It’s been nearly two weeks since the “leak” of D&D’s potential new Open Gaming License (OGL).
No doubt you’ve already seen countless posts, tweets, videos, and emails from other creators and fans in the community. Heck, this has even been getting coverage in mainstream news!
These last two weeks have been… stressful… to say the least…
I have to admit, this is an article that I have written and rewritten more times than I can even count. But, ultimately, I want this to be something from the heart.
So, in this article, we’re going to go over the broad strokes of what #OpenDnD is about, why this new OGL is something we need to take action against, and what you can do to help.
We’ll also take a look at what I expect the future holds for Tabletop Joab.
Let’s get into it.
The OGL and #OpenDnD
Rather than going over this entire issue in a single post, I’m going to cover the main points of the OGL issue.
- The original OGL has been around since 2000 and is what has allowed content creators and third-party publishers to legally create materials to be used with D&D.
- Wizards of the Coast secretly approached influential creators to have them sign NDAs before the OGL was released. This was also paired with “sweetheart deals” for those who signed.
- The OGL requires creators making over $750k/year to pay royalties of 20% of revenues.
- It also requires creators making over $50k/year to register their products and report earnings.
- WotC is able to use creators’ ideas without having to pay or credit them.
- Creators cannot sue WotC and waive their right to trial by jury.
This proposed license is about as one-sided as it could possibly get. Needless to say, the D&D and wider TTRPG community have been making their stance on the matter clear.
Needless to say, releasing a statement that says “we both won” has only further infuriated the community.
For a more detailed look at what’s happening, I think Professor Dungeonmaster over a Dungeon Craft knocked it out of the park with the video I’ll share below. I’m a big fan of his channel, and I think it’s safe to say that he speaks for most (if not all) of us here.
Whatever benefit of the doubt could have been given to WotC has been largely eroded.
By refusing to be honest and forthcoming with the community that has so fervently supported them for so long, they have drawn a line in the sand.
Why Does This Matter Anyway?
First things first, attempting to lay claim to the intellectual property and creative work of creators within this community is simply horrible and disgusting.
But doubling down and attempting to gaslight the community of fans while offering only coded-language PR-speak garbage “apologies” is just despicable.
The sheer audacity and unmitigated hubris behind WotC’s insultingly tone-deaf response (or, perhaps more accurately, lack thereof) is truly unbelievable.
Even Vecna would be shaking his head in disbelief.
But why does #OpenDnD matter?
The short answer is because the community built this brand into what it is. From blogs like this one to YouTube channels, podcasts, meme groups, Twitch streams, and even just a group of friends getting together to roll dice every other Sunday.
#OpenDnD matters because this wonderful, vibrant, fun, and supportive community of tabletop gamers new and old matters.
If WotC hasn’t already soiled its entire reputation by trading literal decades of community support for a cash grab, then they’re dangerously close to it. This community will go where it is appreciated beyond simply contributing to the company’s bottom line.
But all business is people business.
It’s those people that have made D&D into the world’s greatest roleplaying game.
It’s those people that have made the game more popular than it has ever been, introduced countless people to the game that would have never played otherwise, and contributed to the culture around the hobby to make it something truly special.
Whether you ever bought from a third-party publisher or not.
Whether you ever engaged with D&D content creators or not.
The existence of these entities has been a vital part of what keeps the game moving forward with new innovations, incredible ideas, and a cultural reach that extends beyond just itself.
Without them, the game will grow stale.
But if they can’t own their work, they will stop creating which means that the game will grow stale and wither away.
Because no matter how WotC tries to paint these creators in a negative light, you must realize that those creators were fans of the game first and foremost.
To look at the passion of these creators and what they put out into the community to further empower groups to tell stories that they’ll remember for the rest of their life and act like they’re nothing more than obstacles to be overcome is, in a word, betrayal.
Et tu, WotC?
The Future of Tabletop Joab
I’ve been open in past updates about my struggles with anxiety and depression. Needless to say, it’s been a rough couple of weeks on my end.
My willpower to write anything, even a simple tweet on this matter, was completely drained watching this unfold. But I’m getting my drive back.
So, what’s the future of Tabletop Joab?
First things first, I’m not signing anything and I have no plans to support future releases until WotC begins treating the community with the respect it deserves.
Though whether that comes sooner, later, or even at all is anyone’s guess.
Secondly, I’m taking a few weeks off.
Not only has this situation left me completely gutted, but it has also seriously derailed so freaking much that I have been working on.
I had planned to release some exciting game materials, but those will need to be reworked. Furthermore, it looks like the best move will be in expanding beyond just Tabletop Joab and making a proper publishing brand that can exist outside of WotC.
While that’s incredibly exciting (and scary), it will take a ton of work, so I’ll be working on that during my hiatus. I hope that this is a venture that I can count on you to support me in.
(You can sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar or at the bottom of this article so we can stay in touch no matter what happens.)
But rest assured, the ideas that the team I’m assembling and I have been talking about are going to be seriously awesome!
Last but not least, I will resume publishing content related to D&D 5e when I return.
I’m still committed to being as helpful as possible for your D&D game. I just need some time to recharge and will need to reprioritize how my upload schedule looks.
I’ve published 320 articles in slightly over 2 years which makes for an average of publishing an article every 2-3 days in that time. Simply put, I’d like some time to rest and refocus my energy.
When I return, I’ll be finishing the remaining Fighter guides before finally starting the Wizard class guides.
At least for now, I’m still committed to making Tabletop Joab the most helpful D&D 5e site that I can.
While I may or may not branch out into publishing helpful content for other games/systems in time, I at least want to continue to support the PLAYERS and COMMUNITY that are still playing D&D 5e.
What Can You Do?
As it stands, there are three primary ways that you can make an immediate impact on this situation beyond just discussing it.
Firstly, you can cancel your subscription to D&D Beyond.
This is where the community is taking its stand against WotC’s actions.
It has been made abundantly clear that this is the metric that WotC’s executives are most closely looking at as it relates to their overall strategy of increasing monetization through D&D (i.e. stifling competition and assaulting players with microtransactions).
Hitting them in the pocketbook is the best way to send a message that we’re not going to stand for this.
Next, you can support other game publishers.
Personally, I’m excited to start diving into Mork Borg and rediscovering my love of Vampire: The Masquerade.
I would ask you to explore what’s out there and find ideas that continue to inspire you. You’ll be surprised at just how many wonderful TTRPGs are out there just waiting for you to try them!
Last but not least, you can continue to support your favorite D&D content creators.
Regardless of what kind of content they make, creators work hard to contribute in meaningful ways to the D&D community.
I think I can safely speak for all D&D content creators when I say that our biggest goal is just to help you have the best D&D game possible!
But between worrying about WotC’s moves and watching a large exodus of players from the D&D space, many creators are justifiably concerned and exhausted.
It’s never been just about the game or the brand. It’s about the community and a shared love of TTRPGs and what makes them such a fun hobby.
While buying merch or donating to a Patreon/Kofi or whatever are definitely much-appreciated ways to help, even a supportive email can mean the world.
Plenty of creators far bigger than I am have already lent their voices in support of #OpenDnD. I regret that I am only just now finding the mental energy to write this article, but I can’t stay silent.
I’m so proud of Tabletop Joab and the truly wonderful interactions I’ve had with readers like you who find their way to this little corner of the internet.
But good things are coming, one way or another.
I would highly encourage you to sign up for my newsletter below. It’s the best way to stay in touch and I’ll be able to keep you up to date on where things are going.
I don’t know what lies ahead, but I can promise you it won’t be boring!
See you in a few weeks!
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