D&D 5e Now Under Open Gaming License

Well will wonders never cease!  After revolutionizing the hobby by releasing D&D 3e under the Open Gaming License, Wizards performed the double (self) threat of publishing a new version people didn’t like (4e)  and refusing to open license it. 5e came out a good bit ago and no word on license had been forthcoming, which led me to believe the “suits that don’t get it” were still calling the shots and it’d stay closed.  Of course, at the same time people were getting more comfortable with the real limits of copyright law and what the old OGL let you do so were happily publishing adventures and such for 5e. But now, out of silence, looks like someone (Mike Mearls?) has pulled off a miracle – and the OGL is back for 5e.

You can download a combo OGL and SRD (weird) from the Wizards site in PDF.  The format sucks, but you can also browse in in HTML at 5esrd.com.

Warning to the OGL noobs: this doesn’t mean everything in the books is open for you to reuse, just the stuff that is designated in the SRD. But it is 398 pages worth of stuff, and that’s a lot! (See my old post Open Gaming for Dummies if you want more of an intro.)  A number of major items are left out, however, so make sure and check – like they generally just open one archetype for each class.

So that’s cool news – but they have something else too. The “Dungeon Masters Guild” is more like the old d20 SRD but with a bit of the Traveller “Foreven Free Sector” license to it. It lets you:

  • Write stuff for D&D (5e only)
  • Write stuff in the Forgotten Realms (and maybe more to come)
  • Sell it via their OneBookShelf powered ecomm site at www.dmsguild.com (and split the $ with them 50/50)
  • More details here

A smart business move from Wizards?  Hell is surely freezing over.  By letting people publish, and then saying “hey… Want to use our sales/marketing channel with reviews and stuff, for a 50/50 share?” they are going to make a large amount of free money especially from hobbyists. And they aren’t doing the tech themselves, which has been the Achilles heel in every damn thing they’ve tried to do over the last say 30 years (their track record with tech is something like 0 for 12).

What do I want to see come out of this?

  • More adventures
  • More content
  • Ideally open up other IP too, for Greyhawk, Planescape, etc. (seems like mostly free money for them)
  • Them to make money so the concept of open licensing and sharing stops becoming “scary newfangled talk grognards don’t get” and becomes de rigeur

I love Paizo too.  What should they do in response to keep Pathfinder competitive?

  • Publish all the cool Pathfinder classes for 5e, so I can be an occultist or witch or whatever without dealing with the rules weight of Pathfinder – my play group is starting to wander because holy crap level 16+ Pathfinder is a lot of work for 15 total minutes of real fun per game session.
  • Maybe publish Pathfinder 2e (Pathfinder Basic?) using the 5e rules (same deal)!  I’d buy it.
  • Paizo to do something exactly like the DMs Guild so people can publish Golarion setting stuff (or even just adventures set in Golarion) – again, free money and spreading the brand.

I mean, Wizards didn’t just do something good here, they are blazing new ground (well, the Traveller Foreven Free Sector license did a little of the “OK you can use our precious precious game world, but not tied to the sales and marketing channel)!  I sweat them hard when they do boneheaded things, which over the last decade has been a lot, but I give credit where credit is due, and this is awesome!

9 responses to “D&D 5e Now Under Open Gaming License

  1. also if you write for DMs Guild you can use all the content in the books. The SRD is only for non-DMs Guild projects, from what I have read.

    • That’s right. I wonder… It’s probably safe to do an OGL product and just make stat blocks that contain the missing info (feat names etc.) as long as you’re not duplicating the actual game content, but I’d have to think about that a little more.

      • In all honesty, I suspect that you can recreate most – perhaps nearly all – of the missing info under the 5E SRD. Given that most of the game mechanics you’d need to do so are in there to begin with, and most terms that you’d use aren’t protected (e.g. “wood elf”), then I think that much of that material could be manually constructed and released as Open Game Content without any backlash.

        • The OGL is identical to 3e one. The SRD is more tightly restricted to prevent a Paizo situation again. However it is not anything that would prevent someone like Paizo releasing Pathfinder 2.0, WotC just made Paizo (and the like) work harder in the creative department.

  2. Hey mxyzplk, having run epic Pathfinder campaigns, is there really that much to be gained by a switch to 5e in your mind? I haven’t been involved in a 5e game, but I’ve read all the adventure content out thus far and have generally been underwhelmed. Is the crunch of Pathfinder really going to be that much of an issue compared to 5e given your experience with the system?

    • I’m leaning towards “yes.” Pathfinder gets fatter over time, not thinner. Their APs are 1000% better than the 5e adventures, but even with hundreds of dollars sunk into Hero Lab and years of experience, a PF session is starting to become an hour of fun in a 4 hour session due to pure rules fiddliness. We’ve been running one shots with GUMSHOE, Dungeon World, etc. and holy crap you get a lot more game in.

      But we’ll see, we haven’t played a lot of 5e yet. But in my mind, 5e weight with the Paizo IP would be the killer combo…

  3. Frankly I’ll stick with PF/3.5 because I think 5E sucks and is dumbed down, I may sound like one of the edition wars Grognards but I do come from the 2nd edition players and I find 5E does not fill my need for diversity with things and PF/3.5 do as well as my good old standby of ThAC0. Still Paizo does a much better job of pricing and marketing Pathfinder than Wizbro who overprices and seems every 3 to 5 years puts out another version of D&D because they want out money. The best PnP games have not put out newer versions that fast, and they have stood the test of time, plus i liked the 3.5/PF system better for mechanics as you could get the epic feel better. So you people can keep your 5E, I’ll stay in the gaming past as that is where I am happiest. Not saying 5E is all bad, just I will not consider playing it as I personally have given up on the future of D&D after 4E. Wizbro lost me for good, because they sold out and made 5E too simple for my tastes. Hell I’d rather play Rifts over 5E, classic memories of drunken Siembeda moments and grey area rules that were vague.

  4. The only good thing about 5e is that it’s back on the OGL and has an SRD. This means that if somebody was inclined, they could take elements of 5e and introduce it to their 3.5/Pathfinder/Fantasy Craft type game with little to no reworking.

    I’ll tell you like I’ve told everybody else: What ruined this hobby was the low-information MMO kids coming in and bringing their bad habits with them. This started happening before 4e was released.

    I started noticing more players viewing other players as “competition” and the DM as “the enemy”. This is where you started seeing players outshining other players and the lack of cooperative play, not to mention an increase in what I call “backseat DMs” and the focus on stats and minmaxing and optimizing and munchkinism.

    This hobby was already fragmented by experience levels and schools of thought. WOTC contributed to the fragmentation by catering to that MMO generation, whether they realize it or not.

    When the low-information MMO kids cheered 4e, I knew it sucked. Reading the books and playing 1 session confirmed it sucks. What concerns me about 5e is that I’m seeing a lot of 4e players liking it.

    Seeing an edition dumbed down and oversimplified is bad enough. Playing with the MMO generation that doesn’t seem to care about cooperative play, outshines other players, and views the DM as the enemy is worst.

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