Wizards of the Coast, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, announced today that it will no longer be pursuing deauthorization of the Open Gaming License 1.0a, abandoning plans previously stated in the drafted OGL 1.2. This statement comes after relentless fan backlash against the decision to deauthorize that was revealed after io9 reported on a leaked OGL 1.1. After three weeks of near constant pressure, it appears as if Wizards of the Coast is fully paying attention to the fanbase.
The deauthorization of the OGL 1.0a was a huge sticking point for fans and third-party publishers who made a living using a license that was granted nearly two decades ago. Opinions varied on whether or not Wizards of the Coast could even legally deauthorize, with many people—including Ryan Dancey, one of the original architects of the OGL 1.0a—arguing that it was never intended to be deauthorized, and that the very act of doing so was not built into the legal wording of the license.
Dungeons & Dragons executive producer Kyle Brink said in the statement that “these live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons.” This sentiment was expressed so overwhelmingly in the playtest OGL 1.2 that Wizards of the Coast had to pay attention. Originally it was going to keep the playtest open for two weeks; however, Brink writes, “the feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we’re acting now.”
The concessions Wizards and D&D make in this announcement are huge: it will not attempt to deauthorize the OGL 1.0a; it is putting the entirety of the Systems Reference Document for D&D 5.1 into the Creative Commons; and it is abandoning its previously stated intentions for Virtual Tabletops.
One thing to note is that Brink states that putting the entire 400-page SRD into the Creative Commons means that fans don’t need to “take [Dungeons & Dragons’] word for it.” That Brink would explicitly acknowledge the lack of trust between fans and publishers and Wizards of the Coast is incredible.
Finally, the company finished the statement with an olive branch, publishing the SRD immediately, and stating, “Here’s a PDF of SRD 5.1 with the Creative Commons license. By simply publishing it, we place it under an irrevocable Creative Commons license. We’ll get it hosted in a more convenient place next week. It was important that we take this step now, so there’s no question.”
Ever since the rumors around the OGL 1.1 began to circulate in late November 2022, third-party content publishers and fans of Dungeons & Dragons began to mobilize. After the leaks, the backtracks, and the general confusion, everyone was ready to defend their hobby. And they did. Fans rallied around hashtags, influencers, and journalists as they sought to Open D&D and preserve the OGL 1.0a and its legacy. If Dungeons & Dragons follows through with all its promises in this statement, it’s possible that they could restore the goodwill it lost between then and now.
Ultimately, this is a huge victory for the fans. And while the battle is won, the war might not be over—everyone is waiting to see the four corners of the contract, despite the SRD’s entry into the CC. But the fans are ready. And Wizards of the Coast is going to think twice before poking that particular dragon.
[Editor’s Note: This article is part of the developing story. The information cited on this page may change as the breaking story unfolds.]
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