The 403-page Dungeons & Dragons game system is now licensed under Creative Commons
It’s now official: Dungeons & Dragons is licensed under the Creative Commons. This makes the popular tabletop role-playing game “freely available for any use,” Dungeons & Dragons executive producer Kyle Brink wrote in a blog post today.
A few weeks ago, this outcome seemed impossible. About a month ago, Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) — the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons and a subsidiary of Hasbro — sent a new open gaming license (OGL) document to major Dungeons & Dragons content creators, containing the request to sign what they called “OGL 1.1.” The existing OGL, in effect since 2000, allowed third-party creators to use the expansive game system to sell their own spellbooks, modules, virtual tabletops (VTTs), and other content that helped grow the game to the mega-success it has become. it’s today. But certain conditions in the updated document would have made it impossible for these independent companies to continue. Some creators leaked the document in protest, revealing the predatory terms that would choke the prolific fan community. More than 77,000 creators and fans signed an open letter opposing these changes, with some going so far as to cancel their subscriptions to D&D Beyond, an online platform for the game. Finally, WoTC admitted that they “rolled a 1”, or in other words, messed up really badly.
Last week, fans were pleasantly surprised when Brink announced last week that the company was planning to release game content under a Creative Commons license, a complete reversal of the original restrictive plan. Today, after receiving feedback from over 15,000 fans, Dungeons & Dragons has officially released the game system under this smooth license, in all 403 pages of its glory.
In fact, the company was concerned about how last week’s initial Creative Commons proposal would affect VTTs, or software that allows people to play TTRPGs remotely. Now WoTC has even reversed those provisions while also keeping the original OGL in effect.
“This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use,” Brink wrote in today’s blog post. “We have no control over that license and cannot change or revoke it. It’s open and irrevocable in a way that doesn’t require you to take our word for it. And because of the openness there is no need for a VTT policy. Placing the [Systems Reference Document] under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There is no way back.”
As it turns out, fan communities can accomplish a lot when they work together. Just ask Ticketmaster.