Wizards of the Coast is officially leaving its old rules in place to govern independently-published material for the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game.
As previously reported, a leak earlier this month indicated that Wizards, based in Renton, Wash., would seek to deauthorize and replace its Open Game License (OGL), a public copyright notice from 2000. The OGL allows third parties to create virtually any sort of D&D material for profit, such as adventure modules, sourcebooks, or live-play shows.
Wizards reacted to the leak with an apology to the fan community on Jan. 13, followed by a new set of terms for the OGL on Jan. 19. The proposed version 1.2 of the OGL walked back many of the controversial changes that were included in the Jan. 5 leak, but explicitly included the deauthorization of the original v. 1.0a of the OGL, as well as some additional stipulations.
As of Friday, Wizards has now pledged to leave the original OGL in place. It will also officially make the base mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons publicly available via a Creative Commons license, as mentioned on Jan. 19.
Over 15,000 fans filled out the survey that was linked in the Jan. 19 blog post, according to D&D executive producer Kyle Brink, and the results were overwhelmingly against the changes in OGL v. 1.2.
“These live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons,” Brink wrote on the official D&D Beyond blog. “The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we’re acting now.”
The blog post includes a link to a new System Reference Document (SRD), version 5.1, for D&D under Wizards’ chosen Creative Commons license.
The SRD 5.1 includes a list of specific terms that are considered part of the “product identity” of Dungeons & Dragons, which prevents them from being used in third-party content. This primarily includes phrases and terms that are specific to Wizards-owned properties such as the Forgotten Realms campaign setting or D&D‘s particular multiverse, such as the city of Sigil, the Underdark, or the various infernal planes.
It also excludes a handful of monsters, such as mind flayers and beholders, that were originally created for D&D. As such, they remain the intellectual property of Wizards and can’t be used as part of any Open Game License content.
According to Brink, Wizards’ original motivations behind changing the OGL are still in place, but they now intend to rely upon the D&D community to achieve those goals.
“We wanted to protect the D&D play experience into the future,” Brink wrote. “We still want to do that with your help. We’re grateful that this community is passionate and active because we’ll need your help protecting the game’s inclusive and welcoming nature.”
Community reactions to Wizards’ attempt to deauthorize OGL 1.0a have included organized boycotts; several social media campaigns; a groundswell of interest in competitors’ products; and the ORC Alliance, a hundreds-strong coalition of game companies that have signed on to support Redmond, Wash.-based Paizo Publishing’s upcoming Open RPG Creative License.
Wizards’ decision to abandon its attempts to change the OGL comes the day after its parent company Hasbro announced its financial results for Q4 2022. Hasbro’s overall revenue took a 17% tumble year-over-year, with multiple departments reporting losses.
The exception was Wizards of the Coast, which appears to be part of the only department at Hasbro that reported a gain in revenues for 2022.
In the wake of the report, Hasbro intends to eliminate 1,000 global full-time employees as a cost-saving measure, with no indication regarding where those cuts will be made. It also plans to continue a strategy from Oct. 2022, its “Blueprint 2.0,” that will emphasize “fewer, bigger brands” alongside its gaming and digital efforts.
Hasbro’s current CEO, Chris Cocks, was the president of Wizards of the Coast until Feb. 2022.