Open Gaming License 1.2

It didn’t take long from the OGL drama, as WotC announced OGL 1.2 (via DnD beyond):

So, we’re doing two things:

  1. We’re giving the core D&D mechanics to the community through a Creative Commons license, which means that they are fully in your hands.
  2. If you want to use quintessentially D&D content from the SRD such as owlbears and magic missile, OGL 1.2 will provide you a perpetual, irrevocable license to do so.

First, forget about OGL 1.1. At least it make things clear they are starting over with a new version.


Point number one is that they put the core mechanics in a CC-BY-4.0 (from the link) Creative Commons license. This mean that forever this will be available for anyone to use.

Quoting the draft (PDF):

The core D&D mechanics, which are located at pages 56-104, 254-260, and 358-359 of this System Reference Document 5.1 (but not the examples used on those pages), are licensed to you under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). This means that Wizards is not placing any limitations at all on how you use that content

Bat in the Attic indie publisher Rob Conley gives a bit more details:

What they didn’t release is most of the “lists” that comprise DnD 5e. Only the Equipment List is part of the CC-BY content they plan to release. Classes, Spells, Monsters, and Magic Items are not.

This is way less than the System Reference Document (SRD), but for all of the core rule system, you are guaranteed it will be available to you for now and forever. This is a great news, but it you needed the SRD, it might not help.

Checkout the edit Rob posted on this website that will show you exactly what’s part of the release.

OGL 1.2

The second part is OGL 1.2 itself. Most of the controversial language was removed from 1.1 (DnD beyond):

There’s no royalty payment, no financial reporting, no license-back, no registration, no distinction between commercial and non-commercial. Nothing will impact any content you have already published under OGL 1.0a. That will always be licensed under OGL 1.0a. Your stuff is your stuff.


[…] this license specifically includes the word irrevocable.

Good. But so is OGL 1.0a.

[…] it allows us to address hateful content.

As I previously mentionned, this is the kind of good intent that end up always being twisted in one way or the other, against the principles it was written for. Notably the use of the word obscene or illegal for what is not allowed. This can become very subjective. History reminds us how what obscenity law have tone in the past in the US, etc. There is nothing wrong to want a hobby to be completely inclusive, or to not have hateful content associated with your brand. Even illegal doesn’t make it right. Some horrible things are legal in some jurisdiction and some things viewed as human rights are illegal in other jurisdictions, including in the USA. I am sure they are persons more learned than me that could weigh on this point.1 It remains one’s choice to consider the license.

[…] it only applies to published TTRPG content (including on VTTs).



Deauthorizing OGL 1.0a. We know this is a big concern. The Creative Commons license and the open terms of 1.2 are intended to help with that. One key reason why we have to deauthorize: We can’t use the protective options in 1.2 if someone can just choose to publish harmful, discriminatory, or illegal content under 1.0a. And again, any content you have already published under OGL 1.0a will still always be licensed under OGL 1.0a.

That one is probably the most controversial. It prevents publishing anything based on existing OGL 1.0a licensed content, including for publisher to continue with there own products. This is basically a revocation of the license ; and the CC licensing of the core mechanics won’t help. What about the D&D 3.5 content? 1

Wisdom save

OGL 1.2 look much better than before. WotC is not required to publishing anything under an open license, but they have a duty to not pull the rugs under licensees, which is what they still appear to do.

  1. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one in Call of Cthulhu (or a paladin in D&D). This is pure armchair understanding. Always consult a lawyer for legal advice. ↩︎ ↩︎