By now, many of you will be aware of the ongoing controversy surrounding Dungeons & Dragons and the Open Gaming License (OGL). The OGL was created by Wizards of the Coast (the company that owns D&D, now a subsidiary of Hasbro) in 2000. It allows third party creators to make use of D&D’s basic rules, concepts, names, and systems in their own commercial products. Over the years, a lot of content has been released and shared using the OGL – by Wizards of the Coast and others. One document released under the OGL is the 5E System Reference Document (SRD), last updated in 2016 (available here).
For the past 23 years, the Open Gaming License has helped revitalize the game of Dungeons & Dragons and engendered a vibrant creative community, creating jobs, fostering talent, and enriching the TTRPG space with ideas.
In conjunction with the launch of OneD&D, Wizards of the Coast apparently intends to attempt to revoke the OGL as it currently stands, and replace it with a far more restrictive version that will be considered non-viable by most independent creators. By now, you may have heard the changes dissected and speculated about quite a bit.
If you would like a good general summary of the issues surrounding the OGL right now, we recommend this article: https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/gaming/how-dnd-open-gaming-license-changes-will-impact-other-ttrpgs/ar-AA164K6Z
…and also this video posted earlier this week by the Dungeon Dudes: https://youtu.be/szUnCuXVEJ8
Here is a lengthier piece in Vice:
Cast Party and the OGL
We have received some questions from our audience about the ways in which the OGL does and doesn’t affect the things that we do as Cast Party.
The short answer is that the OGL has no direct effect on Cast Party’s activities. But there are certainly potential indirect effects, and we are concerned about how changes to the OGL will impact the tabletop roleplaying community as a whole.
In further detail, the OGL does not affect professional Dungeon Masters or game masters. It also does not affect actual play shows like our productions of PodCast Party: Descent into Avernus or PodCast Party: Memories of Holdenshire, and it does not affect shows like Power Word TALk, wherein we talk about issues affecting D&D and other tabletop role-playing games and related topics.
Cast Party’s Tal Aviezer and Andy Cannistra have created some original adventures and other material that has been published on Dungeon Masters Guild. Wizards of the Coast is the publisher for all products on Dungeon Masters Guild; these products operate under a separate license and do not use the OGL. Changes to the OGL will not affect products we have already published on Dungeon Masters Guild, nor will any future stuff we choose to publish there be affected.
So how COULD changes to the OGL effect Cast Party?
Cast Party is part of an ecosystem of independent creators who love Dungeons & Dragons, and whose work intertwines and supports one another. One example: our current PodCast Party: Memories of Holdenshire limited series is sponsored by EN Publishing, an independent TTRPG publisher which for the past 20 years has relied on the OGL to make their products possible. We have been grateful for their support. But EN Publishing and other indie creators, the creators and publishers and small businesses who are most likely to support and collaborate with Cast Party, are exactly the folks who will be hurt the most by these changes. Some of them, frankly, are going to close up shop if and when these changes to the OGL are executed by WotC. Others will scramble to adapt and survive in a very challenging and uncertain environment.
In short, de-authorizing the current OGL, and particularly the 5th Edition SRD, will very likely disrupt and shrink the entire TTRPG community. There will be fewer third party adventures, ideas, books, VTT products, and supplements. There will be fewer people working in the TTRPG space, period. Wizards of the Coast, frankly, will choke its own talent pipelines by forcing folks out of the industry. And players and DMs everywhere will flat-out have fewer options and resources when it comes to playing the game they love, Dungeons & Dragons.
The OGL brought us Pathfinder. It brought us Solasta. It brought us Kobold Press, Lord of the Rings RPG, Star Wars RPGs, Ghostfire Games, Frog God Games, Green Ronin, MCDM, EN Publishing, and so many others. The architects of 5th edition D&D learned their craft working for these and similar companies. Where will the future designers of D&D perfect their craft? If there is no OGL, and no potential to create and sell their own products, will the next upcoming group of game-changing Critical Role-calibur talent decide it’s not even worth giving it a shot in the TTRPG space? Would D&D be as successful as it currently is without the contributions of third party creators, including Critical Role?
What will Cast Party do?
Like the entire TTRPG community, we are scrambling to navigate the potential changes. We love the game of Dungeons & Dragons and we’re going to keep playing it with you. However, in the year ahead, look for us to offer more play sessions featuring other independent TTRPG games in addition to D&D (as we have done with Blades in the Dark), and also look for us to collaborate with EN Publishing and other indie creators to showcase their work and products in ways that we think our audience will find entertaining, exciting, and fun.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions during this confusing time.