(Photo courtesy of: Wizards of the Coast) The art of the source books has brought in many fans, only to be turned away by the price tag.
On the 5th of January, Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, the companies overseeing “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Magic the Gathering,” fell into hot water after planning to cancel and change their current Open Game License (OGL). This OGL allowed fans and other creators to make and monetize campaigns, monsters, magic items and rules compatible with the 5th edition of DnD.
Fans of “Dungeons and Dragons” did what they do best and gathered to fight Wizards. Countless fans canceled their paid subscriptions to DnDBeyond, the main online source of approved Wizards of the Coast “DnD” content. DnDBeyond contains source books, campaigns and other media vetted and approved by Wizards. There are limited things available to players for free, such as limited character sheets and the basic species, races, spells and rules. Due to this and the planned boycott of the upcoming movie “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”, Wizards of the Coast took back their statement on the OGL on January 27th, and are pushing the 5th edition Systems Reference Document (SRD) into the public domain.
This will allow fans to continue to make their own content for the system, and some of the base rules will become publicly accessible. The SRD is a list of rules and materials that Wizards of the Coast has deemed to be open source and fair game to use under the OGL. These changes will allow for more content to be made that is compatible with the 5th edition of “Dungeons and Dragons” and fans will return to using DnDBeyond, which will cause an uptick in revenue for Wizards of the Coast.
The removal of the OGL would have stopped more than just fan-made content for the system. It would have widely affected media such as “DnD” podcasts, including their merch being sold, or bonus content behind paywalls such as Patreon. With the rising popularity of “Critical Role” and “Dimension 20,” the OGL could have forced these very well-known live-play shows into other systems, making fans less likely to begin playing under Wizards of the Coast.
Wizards of the Coast has had their fair share of controversy in the past, especially surrounding racist depictions in their source books. Fans have not allowed any of their misdeeds to be swept under the rug, and it is doubtful they will allow the OGL scare to lay in silence even after Wizards’ new take on it. Many fans believe Wizards of the Coast’s actions were motivated by a desire for profit and a desire to keep things contained solely in their source books.
The OGL removal stemmed from something Wizards is calling “One DnD.” This is what is supposed to be the next generation of “Dungeons and Dragons.” “One DnD” is set to contain the rules and standards of the 5th edition and rules taken from the Homebrew section of DnDBeyond; in other words: it will contain rules, spells and other material that are created and posted by fans. Fans are not in favor of these new rules and standards as it is assumed that “One DnD” will be put behind a paywall, as is everything else Wizards of the Coast creates.
Through the backlash from fans, and the threats they would leave for a new system, Wizards of the Coast fell victim to the vicious mockery of their players. With the fear of an immense loss of money and players, Wizards scrambled for a few rough apologies and the new OGL. Most fans believe this was just a convoluted cash grab for Wizards and they are glad to see things falling back to where they should be.