The OGL 1.0a has supported third party publishers for 23 years. During that time, the license, as well as supporting statements given by Wizards of the Coast, has provided a publishing safe-haven for us to continue creating for our hobby.
In light of recent events, that trust has been shattered. No longer can third party publishers rely on the legal ground of the license or the stated intents of the license holder.
We will never sign up to OGL 1.1 or OGL 2.0 as we currently understand them. It is worth noting that whilst WotC are walking back from their leaked OGL 1.1, OGL 2.0 is not shaping up to be any better for us. The fight against it continues until OGL 1.0a remains unchanged except for becoming legally irrevocable. At that point, we may review our decision to discontinue using the 1.0a license for new products.
You can help continue the fight against the actions of WotC by doing the following:
- Sign the Open DnD movement letter: https://www.opendnd.games/
- Sign one or more of the petitions on Change.org.
The efforts of different TTRPG publishers to begin the process to create third party friendly alternatives is heroic. We support them fully in looking after our hobby, whichever path we choose. We watch with interest as some of these licensing/SRD solutions develop.
To name a few of current interest to us…
- Paizo: https://paizo.com/community/blog/v5748dyo6si7v?Paizo-Announces-SystemNeutral-Open-RPG-License
- Kobold Press: https://koboldpress.com/raising-our-flag/
- Mythmere Games: https://youtu.be/7HMtk9SAjUI
- Basic Fantasy: https://www.basicfantasy.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4596
We would prefer that third party publishers consolidate around a single replacement license/SRD that serves to replace the current DnD-based SRD/license as closely as possible. We aren’t sure if this will happen or we’ll end up with 15 license/SRDs to choose from that call all those familiar expressions 15 different things. We’ll see.
There are others that suggest that you don’t need a license at all, as long as you don’t infringe copyright or trademarks, and whilst that is true, we need to be mindful of derivative works. In any case, this would exacerbate the multiple expressions issue.
- Can we still use terms such as Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, hit points, Armour Class, etc? Do we need to rename them?
- Can we still use the same spells? Is the Fly spell still okay if reworded?
- Can we use the same monsters? Are Orcs and hobgoblins still okay to use along with their stat blocks?
We don’t believe anyone has tested the extent of acceptable deviations from the current WotC SRD expressions with Wizards of the Coast in a courtroom setting. We won’t be the ones taking that risk at this stage.
What’s Our Plan?
We rely on a great team of freelancers and we want to keep creating great products with them. We want to handle their copyrights correctly and jumping reactively to a license that doesn’t protect their content is irresponsible and wrong. Additionally, we also need to keep the bills paid, the lights on, and computers powered up. In order to do that we need to evolve and future proof ourselves and our freelancers going forward.
As a creator of content primarily for old school retroclones, such as Swords & Wizardry and Old School Essentials, what the other old school third party publishers do is important, not only us, but also the fans of those systems and consequently, our fans!
MonkeyBlood Design & Publishing will see how these emerging licenses and SRDs (System Reference Documents) pan out. We want to use something that honours old school systems and also makes it as simple to use with our existing OGL 1.0a-released content. We want it to be seamless.
We have products that are unaffected by the OGL, such as HandyMaps, bookmarks, folded A2 maps, etc. but everything else is published under OGL 1.0a. most importantly…
- The Midderlands
- The Midderlands Expanded
- The City of Great Lunden
- and other associated Midderlands products
It looks like we will be able to continue to sell our OGL 1.0a licensed products, but new products must be reassessed.
Going forward, Faecal Lands and Ryecroft will be converted to whatever the new license of choice becomes. Then, we need to reprint The Midderlands (third printing) and we’ll update that to the new license too.
It’s a time of great uncertainty at the moment, but I’m assured and confident in the ability of our hobby to thrive through change.
Let’s do this!