Sunday, November 3, 2013

5e OGL

Back in the day Green Ronin out out a module on the same day 3e was released.  That means they had to have the rules ahead of time, no?  At least a few months so they could convert their generic module over to 3e standards and get it to the printer and back again in time to have a release. 

I know the internet in 99/00 was a bit different than it is today, but I know there were places to share such a ruleset with others who were not signed on to the OGL and the NDA's and all that legal horseshit. 

Was there a leak of the rules ahead of time on the net?  If so, did the leak help or hurt 3e?  Were the rules only shared with a few companies/individuals ahead of time?  Did anyone who asked ahead of time get a copy of the rules to design modules timed with the release of 3e?

I ask these questions mainly as thinking points, because I think we can all agree that a true OGL would be great for broadening the 5e base.  The sooner it is released the better.  The sooner 3pp modules are released for 5e the better it is for 5e.  Modules released at the same time as 5e would really help 5e make a big impact on the market.

Therefore, if they are going to go that route, shouldn't they be releasing the rules to developers months ahead of the official release of 5e?  If so, there is no chance in hell that those rules will stay hidden or secret with the net's current ability to get leaked shit out there fast. 

Lastly, if that's going to be the case, to one degree or another, that the rules are on pirate boards eventually, why all the damn secrecy with the latter stages of the 5e rules development?

I mean, 5 minutes after the rules are released they will be available on pirate sites.  Tens of thousands of people will read it off of those sites and then determine if it's worth plunking down 50 bucks or whatever to buy the books.  Why not just make the whole damn thing transparent and get some goodwill ahead of time by announcing an awesome OGL? 

That being said, think about this:  if the 5e OGL is going to be as open as the 3e OGL, it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference if they were completely transparent every step of the way in their development, because they were going to give it away for free, essentially, anyhow.  The only reason to keep it so under wraps is if there was going to be a half-assed OGL, an OGL-lite, an OGL with some restrictions, making it then not really an OGL at all.

My bet is that the 5e OGL, if there is one, won't be nearly as good/open as the 3e one.


  1. I'm tempted to say that 5e will not be going OGL. When 3e invented the OGL, I think their idea was that it was a way to foist off the unprofitable bits of their business (modules and settings and stuff)onto over-enthused hobbyists. But instead, they wound up creating their own competitors (Literally, in the case of Paizo).

  2. OGL needed to be more restrictive but at that point D&D and roleplaying was pretty much dead in the water for the most part. They probably felt it can't hurt?

  3. In what ways did it needed to be restricted? Yeah given shitty products were made, but over all it was a good thing for the game that so many can use it. I mean if you want to play the third party games you have to have the main DnD core set.

  4. In no way did the OGL need to be more restrictive. It's the old saw about one tenth of ten pies versus one twentieth of fifth pies. The OGL, as best I can tell, drove the D&D market pretty hard for a few years and broadened that market considerably.

    Sure, there was a lot of crap. Sturgeon's Law, move on. The _good_ publishers -- Paizo, Green Ronin, some others -- were built on it, apparently did well, and carried on. Paizo is still kicking ass with Pathfinder specifically because they are required by the OGL to make the material OGC and others can build on it.

    If you subscribe to the view that controlling as much of the market as possible is good, then yes, the OGL was too open. If you subscribe to the view that a bigger market is better, then the OGL was about right.

    It may be worth noting that the GSL, which was specifically devised to restrict what could be done, got a big fuck you from the market when it was first announced, then after it was softened somewhat got some play... but there was never the kind of buy-in from other publishers that happened with d20... or with Pathfinder.

    The OGL was a good idea and did what, as far as I can tell, what it was supposed to. That others profited from it (*gasp!* the horrors!) is a good thing.

  5. Ahem to that Keith Davies. This is why I don't even like DRM because it is about the company controlling you instead of you owning your copy. Young people need to figure that out before they can even speak against OGL which brought out a lot of freedom.