OGL 2.0 and the Fan Content policy of Wizards of the Coast (WotC) Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition - Opinion ogl 1.1 ogl 1.0a

OGL 2.0 and the Fan Content policy of WotC | DND 5e

24 mins read
24 mins read

Check out the full editorial update here

28th of January update. Wizards of the Coast released the entire SRD5.1 (that our site wanted to use) in a more simple way. Now it is under Creative Commons with Attribution International 4.

It is also under OGL1.0a, but the creative license is better. This does not make up for the abusive behavior they the company unleashed on their fanbase, and it does not build up any of the trust that was lost.

The only reason we trust what they say is the legal rights and precedents creative commons have. We expect WotC to start sponsorships and giveaways for at least a month or two, or do another kind of PR campaign. Let us see…



It is January 16th, 2023.

A stressful time for all. Prices going up, a war that kills hundreds every day, fascistic attempts to take over Germany (of all places) not to mention horrible personal stuff… and I have an escape! I play Dungeons and Dragons!!!

I do not just play, I DM* and I present my homebrew ideas online. I made a site and everything!!! (you are reading this on said site). (My play, my DMing, my homebrew.) And I do all this with great care not to abuse copyrights (I even pay for freepix premium). I actually read and understood to the best of my ability the legal documents that deal with all this.

These legal documents are OGL 1.1 2.0 and more:

You do not need to study them for what I am to be talking about today, but you might need to feel some gloom, so … there!

I am reading this as a homebrew content creator. Not as a commercial user (like Critical Role, MCDM or PAIZO). I read this as I might need to change what I am doing. My main interests are:

  • presenting a new playable world (the amazing Grey Dragon Word that this site presents),
  • helping other people present their stuff (I was getting started here + wanted to provide subdomains for free to other free content creators),
  • a future youtube channel to talk about these things
  • and more…

I was very glad to see that WotC allows for donations and advertisement, as all this will have a cost and I would rather only contribute time and imagination… so…. let’s get into the details!

To provide you with my homebrew world I really do not need wotc, but if I am to use ideas from the books I do. So you will see a page on how I brought a party from Waterdeep to this world here. This needed a way to connect to Toril, I used a gate, a map, and the city of Waterdeep. To do this I am using the Fan content policy which allows:

  You can use Wizards’ IP (except for the restrictions listed in #3) to make Fan Content that you share with the community for free.

#3 Don’t hurt others. Please respect other people’s IP. If you don’t have the rights to use another person’s stuff in your Fan Content—don’t. If we learn that your Fan Content also includes other people’s IP (e.g., crossovers/mashups) without their permission, we may ask you to take it down.

These are immense liberties, but they are limited in 3 ways, the first and second is fine, the third is an issue.

Pretty much anything you create based on or incorporating our IP. Fan Content includes fan art, videos, podcasts, blogs, websites, streaming content, tattoos, altars to your cleric’s deity, etc.

Fan Content does not include the verbatim copying and reposting of Wizards’ IP (e.g., freely distributing D&D® rules content or books, creating counterfeit/proxy _Magic: The Gathering_® cards, etc.)

You cannot incorporate Wizards patents, game mechanics (unless your Fan Content is created under the D&D Open Game License), logos, or trademarks into your Fan Content without our prior written permission.

On the 3rd there were 2 things I had to sure that I was doing things right, the first was my domain name. I looked and wotc does not use dnd as an abbreviation of dungeons and dragons, they use only d&d in their texts. And on the most frequently used trademarks they have “dungeons & dragons” and the  “&” sign graphically.  I looked up what they have registered as international trademarks in the US and wotc only have these text trademarks:

  • Dungeons and Dragons
    •  class 016 016 that does not include bogs, sites and electronic representations,
    • 041 / o41 that includes “Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities. – Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities. “)
    • 028 – Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees. – Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees.
    • 025 – Clothing, footwear, headgear. – Clothing, footwear, headgear.
  • D&D encounters
    • Abandoned trademark on 016 Paper goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); playing cards; printers’ type; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); and other totally irrelevant stuff
    • Abandoned trademark 028 – Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees. – Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees.
    • Abandoned trademark 041 – Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities. – Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.
  • D&D (without the word encounters next to it)
    • Abandoned trademark 041 – Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities. – Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.

So I am ok with the 1 part of the 3rd exceptions paragraph. Let’s go now to the second part. The one that is the recently unempathetic part.

Game mechanics

They do not explain what game mechanics means, but they say that I have to  create “under the D&D Open Game License”. And here we have issues.

For as long as they are not allowed to change this, under OGL 1.0a I can create “derivative  material” (1a, 1g), “publicly display” it (1c) using “Open Game Content” (1d, “game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity” 1e).

I can do this perpetually, worldwide and royalty free(OGL 1.0a //4). The perpetually word has taken a beating… but my understanding is that when this was signed this was the only legal word needed. In later court cases on unrelated matters the wording “irrevocable” was introduced as necessary accompaniment to make something perpetual legally. This probable does not have retroactive application, but even if it does, a court will need to decide intent of the original authors. And the original authors at the time wrote privately in emails and publicly in FAQs about this being irrevocable. Their language allows for future versions and for creators being able to continually use any previous OGL. These original authors of the OGL are the only relevant people (legally) to talk about intent and they have given recent interviews and press statements verifying this being truly perpetual and irrevocable.

If my understanding is wrong , (no legal advice given here -not kidding), and since I am not a US lawyer  I may be wrong, and if the leaked OGL 1.1 is enforced this is what will happen (I will talk about the new OGL 2.0 FAQ further down):

In the intro it says:

If you want to make videos or other  content and monetize it via ads, that’s going to be covered under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. 

This means that everything can be done without the OGL, unless you use mechanics… so, if you want to mention classes , feats, rolls, gameplay, actions, spells, magical items and any rules, you either use the OGL and limit yourself to the SRD or not do anything with game mechanics.

Then in the Non commercial part of the OGL 1.1 it says:

  • they change jurisdiction from local to Washington State (important to me living in Greece, but I wasn’t going to violate anything so let’s go on)
  • they forbid group litigations, class actions (making any litigation for non commercial users absolutely impossible)
  • they forbid jury trials (as if I had interest in individual litigation…. but it shows that they understand that the fairness is not important to them, only the enforced one-sided rules that under law are in some ways defensible… in the US)
  • I.A.iii forces me to accept that even if I want to use it non-commercialy, i am interested in selling
  • I.A.iii also gives me only the ability to commercially distribute my spells/characters etc. but I guess I can bend that rule to commercially give it away for free… they do not enforce a price anywhere.
  • I.B. it allows only printed pdfs and static electronic files, this might include a blog… I cannot imagine an html file not being static enough for them.
  • In the comments of I.B. it says that it excludes Videos (and other things) so there goes the YouTube channel
    • the exact wording is “…It does not allow for anything else, including … videos…” (I have yellow highlighted it here)
  • in II.B it says that I cannot “transfer [my] rights and duties under this agreement under any circumstance or for any reason” . This is weird and unusable… what if I want to make collaborations with other DMs, how do we delineate? If I want to gift these to my association or to another DM… if I die?

And then we have III (aee aee aeeeeeee)

  • They have the right to use my content for any reason in any way, forever, even if they stop me from using it. They claim they will not need to use attribution, or pay, or ask to use it, or even inform me. Nasty!

This is the reason I am leaving the OGL system. Everything else is abhorrent and evil and…. I can go on and on… but this is unacceptable.  Later they say they can terminate for any reason and for no reason…. but that was expected after reading this mindflayer mindcontrol document.

There are more things to talk about the OGL especially as it pertains to commercial use… this guy does a good job of it even if he is missing the YouTube implications.

Now about the OGL 2.0 FAQ Wizards of the Coast released.

This is not an OGL, it is a pledge to some backing down from the OGL 1.1. There are 2 issues with it. One is trust, and I will not address it but it is the most important one as this document erases every trust I had in these people. I do not even trust them to be avaricious. The other thing is what it does not say:

  1. they do not address the irrevocability of OGL 1.0a -they only say that what is published is published
    1. exact wording “Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected.”
  2. they do not address the non-commercial part of their OGL 1.1 – nothing at all.
  3. they do not change anything other than VTT use (and even on that they are not clear)
  4. they kinda address their use of our IP, but it is in very weird wording:
    1. exact wording ” It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. “


That is that for now… I am sorry for my fellow hobbyists. I love you people very much. I feel your pain, your pain is my pain.

I also feel your hope. That is my hope too. That PAIZO will strike the evil Dracolich down, and help us into an better time… I just with PAIZO’s Pathfinder was simpler….



What did we discuss today? The key issues of the OGL 20 FAQ, and the reasons it solves nothing for us even if it is going to become irrevocable reality. This is a safety critical issue for all of us that create and post things for DND. The OGL 11 and 20 are as bad as you have heard. I expect them to get worse before there is a correction.

Soon I will be starting a free group Career Coaching group, see more here.

*DM used as a verb is jargon for organizing games of D&D.


Where can I find the Fan Content Policy

In the WOTC site here, or here

Where Can I find the OGLs annotated?

Here: OGL 2.0 FAQ, OGL 1.1 leak, OGL 1.0a current (16 Jan. 2023). More annotations in days to come.

Where can I find the Gizmodo Articles?

Here and Here. Thank you for the real journalism!

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Your fav Career Coach! Lambros Stravelakis is a career coach and dungeon master with a unique and often humorous approach to problem solving and helping others. He believes in using fun and humor to unlock the potential for tremendous growth and success. Through his guidance, he has helped dozens of clients find success and fulfillment in their careers. Lambros helps his clients break through the barriers of “the status quo” and use their bold, creative ideas to reach the goals they desire in life and work. He takes a “no-nonsense” approach to get things done, and he’s always encouraging his clients to use their unique talents and ideas to find their own unique paths to success.

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