Back in December, Wizards of the Coast announced that their newest edition of D&D would include a revised OGL. This raised several concerns by the broader community regarding the future of the world's most popular TTRPG and its prolific community of third-party creators. Recently, a leaked version of this new OGL was made public, illustrating several sweeping changes not just to the greater D&D community, but to the landscape of smaller independent creators. The passionate outrage at the leaked document's contents has swept across social media in the form of #OpenDnD, which is calling for parent company Hasbro to reconsider putting this new license into effect. In addition, a growing collection of independent developers have signed an OGL 1.1 open letter addressed to the tabletop developer asking them to reconsider this license.
The OGL 1.1 open letter
The OGL 1.1 open letter was drafted in a blog post by the President of Jon Brazer Enterprises, Dale McCoy Jr.. The letter opens by discussing the importance of the original OGL. This foundational license led to a symbiotic relationship between Wizards of the Coast and independent creators. It allowed an entire community to experiment with a familiar system framework, gave them the freedom to make their own work, and it helped Wizards of the Coast cultivate their own team of talented developers. In many ways, if it wasn't for OGL 1.0a, certain TTRPGs just wouldn't exist in their current state today.
The OGL 1.1 open letter then illustrates the grievances with the new license. First, since this new license would revoke OGL 1.0a, it would mean breaking this symbiotic relationship that has been around for twenty years. It would also greatly restrict the freedom of smaller publishers due to layers of surveillance and loss of creators' rights to their material. Even those who agree to this new license would have to deal with the real possibility that years of their work can be upended at any point by Wizards changing the terms of the agreement; which wasn't an issue with the older license.
Finally, the last paragraphs of the OGL 1.1 open letter highlight the legal problems of those who agree to the new terms. Since the changes to the OGL require a waiver of a publisher's rights to sue over these very changes, smaller developers can potentially face lawsuits by Wizards without the possibility of raising legitimate concerns in court. For certain creatives with very little financial resources, this would be disastrous. Because of this, smaller creators are discouraged from accepting this new license because the risks outweigh the potential benefits. To quote the letter directly, "Not only is this antithetical to a symbiotic relationship, but it is also un-American. It splits the adventuring party the OGL has cultivated for over twenty years."
At the time of writing, twenty-four names have been attached to the OGL 1.1 open letter. In addition to the author, the names include Misfit Studios' Steven Trustrum, Darklight Interactive's President David Flor, and Keith Davies of Echelon Game Design.