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D&D maker promises to get player feedback for coming “open” license update

Artist's conception of the coming discussion between Wizards of the Coast and the <em>D&D</em> community over proposed OGL updates.
Enlarge / Artist’s conception of the coming discussion between Wizards of the Coast and the D&D community over proposed OGL updates.

When Wizards of the Coast (WotC) rolled out proposed changes to its decades-old Open Gaming License (OGL), most average players and smaller creators had to hear about it via a leaked copy of a version sent to big content makers. Now, WotC promises any coming changes will be done through a “more open and transparent” process that will start a “robust conversation” around any new proposals.

In a post on the D&D Beyond forums today, WotC Executive Producer Kyle Brink writes that “new proposed OGL documentation” will be shared publicly on or before Friday, January 20. At that point, community members will have at least two weeks to offer feedback via a survey that will include specific questions and open-response fields.

WotC compared the new process to the one it uses for playtests of Unearthed Arcana documents, which are often used to solicit feedback on draft mechanics and gameplay ideas that haven’t been fully tested. Once the new OGL survey concludes, Brink says WotC will “compile, analyze, react to, and present back what we heard from you.”

We’re sorry (that you noticed)

Brink clarified a few types of fan-made content that the new OGL explicitly won’t affect, including videos, contracted services (e.g., paid dungeon master services), and virtual tabletop content. Brink also reiterated WotC’s recent promise that the new OGL won’t charge any royalties, won’t impact existing content licensed under OGL 1.0a, and won’t require you to license creative content back to WotC (all elements that were contradicted in the leaked version of OGL 1.1).

Brink’s post also offers WotC’s most direct apology yet for the OGL fiasco that led many tabletop publishers to abandon WotC in recent weeks.

“We are sorry,” Brink writes. “We got it wrong. Our language and requirements in the draft OGL were disruptive to creators and not in support of our core goals of protecting and cultivating an inclusive play environment and limiting the OGL to TTRPGs. Then we compounded things by being silent for too long. We hurt fans and creators, when more frequent and clear communications could have prevented so much of this.”

Brink’s post and other WotC communications have referred to the leaked OGL 1.1 as a “draft” that was shared with major content creators “so their feedback could be considered before anything was finalized.” But some in the community have challenged that characterization, saying OGL 1.1 was distributed with an attached contract that allegedly came with a signature deadline and pre-negotiated preferential terms for some funding sources.

“Wizards is going to try to say what we’ve seen of OGL 1.1 is a draft that they sent out for feedback. That’s a lie,” major D&D creator The Griffon’s Saddlebag said on Instagram last week. “Never once did WotC ask for feedback or say that it was a draft or any of these things. … The thing is that nobody signed it, that’s why they’re backpedaling and waffling on this.”

Wizards of the Coast has not responded to a request for comment from Ars Technica on the ongoing controversy surrounding OGL changes.

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