Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My view on the DM's Guild, Cypher System Creator, and Cortex Plus

First off WoTC's DM's Guild is no longer alone. Margaret Weis Productions has announced Cortex Plus a similar program with OBS for the Cortex engine that underlies all their games. However it doesn't give access to any their settings which makes sense as most of them are licensed.

However a lot people including +Erik Tenkar are very skeptical about the royalties the publisher are charging to be part of these program. Royalties that are on TOP of the ones that you pay to OBS to use their webistes (RPGNow, and DriveThruRPG) to release your products.

My view is that these publishing programs are a tool. I welcome them because they expand the options I have for publishing the stuff I am interested in and more important give me new alternative to ADVERTISING material of my own original creation.

Until the introduction of the DM's Guild we had these basic alternatives when it comes to RPG IP.


  • Nobody but the original company got to use it.
  • The original company setup a specific license to a third party and treated as a standard business relationship.
  • The company released some or all of their IP under a open content license.

Now we have a fourth, you can publish what you want as long as it means that some loose community guidelines are followed, that is appears in a specific store, and that we pay a specific royalty .

So far in all programs (Cortex, Cyper, 5e) the writer not the original publisher owns any original IP in the contributed work. But in all three programs the writer agree to share his work to anybody else in the program. But anybody using the writer's material won't have permission to use it OUTSIDE of the publishing program.

My feeling about the general idea is this. For all my works (Majestic Wilderlands, Hexcrawl formatted setting). None of this does anything for me. The fact that the 5e got a SRD under the OGL was a far more interest than the DM's Guild. If Cyper and Cortex had SRD under the OGL I would be looking at them as well. But they don't so they are of zero interest when it comes to content that I create.

But in the case of the DM's Guild I do have some ideas specific to Greyhawk.  A setting I have some personal attachment as it was the first published setting I ever used. I have some material that I could publish 'as is' if and when that ever get added to the DM's GUild. So it would be of benefit to me and I would get some cash. And in this specific instance, so what they charge 20%. The alternative is what? Yup there is no alternative as Wizards is never going to enter in to a business relationship with me for a license. If Cortex and Cypher had any setting that inspired me under their respective program then I would consider publishing using that program. But only if it can't be published a different way.

Another reason would be to take advantage of the visibility of the DM's Guild as a form of advertising. I am considering taking a section of the Forgotten Realms and make a hexcrawl formatted setting for it. The product would have in the back an ad for Blackmarsh and the other stuff I publish independently. In that case again so what the publisher is charging me 20% on top of OBS' royalty?

In the end the various publishing program are another option, another tool for the independent guy to use to get his stuff out there and make some money off it.

Also remember it took a few years to finally see how the OGL shook out after the initial hype. It an important part of our hobby today but is just that; an important part. It not THE hobby, and it doesn't define the hobby, just an important part that continues to have an impact (like the OSR).

1 comment:

Mark Craddock said...

I appreciate your perspective on this. While I somehow could get myself to release anything OGL (though 5E didn't have a complete solution yet), the DMsGuild somehow got me moving and now I have over a dozen products. I don't do it to support my family, merely to fund my hobby and to tap a creative outlet I had been overlooking. Could it end up that all of my work gets caught up in some WotC hurricane? Sure, but I'm still having fun doing this and I think that's the most important ingredient.