Dungeons & Dragons – Upcoming Changes to the SRD and OGL

We’ve known for a while that a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons – known as One D&D – was in the works over at Wizards of the Coast. But now, we get this here D&D Beyond article that clarifies some things regarding the fate of the Open Game License (OGL) and Systems Reference Document (SRD) moving forward.

And while those of you mostly interested in the pen and paper side of D&D shouldn’t have much to worry, the new rules seem to be quite restrictive when it comes to the video game side of things, with commercial projects now requiring a custom agreement with WoTC.

It’s not clear at this point what this means for the already existing projects, especially ones like Knights of the Chalice 2 that are still being actively developed.

Here’s the statement in full:

We love the interest and passion the community has for D&D. We love D&D, too. So, when we see the D&D community concerned by rumors and misunderstandings, we want to clear the air and share the facts with you, even if it’s a bit earlier than our original plan. You all matter to us, and we want to provide transparency on how D&D will continue supporting third-party creators.

So, here are the facts:

1. Will One D&D include an SRD/be covered by an OGL?

Yes. First, we’re designing One D&D with fifth edition backwards compatibility, so all existing creator content that is compatible with fifth edition will also be compatible with One D&D. Second, we will update the SRD for One D&D as we complete its development—development that is informed by the results of playtests that we’re conducting with hundreds of thousands of D&D players now.

2. Will the OGL terms change?

Yes. We will release version 1.1 of the OGL in early 2023.

The OGL needs an update to ensure that it keeps doing what it was intended to do—allow the D&D community’s independent creators to build and play and grow the game we all love—without allowing things like third-parties to mint D&D NFTs and large businesses to exploit our intellectual property.

So, what’s changing?

First, we’re making sure that OGL 1.1 is clear about what it covers and what it doesn’t. OGL 1.1 makes clear it only covers material created for use in or as TTRPGs, and those materials are only ever permitted as printed media or static electronic files (like epubs and PDFs). Other types of content, like videos and video games, are only possible through the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy or a custom agreement with us. To clarify: Outside of printed media and static electronic files, the OGL doesn’t cover it.

Will this affect the D&D content and services players use today? It shouldn’t. The top VTT platforms already have custom agreements with Wizards to do what they do. D&D merchandise, like minis and novels, were never intended to be part of the OGL and OGL 1.1 won’t change that. Creators wishing to leverage D&D for those forms of expression will need, as they always have needed, custom agreements between us.

Second, we’re updating the OGL to offer different terms to creators who choose to make free, share-alike content and creators who want to sell their products.

What does this mean for you as a creator? If you’re making share-alike content, very little is going to change from what you’re already used to.

If you’re making commercial content, relatively little is going to change for most creators. For most of you who are selling custom content, here are the new things you’ll need to do:

  • Accept the license terms and let us know what you’re offering for sale
  • Report OGL-related revenue annually (if you make more than $50,000 in a year)
  • Include a Creator Product badge on your work

When we roll out OGL 1.1, we will also provide explanatory videos, FAQs, and a web portal for registration to make navigating these requirements as easy and intuitive as possible. We’ll also have help available to creators to navigate the new process.

For the fewer than 20 creators worldwide who make more than $750,000 in income in a year, we will add a royalty starting in 2024. So, even for the creators making significant money selling D&D supplements and games, no royalties will be due for 2023 and all revenue below $750,000 in future years will be royalty-free.

Bottom line: The OGL is not going away. You will still be able to create new D&D content, publish it anywhere, and game with your friends and followers in all the ways that make this game and community so great. The thousands of creators publishing across Kickstarter, DMsGuild, and more are a critical part of the D&D experience, and we will continue to support and encourage them to do that through One D&D and beyond.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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