Tuesday, March 17, 2015

And Where Is The OGL (Or Some Facsimile)?

One thing that was mentioned with the launch of D&D 5e was that there would be an OGL (Open Game License), or some equivalent released. When do we think that will be?

There have been mis-steps along the way of the launch of the new game. Delays in releases held up getting the core books out. Books were cancelled and turned into PDFs (along with claims that they were never announced). There have been the usual edition wars and hurt feelings on the internet, and Dungeons & Dragons moved into a new edition.

I think that one of the few things that gamers can probably agree on is the fact that D&D 3.x greatly benefited from having the OGL and 3rd party support. We can probably also agree that the glut of third edition materials that came out because of the OGL may have also hurt the game in the long run. That's neither here nor there.

This new edition possibly has one of the lightest release schedules this side of AD&D 1e. It has been a while since new material has come out for D&D from Wizards of the Coast. Gamers are getting restless, and there are already people claiming that the launch was a failure or that fifth edition is dead. Personally, my gaming isn't built around how much material I can buy, so this trickle of material doesn't really bother me that much, but it does bring up the question of what happened to the OGL (or equivalent) that was promised? Mike Mearls mentioned that it was

The lack of direct OGL support for D&D 5e hasn't stopped some publishers from using the existing 3.x OGL to fill in some blanks and put out support for the game. One of the things that hampers these coming, but still no hints of glimmers even.efforts is the lack of ability to claim support with the new edition. The one/two punch of the 3.x OGL/SRD and the d20 Logo License opened up a lot of potential in the market. Not only could you use the mechanics from D&D 3.x as is (yes, I understand that game mechanics cannot be copyrighted, but when going for compatibility with a specific game being able to use the exact wording of the mechanics is helpful) but you could put on the cover of your book that it was compatible with Dungeons & Dragons. That alone was worth using the licenses for a lot of publishers.

Yes, I get that some people think that they don't have to use the OGL, and that is fine, too. This discussion isn't about that.

Just speaking as a gaming fan, and sometimes designer, I would like to see any open content from the fifth edition rules releases under the same OGL as third edition. Why? It will facilitate the pollination of material between the editions, making it easier for the good 3.x material to be brought over to the new edition. This was a problem with 4th edition, because the licenses wouldn't allow easy conversion of material from one system to the other. I think that it will be interesting to see how some of the player bits from the new edition (the stuff that I really liked) will work out with some of that material. Or maybe we can see the addition of things like advantage and disadvantage, and Backgrounds, worked into some of the material forked off of the 3rd edition material (like in retroclones). There is so much potential for material that, and I think that it wants to get out.

So, the question remains: Where is the OGL for Dungeons & Dragons Wizards of the Coast?