D&D fans angered at WoTC insider email and Critical Role over OGL 1.1 response

As the concerns about the proposed Open Gaming License 1.1 (OGL 1.1) escalate, fans are further angered by an alleged WotC insider leak and the response of Critical Role.

The controversy about Wizards of the Coast’s proposed updates to Dungeons & Dragons and its Open Gaming License (OGL) continues, as an apparent insider email and the response of popular web series Critical Role added fuel to the fans’ ire.

Dnd dungeons and dragons wotc leak email critical role ogl FEATURED
As the concerns about the proposed Open Gaming License 1.1 (OGL 1.1) escalate, fans are further angered by an alleged WotC insider leak and the response of Critical Role. (Images: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro and Critical Role)

Fans and third party creators of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game have had a universally negative response to the leaked update of the OGL. Referred to as OGL 1.1 (and is now allegedly being revised to OGL 2.0), the critical reactions have centered on the restrictive provisions WotC and parent company Hasbro are proposing that open up creative theft and unfair revenue scenarios.

An alleged insider email from an employee in Wizards of the Coast was posted on Twitter by user @DnD_Shorts and shared on social media and D&D communities such as on Reddit and Discord.

The text of the email reads, as follows:

I'm an employee at WotC currently working on and with business leaders on the health of the product line. If you want I can provide proof of this.
I'm sending this message because I fear for the health of a community I love, and I know what the leaders at WOTC are looking at:
• They are briefly delaying rollout of OGL changes due to the backlash.
• Their decision making is based entirely on the provable impact to their bottom line
• Specifically they are looking at DDB subscriptions and cancellations as it is the quickest financial data they currently have.
• They are still hoping the community forgets, moves on, and they can still push this through

The second half of the email text from the purported Wizards of the Coast insider essays the reason the insider leaked this information and how the management apparently views its own customers and patrons:

I have decided to reach out because at my time in WotC I have never once heard management refer to customers in a positive manner, their communication gives me the impression they see customers as obstacles between them and their money, the DDB team was first told to prepare to support the new OGL changes and online portal when they got back from the holidays, and leadership doesnt take any responsibility for the pain and stress they cause others. Leadership's first communication to the rank and file on the OGL was 30 minutes on 1/11/23, This was the first time they even tried to communicate their intentions about the OGL to employees, and even in this meeting they blamed the community for over-reacting.
I will repeat, the main thing this leadership is looking at is DDB subscription cancellations.

Note that there is no official confirmation that this email was indeed from a WotC employee. With that said, certain parts of the email do seem consistent with the update recently posted (particularly the delay on the rollout of the full OGL 1.1 that was initially expected on January 13).


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♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Fans have referred to the questionable response of Wizards of the Coast to the concerns regarding the changes to the OGL as a form of "gaslighting". Moreover, the gaming community has apparently become united with ensuring Wizards of the Coast will listen to their concerns. And they have done this by mobilizing boycotts and unsubscribing to the D&D Beyond app and service en masse. Social media channels, such as the D&D Subreddit, have been used to organize these efforts. Regardless, the timing for the ongoing controversies with the D&D brand seems ill-fated, what with the upcoming big screen live action film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves arriving soon.

Dnd dungeons and dragons wotc leak email critical role ogl MIGHTY NEIN
Although beginning with the Pathfinder 1st edition rules, Critical Role gained much of its popularity when it adopted the 5th Edition D&D rules.

On a related note, fans of Dungeons & Dragons have been awaiting the response of the popular web series Critical Role. It is no exaggeration that Critical Role has been instrumental in bringing mainstream attention to the D&D game in the past several years.

Although the series actually began with the group using the Pathfinder 1st edition rules produced by Paizo (which is based on the OGL 1.0 and the 3/3.5 Edition of D&D), Critical Role truly hit its stride in popularity when it adopted the 5th Edition D&D rules in their games. With Matt Mercer as the Dungeon Master, Critical Role’s group of voice actors playing D&D sessions on camera helped hardcore and casual fans discover the fun and storytelling that was possible with tabletop roleplaying.

The Critical Role "let’s play" tabletop RPG web series has become such a massive success that it led to its own animated show (The Legend of Vox Machina on Amazon Prime) and established its own publishing company.

Dnd dungeons and dragons wotc leak email critical role ogl VOX MACHINA
Fans of D&D and Critical Role have expressed mixed reactions to their response to the OGL 1.1 controversy.

Critical Role finally issued an official statement regarding the OGL 1.1 situation on their social media platforms, such as Twitter:

However, fans of both D&D and the show Critical Role had mixed reactions to this response. Some have stated it does not address the valid criticisms of the provisions intended for the updated Open Gaming License. Plus, while the context is that Critical Role supports the tabletop community, it does so in very broad terms.

While their fans might not be entirely happy with the response, it should be noted that Critical Role may have agreements with Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro which they are legally contracted to adhere to.

Episodes of Critical Role can be watched on their official Twitch and YouTube channels.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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