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?
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 I’m not sure there’s a comprehensive list – here’s a couple that are old and out of date.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.
As a public service, I thought I’d reiterate the two links you need if you are playing Pathfinder (besides paizo.com and this blog of course!). Apparently not everyone knows about them, and one has moved!
The Pathfinder SRD, which has all the OGL rules from Paizo (pretty much all of it) and a variety of third parties. If you need to look up a rule, here you go! It’s always kept super up to date, even new beta playtest stuff shows up here ASAP, as well as sometimes links to useful rulings from the Paizo boards, etc.
The Pathfinder Wiki, which has a primer on the entire setting of Golarion. Beware – it moved without warning and the old site is still up! If you are using a wikia.com address, stop, switch to pathfinderwiki.com. Up until today even I have been misrouting people in my blogroll. I have tried to figure out how to contribute a couple times and have run away, tail between my legs – I couldn’t even figure out how to leave a forum post saying “set up a redirect or something guys” in their system. But it’s a great place to search for that mostly-forgotten reference or link your players to in order to get them briefed on a country or something.
Oh, heck, here’s a third link. No, not the Pathfinder Database, for fan created content, which I wish well and all but there’s just not a lot of quality content there so I don’t use it. But this is my #3 go to for Pathfinder…
Hero Lab, the best character builder tool for Pathfinder, many hands down. I don’t build NPCs above 3rd level without it. I’ve tried PCGen and RPGXplorer but IMO those weren’t any more helpful than doing it myself. Now, it’s for pay, and they’ll charge you for each additional bit of rules they add from the various Paizo stuff, but they’re “official” so they do have it all. I wish all the NPCs from the APs were downloadable from somewhere, that would be a huge time saver. One of our players even uses it at the table to roll and apply conditions to his PC.
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!”
If one thing’s clear from the discussion about the new Wizards license for D&D Fourth Edition, it’s that people like to spout off on the subject without knowing what the heck the OGL says, what the difference is between the OGL and d20 STL, and what an “open” license is in the first place. So here’s a convenient summary if you want to know what all of this means. Read and understand – personally, I don’t mind differing opinions, but I do mind ignorant opinions.
Open Gaming License (OGL): A license written by Wizards of the Coast to be a generic “open” license suitable for RPGs. WotC released most of the core 3e and then 3.5e D&D rules under the OGL. Many other gaming companies have published OGL games – some partly based on D&D OGL content, some completely original and unrelated to the D&D rules.
The official OGL v1.0a: http://www.wizards.com/d20/files/OGLv1.0a.rtf