Wizards of the Coast Took a Step Toward Restoration

Just when I thought we had time to breathe before anything else happened, I got knocked upside the head by perhaps the biggest surprise of them all. After weeks of controversery and a lot of absolutely fucking up their response multiple times, the person representing Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons and Dragons to the Tabletop Roleplaying Game community announced that they were cutting feedback short. In only one week, over 15,000 people responded to the survey they put out about the latest proposed changes to the OGL (this one was version 1.2) and almost ninety percent of responses said they should just go back to the original OGL (that has stood for some twenty-plus years). As a result, rather than continue to let negative sentiment build, they announced they’re not attempting to revoke the OGL, not releasing a new version of it, and are even releasing a bunch of content from their current version of Fifth Edition (titled 5.1 as they work to incorporate a decade of material and prepare it for compatibility with their next major version of the game) under a creative commons license.

Honestly, if I was going to say what an ideal outcome would be for the whole scenario, it would not be far from this. I think that, in addition to everything else, joining in community efforts to safeguard against this sort of BS in the future would be an important step. A lot of the non-Wizards game publishers, in response to the controversy, started prioritizing efforts to safeguard the open-gaming ideals that so much of the TTRPG ecosytem is built on, including creating their own alternative to the OGL that they’ve all relied on for so long. I think it would be a good step to see Wizards fall in line with what everyone else is doing since all Wizards has done is return us all to the way things were before they tried to fuck it all up with capitalism. Well, mostly, anyway.

The major change between now and a month ago is there’s a bunch of stuff in the creative commons. What that means is that a third party now controls the material. Specifically, a third party dedicated to sharing creative works between people so that no one can use their control of something to harm other people working with it or related materials. Which is a pretty basic and poor explanation of what Creative Commons licensing means, but the whole explanation of that would be an entire blog post on it’s own. Suffice it to say that they can’t undo this and, in their rush to get this out the door in the same statement that they announced they’re no longer taking feedback, wound up adding a few proper nouns to the public domain that they had been jealously gaurding for quite some time. Proper nouns largely removed from their context, of course, but there’s still enough there than it was a major point of celebration and worthy of being mentioned by most people performing an analysis of the whole document.

It was a huge step in the right direction and I’m happy to see it, even if I’m also incredibly exhausted by it. Between this developing situation and everything else going on in my life, I’m going to cry if I don’t get at least one week without any major developments in any of the aspects of my life that have been in flux recently (I really need some quite and calm time to recover). Regardless, I’m not going back to D&D any time soon. I’m not even going to renew my D&D Beyond subscription for the time being. I’d rather spend that money elsewhere, on games and creators who haven’t proven that they’re willing to fuck over thousands of people in pursuit of temporarily higher stock prices or yarly profits. Sure, it backfired on them spectacularly, but I won’t be surprised to see them try more stuff in the future. The people leading the company have made their intentions clear and it would be foolish to pretend they aren’t still trying to figure out how to get what they want without public backlash.

So now I’m working on learning new games with my various groups and all that’s changed since before the latest Wizards announcement is that I won’t be boycotting them quite as hard. Maybe I’ll go see the movie if it doesn’t continue to sound unappealing (I’m getting so sick of modern big-budget movies: I want different stories rather than the same thing just with new faces, sets, and marginally improved CGI) and maybe I’ll play Baldur’s Gate 3 when it finally releases (supposedly in August, but there’s still room for delays of course). Until they prove themselves worthy of being trusted rather than just willing to listen when people tell them they’re wrong, I’m going to remain trepidatious of sending any of my money their way. I’d rather give it to someone making a cool game in an open and supportive gaming community (some of my current favorites include Beam Saber, Amour Astir, and Heart: The Ciy Beneath because I love what Friends at the Table did with those games and wanna see what I and my friends can do with them).

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