Reports that Wizards of the Coast has sent cease and desist orders to the owners of D&D online character generators have recently surfaced. This isn't the first instance of the Hasbro-owned company sending out C&Ds. In November 2014, D&D Tools was closed, and in September 2014, Tenkar's Tavern was asked to remove their 5E spellbook generator, and the list goes on.
Wizards of the Coast taking Down Fan-Made Character Creators
Ed Friedlander received such a request from WotC after hosting D&D character generators on his site pathguy.com for nearly two decades. Now instead of his character generators, you'll find this note in their place:
After almost two decades, Wizards of the Coast has asked me to remove my online character generators. I appreciate the many people who have written and thanked me for my work, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the hobby.
As a physician and gamer, I've supported and defended the hobby, and helped concerned families understand its value.
The "Dungeons and Dragons" phenomenon has encouraged young people to study other cultures. It is a game in which people work together to accomplish a meaningful goal. Characters even define themselves in terms of their good morals and their ethics. On one level, it simulates the spiritual warfare described in the Christian scriptures and in the Arthurian legends on which the game is based. I am proud that I was able to make a contribution.
My Pathfinder and Pathfinder Psionics generators are back online. Click here for more information about this role-playing game.
In fairness, WoTC must protect its copyrighted material. They have provided a great deal of fun and meaning for all of us. My own work has been primarily an act of gratitude -- and a way of helping the four-million-plus individuals who have used my work find the same enjoyment that I have.
I have engaged counsel in the hope of coming to an understanding with WoTC. Over the years, I have made the games more accessable, promoted WoTC's products, and provided a high-profile physician's endorsement. During the 1990's, the game designers (then TSR Hobbies) with whom I spoke and corresponded appreciated my contributions to the hobby, including my online character generators. My adventure gaming site has never accepted advertising or made any money, and of course I have never pretended to own someone else's intellectual property.
Perhaps even in times like ours, we can solve this.
May your dice come up 20s.
Ed Friedlander MD
Cease & Desist Attacks
Reports of these C&Ds have mentioned that the requests have been made politely. However, the lack of 5E D&D resources available online is frustrating for many tabletop gamers that are increasingly incorporating technology into their RPing. That's not to say there aren't any online resources available for D&D, though.
Those looking for a WotC-approved character builder can subscribe to D&D Insider for a monthly fee. This service includes fourth edition resources: Character Builder, the D&D Compendium, and Adventure Tools, as well as receiving the Dragon and Dungeon Magazines. 5E content is missing from the D&DI package, though. The basic rules are also available online, free of charge.
WotC is planning on making digital versions of 5E content as well as hinting at some sort of an Open Gaming License for the latest edition. Edition 3.5 of D&D has an OGL which allows third parties to publish a myriad of support materials for the game. OGLs for games like 3.5 and Pathfinder receive a lot of use. They don't, however, make the game publisher's a lot of money. Unless you want to write up your own personal code for fifth-edition D&D character generating, you'll have to stick with low-tech pen and paper for now.
Do you use online character generators for tabletop RPGs? Do you think that WotC should find a way to co-exist with fan-made tools? Let us know your thoughts in th comments below.