D&D uproar causes Alien and The One Ring RPG publisher to develop its own licenses

Alien: The Roleplaying Game cover
(Image credit: Free League Publishing)

The publisher behind an Alien and Lord of the Rings tabletop RPG has announced its plans to develop two new open licenses following highly controversial changes to the D&D equivalent.

Earlier today, Free League (which is responsible for Alien: The Roleplaying Game, Vaesen, and The One Ring) revealed that pre-existing work on its own license would be "intensified after the news regarding the update of Wizards of the Coasts' OGL v1.0, on which the Year Zero Engine (YZE) license was based." For context, the Year Zero Engine forms the basis for most of Free League's games.

According to Free League's press release, this license "is designed to be easy to understand and use for creators. It will give creators an irrevocable, worldwide, and royalty-free right to use Year Zero Engine Standard Reference Document (YZE SRD) and freely publish their own roleplaying material based on it."

Alongside this license for the Year Zero system, a second is on the way for Free League's upcoming English language-version of Dragonbane, a long-running Scandinavian RPG whose reimagining was funded in four minutes on Kickstarter (opens in new tab). Although it won't allow for new standalone games utilizing the Dragonbane rules, it does open the door for third-party supplements.

Both open game licenses are set to be released "in the next few weeks." 

Curiously, Free Leagues D&D version of The Lord of the Rings and Ruins of Symbaroum are apparently unlikely to be affected by the revised D&D license.

Although D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast responded to widespread community outrage last week, the aftershock of those initial changes are still being felt; as an example, so many fans canceled their online D&D subscription that it crashed the page. In addition, D&D rival Paizo also announced its own license. Other publishers like Modiphius have stepped up efforts with its World Builders programme too, while Kobold Press has announced plans to create its own tabletop RPG.


Want to take a break from the drama? Check out the best tabletop RPGs, the best board games, and the best card games.

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.