Wizards of the Coast wants to ‘tighten’ the open game license (OGL) agreement they’ve extended to fans and collaborators for twenty years, in a move wildly unpopular among their fans.

The OGL, as it has stood since the early 2000s, allows users to make a wide variety of free uses of Wizards’ popular tabletop game, Dungeons & Dragons, and the immense amount of content that has been made for it. The OGL allows for a broad cottage industry surrounding the game, of players making their own content and selling it, of related games like Pathfinder and the official Star Wars Roleplaying Game. It allows for the players who organize and run the games, often at great expense, to run that service as a business, and for conventions to host massive games and for roleplaying camps to exist.

A leaked draft from Wizards of the Coast (currently owned by Hasbro) reveals that the company plans to alter the license so that anyone making money off of D&D-related content would owe Hasbro an industry-high 25% of all revenue, and grants Hasbro ownership rights over anyone’s D&D-related content, whether profit is made or not.

“It honestly feels like your grandfather paid for your college education, and now that you’re 40 years old and have a stable career, he says you owe him 25% of all the money you’ve been making,” said Baron de Ropp, a ‘game master’ who makes original storylines for many of the games he runs for corporate events and high schools. Under the proposed new license, all of his original work could soon belong to the toy company, even retroactively.

Over 66,000 fans signed an open letter to Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, and D&D Beyond, their online face. The letter expressed how betrayed they feel by the proposed changes, which they see as a money grab and an attempt to drive small-time creators out of the gaming industry. The company has not responded.

In the meantime, many players are canceling their subscriptions to D&D Beyond, and avowing they won’t ever return to Wizards’ products, even if this draft is rolled back. Public trust has been heavily damaged.

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