top of page

My Statement: “Open” Games License 2.0

Fucking bastards.


Money-hungry fuckwits, penny-pinching, grubby, soulless, shit for brains with no regard for people's hard work, passion, and love for the game.


To be absolutely clear, this is not a direct attack on any of the amazing, lovely, and hard-working writers, designers, artists, or any other general employees over at Wizards that have spent their lives creating something wonderful instead this is directed at whoever came up with this disaster, or greenlit/pushed this new “Restricted Licence”.


As of writing this, Wizards of the Coast has still not said a single official word regarding the leaked 1.1 OGL (now re-branded to 2.0). I initially thought that releasing my own thoughts should happen only after they made some kind of statement on the matter. I now feel that enough is enough and that even if they change course, the bridges have been burned and I cannot in good conscience stay silent or hope to continue working around the Dungeons and Dragons IP.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


If you are not aware of what I’m talking about, let's go on a short little journey. On January 12, 2016, Wizards of the Coast, the company that makes the very popular roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons released the 5th edition of the game under the Open Game License version 1.0a. Over the following years, the new edition would prove to be a massive success. This popularity was fueled in part by the simplicity of 5th edition, the rise of streaming giants like Critical Role and others but also a huge number of people making 3rd party content for those of us that do not have time to create adventures, maps, creatures, items and characters for games each week. The ability to create 3rd party content was all due to the aforementioned Open Game License version 1.0a. A simple general-purpose license that allowed creators to create content without having to worry about legal concerns. To put this in another way, the OGL gave creators clear terms on what they could do with the things in Dungeons & Dragons books in order to make their own content on top of it.

Well on January 5th, 2023, Gizmodo released an article, leaking the terms of a new 1.1 license.


Not only did Kickstarter confirm that the leak was accurate with this tweet but I can personally confirm its accuracy as well.


Yesterday another leaked document called the FAQ for OGL 2.0 made the rounds. I've seen it from multiple sources at this point and it matches the details from the 1.1 leak and it's a truly fascinating read. It looks like Wizards of the Coast is not backtracking that much at all and trying to frame the 1.1 leak as a draft document. The above tweet from KS confirms that was not the case, as they negotiated a contract that is present within the new restricted license.


At this point I've not seen the "new" 2.0 restricted license they are proposing but based on the FAQ its the same general vibe as the 1.1 leaks.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I can't go over the entire proposed 1.1 leak here, it's a big document (they may have changed small details for the 2.0 version). There are however some truly eye-watering terms in there though.


I will highlight the particularly awful elements and why I’m so angry with what they are trying to do with it so please head to https://www.opendnd.games/ for more information.


If Wizards attempt to go ahead with this new “restricted license", to be absolutely clear, it is a bold-faced attempt to monetize and control other people's work, which will if given free rein, kill people's passion to make content for the game you love. This will not just affect creators like me but everyone currently playing Dungeons & Dragons, both DM's and players.


Most importantly, the new “Restricted Licence” is attempting to revoke and replace the old OGL (It's been taken down from the Wizard's site as of writing this article). By doing this, not only is it extremely stupid as the old license actually has a clause for what to do in this situation:

9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

And they also clarified in the past in on their own Q&A with:

Q: Can't Wizards of the Coast change the License in a way that I wouldn't like? A: Yes, it could. However, the License already defines what will happen to content that has been previously distributed using an earlier version, in Section 9. As a result, even if Wizards made a change you disagreed with, you could continue to use an earlier, acceptable version at your option. In other words, there's no reason for Wizards to ever make a change that the community of people using the Open Gaming License would object to, because the community would just ignore the change anyway.

--Wizards of the Coast, OGL FAQ, 2004


In addition, the new restricted license makes it mandatory to report your projects and revenue to Wizards of the Coast, and gives WotC the legal right to reproduce and resell creators content without permission or compensation. It can also be modified with worse terms or terminated at any time.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What does that mean going, forwards? Based on what's been said so far and the terms of the new “restricted license” it appears Wizards of the Coast and their Parent company Hasbro are going to use bullying tactics to force compliance from creators in order to make more money.

Does this mean things will change for me? Creating Tokens, Assets etc?

Honestly, I have no idea.


Probably nothing, but the potential impact of what Wizards is trying to do is extremely worrying. Wizards of Coast could if they wanted to, claim or say anything they want at this point and slap me with any number of notices, cease and desists or other legal threats. In fact, they will have to do this to a fair number of people in order to try and make the terms legal precedent and while this is being decided in court, many creators might feel like they have to sign on just to stay afloat. Just by releasing this new license, they are gunning for a fight, they must believe it's worth it in order to make MORE money from the IP in general and if they can get away with it and creators accept the new terms they will be right.

So here we are, back to money-grubbing, soulless, fucking bastards.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What YOU can do.


Tell Wizards of the Coast to fuck, right, off.

  • Stop buying their books or any other products.

  • Cancel your DnDbeyond subscription.

  • Stop testing the new ONEDND stuff and don't buy it when it comes out.

  • Support the creators you love on Patreon, Ko-Fi etc, or other direct sources instead of buying products from storefronts (especially DMSGuild which Wizards get a huge cut of and the terms are brutal for creators anyway)

  • Play other games. Paizo’s, Pathfinder 2nd Edition is fantastic for those of you that want DnD but more! Go ask on Discord for suggestions on other game systems as well!

  • Go onto whatever Social Media accounts you have and let Wizards & Hasbro know that #OPENDND is important to you (respectfully of course)

  • Sign here: https://www.opendnd.games/

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The future is looking pretty rough for creators at this point, I’m not going to lie, it's very very worrying and it puts stress on everyone trying to write, create art or publish something for others to enjoy in the industry. Many people over the last few years have been able to create content for roleplaying games as their full-time, part-time or even side gig to pay bills thanks to the old OGL. Now that is under threat it's going to make some of us give up, so showing the strength of our community and under no circumstances accepting the new terms out of fear will hopefully make a difference.


And if it doesn't, let's prove that the community can make any other game a giant success and leave Wizards in the dust.


Speaking of which, Paizo made a statement that you can read here that melted my heart and made me feel a lot better. Go get em Paizo :)


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Thank you all so much for reading and I (somewhat) apologize for my language in this article. When these kinds of things happen, companies tend to release statements that are written in polite, factual language but as an individual, I can be more direct with my feelings. I'm pretty fucking angry, sad and a little lost but I’m not going to take it, and neither should you. ~Caeora

1,246 views2 comments