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  1. #1
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada

    Post Interesting Article on the new D&D license...

    D&D “version 4.0” will soon be released, and many game beta testers believe the system has been radically overhauled and improved. However, this new system will not be released under the OGL. It will however, be released under the “Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Game System License” (GSL).

    The GSL license has not yet been made public, but there are rumors, speculations, and concerns, fueled by online posts made by the brand manager and licensing manager for Dungeons and Dragons, and relayed by the lead writer of third-party publisher Necromancer Games that the GSL will contain a “poison pill” clause – that is, in order to use the GSL, a game company must not publish anything under the OGL.

    This would be like Microsoft saying that developers for Windows Vista are forbidden from publishing anything under the GNU public license. And the upshot is now that developers have to choose between not developing games with the improved system or destroying their back-catalogs.
    Full Article here (on MySQL, then D&D)

    -Rob A>

  2. #2


    The "poison pill" if it exists, probably won't matter much. All that will happen is that a company like "Malhavoc Games" will spawn two legal incorporated entities, something like "Malhavoc, Inc" and "Malhavoc Enterprises", and one will make OGL and the other will make GSL. It will be an inconvenience for these companies, but won't have any tangible effect (other than feeding lawyers).

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  4. #4
    Community Leader Torq's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Cape Town, South Africa


    I have for some time been screaming that the writing is on the wall when it comes to the new 4th ed. license. Obviously as a game company they are free to alter the license in any way they please, and we are free not to buy. But what galls me is that the new game system, by all accounts, has collected all the most popular alterations made by 3rd party companies for their own products under the 3.5 ogl and simpy incorporated them into 4ed. I refer in particular, but not exclusively to Iron Heroes which I play and which was originally written by Mike Mearls, who coincidentally is one of the lead writers on 4th ed.

    Legally and strategically speaking it has been brilliant. When Wizards launched 3rd ed. they perceived that the reason 2nd ed had been a relative failure financially was because so many competing prouducts sprang up made by small companies with no real long-term prospects that diluted the market. The OGL was drafted to prevent this from happening again. As a useful by-product it also allowed many gamers to make cool stuff for their favourite game legally, and maybe even make some money out of it. Many did and some fantastic systems sprang up under the ogl which relied on the D&D body of work to give them a powerful context. Many of these, in my humble opinion, were simply better than the Core products themselves, and were alternatives to them.

    Most of those products have been around long enough for the new designers at wizards to see what works and what doesn't and to incorporate all those things that worked, and were brought to light by 3rd party publishers, into the new D&D game. The new license now shuts all these people out. Under it you can make a new monster manual, but an alternative Players Handbook is out of the question.

    A poison pill clause on top of that....doesn't surpise me at all. Its perfectly in line with a corporate strategy that is designed to be a shut out.

    Am I an over cynical copyright lawyer? I think we'll know in a few months.

    Appologies for the rant, but this is a pet peeve of mine and has been for some time.

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  5. #5
    Community Leader RPMiller's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
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    I've been railing against WotC for ages now because of their business practices. This is just more proof that I was correct. The sad thing is that the players that are real D&D fans refuse to see the truth or make excuses for them. Cognitive Dissonance at it finest.
    Bill Stickers is innocent! It isn't Bill's fault that he was hanging out in the wrong place.

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  6. #6
    Guild Artisan töff's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Fresno, California USA


    One of the problems might be that gaming is a sharing activity, and published games (as it stands with WOTC et al) are capitalist products. Sharing and capitalism don't mix ... not for long, anyway, with a nod to Torq's rant.

    Don't get me wrong -- I'm a capitalist -- it's the best system we have -- without revenue & profit, WOTC could not publish. But, like Windows, just because capitalism is "best" doesn't mean it works very well.

    It's too bad that the systems we use to play our games have to be "owned and licensed." Too bad for anything, really. /end rant

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