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Will the new Open Gaming License be the death of ‘Dungeons & Dragons?’

As the Scene department’s resident “Dungeons and Dragons” connoisseur, it is my job to know about anything and everything “Dungeons & Dragons.” At the beginning of 2023, a leak of the new draft of the Open Gaming License (OGL) circulated around the internet and caused quite an uproar in the “Dungeons & Dragons” community. So much so that many people have begun to search for new systems to play, going as far as taking a trip back in time to the 1970s and picking up the very first edition of “Dungeons & Dragons.” 

So what is all of this talk about the Open Gaming License controversy? Before I dive into the fuss and give my two cents, I should explain what this actually means. The Open Gaming License is a default gaming license that allows fans of “Dungeons & Dragons” to use portions of “D&D” products without the publisher, Wizards of the Coast (WotC), overlooking them. This license is what made way for what is considered “homebrew,” or creating content that is under the “D&D” mantle but is the creator’s own work. Much of the content that is now created by “D&D” players and dungeon masters has been featured on many Wiki sites and on Wizards of the Coast’s website, DNDBeyond. With the content that is created nowadays, many of the creators will also sell their products for a decent profit. 

In late 2022, rumors began to circulate about Wizards of the Coast reaching out to third-party publishers and having them sign non-disclosure agreements. Many fans were concerned that the OGL was going to go away, thereby threatening the livelihood of homebrew content creators. But WotC came out to say that the OGL was not going away anytime soon. 

The aforementioned leak of the OGL 1.1 added the idea that those who create homebrew content would have to pay a royalty to WotC, and there would be a requirement of revenue reporting for all content creators. To say that there was a massive uproar in the “D&D” community would be a major understatement. Many people flocked to DNDBeyond and canceled their subscriptions as a way to send a message to Wizards that they messed up badly. Wizards claimed that “D&D” would be more open, which could not have been further from the truth. Many third-party publishers came out to say that they would create their own system, such as Kobold Press. 

From my perspective, I can wholeheartedly say that this new OGL is one of the most restrictive parts of “D&D” that I have ever come across. I will go on to say that “D&D” is definitely a part of my life that I will never give up. I love being able to tell an absolutely fantastical story where I get a group of people together and just play for over three hours a day. I make my own content that has my name attached to it, but I never publish any of the content. I am very concerned that with the OGL restricting this content, I now have to rely on officially published material and possibly have to pay an astronomical amount of money for being able to have access to the content that I have personally created. So, will I ever cancel my DNDBeyond subscription? Honestly, no. Even with all the controversy going on about the OGL, I always have a backup place for keeping the content that I have personally created, but there is always the fear that WotC is watching over me. 

So hopefully, Wizards of the Coast can make an ethical decision that can be in favor of all parties involved in “Dungeons & Dragons.” 

Contact Nicole at nbilyak01@saintmarys.edu.