D&D reinstates original licensing agreement following community backlash

Photo by: Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

On Jan. 27, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) announced that, rather than attempting to update their Open Game License (OGL), they will leave it untouched.

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) was making moves to update D&D’s OGL, a policy allowing others to use D&D’s intellectual property and game rules. Following fan backlash to the proposed changes, the D&D staff announced a modified update addressing many of the points that fans had spoken out against. Additionally, they asked fans to read over the newly proposed update and provide feedback via survey.

However, the proposed update was still received poorly by fans. Some felt that, contrary to their statement, Dungeons & Dragons were attempting to make these changes privately, and they were only soliciting community feedback because they’d been caught. One such fan was voice actor Anna Brisbin.

“If it was a draft intended for community feedback, why didn’t you post publicly, saying so, and include a survey like One D&D?” she replied to their announcement on Twitter. “Just cancel the damn thing. Stick to the original. It’s the only way to save face at this point.”

This sentiment was echoed by streamer couple Taliesin & Evitel.

“I, too, always send out my incomplete drafts with legal contracts to sign saying you agree to abide by everything in the incomplete draft which definitely isn’t finalised,” they wrote, referring to the leaked documents this announcement had been addressing.

Following community input on the proposed changes, Dungeons & Dragons announced they would leave the OGL untouched. Additionally, they were making the Systems Reference Document (SRD) — the material made available to creators through the OGL — available under a Creative Commons license, and creators could choose which they’d prefer to use.

“These live survey results are clear,” they said. “You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons… This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don’t control that license and cannot alter or revoke it.”

Some fans were cautiously optimistic about this decision, such as tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) streamer Ginny Di.

“Thank you for this,” she replied to their announcement. “A lot of people have lost a lot of faith in the WotC brand this month, and it’s going to be difficult to rebuild that, but this is a good first step.”

Others, such as TTRPG writer Vex Werewolf, felt that more needed to be done by Dungeons & Dragons before they could regain the community’s trust.

“Okay, you’re no longer doing the thing that broke our trust,” she said. “How are you going to win our trust back?”

While fans appreciate the gesture, many of them are waiting to see what Dungeons & Dragons — or WotC — do next before they get back onboard. As some TTRPG fans begin exploring other options beyond D&D, the pressure is on WotC to win the fans back over.

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