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OGL 1.1 worries

While I did see a handful of people with the misconception that previously released OGL material would somehow “go away”, most of us were concerned that the new, incompatible version (for example, subclasses don’t match up on the same levels) would not be released as an open source SRD. This worry was especially relevant as we participated in an unpaid playtest process (which, for an open source game, we would gladly do).

Reading the new article, I see that they’re actually gonna have separate terms for share-alike content.

I can get behind that—I’ve long seen the “product identity” loophole as a problem since so many publishers were making their entire everything as product identity. (Of course permissive licenses like the MIT-license can be DFSG-free but it does seem like this was never the intent of the OGL.)

The one remaining worry now it’s how they present commercial as the antonym of share-alike. If by SA they mean NC-SA, that’s not ok. That’s still left ambiguous, but if they wanted to imply that more strongly they’d write non-commercial instead of share-alike, which brings me hope.♥

So in short, if the share-alike–version is still DFSG-free (allows commercial) but strengthens the share-alike (copylefted) property, I’m fine. The non–share-alike version I couldn’t give two tugs about, whether the limit is $750000 or 2¢, since I contribute to the game under SA terms now (no PI) and can contribute to do so.

A bigger problem is how it’s now only gonna be static files. So something like Open5e (which I helped work on) is no longer OK? Nor is a video game—if someone comes up with awesome mechanics (like Do Not Let Us Die In The Dark Night Of This Cold Winter), they can’t make apps or a game based on that? Nor is a site like Chartopia or donjon.bin.sh? WotC, this is not good🙏🏻. That restriction also breaks the DFSG.

Some of the licenses proposed on here as alternatives to the OGL have been kind of weak.

I’m not gonna get exicted about a tabletop RPG game license that doesn’t make the game DFSG free.

I’m just talking about the interoperable engine part of the game; if you want to sell extra art, extra text sections, even some extra crunch beyond the free part, that’s g… well, not good exactly but it’s about on par with what we thought we had with the OGL (and will have, if the “deauthorization” BS is struck down). (It did prove cumbersome for 3pp that there were so many non-free spells.)

WotC’s purchase of D&D Beyond is a huge part of the problem because it perversely incentivized them to put out the choke tentacles on everyone except their fellow paying licensees like Roll20. D&D Beyond is their ticket for a SaaS model for monetizing D&D and they (however misguidedly it might be 🤦🏻‍♀️) thought a non-free license was necessary. Because they thought their own platform was sucky enough that it can’t compete with FOSS platforms (I’m not arguing against that part).

Beyond had a lot of tentacles already. WotC’s purchase actively incentivizes D&D itself to inflict damage with Beyond. It’s the classic “exploit vertical integration with network externalities” bug in market capitalism. Similar to the Explorer / Windows 95 fuss back in the day.

This (unless they sober the fuck up—and they might; they’ve been responsive to some backlashes in the past while ignoring others under rug swept) is a million times worse than the 4E GSL debacle.

The story goes that after the over-monetized 4E caused a dip in the player base, Hasbro was considering shelving D&D entirely, so the D&D team were like “Please just let us make a game that’s a labor of love, an edition for the ages, and not worry about monetizing it, you’ll have a valuable brand for t-shirts, movies, and pinball games” and that edition ended up so good it immediately topped the Amazon charts.