D&D controversy leads to major dev starting its own tabletop RPG system

Cover artwork for Tome of Foes II by Kobold Press
(Image credit: Kobold Press)

Following the controversy surrounding new D&D licensing rules, numerous developers are breaking away from the tabletop RPG - and some are creating their own systems.

One such studio is Kobold Press, the team behind numerous third-party publications such as Tome of Beasts and Campaign Builder: Cities and Towns that use the original D&D license. The group, which has been creating content for the game since 2006, put out a statement (opens in new tab) where it reveals a new fantasy ruleset codenamed 'Black Flag' that is "available, open, and subscription-free for those who love it." The post also notes that it is now "even more important for our actions to represent our values," a sentiment echoed by an open letter condemning changes to the D&D license, revealed by io9 (opens in new tab), that has been signed by over 60,000 people.

It's not the only one. As originally reported by Comicbook.com (opens in new tab), Matt Colville of MCDM (the creators of various RPG books, minis, and a monthly tabletop magazine called Arcadia) announced during a Twitch stream (opens in new tab) that the company will start working on its own "tactical, cinematic, monster-fighting" tabletop RPG system imminently which emphasizes political intrigue and abilities derived from working with your party. Although Colville mentioned that the group had been planning to create mechanics of its own for over a year, the D&D controversy has made them "a lot more confident we're making the right decision." In addition, it's getting started as early as next week - members of the MCDM team will be flying in on Monday "to spend a week on game design. And our goal is rapid prototyping... before the week is out, I would like to run a combat."

Cubicle 7, which is responsible for Warhammer Fantasy RPG and the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game, will also move future projects away from the D&D license. Revealed in a post on Kickstarter (opens in new tab), upcoming releases "may instead move to the award-winning C7d6 system."

They are unlikely to be the last. As pointed out on Twitter (opens in new tab) by original Fallout developer Jesse Heinig, "if there's a similar market resistance to OneD&D as there was to the transition from 3rd to 4th edition - which prompted the opening for [D&D rival] Pathfinder to succeed - this year could see the rise of competing games and undercut the release of OneD&D." 

If you want a refresher on the D&D license controversy, check out our write-up. As for other major systems in the industry, don't miss the best tabletop RPGs.

It's been a busy week for D&D so far, but it hasn't all been about the OGL furore - the first official D&D Lego set was revealed earlier this month ahead of it joining the best Lego sets on shelves, alongside D&D Nerf blasters.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to Lego buying guides. I have been writing about games in one form or another since 2012 and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.