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.
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!