Apology and survey for Dungeons & Dragons OGL 1.2 raise new questions

After a blitz of controversy, the designers of Dungeons & Dragons finally respond with an apology for the unpopular OGL 1.1, but the survey for OGL 1.2 casts more questions.

The Dungeons & Dragons design team finally issues an apology and makes the OGL 1.2 draft available to feedback from fans in the form of a playtest and survey.

Dungeons and dragons ogl apology playtest survey FEATURED
After a blitz of controversy, the designers of Dungeons & Dragons finally respond with an apology for the unpopular OGL 1.1, but the survey for OGL 1.2 casts more questions. (Images: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro)

It is no understatement to say that the past few weeks have been tumultuous for Wizards of the Coast, parent company Hasbro, and the Dungeons & Dragons brand. After the alleged leak of the Open Gaming License version 1.1, fans and third party creators of the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game were united in their uproar.

But while the first official response of the company still resulted in a largely negative reaction, the design team issued and apology, as well as a new version of the OGL that might be better received.

On the official D&D Beyond blog, Executive Producer Kyle Brink posted a response that aims to address fans' and third party creators' concerns about the game, referring to it as a "path forward".

Brink began with a positive note, apologizing and taking ownership for the chaotic events since the OGL 1.1 was leaked:

First, though, let me start with an apology. We are sorry. We got it wrong.

Our language and requirements in the draft OGL were disruptive to creators and not in support of our core goals of protecting and cultivating an inclusive play environment and limiting the OGL to TTRPGs. Then we compounded things by being silent for too long. We hurt fans and creators, when more frequent and clear communications could have prevented so much of this.

However, some fans are unhappy that the verbiage referring to the OGL leak was a "draft".

According to the sources of these leaks, it was not a draft, but the final version of the OGL 1.1 and was already set to be rolled out, if not for the massively hostile pushback against it.

Dungeons and dragons ogl apology playtest survey TIAMAT
The leaked OGL 1.1 (and the revised OGL 1.2) is intended to address the D&D brand being "undermonetized".

The next part of the post shared that a new iteration of the OGL documentation will be available in a similar way as D&D Playtest materials. In addition, users of D&D Beyond will be able to respond to a survey regarding the proposals:

The survey will remain open for at least two weeks, and we’ll give you advance notice before it closes so that everyone who wants to participate can complete the survey. Then we will compile, analyze, react to, and present back what we heard from you.

There are fans who are critical of this method of feedback, as the results of the survey would not be available publicly, thus lacking in transparency. On the other hand, there are fans happy with this more democratic approach compared to the earlier OGL 1.1.

The final part of the post appears to be direct responses to the key issues raised about the prior OGL provisions:

Any changes to the OGL will have no impact on at least these creative efforts:

  • Your video content. Whether you are a commentator, streamer, podcaster, liveplay cast member, or other video creator on platforms like YouTube and Twitch and TikTok, you have always been covered by the Wizards Fan Content Policy. The OGL doesn’t (and won’t) touch any of this.
  • Your accessories for your owned content. No changes to the OGL will affect your ability to sell minis, novels, apparel, dice, and other items related to your creations, characters, and worlds.
  • Non-published works, for instance contracted services. You use the OGL if you want to publish your works that reference fifth edition content through the SRD. That means commissioned work, paid DM services, consulting, and so on aren’t affected by the OGL.
  • VTT content. Any updates to the OGL will still allow any creator to publish content on VTTs and will still allow VTT publishers to use OGL content on their platform.
  • DMs Guild content. The content you release on DMs Guild is published under a Community Content Agreement with Dungeon Masters Guild. This is not changing.
  • Your OGL 1.0a content. Nothing will impact any content you have published under OGL 1.0a. That will always be licensed under OGL 1.0a.
  • Your revenue. There will be no royalty or financial reporting requirements.
  • Your ownership of your content. You will continue to own your content with no license-back requirements.

This seems to be a step in the right direction, but many D&D fans and third party creators are still unsatisfied, as they question the actual need for any new OGL. Why not simply keep the OGL 1.0a as it is? For the most part, those still opposing any changes prefer to just add the "irrevocable" clause to the original version of the OGL.

The OGL Playtest was made available in a later post, as well as additional details, including making the D&D core mechanics available as a Creative Commons License:

We're giving the core D&D mechanics to the community through a Creative Commons license, which means that they are fully in your hands.

If you want to use quintessentially D&D content from the SRD such as owlbears and magic missile, OGL 1.2 will provide you a perpetual, irrevocable license to do so.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit dedicated to sharing knowledge, and it developed a set of licenses to let creators do that. The Creative Commons license we picked lets us give everyone those core mechanics. Forever. Because we don't control the license, releasing the D&D core rules under the Creative Commons will be a decision we can never change.

The latter part of the update reiterates that the changes proposed for OGL 1.2 and to deauthorize OGL 1.0a are to address potential issues with inclusive play, Virtual Tabletops (VTTs), and apparent hateful content.

Dungeons and dragons ogl apology playtest survey SALTMARSH
Will the new Dungeons & Dragons core mechanics playtest and survey end the bad publicity from the OGL 1.1?

Will this finally end the controversy behind the OGL? Will the backlash be over against the D&D live action movie and even the popular "let's play" web series Critical Role? Regardless, it is clear WotC and Hasbro are intent on officially modifying the Open Gaming License in order to resolve the alleged undermonetization of the D&D brand.

The draft for the Open Gaming License 1.2 and System Reference Document (SRD) playtest, as well as the link to the survey, can be found on D&D Beyond. The survey itself will remain open until February 3.

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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