This Should Have Been a Happy Announcement, but Dungeons and Dragons is Currently on Fire
I had hoped to be making an exciting announcement soon: a new imprint of Story Arcs & Subplots called Story Arcs Gaming, centered around supplies for tabletop games.
This would have been kicked off with a project I’ve been working on for over a year now called Side Quests! the module, a series of Dungeons and Dragons 5e compatible encounters ranging in level from 1-20. There are three Side Quests! prepared for each level, as well as 5 non-combat Side Quests! for a total of 65 encounters. All of them were planned, most of them were scripted, and I had just started the process to convert some of them to properly formatted pdfs. I had poured over the legal rules and licenses to make sure I had everything done right, and I was just ready this week to drop my first Open Gaming License compatible Encounter last week.
If you’ve been following the current Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons and Dragons drama, you already know exactly what I’m about to say. If you haven’t been following the situation, I don’t want to get bogged down with it again, so here’s a tldr:
Wizards of the Coasts is owned by Hasbro, and Hasbro recently decided that Dungeons and Dragons wasn’t making them enough money. I want to make it clear that I’m not blaming any of the creatives who work at WotC, as they risked a lot to whistleblow some of this situation; this is all on the executive level. WotC recently attempted to discontinue their Open Gaming License version 1.0a, which has been active since 2000, and replace it with a version 1.1. This version had extremely predatory clauses and had to be signed like a contract, making it binding. We have this version in full because it was leaked while they were trying to get companies like Kickstarter to sign it under NDA.
If you would like to know more about the current situation, I highly recomend watching DnD Shorts's videos on the topic, as he has insider contacts at WotC and has promised an expose soon.
I could have understood this move. I wouldn't have been happy about it, but I could have lived with the aftermath. After all, we live in a capitalist society, and Hasbro only wants to protect its Intellectual Property, same as everyone else. However, it’s WotC’s official response to the situation that has made me upset.
Instead of admitting that they were trying to run competition out of the market, which is clearly what they were trying to do, WotC decided to lie and gaslight its fans. They claimed the version 1.1 was just a draft (people don’t send out drafts with contracts), that they wanted to solicit feedback, and they never wanted to run independent creators out of business. They also wanted to give everyone a single week for everyone to change over to the new license or they would start suing indie creators who couldn’t afford a lawyer.
WotC knew they had to do it like this because there is no legal precedent for what they’re doing. We have no idea of the legality of third party Dungeons and Dragons content because it’s never been settled in a court of law. The only legal precedent we have is a court case from 1880 that says you can’t copyright game mechanics, only expressions like art or text explaining the rules. WotC couldn’t risk setting that precedent against their favor, so they pretended they had the legal right to do what they tried to do and hoped people would be too scared to speak up before the one week window was up.
WotC has backed off for now, but they promised an Open Gaming License 2.0 is in the works to address the concerns of the fans. Frankly, I don’t care anymore. Their behavior as a company in this situation so far has been completely immoral and unethical, and this platform is all about supporting ethics in media.
As of right now, I have decided that I am breaking with Dungeons and Dragons and Wizards of the Coast. I do not want to support their unethical business practices, so I am doing that the only way I can as an indie creator: I will no longer be giving them my money with purchases, and I will no longer be giving them publicity through my own creative endeavors. And I encourage other small creators, and people who want to support small creators, to do the same.
I will be continuing my current campaigns and projects until the end, but after that, I will be moving on to other systems. I am waiting for WotC to release the Open Gaming License 2.0 before I decide what to do with the Side Quests! series. Depending on the OGL, I may release the series as is, or I may convert them all to another system like Pathfinder before release. Please stay tuned for future updates