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DnD Beyond founder: OGL changes are “building walls” around D&D

Original D&DBeyond founder Adam Bradford is disappointed by the DnD OGL developments: "it is frustrating to see the walls being built around the garden"

DnD Beyond founder walled Garden - Demiplane photo of Adam Bradford

D&DBeyond (DDB) founder and Demiplane CDO Adam Bradford recently weighed in on the Dungeons and Dragons OGL controversy, telling Wargamer, “as a fan of D&D, it is frustrating to see the walls being built around the garden”. “Through founding and overseeing DDB, I had a front-row seat to the direction Wizards of the Coast wanted to go with things, and that played a key role in my departure from that former job.”

Bradford was the lead on D&DBeyond when it first launched in 2017, and he moved to tabletop RPG tool website Demiplane in 2021. Both offer digital aids to RPG players, for example by creating DnD character sheets or checking rules for DnD classes and DnD races.

Despite his concerns about the “walls” the DnD OGL developments may put up, he remains hopeful for the hobby in general. “As a TTRPG fan, I know that the hobby will endure through the open playground outside those walls”, he tells Wargamer.

The leaked DnD OGL 1.1 document included restrictive language around third-party ownership of content, as well as plans to demand royalty payments from the system’s largest third-party earners. Wizards of the Coast has since apologised for the 1.1 document and is currently accepting player feedback on OGL 1.2. However, many third-party publishers vowed to leave 5e before any statement was made, and multiple TTRPG creators have proposed their own third-party licences.

DnD Beyond founder walled garden - Wizards of the Coast art of two adventurers encountering an owlbear

When Paizo announced the ORC, its alternative third-party gaming licence, Demiplane was among the first to sign up to work with the ORC. “Demiplane is proud to share our support and enthusiastic participation in the Open RPG Creative (ORC) License initiative alongside our partner Paizo and other TTRPG leaders”, Bradford tells Wargamer.

“The thing that separates our hobby from many others is its cooperative nature and inclusiveness”, he adds. “Open gaming has set a precedent that has been a vital ingredient in the explosive growth of the tabletop roleplaying space for decades.”

Wizards of the Coast’s most recent OGL draft also includes a policy for virtual tabletops (VTTs) (though recent feedback already suggests fans think it misses the mark). Despite Dempiplane’s many digital tools, Bradford tells Wargamer “the new VTT policy proposed in the most recent documentation has no effect on what we’re doing at Demiplane”.

“I’ve known for years where things were going, so we have been intentional in securing top-tier partners that publish games outside of 5e”, he adds. “Even though we don’t love the circumstances that brought it about, we are incredibly excited to see the rapidly growing interest in other systems, and Demiplane is committed to providing high-quality digital support for fans as they explore and discover their next favourite game.”