Wizards of the Coast changes course, gamers win

Originally published at: Wizards of the Coast changes course, gamers win | Boing Boing


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And then Hasbro announces 15% layoffs.


Well at least the lore and such is now under CC. Even if Hasbro decides to drop everything WotC, 5e and all related content can live on and be built on.

DnD really never needed a particular entity to maintain content, and this is a great opportunity for the community to be a little more organized in maintaining DnD as a thing (like pathfinder, but I prefer rules and lore of 5e). I’d hate to see DnDBeyond go: it’s a useful service, but maybe something else will pop up.

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They only really need to lay off a few people, starting with the CEO of Hasbro, Chris Cocks and the CEO of WotC, Cynthia Williams. It’s not like they actually understand anything about the products they manage, so why pay them over $100 million a year each for them to keep fucking shit up?


100 million. SMH. That’s a lot of fat to trim.


Apart from the fact that Hasbro has pretty much screwed every money making endeavor they bought (Supersoaker, MtG, DnD) …

You know what they say about going back to a spouse who beats you?

Yeah, they have shown their stripes and WILL beat you again.

(For the cheap seats: this means Hasbro has shown where they want to go and their current retractions means nothing because they want to go where they told you they want to go … but due to the splashback they won’t go there just yet).


Unless I missed some other announcement very little in the way of lore is CC. Only the SRD was placed under a CC license, and it has only tiny specs of lore.

It doesn’t include any of the D&D Pantheon, instead it has an appendix for how to map historical pantheons to D&D Domains.

It has minor references iconic monsters like beholders but doesn’t include stats for them.


You are right. It’s also missing a few monsters (like beholders) for copyrighting reasons (guess we’ll just call them night tyrants from now on…)

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Yeah, this certainly was an example of Hasbro once again showing what they WANT to do, even if they didn’t get away with it. Paizo coming in with the alternative open license was also a pretty damn cutting stroke too.

It’s just frustrating. MTG and D&D are top tier products, best of their class, but capitalism demands everything good must be squeezed for blood.


The D&D themed webcomic Order of the Stick now features a Beholder character, and it’s a running gag that none of the other characters can ever remember what the species is called.


I might be missing something, but I didn’t see anything in their announcement pertaining to discontinuing D&DB or altering their plan to charge $30 per month per player for access to that service.


They haven’t. Just responding to the comment about possible layoffs.




As a bunch of commentors pointed out before and during the incident - the SRD is probably not copyrightable. And some of the not SRD material is not copyrightable - like the stat blocks for beholders.

“beholder” can be trademark-able, I’m sure WotC holds a TM for beholder, but hell, I’m free to talk about beholders all day long here as there’s no potential brand confusion between me, a rando on a BBS, and WotC.


Those claims are usually based on not understanding either what is in the SRD or where the boundary on game mechanics end and copyright starts. Game mechanics can’t be copyrighted, but their expression can, assuming it meets the other standards for copyrightability.

Some areas of the SRD would have little protection, to pick a random example Travel Pace is described in 6 paragraphs and a table, but almost all the text is directly explaining mechanics. It might be argued that the exact text use was carefully crafted and creative, but in my opinion that would be a up hill battle in a court.

On the other hand things like spells and classes tend to have more creative descriptions in and amongst the mechanical text. So they would be more likely to be granted copyright protection.

On top of that things like classes are designed to work in the game system, but there could be a near infinite variation in classes. What makes a class good or bad is how the abilities provided by the class work together and balance against other classes. Anyone that has looked at third-party classes has probably seen a grossly over powered class, or one that seems like it’s just a rand collection of abilities. If there exists clearly bad classes, then that means there must be good classes. And it likely is some form of creativity that separates the good from the bad, leading to the likelihood that the creativity in those classes result in copyrightability.

That was part of the problem with the CC grant in the “OGL 1.2 Playtest” it only put the least protected parts of the SRD under the CC BY 4.0. For many it felt more like a distraction (in a long list of distractions) than a real concession.

All of the above said, it’s important to know that none of this is cut and dry, no one being responsible can say with certainty that what a court will actually consider copyrighted in relation to the SRD or game mechanics in general. There is very little modern precedent on the mater, most around board games with at most a dozen pages of rules. The mere fact that the SRD is 400+ pages might tip the balance for a judge or jury.

The real question a designer needs to ask is, would they be willing to bet their personal fortune on using something from the SRD without a license? Are they so confident what they have used is either fair use or can’t be copyrighted that they could survive a lawsuit? (Winning isn’t enough if you go bankrupt doing it.)


There is no real victory, it’s mostly a smoke screen, all the people responsible are still there. The large third party creators have all lost trust with Wotc and moved on, gamers shouldn’t have any trust with wotc left either. It is only the 5e srd and nothing else, the one d&d monstrosity is still moving on. As above mentioned it’s a distraction


I was going to post the EFF link disagreeing with you, but frankly your final para is the one that counts in this day and age. EDIT: and I agree with the final para.

Heck, this argument is entirely academic until someone pushes the edges and WotC/Hasbro sue. And with jurisdiction-shopping and the scary level of politicisation of courts in the USA, I wouldn’t bet anything I couldn’t afford to lose on the outcome.

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BEHOLDERS: These monsters are also known as Spheres of Many Eyes, or as Eye Tyrants.
– Supplement 1, Greyhawk.

I wonder which movie or fantasy book they swiped it from in the first place?


Well, it’s D&D, so almost definitely something by Jack Vance, though I can’t think of a direct reference. Maybe inspired by the magician in the Cugal stories with all the eyes…can’t remember a name.

Remember kids…you can’t spell Vecna without Vance