There has been much discussion over the past few days about the concept of an #OpenDnD. It all started with concerns that Wizards of the Coast would not be releasing an Open Gaming License (OGL) for the upcoming 6th edition of DnD (known as OneDnD for now). The OGL allows content creators to use the terminology and specific names of game mechanics from DnD in their own works that they can then sell without any interference from WotC. The fear in the community was that since WotC had not come out and openly said how the OGL would work for 6th edition, there was going to be some sort of shakeup in content creation. 

This sense of unease was compounded last week with the news that WotC had been inviting select content creators to talk about the OGL for 6th edition, under the cover of non-disclosure agreement. Instead of an open forum on how a new OGL might work, it seemed more like the backroom deals one might see in how companies lobby for political favors. What could be so secretive about a new OGL that required an NDA, and why was the community at large not involved in this discussion of the future of creating content for DnD? 

The Statement

Wizards finally answered our questions with a statement on DnD Beyond, the newest member of the Wizards of the Coast and by extension toy maker Hasbro family. The announcement seemed pretty cut and dried; there would be an OGL for the next edition of DnD, and things would mostly operate the same besides a few minor changes. Two notable changes would be that creators earning more than $750k USD annually from OGL content will have to pay WotC royalties (percentage undisclosed), and creators who earn more than $50k annually will simply need to report their income to WotC with no royalties required. The article is quick to point out that since only roughly 20 companies meet the $750k threshold, this impact on the creator community should be minimal, and we have all been worrying for nothing. Nothing to see here, all is fine. Nothing sinister is lurking under the surface of these gentle waves of change. 

Now this is just my take as a random person on the Internet with a business degree, but I believe those who are saying this statement clears everything up with no cause for concerns are missing the huge implications of these seemingly minor changes.

Bait and Switch

The first substantial change is that Wizards is now charging royalties on some OGL content. That’s big. That’s money that was before going into the creators' pockets now going to Hasbro executives, who only a few weeks ago mentioned how they thought DnD was under-monetized.

They are also making OGL content creators report their earnings if they are above the $50k threshold. Why would they do this? Well, t
he obvious implication in my mind is that they are going to see how much money the OGL market is making as a whole, and use that data to inform future decisions on the threshold rate of being charged a royalty for selling OGL content. They’ve already crossed the bridge by charging royalties on the top creators, it will be easy baby steps to keep lowering the threshold of when royalties need to come in. 

Everything is Fine!

This also explains to me the whole controversy around having only select creators being invited to discuss the OGL for OneDnD behind an NDA. When you are going to do something as monumental as charging royalties where you never have before, you want your top content producers on board. So, you wine and dine them secretly to make sure that when the change is officially announced, they will all come out and say how even though they are taking a financial loss they support the changes due to how gracious WotC has been in the past. And of course if a creator like Critical Role says it's ok, and they are the ones going to be taking the biggest hit in profits, then there is no reason for the smaller creators to complain.

You get the community to accept what has happened and have them all think it only impacts those at the top of the food chain. Then the real changes start. Wizards' knows exactly how much those lower than the $750k a year threshold are making and uses that data (that they didn't have before) to 'tweak' the royalty threshold, bringing it down just enough to scoop up some more of the bigger content creators without ruffling too many feathers. Nobody complains, as it's still only the "top 10% of content creators" or whatever BS statistic WotC throws out to justify it.

Then you rinse and repeat, all the while leaning on your big dogs to proclaim how 'grateful' we should all be just to have the honor of making OGL content and giving Hasbro our money.

The End of #OpenDnD?

I really do hope I'm wrong, as I believe this has the potential to negatively impact many DnD content creators. But I think we have all seen time and time again when a large organization has to choose between increased profits or better community support, the choice is a foregone conclusion. Time will tell if this is the end of #OpenDnD as we know it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments on the OGL controversy. 


  1. I have had many people point out to me on social media that Article 9 of the OGL 1.0a states that any version of the OGL remains valid for use, so creators can just use that. My thought is that I have heard it speculated that WotC could sue to try to remove the old OGL. They will lose the court case, but until it is settled they could use the pending trial to prevent anyone use from using the old OGL to publish new content. Thus trying to force people to use the new OGL.

    People replied why didn't they do that for 4e? But one major thing has changed. WotC is now a legal division of Hasbro as of 2021, whereas before they were separate legal entities. The same Hasbro who says DnD is under-monetized. A parent company potentially willing to break some community goodwill trying to get rid of the old OGL to increase profit margins on their new 'lifestyle' brand.

    I'm not saying it will 100% happen, I'm just saying I see some writing on the wall that makes me think it is possible if not likely


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