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RPG publishers vow to abandon 5e over ‘leaked’ DnD OGL

DnD’s OGL controversy has some RPG publishers making preparations to jump ship, and remove both the OGL and all 5e SRD content from their work

DnD OGL - Castles and Crusades artwork showing a fantasy adventuring party

Multiple smaller tabletop RPG publishers are cutting ties with D&D, the Open Gaming License, and the SRD, due to fears that Dungeons and Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast plans to change its copyright policy. Castles and Crusades and Basic Fantasy RPG are two games that have already vowed to stop using the OGL and put drastic plans into action.

Outrage was sparked in the Dungeons and Dragons and wider tabletop RPG community last week, over a report on a leaked copy of the Open Gaming License document. This draft version of the license seemingly cuts down on the freedoms enjoyed by those using the OGL to make works that are compatible with DnD.

This DnD OGL leak fanned the flames of worry that were already smouldering away, despite Wizards’ efforts to quash them. Now some publishers that use the OGL and accompanying SRD (a version of D&D’s rules that is free to use under the licence) are making plans to jump ship.

On Friday, Troll Lord Games, publisher of the RPG Castles and Crusades, announced via Twitter that it is selling all its 5e stock, “never to be revisited again in any edition.” It later confirmed that its future products won’t feature the OGL.

DnD OGL - a tweet from Troll Lord Games promising to get rid of all its 5e products.

On Saturday, Chris Gonnerman, author of the old school retroclone Basic Fantasy RPG, laid out a ‘manifesto’ for excising the OGL from the game on its forums. “It doesn’t matter whether Hasbro releases their new license or not. It doesn’t matter whether it stands up in court or not. Their attempt to invalidate the license we’ve always depended on… demonstrates that they are an existential threat to our game,” he wrote.

He added that the core rules for Basic Fantasy RPG contain passages of the SRD that need to be removed, as he and fellow retroclone creators “believed that it was important to be able to show that we actually used the SRD.” He announced plans to move the game to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

The Old School Essentials website Necrotic Gnome, meanwhile, said it is “making various contingency plans in anticipation of the official release of the new OGL,” adding, “once the official release happens and we’ve had time to fully digest its implications, we will announce any possible alterations to our publication schedule.”

In related news, an open letter demanding Wizards #OpenDnD has been signed by over 4000 TTRPG fans, including numerous creators such as Andrew Clayton from Foundry Virtual Tabletop and Michael Holik from Mage Hand Press. Similarly, a Change.org petition asking Hasbro to not alter the existing OGL has reached 5000 signatures at time of publication.

Wizards has yet to give comment on the leaked OGL, which according to Gizmodo, was due to go into effect this week, on January 13. Check out our DnD OGL guide for a quick primer on the OGL, if you’re in need of one.