Tag Archives: open

The OGL: It’s Not Just d20

Hey, so I keep seeing people confused about the Open Game License. My Open Gaming for Dummies article helps dispel some of that but let’s come out and get one thing clear – it’s not “just for D&D” or just d20-derived games. Open gaming is strong and diverse.

The OGL is just a license.  It’s like the open source Apache, GPL, or MIT licenses in that it can be applied by anyone – though it was written by WotC originally, it’s not owned by them and has no relation to what games can be released under it.

Guess what all game systems are open under the OGL license?

  • The Action! system (from Gold Rush Games)
  • Traveller (Mongoose’s version)
  • Runequest (Mongoose’s version)
  • The d6 system (from West End Games’ Star Wars and Ghostbusters)
  • Fudge and its newer more popular variant FATE and derivatives thereof, like ICONS

And many more, including many many d20 variants from Anime d20 to Mutants & Masterminds.  I’m not sure there’s a comprehensive list – here’s a couple that are old and out of date. But that’s like, a big share of the systems people have played over the decades.

And of course this doesn’t mention other open games published under other licenses, like Eclipse Phase is published under Creative Commons.

Really, publishers, is there a reason NOT to open license your system?  Because face it, your system kinda sucks.  They all do. Your best bet is to get it in the hands of as many people as possible so they’ll get interested and buy your products. If GURPS got open licensed, for example, maybe someone under 30 would play it.

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Open Gaming FTW! Pathfinder SRD Already Up

In all the release hullabaloo it’s easy to miss, but Paizo shows how committed they are to open gaming by putting the Pathfinder RPG System Reference Document (or PRD) up the very same day the game released!

Be warned, it’s really slooooooow right now ass hordes of people are paying their $10 to download the whole 500+ page PDF from the Paizo site.  But if you’re just dying to see how Combat Maneuver Bonus is calculated in the final, it’s there in the Combat section!

To prioritize the extra work required to get this out “the day of” the RPG and PDF release (and Gen Con) is an amazing statement about their dedication to open gaming.   Heck, many OGL games leave it to the fans to create the SRD, or do it months-to-years after they release the game.  It’s great to see that Paizo doesn’t hold any archaic notions of how that will “inhibit their sales.”  They are releasing a free SRD, a $10 PDF, and a $50 book on the same day; the first print run of the book is already sold out and a mob of people at Gen Con are surrounding a huge stack of books trying to get theirs.  Congratulations to Paizo for understanding at a deep level that the open model is not “charity” or a detriment to sales, but in fact is a force multiplier that will bring you even more success!

Somebody give me a “Hell yeah!”

Mongoose Wikiing Up Their OGC

Via Trollsmyth comes the news that Mongoose Publishing is talking about putting together a wiki where all the OGC from their products can be placed for use by gamers well into the future.  Kudos to them, it’s a great move!  (Now when’s the Traveller SRD going to be online?)

Spirit of the Century Review Posted

In another addition to my list of well-crafted and very attractive reviews, my review of Spirit of the Century has just been posted at rpg.net.  It’s a fun game with a very clever chargen system and an interesting and innovative mechanic of using tags (in the Web sense, like the ones below) as the primary metaphor for describing and interacting with people/scenes/etc.  And, it’s OGL!  You can go see the rules in the online SRD.

Wizards Comes Clean On Open Gaming!

I go away to Vegas for a week and suddenly Wizards decides to get right with God by talking about their GSL/OGL plans!  Here’s the links.

The summary is that they’ve decided not to make their GSL license terms prohibit a company from publishing *any* open games under the OGL, only any open product in the same product line as any 4e D&D product, falling firmly between the previous “by individual product” and “by entire company” theories.  As an example, Paizo Publishing has an OGL line of GameMastery adventures.  So theoretically, Paizo could publish 4e adventures, but under a different product line (e.g. “NewFangledAdventurez”.)  This is very good news!  Not great news, but good news.

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About “Wizards Declares War” Article

There’s quite a row about my article on WotC trying to get rid of open gaming using new licensing terms.  I wanted to note that as of now (4/21) none of this is 100% confirmed as the GSL hasn’t been released to anyone outside WotC so there’s no way to tell for sure.  Some people are griping about my reporting on this without the company confirming or denying it being only rumor and thus unfair to pass on to an august venue like Slashdot. 

Unfortunately, this complaint is ignorant of the definition of “rumor.”

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Wizards of the Coast Declares War On Open Gaming

Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast shocked the role-playing game industry today with the revelation that anyone wanting to publish material for the new Fourth Edition of D&D, expected out in June of this year, must forgo open licensing entirely as part of their new Game System License.

With the launch of the third edition of the game years ago, Wizards had sponsored an open licensing scheme. This license, called the Open Gaming License, or OGL, was a kind of open source license designed for game publishers. The result was an explosion of third party game companies supporting D&D and also establishing their own separate game lines. Many of these companies became quite large and successful, notably Paizo Publishing, Green Ronin Publishing, and others.  There are open gaming products covering every genre under the sun – science fiction, horror, wild west, and anything else you can think of.

Now, however, Wizards has stated that any company hoping to publish products for their new edition must agree to discontinue any current open licensed products and produce no further open products at all – Dungeons & Dragons related or not.  In a phone conversation about 4e licensing with Clark Petersen, president of Necromancer Games, a company representative explained this policy and was adamant that it was not going to change. A number of companies are leveraging the OGL for their independent games, for example the pulp game Spirit of the Century; the gaming community adopted the OGL on good faith and more than 90% of the openly licensed games in existence are using it.  This “poison pill” clause means that in exchange for any further involvement with the Dungeons & Dragons game line, a company must abandon any past OGL products and vow not to produce any more.

In response to questions about this policy, Scott Rouse, D&D Brand Manager for Wizards of the Coast, says that “We have invested multiple 7 figures in the development of 4e so can you tell me why we would want publishers to support a system that we have moved away from?”  Linae Foster, Licensing Manager, also notes “We understand the impacts this license will have on the 3pps, fans, community and industry in general. We respect that companies will need to make the decision that is right for them and their supporters.”

It seems to me that this is the equivalent of Microsoft telling people “if you want to make and sell software for Windows, you can’t make any Linux/open source software either!”   Though this move might be legally shaky, especially in the EU, side players in the small RPG industry are often only a couple people strong, and Wizards is owned by Hasbro, making any challenge to these terms doomed from the start.  (The buyout of Wizards by Hasbro is likely the source of this change of heart away from open licensing; events like the Scrabble/Scrabulous lawsuit have Hasbro trying to define and expand their scope of IP control.)   Some of the more well-established game companies are rebelling anyway – Paizo Publishing, which used to publish Dungeon and Dragon magazines under license from Wizards, had already declared their intent to stay with the open prior version and develop it moving forward instead, effectively “forking” the D&D code base.  But even they admit this is effectively a niche play. 

This also appears not to be limited to publishing companies, but also to individuals wanting to put content on their Web site or other venue.  When asked about individual licensors, Scott Rouse replied that yes, individuals would need to fill out a GSL license agreement and send it in to WotC to participate.  Some ten or so years ago, TSR (the original company, which was bought by Wizards and then Wizards by Hasbro in turn) liked to send out “cease and desist” legal threats to people posting D&D-related content on their Web sites.  Will we see a return to that?   By the letter of the law as much as it’s been revealed to us, some guy on their Web site putting up 3.5e related content and 4e related content at the same time is subject to the same limitations…