We’re only halfway through January and already 2023 is turning out to be one of the most exciting years for the RPG community in a decade. As I am sure everyone already knows, Wizards of the Coast, the company that currently owns Dungeons & Dragons, managed to anger most of the players and content creators in the tabletop RPG industry in just under a week. I’m impressed. They apparently saw how Elon Musk ruined Twitter while losing $200 million at the same time and said, “Hold my beer.” I don’t think I need to recite how it all went down. There’s a ton of sites out there that you’ve already visited and read the news on. What I think I do need to talk about is how this is going to affect the League of Aroden and offer our help for those players who want to join our living world campaign (Pathfinder Society).
Basically, Wizards decided to send a proposed OGL that would replace the existing OGL but also pretty much cripple third party content creators while also threatening companies that were using the existing OGL. This proposal was leaked to the community and the fireworks began. With Wizards showing no sign of backing down, multiple companies began to talk about how to fight back. First of all, the legality of Wizards’ actions were brought up by people who had been with Wizards and behind the creation of the original OGL in the first place. Secondly, many of these third party content creators took a hard look at what they were creating. For most of them, they were barely if at all actually using the current OGL since game mechanics cannot be trademarked.
Thus, Paizo Publishing announced on Thursday, January 12th, that they and many other companies in the industry had decided not to sign onto the new OGL, but instead to challenge Wizards’ legal right to revoke the OGL in the first place. But wait, they were not done! Rather than continue to adhere to the existing OGL, Paizo stated and I shall quote here, “By the time we went to work on Pathfinder Second Edition, Wizards of the Coast’s Open Game Content was significantly less important to us, and so our designers and developers wrote the new edition without using Wizards’ copyrighted expressions of any game mechanics. While we still published it under the OGL, the reason was no longer to allow Paizo to use Wizards’ expressions, but to allow other companies to use our expressions.”
With that in mind, Paizo and other companies decided to create their own version of the OGL, a version that would satisfy all of them and allow them to create content without fear of legal actions being taken against them by any company that would use the new license. Fittingly, the new license was called the Open RPG Creative License which was immediately rebranded as ORC. Paizo and the other companies have also stated they are prepared to go to court if Wizards sues any of them. Legal experts have looked over the original OGLs and most have come to the conclusion that it could not be revoked, but all of them did say courts could rule differently.
Needless to say, the RPG community immediately embraced Paizo’s statement and crashed the website! Over the next 24 hours, most Venture-Officers were reporting that they were getting requests to teach Pathfinder 2e to players all across the globe. Since then, the numbers have grown and that has even taken place here in our area as we had a very engaging PFS Smackdown at Columbia. As a result, we are preparing to offer more tables at our upcoming events if we have enough GMs.
Wizards did try to walk back their nefarious actions on Friday, January 13th. They should have looked at the calendar because the curse of Friday the 13th nailed them as almost everyone but the most diehard fanbois called them out for their lies in their statement posted on DND Beyond. Apparently a boycott was called for regarding subscriptions to that site and well over “five figures of sub cancellations” were received in a 24 hour period. The end result was even more players asking to learn Pathfinder 2e.
Now for some bad news. Obviously, no one anticipated this debacle, and certainly not Paizo. Paizo had just issued the 4th printing errata for the CRB. This meant that existing stocks of the 3rd printing CRB were very low. Thus, the 4th edition printing is somewhere in the supply chain which is why stores may not have a CRB readily available. Of course, since the rules are already posted online via the SRD on Archives of Nethys, everyone can play immediately. Not only that, Paizo has a nice primer guide out on Pathfinder Nexus which is wonderful for new players. If you are a grizzled veteran, the guide is not for you, but for a new player wanting to learn the game mechanics, it is very well done.
So, to sum up what is taking place, Paizo is removing the OGL from all of its products and replacing it with the ORC. Of course, they’re working on drafting that new license and using legal experts to do so. Ironically, these are the same folks who helped write the original OGL which is why Paizo says it cannot be revoked since these legal experts said the original OGL was not meant to be revoked…ever. Wizards is left with no public trust and a severely battered image to fix. They could still go to court, but as many experts pointed out, that case would be challenged by a lot of companies, and not just ones in the RPG industry because of the potential fallout from it. I’m sure the Dragon will survive, but the people who chose short term monetary gain over long term profits may not be there to see that. One thing is for certain right now, next to no third party content creators want to write for Wizards anymore. That means Wizards will have to create more content in house with full time employees since freelancers are refusing to do any work with them. That is going to drive up the cost of production and run a serious lack of quality risk. With their new ONE D&D edition coming out next year, this is going to be a real problem for Wizards.
But, remember, this is a problem of their own making. Meanwhile, we here in the League of Aroden will be playing Pathfinder 2e, and maybe even some Starfinder! If you would like to join us at the table, you are quite welcome. Just let us know you are interested and we will work with you. Take a look at the resources we have here on this website in the toolbar up above and check out our calendar which shows you our scheduled games. We can always make room for more on it!
See you at a table soon!