More than 60,000 people sign open letter condemning new D&D license

Dungeons & Dragons Artificer
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Update (Jan 27, 2023): Since the publication of this article, publisher Wizards of the Coast has done a full 180-degree turn and announced that the D&D OGL won't be changing anymore due to the overwhelming public response. 

Original story follows.

An open letter criticizing the new, rumored D&D license (known as the Open Game License, or OGL 1.1) has garnered more than 60,000 signatures in its first few days.

Called 'OpenDND', this letter - which has been signed by industry figures and developers from across the community - asks for D&D studio Wizards of the Coast to "revoke the draconian 1.1 OGL and pledge to support the existing 1.0 OGL into future editions of their games." It also encourages creators not to sign the supposed license change, which was first reported on by io9 (opens in new tab) earlier in January and has since caused widespread controversy. (You can find an explanation of what it all means here, or see D&D's response to the licensing outrage via our news story.) 

Supported by the likes of Foundry Virtual Tabletop and author of The Lazy DM's Companion, Sly Flourish, OpenDND says that it will "dismantle the entire RPG industry" thanks to royalty demands on all earnings over $750,000 per year and other restrictions. More specifically, the letter claims that "nothing about this new license is 'open.' It chokes the vibrant community that has flourished under the original license. No matter the creator, it locks everyone into a new contract that restricts their work, makes it mandatory to report their projects and revenues to Wizards of the Coast, and gives WotC the legal right to reproduce and resell creators’ content without permission or Compensation."

OpenDND also condemns the royalty system that was apparently to come into effect with D&D OGL 1.1, stating that it is "an impossible tax of 25%" on the biggest third-party creators. In addition, it says that virtual tabletops won't be able to operate properly due to their support of OGL systems, while upcoming projects for games based on the original OGL (such as Pathfinder, which is often seen as one of the best tabletop RPGs and D&D's biggest competitor) will need to halt sales as a direct result.

Wizards of the Coast has since walked back both of these elements in its revised OGL, stating in its D&D Beyond blog post (opens in new tab) that "it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1." In contrast to the proposed changes, users will now have clear ownership of their content under the updated document, while VTT systems are going to still utilize the original OGL agreement.

You can see the full OpenDND letter on its website (opens in new tab).

It's been a busy month for the tabletop industry: besides the first official Lego D&D set being revealed, classic Clue has seen a reboot and Warhammer is going hard in 2023 with velociraptor-riding lizards and sword-wielding mechs. Finding it all a bit too hectic? You can always take a break with the best board 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.