Following controversial changes to Dungeons & Dragons’ decades-old Open Gaming License (OGL), “many prominent third-party RPG publishers now say they’re abandoning the OGL, regardless of what changes [publisher Wizards of the Coast (WotC)] officially releases in a coming new version,” reports Ars Technica. “What’s more, many in the community have now lost faith in WotC’s stewardship of the licensed rules system that has underpinned so much of the industry’s last two decades.” From the report: Pathfinder publisher Paizo Inc. is behind perhaps the biggest effort to move the industry away from WotC’s OGL. The company announced last Thursday that it is creating a new Open RPG Creative License (ORC) designed to be “open, perpetual, and irrevocable.” […] Regardless of the legal fate of the OGL, Paizo says it wants to “irrevocably and unquestionably keep alive the spirit of the Open Game License” with its new ORC. The system-agnostic license, designed with the help of IP law firm Azora Law, will eventually be controlled and protected by a nonprofit akin to the Linux Foundation, the company says. Until that new license is ready, upcoming Paizo products will be printed without any explicit license, the company says.
Paizo’s ORC effort has already drawn some significant support from the community. Call of Cthulhu and Runequest publisher Chaosium, which never used the WotC OGL for its products in the first place, nonetheless writes that it’s “very happy to be working with the rest of the industry to come up with a system-wide OGL that anyone can use.” Popular D&D module publisher Kobold Press has also lent its support to Paizo’s ORC product but stopped just short of committing to use it for its just-announced Core Fantasy ruleset, codenamed Project Black Flag. Instead, Kobold says it is “wait[ing] to see exactly what shape the Open Gaming License might take in this new era” and “will review the terms and consider whether they fit the needs of our audience and our business goals” when the updated OGL is eventually released. Mutants & Masterminds publisher Green Ronin is also on board with the ORC, with founder and President Chris Pramas publicly comparing the current OGL fiasco to WotC’s disastrous attempt to push a new Game System License for the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons back in 2008.
Apart from the companies backing Paizo’s ORC — including Legendary Games and Rogue Genius — some tabletop publishers are creating their own licenses or finding other ways to extricate themselves from the WotC OGL. Blade Runner RPG and Mutant: Year Zero publisher Free League, for instance, says it’s overhauling its unique Year Zero Engine to remove any WotC OGL content. At the same time, it’s creating a new “irrevocable, worldwide, and royalty-free” license for anyone who wants to use that engine in their own games. […] Old-School Essentials publisher Necrotic Gnome has similarly announced that it’s “moving away from the OGL” for its future products. The company is leaving a bit of wiggle room, saying it will be “keeping an eye on developments” and that its next move “will depend on how the OGL topic develops over the coming months.” But Necrotic Gnome adds that “the direction is clear,” and that direction is toward “an alternative open license,” which could end up being Paizo’s ORC. Arcadia publisher MCDM and publisher Basic Fantasy also have plans to abandon the D&D 5th edition ruleset. “Troll Lord Games, meanwhile, publicly abandoned the OGL weeks ago and liquidated its existing stock of 5th-edition D&D products, ‘never to be revisited again, in any edition,'” adds Ars.