Welcome to the Cannibal Halfling Weekend Update! Start your weekend with a chunk of RPG news from the past week. We have the week’s top sellers, industry news stories, and discussions from elsewhere online.
DriveThruRPG Top Sellers for 12/24/2022
- Central Supply Catalogue Update 2023
- Rolemaster Core Law
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar Soulbound: Era of the Beast
- Blade Runner RPG Core Rulebook
- The Atlas of the Latter Earth
Top News Stories
Wizards of the Coast releases OGL 1.1: After a good month or so of rumors swirling about the OGL, Wizards has come out and announced OGL 1.1, a minor revision of the OGL which updates the language on two main points. First, the new version of the OGL reinforces the language that defines the bounds of the license, namely that the OGL is for game content and only game content. This is not a material change from the earlier license, but the language has been called out as helping Wizards prevent others from minting NFTs of D&D IP, for one example. Second, the new version will require anyone publishing OGL content commercially to sign the new license, report their income, and pay a royalty if their revenue exceeds $750,000.
These announcements have caused some gnashing of teeth, both warranted and unwarranted. The unwarranted side is about VTT content and Actual Plays. These types of content do not fall under the terms of the OGL, so the new version will not affect them. Actual Plays will operate in the same legal environment they always have, and VTT creators still won’t be allowed to use official art assets or create game software without a separate license. This is one of the main reasons that Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds have already signed license agreements with Wizards of the Coast, and a change to the OGL is unlikely to change anything in this regard.
On the warranted side comes the issue of signing the license (thereby not making the license open) and paying royalties. OGL 1.0 has the following text in section 9:
“9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.”
First, this means that any content originally published under OGL 1.0 is still good, and anyone publishing content in a game system licensed under 1.0 is also fine (that is to say, nobody has to worry about Paizo). It does imply that the reason WotC is making creators sign the license (agreeing to the terms and then notifying the counterparty is de facto the same as signing a document) is that that’s the only way to bring section 9 out of force, to get the counterparty to sign their right to use OGL 1.0 away. The reason this matters is the royalty issue. How much revenue will OGL 1.1 make when it comes into force in 2024? None, because every creator who falls under the $750,000+ rule will cite all their work under OGL 1.0. Thanks to how OGL 1.0 is written (specifically the three uses of the word ‘any’ in the section cited above), it’s very difficult for Wizards to claim that they gave themselves any power to disallow use of the earlier iteration of the license. This is going to test Wizards and their promise to offer backward compatibility, considering that a new SRD for OneD&D is likely their only legal lever for compliance with the new OGL. How this all ends remains to be seen, especially as the text of OGL 1.1 has yet to be released.
Discussion of the Week
Does a ‘pacifist’ RPG exist?: Frequent readers of Cannibal Halfling know that there are definitely pacifist RPGs out there, and one I personally really like, Wanderhome, is one of the top threads in this discussion. What makes this the discussion of the week for me, though, is you can see everyone grappling with the fact that role-playing games are violent because they choose to center violence, not because of anything inherent in the medium or mechanics.
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