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  • Dungeons and Drama

    So how about all that drama with WotC and Dungeons and Dragons? WotC was caught trying to rewrite the OGL agreement, and even more, retroactively rewrite the old one, giving them potential access to anything anyone wrote under the old OGL, as well as making it so that they can collect royalties on material published under the OGL. The new agreement was leaked after they sent it to several companies demanding they sign it, and there was obviously huge pushback. WotC then claimed that it was only a draft and that they were looking for public feedback (odd that they never released the draft publicly and had sent it to companies asking that it be signed). Kobold Games and several other companies are backing out of the OGL entirely and simply releasing their own gaming systems.

    Further, more leaked data suggests that WotC is planning to push their virtual table top system hard, moving away from the traditional tabletop model and traditional paper books, so that they can introduce subscription tiers and microtransactions. There's a belief that D&D is under-monetized and that subscriptions and microtransactions will bring more money into the division. So you won't be able to use D&D Beyond and other "official" D&D online products without a subscription, or if you do, you'll have much more limited access to those with the subscription system. I've also seen some hints that you won't be able to play in the Adventurer League unless you have an ongoing subscription, though that could just be rumor.

    Anyone have any thoughts?​

  • #2
    I admit I basically live under a rock for most news, but this in particular caught me off guard when I heard about it. I’m mostly blown away on how anyone thought that this was a good idea. Like, I’m definitely not an economics person, (I find the concept of money confusing) but why would anyone think this was a good idea? As I understand, the new version basically specifically targets the biggest free advertising DnD has ever had, podcasts and stuff. Why?

    As for the second part…look I just finished being mad at coming back to a game I like to find it riddled with micro transactions, and missing a huge amount of content I actually paid for.* Did we have to bring it to my other hobby too? I admit, I never used dnd beyond past it’s free features, but I already thought the site was a little pushy with buying the automatic character builder and stuff.

    *Destiny 2


    To whomever reads this, I hope you have a good day/night. May you be Happy.

    So, I made some Mage Legacies here, with some help. They vary in quality, but I hope you take a look at them. Every one contains pieces of me, for better or worse.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TempleBuilder View Post
      I admit I basically live under a rock for most news, but this in particular caught me off guard when I heard about it. I’m mostly blown away on how anyone thought that this was a good idea. Like, I’m definitely not an economics person, (I find the concept of money confusing) but why would anyone think this was a good idea? As I understand, the new version basically specifically targets the biggest free advertising DnD has ever had, podcasts and stuff. Why?
      The new CEO in charge of WotC, Cynthia Williams, was a long time worker for Altria (parent company of Phillip Morris, which makes Marlboro, one of the biggest cigarette brands on the planet) and she did stints with Microsoft's X-box division, where she pushed for a more heavy microtransaction model, and at Amazon. Her goal, since she taking over WotC, was to increase the amount of money that its divisions pulls in. Magic the Gathering has been having a ton more releases and has been rerelesing old sets for sky high prices in order to appeal to "whales" and engaging in other profit-focused actions that have been making longtime fans unhappy. I think what we're seeing with D&D is simply those concepts that have been pushed in the Magic division begin being applied to the Dungeons and Dragons division.

      If it makes money, then it's smart. In this case though it's badly damaging and fragmenting the D&D fanbase, though if enough "whales" stick around that profits go up or stay the same, then these actions will be a success.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
        If it makes money, then it's smart. In this case though it's badly damaging and fragmenting the D&D fanbase, though if enough "whales" stick around that profits go up or stay the same, then these actions will be a success.
        That makes sense, except for the part where tabletop roleplaying games are very different from card games and video games. There really isn't that much you can sell for tabletop roleplaying games that would appeal to high-paying players*, really only some books which most people have already bought, and *maybe* those plastic figures for enemy encounters. If they were massively pushing a ton of new releases, I'd get it. I just can't see this doing anything besides making people shrug their shoulders and move to a competitor with extremely similar rules. Maybe they assume people will come back, but uh...well...there's a reason Pathfinder is a thing.

        What really makes me annoyed is I kinda agree with their assessment on dnd being under monetized...specifically, they weren't selling much in the way of books! We have had the core 3 books, and last I checked a few character option books, and a few story paths, all for a grand total of 32 books over almost a decade. Onyx path, (for multiple systems, but still) released over a 100 in 2022 alone. (If my googling is correct anyways)

        *does anyone else find the term whales kinda insulting? Like wow.


        To whomever reads this, I hope you have a good day/night. May you be Happy.

        So, I made some Mage Legacies here, with some help. They vary in quality, but I hope you take a look at them. Every one contains pieces of me, for better or worse.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TempleBuilder View Post
          What really makes me annoyed is I kinda agree with their assessment on dnd being under monetized...specifically, they weren't selling much in the way of books! We have had the core 3 books, and last I checked a few character option books, and a few story paths, all for a grand total of 32 books over almost a decade. Onyx path, (for multiple systems, but still) released over a 100 in 2022 alone. (If my googling is correct anyways)
          I remember reading somewhere that most of Paizo's Pathfinder money actually comes from their Adventure Paths. Which makes sense - character creation is relatively stagnant unless they add new Archetypes (which can be messy) or whole new classes (which can be REALLY messy), and setting books tend to only appeal to a slice of the demographic but require a lot of work to be good. Adventure Paths, on the other hand, can be published relatively easily, and there's incentive as a GM to use them and save prep time. Plus, even if you don't have a game at the moment, they can be fun to read.


          Monkish Asexual.

          I make Legacies when I'm bored. They're of middling quality, but have a look if you're interested. Advice and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

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          • #6
            WotC has had an unpleasant corporate overlord problem for two decades. The original idea of the OGL was apparently that they could offload adventure modules to other publisher's and focus on much more profitable player options , which didn't exactly work as planned (plenty of 3PP player options, of varying quality, tone, and maturity). Which is at least partially the reason for D&D4e not being OGL.

            Now I suspect what we're seeing is the shareholders wanting more profit and WotC trying to find a way to do that without restarting the supplement treadmill (because D&D has an even greater proportion of players who only buy the core book). D&D Beyond was already gearing itself towards microtransactions where you buy a specific race, class, or character portrait, and I'm fairly certain that they're planning to get money out of people subscribing for access to the books rather than buying them.

            I also suspect the OGL changes are definitely about nabbing as much revenue from Actual Plays and Solastas as possible, as well as making sure they can use the next hit stream for advertising without asking.


            Blue is sarcasm.

            If I suggestion I make contradicts in-setting metaphysics please ignore me, I probably brought in scientific ideas.

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            • #7
              OGL doesn't do much as people say. LegalEagle did a great break down of what it means, but essentially you can't copyright a tabletop system so the OGL is mostly unneeded. The most it lets you do is access the direct verbage in the DnD books themselves. I wouldn't worry much about anything from that change, it certainly doesn't affect people playing at the table.
              The bigger thing is that they're pushing their new $30/month subscription for DnD rule books. They tried this stuff before over a decade ago and we know how that turned out.

              Bright side of all of this is that every time DnD flubs up, everyone flocks to non-DnD games and get another smattering of people who want to play new games and a bunch of great indie games. Happened with 3e and then again with 4e and now here we are.


              Check out my Sorcerer 20th homebrew and my update to Highlander: the Gathering for 20th Anniversary edition.

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              • #8
                Legal Eagles video seems to ignore the content of the SRD itself. Want to make D&D without the OGL? Well then anything in the SRD has to be rewritten in a distinct enough manner in your content. Writing a Wizard subclass without the OGL means recreating every spell it would have access to. Is it doable? Absolutely, but it’ll be time consuming and add a whole lot of additional word count to the project.

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                • #9
                  Also new statement from Magicians of the Bay just dropped. https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/1428...n-game-license

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ZakRulz View Post
                    Also new statement from Magicians of the Bay just dropped. https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/1428...n-game-license

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ZakRulz View Post
                      Legal Eagles video seems to ignore the content of the SRD itself. Want to make D&D without the OGL? Well then anything in the SRD has to be rewritten in a distinct enough manner in your content. Writing a Wizard subclass without the OGL means recreating every spell it would have access to. Is it doable? Absolutely, but it’ll be time consuming and add a whole lot of additional word count to the project.
                      If you're trying to make a carbon copy clone of DnD, sure, then you need the OGL to copy the exact swaths of the SRD's text. You don't need it to merely refer to a spell's name or anything else that's not copyright protection. You can make a subclass for Wizards, reference the spells in the SRD for their spell list, all without needing the OGL. The only copyright you get access to with the OGL is the text of the SRD itself, nothing more. The OGL is basically Wizards putting a flag in the ground and saying they own a piece of public property, just because they have a flag and saying they own it doesn't mean they actually do.


                      Check out my Sorcerer 20th homebrew and my update to Highlander: the Gathering for 20th Anniversary edition.

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                      • #12
                        I’m not gonna go through the 400 pages of the SRD with a copyright lawyer (which Legal Eagle admits he is not) to attempt to figure out what is actually enforceable under the copyright and it trademark Wizards has on the document. From my conversations with other writers, the OGL is needed if you’re referencing the SRD.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by theoutlander523 View Post
                          OGL doesn't do much as people say. LegalEagle did a great break down of what it means, but essentially you can't copyright a tabletop system so the OGL is mostly unneeded. The most it lets you do is access the direct verbage in the DnD books themselves. I wouldn't worry much about anything from that change, it certainly doesn't affect people playing at the table.
                          The bigger thing is that they're pushing their new $30/month subscription for DnD rule books. They tried this stuff before over a decade ago and we know how that turned out.

                          Bright side of all of this is that every time DnD flubs up, everyone flocks to non-DnD games and get another smattering of people who want to play new games and a bunch of great indie games. Happened with 3e and then again with 4e and now here we are.
                          Legal Eagle's review was something I found very surface level and rather deficient. While yes, game mechanics aren't protected by copyright, the expression of how the game mechanics are written can be and that creates a very murky situation that can require a lot of money being spent in legal costs to fight out in court. Legal Eagle seems to really miss the historical context going on as to what the environment was prior to the OGL and why the OGL was created in the first place. He's lacking some rather fundamental information that is pretty crucial, and that was there were a number of lawsuits involved in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. The development of the OGL was a big peace offering by Wizards of the Coast with a lot of promises that following the OGL meant there wouldn't be any threat of lawsuits.

                          Evidence of those prior statements about not being able to revoke older OGLs and such would probably be binding in a court, considering they were promises made in order to convince third party publishers to get on board the OGL. But this still requires going to court and duking it out over it, and that's still money spent on lawyers and court costs. Even if a third party publisher fights against this and wins in court.... they still lose due to the sheer costs of it. And that's a threat that hangs over this whole affair.

                          Even now with their latest apology, Wizards of the Coast is silent about their previously claimed stance that they can deauthorize previous versions of the OGL. They have altered the deal, pray they don't alter it further. I don't think Wizards of the Coast is getting the trust back of third party publishers.

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                          • #14
                            The big thing the OGL gave was certainty and the knowledge you wouldn't have to defend your creation in court, which to be fair it still technically does for an RPG book (you just essentially give WotC full rights to your material). There's non-OGL games with incredible similarities to D&D, but there does exist this sort of murky grey area where you probably don't technically need to but Hasbro can spend a lot more on lawyers than you can.

                            ​​​​​​It's not that multiple companies aren't making moves towards legally distinct but technically compatible systems, I wouldn't be shocked if a lot of OGL stuff gets pulled and rereleased under some Lairs & Lizards technically compatible yet legally distinct system operating under a different open licence. OPP will probably move to Onyx20 instead if it feels the need, but there's already a couple of systems in the works by other publishers, this licence Paizo is working on, and always the option of Creative Commons licences or systems.


                            Blue is sarcasm.

                            If I suggestion I make contradicts in-setting metaphysics please ignore me, I probably brought in scientific ideas.

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                            • #15
                              I suspect that Pathfinder 2e is going to get a boost as a result of Hasbro's OGL1.1/2.0 stunt. And I'm looking forward to the Realms of Pugmire Kickstarter to get a taste of what Onyx20 is like.


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