…
I am currently working on a cyberpunk fantasy setting/game that is tentatively called Permanent Midnight. I have no idea what system it’s going to land in fully, but it’s currently in a pre-alpha draft as CY_BORG. You can download the proof-of-concept draft here, or by clicking the image).
It’s going to be a fantasy world where the technology has advanced to cyberpunk levels, cyberspace is a plane that’s breaching into the analog world, and instead of megacorporations, there are megaguilds controlling things and the monarchies are just puppets.
I think it’s going to be awesome. Especially because it’s not going to be 5e after all this mess.
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Anyway, I just wanted to let you know a little of what was going on, getting my thoughts out there and letting you know my content wasn’t going anywhere, just shifting a bit.
What do you think about the OGL issues? Do you care as a consumer, or are you a creator who’s worried?
As always, this newsletter is possible because of your support, so be sure to click into my DMs Guild content and browse around.