14 January 2023

Industry News (OGL Debacle, ORC, and Monster Revolution)

A lot has happened in our beloved RPG industry in the last few months and weeks.

First of all, Flying Buffalo has sold Tunnels & Trolls to Webbed Sphere, who has been basically sitting on the IP and doing nothing with it since the purchase. Fortunately, Ken St Andre kept the rights of Monsters! Monsters! (which is basically the same game as T&T but with a different title), and now all the new supplements are marketed for M!M!, for which a new edition is in the works. — But more about M!M! later.

However, the big talk of the moment amongst RPG enthusiasts is obviously the OGL debacle by WotC. For those who have lived under a stone since Christmas 2022 I’ll try and summarise what happened.

1. A new version of the so-called Open Gaming Licence (OGL) has been leaked (intentionally or not, who knows). This new version implies a much tighter control by WotC over what is published under the OGL and, more importantly, is supposed to retroactively replace the licence that has been in place since the early noughties and under which a ton of games and settings have been published.

2. There has been a general uproar by players, designers and publishers alike, and many reactions, from closing shops and removing OGL-based products to moving to a different engine altogether.

3. WotcC clumsily denied what happened and said the new licence would be reworked. But that was too late: Paizo is currently launching the Open RPG Creative Licence initiative, also known by its acronym ORC, with allies Kobold Press, Chaosium, and Legendary Games. Little is known about ORC, mostly that it will be  a system-neutral open RPG licence that can be freely used across the RPG industry.

Many companies are also offering cheap versions of their RPG engines to show creators that there is much to be found outside of the OGL and the D20 engine.

Chaosium, for instance, is selling the PDF versions of the Basic Role-Playing System, of the RQ Starter Set and of the CoC Starter Set for a mere 99¢ at DTRPG.

Back to M!M!— Ken St Andre is allowing third parties to use the M!M! engine for their own products for a small percentage of the generated revenue. 

The Lair of the Leopard Empresses by Sarah Newton is the first RPG that has been announced for this new licence. The game should be released in spring 2023 and it is expected to be a ~250-page game that will include a fully-fledged campaign, city maps and gazetteers, full rules, spells, magic, treasures, and an introductory adventure.

Erik Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern fame is also preparing a M!M! supplement titled Sovereign Monsters! under this new licensing agreement. See his posts here [edited 2023-01-17] and here.

Exciting times ahead!