Sunday, January 8, 2023

Concerning Bat in the Attic Games, Steady as She Goes along with further comments on the OGL.

Update: The text of OGL 1.1 has dropped at the below link. I verified this with some folks but always as with this kind of situation double check everything in anything I say or share. OGL 1.1

I have been commenting on the recent news regarding the OGL 1.1 along with debating the ramifications on various forums and social media platforms. As a result I seen a lot of publishers making their fans and customers aware of their future plans. I figure this will be a good time for me as well.

I am not known for my production speed. I am very concerned with usability and not wasting people's valuable hobby time when publishing or sharing material.  So I tend to fuss around a bit when it comes to my products.  This has left me in a semi-fortunate place as my next major project is Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms. I am in the middle of 3 of 4 maps and making slow but steady progress every day. 

Due to the nature of my Points of Light style setting,  I don't have to use the OGL In fact, Blackmarsh is already dual licensed under the OGL and CC-BY. My plan was and remains to do the same with the maps and text of Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms.

So in the absolute worst timeline where everybody's fears are realized about the termination of the OGL 1.0a license then Blackmarsh and the Majestic Fantasy Realms will be shared under the CC-BY license.

Next, my adventures both published and unpublished. I plan to release a 2nd edition of Scourge of the Demon Wolf set in the Majestic Fantasy Realms, and have Deceits of the Russet Lord mostly done. Those will also get released but their exact form is dependent on events.  

The Majestic Fantasy RPG, as I stated here on my blog and elsewhere, I dragged my setting across a dozen systems starting with ADnD 1e, an extended stay with GURPS, and currently a mix of 5e and my own Majestic Fantasy Rules. What this means I have a lot of experience in adapting what I do to an arbitrary system. You can see this in action with my Fate playtest posts. I am linking to the last one as it has the index.

So whatever happens I am confident that the full version of the Majestic Fantasy RPG will come up in some form. There will still be viz to burn as mages, but it will still be a tad more detailed than most OSR systems. It will still allow characters to do anything except some will be better at certain things. Whether it will be a d20-based system, a 3d6 based, or a d100-based system remains to be seen. But there are plenty of successful projects that don't use the OGL to serve as a template for what I can and can't do.

For those who are interested I still have where I left off with Fate here

Further comments on OGL 1.1


Trust in OGL 1.0a has been shattered regardless of the outcome. Dozens if not hundreds are seeking alternative licensing for their works. If you do so yourself, I understand. My recommendation is to use CC-BY and add a comment in the front to outline what is definitely not covered by the grant, like your publishing name. Using CC-BY will offer the best compatibility with the OGL 1.0a content if the license survives. But given the circumstance totally understandable if you go with one of the share-alike licenses.

Withdrawing the License

More than a few gamers in the legal profession had stated with near certainty that Wizards has the authority to withdraw their own license. That without term irrevocable in the copyright grant, perpetual doesn't mean forever. Just means it until the licensor revokes it. 

When I pressed them on this and asked which decision was the key case for this. It turns out the earliest citation is a 2010 decision in the United Kingdom. Note that because the UK is a common law country, the US Courts will use the decision as a resource, but it is not binding.

Here is a good summary on Enworld. It is post #569.

However, the interesting part was not that it was made in 2010 or ruled in the UK. But rather it was held that a termination clause was still relevant despite the perpetual license grant. As it so happens the OGL has an explicit termination clause. And de-authorization is not one of the grounds. More so Section 13 holds that sublicenses are still valid.

This is not a slam dunk. But it may mean that the continued existence of the OGL has some foundation.

It is Groundhog Day but worse

Sometimes I feel like it 2008 all over again with 4e and the GSL. When I first heard about this I said it going to play out pretty much like the 4e and GSL debacle. Except Wizards gave us a year's notice to do something about it.

But I think I was wrong. The degree of anger I have seen Wizard provoke in everybody is far greater than the 4e debacle.

Steady as She Goes

Right now I feel like the captain who just spotted the hurricane on the horizon. I don't where the winds are taking it but I am preparing and letting others know about it. But it hasn't hit yet. It may blow in a different direction. And if it doesn't I am going to keep the lights open until I get a cease & desist. 

Fight On


Mr. Corbitt said...

By giving a year, those companies that can will have the chance to cleanse materials of OGL content. It will also allow the various producers to attempt to join together to delay or fight the removal of the old OGL till they can find remedies. Either way WotC/Hasbro has lost most of the creative third party producers with this leak without even a reply.

Ryan | said...

Thanks for sharing your input. I haven't occluded anything under my own imprint yet, with intentions of using the OGL. But no longer. it actually helps button up my forecasting of releases all the more. Crazy times for sure.

Keith Davies said...

I daresay the more energized response here than to the GSL is because the GSL was clearly a new license for 4e and only affected OGL in that if you signed on to the GSL your use of the OGL was restricted. If you didn't publish for 4e you didn't need to agree to the GSL, so as much as it was an ugly license you could easily avoid it.

The current situation looks like WotC is trying to kill OGL v1.0a that disagrees with many of the major points of v1.1, so it's understandable why they'd want to. This approaches a forced change to the agreement, without option to stick to the old one (especially since the leaked text directly references and challenges the bit that lets us do so) without abandoning the OGL entirely.

"Switch to v1.1 or stop publishing" has an ugly, ugly ring to it. If GSL had said the same I expect we would've been as angry about it, but GSL did not -- the GSL was ugly but you didn't have to go there unless you wanted to publish 4e content. Many publishers noped it as a result.

MP said...

Hasbro has obviously wanted to kill the OGL for a long time. Bean counters cannot fathom the concept of industry goodwill and instead saw the OGL as giving away the keys to the kingdom. How dare 3PPs piggyback off our system and make a few pennies for themselves, even if that increases sales for us? Thus the creation of 4e. It was not the fourth edition of anything; it was the first edition of a brand new game whose sole reason for existence was to circumvent the OGL. So I have to wonder—if they could have simply rescinded the OGL this whole time, why didn't they do it back in 2008 and skip the whole 4e debacle?

Simon said...

Hi Rob - glad to help re licence withdrawal (I'm S'mon).

I've not seen anything to change my view that WoTC would be very unlikely to win in court with a claim that they can revoke the OGL 1.0. I think they have no intention of seeing this go to court judgement.

Robert Conley said...

Thanks S'mon, I appreciate the offer.

Keith Davies said...

@Simon I concur, they should lose should this go to court, so I don't see them letting that happen.

Tenkar said...

they could play this out for years and starve off the publishers if there weren't a stay on the revokation