The OneD&D Open Game License Controversy Explained
OneD&D to rule them all.
Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular tabletop RPG out there. Whether you've watched the Critical Role animated series, or Stranger Things, or actually play D&D yourself, you've likely heard of the game in some capacity and understand the general gist.
To keep things fresh, often Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Dungeons & Dragons, will release a new edition of the game every so often. These new editions usually keep whatever worked from their predecessors while swapping out what doesn't for some new mechanics. The 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular to date, and so Wizards of the Coast have quite the task in creating its successor.
However, it seems like the famous tabletop RPG company may already be stumbling before its new edition, OneD&D, is even out. Wizards of the Coast have found significant controversy as they look to introduce a new Open Game License policy, which puts a lot of heavy restrictions on third-party homebrew content. Essentially, this pushes players towards only consuming Wizards of the Coast content, which goes directly against the policy in the previous OGL 1.0.
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Homebrew, which is a term that essentially encompasses any Dungeons & Dragons content that isn't made by Wizards of the Coast, and it is how a lot of content creators make money, through producing adventures and stories that players can put into their campaigns. To stifle that creation by putting heavy restrictions on it has quickly turned Wizards of the Coast into public enemy no.1 for a lot of D&D players.
There are a bunch of additional rules coming to content creators, including limits on what they can create and sell utilizing the OneD&D system, but without going too deep into the rules of the new OGL, all you need to really know is that on the content creation side of things, people aren't happy.
In fact, they're so unhappy with the proposed OGL that they are banding together to form a petition condemning the new license. Over 26,000 people have signed this petition at the time of writing, critiquing how the new OGL makes it essentially mandatory for creators to report their revenues and projects to Wizards of the Coast for approval, which can then lead to those projects being shut down and large sums of royalties being taken.
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Obviously, if you aren't someone who makes Dungeons & Dragons content for a living, but just like to make your own monsters and stories for you and your buddies, you're not going to be too worried about these changes, as Wizards of the Coast aren't monitoring every single D&D game that goes on or anything like that. The main issue here though, is that people who have spent years working on the old OGL, building their livelihoods on the Dungeons & Dragons 5E system, now risk having that work heavily restricted and potentially taken from them.
That is another major point of issue people have with the OneD&D OGL. The fact that Wizards of the Coast get the legal right to reproduce and resell creators' content without permission or compensation. This is a clear red flag and then some for a lot of Dungeons & Dragons creators, who would be rolling the dice whenever they published anything as Wizards of the Coast might like the look of it and reproduce it.
While there are alternate systems to Dungeons & Dragons, a lot of these are actually under threat thanks to the new OGL. Pathfinder, 13th Age, and Traveller might not be household names in the way Dungeons & Dragons is, but they each have dedicated fanbases of their own, that have also heavily criticised the new OGL.
Creators can't even jump back to older Dungeons & Dragons editions, as OGL 1.1 overwrites the friendlier policy of the previous OGL. To those opposed to the new OGL, this is a clear move towards a monopoly over tabletop RPGs, and while it does make sense from a money-making standpoint for Wizards of the Coast to benefit from the content made from their systems, it has created a substantial backlash.
So, where do things go from here? Well, in the short term, we'll have to see, as if the petition gets popular enough, Wizards of the Coast may take some note of it. However, if OGL 1.1 does go ahead, we could see the end of major resources that have helped players find Dungeons & Dragons games online, as well as books that provide extra adventures, monsters, characters, and more to a campaign. For those creating Dungeons & Dragons content, it is a scary time, even if the average player might not notice that much of a difference in the long run.