Huge news breaking in the past hour: In a totally shocking reversal, D&D and its parent companies Wizard of the Coast and Hasbro have abandoned plans for a restrictive update to the Open Gaming License (OGL) that would revoke the existing OGL v1.0. Even more shocking, they have released their “System Reference Document” for free under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License!
I first wrote about these changes and the depressing effect they have on TTRPG creators and players alike a few weeks ago.
The OGL v1.0 is the license that allows 3rd-Party creators to publish products that use the rules and core concepts of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
Now, D&D has gone beyond re-affirming their support for that license by offering free and irrevocable access to their entire 5th edition core ruleset – called the System Reference Document (SRD) under Creative Commons.
The now freely-available information not only includes rules of play, but standard spells, and classic D&D monster state blocks. You can access the massive 400+ page document here.
This is a massive shift, not only compared to the proposed restrictive OGL v1.2, but compared to what anyone imagined was possible a few months ago.
In the words of D&D executive producer Kyle Brink from his announcement post:
This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don’t control that license and cannot alter or revoke it. It’s open and irrevocable in a way that doesn’t require you to take our word for it. And its openness means there’s no need for a VTT policy. Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There’s no going back.
Our goal here is to deliver on what you wanted.
Of course, many 3rd Party producers have already announced creating their own open gaming platforms, like Paizo and Kobold Press. However, D&D has undercut those plans by making the 5e rules available in Creative Commons in perpetuity. That changes the playing field for smaller creators, who can continue to create content that will sell to 5e fans with total security.