Protecting open gaming: Our position on the OGL crisis

Hey everybody, Kevin and Ben at Silver Gryphon Games here. I don’t think there’s a gamer out there that hasn’t seen a dozen hot takes on the new OGL coming from Wizards of the Coast that will up-end the way that content for Dungeons and Dragons is created. Open gaming is under siege.

We’re not here to rehash the clauses in the OGL that are devastating for players and creators alike. It’s not hyperbole to say that they are terrible. It’s not hyperbole to call them draconian. It’s not any kind of exaggeration to call it what it is: a bald-faced power grab by Wizards of the Coast to corner the entire fantasy RPG market. Their methods appear at first blush to be both immoral and illegal.

Dungeons and Dragons is near-and-dear to most gamers’ hearts. It’s often the first system we were introduced to. It isn’t the elephant in the room so much as the giant in the bucket. Dungeons and Dragons represents such a large segment of the market that it’s easy to assume that it is over 50% of the market between Wizards’ actual products, licensed products, and beloved third-party content. The original intent of the Open Gaming License was to encourage diversity and accessibility for small and micro-press companies to thrive.

Hundreds of companies have sprung up over the course of the past two decades since the inception of the OGL to produce third party content for the world’s most played role-playing game system. That wasn’t what inspired us at Silver Gryphon Games to become game writers, but the communities, the comradery, and the publishing that followed was directly a result of the publishing world being suddenly opened to us and thousands of other creators.

Our love of publishing and gaming and the communities of artists, wordsmiths, players, and other awesome people we’ve met along the way has not diminished. If anything, this change to the OGL has struck a nerve and we are doubling down on our creative efforts out of a form of rebellion. We had precious few OGL-based products at Silver Gryphon, and those that were following the OGL were multi-stated projects designed to act as a gateway to show players that there were more systems out there than Dungeons and Dragons; systems like our own fantasy RPG, Ingenium, and our universal system, Aether, and of course Savage Worlds for which we continue to be a licensee.

In the last few days we have seen friends and peers throughout the industry universally condemn the new OGL. Some of these are emotional responses and that’s an appropriate reaction. Some of these are well thought-out responses within the lens and scope of contract and intellectual property laws. All the responses are negative; every single one of them. There has not been a single company that has come out and said, “Come on folks, it won’t be that bad, it’s just a contract that signs over your blood, sweat, and tears to a greedy corporation under a draconian agreement that can change at any time with barely any notice and zero negotiation that also can result in them snatching up your own work and then suing you for publishing it because they own it, not you.”

We feel that this outpouring of response from the publishers is a second gaming renaissance. New open gaming systems are being created by several amazing companies. Among these are Kobold Press’s “Project Black Flag” and MCDM’s unnamed game. The crazy part of that is it’s inspired by a negative reaction to, not under guidance from, the company that triggered the first gaming renaissance.

We will continue to put out product for Ingenium and Aether. Aether will see a second edition this year, and Ingenium will see a much-updated second printing. We will continue to work with Pinnacle Entertainment and put out more content for Savage Worlds. We will continue to fight the good fight for our fellow publishers and gamers, and we will continue to live up to and grow the reputation that Silver Gryphon Games has as an eight-time nominee for the Ennie for Fans’ Favorite Publisher.

We love you all, keep being awesome.

Kevin and Ben