Designer Diary: OGL 1.1

If you have not come across this ‘situation’ if has different ramifications depending on if you are a creator, actual or aspiring, or gamer.

The OGL that we have all been using is a perpetual license which does not mean that it can never go away. What that means is that there is no end date baked into the agreement.

If WotC deauthorize or somehow revoke the license you cannot just keep on using the old/existing one because you cannot have an agreement with something that the other party disagrees with.

What builds up to is that you cannot just ignore OGL 1.1 and carry on using OGL 1.0a, however much we would like to. The only way that can happen is if a judge tells WotC or Hasbro that they cannot deauthorize or revoke OGL 1.0a. And that means it would have to reach court. There is a very good chance that WotC/Hasbro has the more expensive lawyers.

The parts of OGL 1.1 that most disturb me are the requirements for me to get WotC permission for each new thing that I want to create under the OGL. The transfer of ownership from me to them of my intellectual property, and how they can force me to stop selling my work at just 30 days’ notice.

I am spending this week removing the OGL from my game system 3Deep. It never had any WotC content in it anyway. I used the OGL just to encourage anyone to take 3Deep and expand it, write adventures for it, or do whatever they wanted with it.

I am now adding a non-OGL license to get the same effect.

If you are a gamer, the biggest impact you are going to see if the OGL 1.1. goes ahead is a massive drop in the amount of D&D material being produced. You may see Critical Role move to either Pathfinder (where it started) or to a 5e clone system.

My big gripe is how this is being treated as a 5e issue. The OGL goes far beyond D&D. Just as Deep used the OGL, so did later versions of Traveler/Cepheus System and many others.

It is worth following what happens as the predicted publication date for OGL 1.1 is this week.

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