Editor’s Note: I wrote this before the decision to reverse course by Hasbro. Turns out all of the gnashing of teeth and wailing worked for now. However, I now see that emboldened nerds and some of them push for more. Some people are never happy.
If you wonder what the D&D OGL covers, then join me as I give a TLDR version. As I understand it, the document gives the community the ability to make homebrew content and make money from that content. Wikipedia explains it in better detail if you want more than that. I only know about the document now because a leak showed that Hasbro/WotC meant to update it.
And by update it, of course, the mean to basically gut the thing and make it almost impossible for anyone but them to make money from the game. Please bear in mind that all of my information here comes from the sometimes less than reliable world of social media (Facebook mostly), so take this whole article with a grain of salt if you want. However, I will say that they reversed course pretty quickly once people started to get loud about it. So, methinks that they hit a nerve.
Warning: Anti-Capitalist Message Ahead
I mean, just this weekend I said to a friend, “I’m about to sound like a communist sympathizer here.” I say this to provide context. Believe me when I say that I have no use for large corporations throwing their weight around to bully citizens. On the other hand, having grown up to see nerd culture become popular culture, I watch as nerds have almost weekly breakdowns over something or another. Captain Marvel? A more diverse Star Wars?
So, ignorant of the details in the first case and my opinion colored by the history of the second, initially I shrugged at the news. Obviously, I came down on the wrong side of history. People kept trying to explain to me that Critical Role might suffer because of it. I don’t interact with them at all, so that didn’t bother me.
I soon learned that Pathfinder came into existence because of the D&D OGL. Okay, I though, this could be big. Then, it trickled down into some of the Patreon campaigns that I support. Once that happened, I realized that I made a mistake by writing it off as another nerd temper tantrum.
I wanted to end New Year, New Games 2023 on a more positive note. Unfortunately, I also wanted to come clean. With all of that being said, I can’t find it in me to be all that fussed about the D&D OGL. Sure, it harms player and potentially the game. But, as Blizzard shows time and time again, if you give players enough time, they forgive and forget nearly everything. Come back after the next season of Stranger Things and this will all become a footnote in history.
Besides, unless you belong to Critical Role or one of the half dozen (maybe) other content creators that this affects, simply ignore the new OGL. Go on about your business playing Dungeons and Dragons as you do with your friends and family. Plenty of resources exist out there to enhance your gaming experience for every edition of the game. And, if it doesn’t, here’s an idea. Come up with the resource on your own and share it with those you love. My favorite D&D experience came from writing the adventure for Quinn. I loved it so much, I planned several others. Just get out there and have fun.