Paizo Announces System-Neutral Open RPG License

Thursday, January 12, 2023


Open RPG logo over-layed over an image of pathfinder champion Seelah leading a battle


For the last several weeks, as rumors of Wizards of the Coast’s new version of the Open Game License began circulating among publishers and on social media, gamers across the world have been asking what Paizo plans to do in light of concerns regarding Wizards of the Coast’s rumored plan to de-authorize the existing OGL 1.0(a). We have been awaiting further information, hoping that Wizards would realize that, for more than 20 years, the OGL has been a mutually beneficial license which should not–and cannot–be revoked. While we continue to await an answer from Wizards, we strongly feel that Paizo can no longer delay making our own feelings about the importance of Open Gaming a part of the public discussion.

We believe that any interpretation that the OGL 1.0 or 1.0(a) were intended to be revocable or able to be deauthorized is incorrect, and with good reason.

We were there.

Paizo owner Lisa Stevens and Paizo president Jim Butler were leaders on the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards at the time. Brian Lewis, co-founder of Azora Law, the intellectual property law firm that Paizo uses, was the attorney at Wizards who came up with the legal framework for the OGL itself. Paizo has also worked very closely on OGL-related issues with Ryan Dancey, the visionary who conceived the OGL in the first place.

Paizo does not believe that the OGL 1.0a can be “deauthorized,” ever. While we are prepared to argue that point in a court of law if need be, we don’t want to have to do that, and we know that many of our fellow publishers are not in a position to do so.

We have no interest whatsoever in Wizards’ new OGL. Instead, we have a plan that we believe will irrevocably and unquestionably keep alive the spirit of the Open Game License.

As Paizo has evolved, the parts of the OGL that we ourselves value have changed. When we needed to quickly bring out Pathfinder First Edition to continue publishing our popular monthly adventures back in 2008, using Wizards’ language was important and expeditious. But in our non-RPG products, including our Pathfinder Tales novels, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and others, we shifted our focus away from D&D tropes to lean harder into ideas from our own writers. By the time we went to work on Pathfinder Second Edition, Wizards of the Coast’s Open Game Content was significantly less important to us, and so our designers and developers wrote the new edition without using Wizards’ copyrighted expressions of any game mechanics. While we still published it under the OGL, the reason was no longer to allow Paizo to use Wizards’ expressions, but to allow other companies to use our expressions.

We believe, as we always have, that open gaming makes games better, improves profitability for all involved, and enriches the community of gamers who participate in this amazing hobby. And so we invite gamers from around the world to join us as we begin the next great chapter of open gaming with the release of a new open, perpetual, and irrevocable Open RPG Creative License (ORC).

The new Open RPG Creative License will be built system agnostic for independent game publishers under the legal guidance of Azora Law, an intellectual property law firm that represents Paizo and several other game publishers. Paizo will pay for this legal work. We invite game publishers worldwide to join us in support of this system-agnostic license that allows all games to provide their own unique open rules reference documents that open up their individual game systems to the world. To join the effort and provide feedback on the drafts of this license, please sign up by using this form.

In addition to Paizo, Kobold Press, Chaosium, Green Ronin, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and a growing list of publishers have already agreed to participate in the Open RPG Creative License, and in the coming days we hope and expect to add substantially to this group.

The ORC will not be owned by Paizo, nor will it be owned by any company who makes money publishing RPGs. Azora Law’s ownership of the process and stewardship should provide a safe harbor against any company being bought, sold, or changing management in the future and attempting to rescind rights or nullify sections of the license. Ultimately, we plan to find a nonprofit with a history of open source values to own this license (such as the Linux Foundation).

Of course, Paizo plans to continue publishing Pathfinder and Starfinder, even as we move away from the Open Gaming License. Since months’ worth of products are still at the printer, you’ll see the familiar OGL 1.0(a) in the back of our products for a while yet. While the Open RPG Creative License is being finalized, we’ll be printing Pathfinder and Starfinder products without any license, and we’ll add the finished license to those products when the new license is complete.

We hope that you will continue to support Paizo and other game publishers in this difficult time for the entire hobby. You can do your part by supporting the many companies that have provided content under the OGL. Support Pathfinder and Starfinder by visiting your local game store, subscribing to Pathfinder and Starfinder, or taking advantage of discount code OpenGaming during checkout for 25% off your purchase of the Core Rulebook, Core Rulebook Pocket Edition, or Pathfinder Beginner Box. Support Kobold Press, Green Ronin, Legendary Games, Roll for Combat, Rogue Genius Games, and other publishers working to preserve a prosperous future for Open Gaming that is both perpetual AND irrevocable.

We’ll be there at your side. You can count on us not to go back on our word.

Forever.

–Paizo Inc

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Tags: Community Paizo Paizo Staff Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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2 people marked this as a favorite.

The heavens opened and the angels sang!


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Gonna make a Lawful Good Orc now.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Very glad to hear this!

I'm sure this is still in the initial stages, so I can understand if there's few details to share at this point, but I have to ask:

Will there be any sort of clause allowing for Open Game Content published under the OGL v1.0a to be used with the ORC License? I ask because I haven't moved on from Pathfinder 1E (nor do I want to), and I'm curious about publishers who're still making content for that system.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This is the best possible response to this mess

POWERFUL

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Every title I self-publish will use this license, assuming it's as awesome as it sounds!

Sovereign Court

4 people marked this as a favorite.

And this is why I support Paizo, and not Hasbro WotC


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This mean we'll see Starfinder 2e sooner than expected?

I know there's nothing wrong with SF1e, but I like the PF2e system.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Amazing news!


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

"DO NOT CITE THE DEEP MAGIC TO ME, WITCH. I WAS THERE WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN"


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I will happily crowdfund a Pathfinder 1e Core Rulebook rewrite that's the same rules, but rewritten without any legacy Wotsi-sourced verbiage.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Excellent Paizo! Thank you!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Great work everyone, and all the best on continuing this! I'm rooting for you all.

So cool to see everyone coming together on this!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This past week has been kind of like watching someone trying to torch my fav hobby. Well Done Paizo! Glad to be an obstacle!


7 people marked this as a favorite.

This, this right here is why I am proud to be a venture officer. Being a public face for the organized play experience means I am a public face to how many new players see the company.

Actions like this make me proud to be such a public face and a vocal advocate for paizo. Keep up the good work, and know we all appreciate what you guys do.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I was here, and I saw it happen!

Bravo Paizo. Thankyou for standing with your fans and your community.


19 people marked this as a favorite.

It is 2009. Wizards of the Coast has done something massively unpopular. I am watching Paizo disrupt their chokehold on the industry. It is is 2023. Wizards of the Coast has done something massively unpopular. I am watching Paizo disrupt their chokehold on the industry.

Glad to see so much of the wider tabletop community close ranks on this and reject Hasbro here. Especially glad to see it come from a company with a union.

Grand Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Huzzah!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I cannot fully formulate a sentence to express all this but i am overjoyed.
What is this but a show of how much these other companies love the game and the community? So glad to see that Paizo had the vision to bring all of these great names together for this.
I am so happy, I wish this decision turns out as good for you as it looks to be!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Well done Paizo. I look forward to a brighter future…


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Fantastic, love this for the community and sad that it became necessary. I had a feeling with Paizo waiting to comment it was going to go one way or the other in regards to the OGL depending on what WotC put out....

Fact that WotC kept pushing off their announcement tells me they saw the writing on the wall.

Well done Paizo, thank you for this.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

What an awesome surPrAIZO!

Congratulations, y'all!
Looking forward to seeing how this develops.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'here, seeing deep magic being written


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I always loved Paizo but this is unprecedented. They were known for rescuing roleplaying from 4E and now will again from 6E. Legends.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for doing this and having the sale!
I am finally able to convert my friends to PF2e!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Truely Heroic ORC there.

Sczarni

3 people marked this as a favorite.

This right here is how you earn Hero Points. I started playing TTRPGs with D&D 1e in 1978 and Paizo embodies the spirit of the old guard.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

ORC will make us strong! Great work paizo!


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Every time WotC has f+@*ed up within my lifetime, Paizo has been there to strike back and do something for the community. This is honestly great news to my gaming group.

Wayfinders Contributor

10 people marked this as a favorite.

This is the friendliest ORC horde ever!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

Sounds like just the right move. Godspeed to Paizo and the whole community of creators rallying under the ORC banner!


7 people marked this as a favorite.

♫ Let's go down to the Belkzen Ballroom
We'll meet there later tonight
We can game 'til it's light
We'll all be BFFs
Print PDFs
Right on down to the Belkzen Ballroom
Come on, follow me
You'll be happy to be there

Gaming through life in the Belkzen Ballroom
Where there's a third party to-do
Open gaming matters and knowing it all matters
It's our life
So keep gaming, you! ♫

Source: Dancing through Life, Wicked

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now that the Internet Hug has cooled down a bit, let me just say this is the the best news this industry has had since the original OGL release.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Truly inspiring. Kudos to Paizo and all the other developers for fighting the good fight!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yay, ORCs!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This is the best news to come out of all this greedy, corporate foolishness.
I'm here for it.
Paizo has my full support.
And I'm looking forward to putting ORC to very good use.
HUZZAH!!

Wayfinders

1 person marked this as a favorite.

*celebratory airhorn noises*


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Alzrius wrote:

Very glad to hear this!

I'm sure this is still in the initial stages, so I can understand if there's few details to share at this point, but I have to ask:

Will there be any sort of clause allowing for Open Game Content published under the OGL v1.0a to be used with the ORC License? I ask because I haven't moved on from Pathfinder 1E (nor do I want to), and I'm curious about publishers who're still making content for that system.

That can't be done, as best I can tell. PF1 uses too much of D&D 3.5 for that to work. Until there is either a court ruling or a believable promise from WotC that they will behave themselves in this regard, future publication of PF1 compatible material is risky. Nobody who uses the 3.5 version of the WotC SRD for a given product has the necessary permission to put it under a different license (basically, it would be an attempt to do what WotC is trying to do by imposing OGL 1.1/2.0).


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I was debating picking of PathFinder, instead of DnD. Fortunately, that is no longer in doubt. I have put in my order for PF2.

Horizon Hunters

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Absolutely spiffing work here. Pats on the back all round.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love paizo the company, but their philosophy on gameplay is the opposite of mine. I was going to create my own open license for my system, but with paizo leading the charge, I'll probably end up using theirs, unless they base it on a particular system (they shouldn't. There isn't really a need for more than foundation upon which creators can build systems.)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
with paizo leading the charge, I'll probably end up using theirs, unless they base it on a particular system

It was announced to be game system agnostic. So you should be able to publish your work under it just fine without locking your system into legal tangles with other systems that happen to be licensed under the same ORC license.

GPL has been doing just that for decades.


Incredible!


Yea, and I totally expect that, but you never know when something creeps in like assuming d20 was system agnostic because you could make something that worked with d20 WoD, dnd 3, d20 modern, etc, and consider those as different systems and thus making an adventure that worked with them all might be incorrectly termed system agnostic. I don't expect paizo to make such a mistake, but I'm not holding my breath either.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yes. Certainly wise to see the actual finished ORC license before publishing work under it.

Though it would be really hard to not do that. Can't publish under a license that doesn't exist.

Wayfinders

6 people marked this as a favorite.

What the ORC horde looks like
ORC .


2 people marked this as a favorite.

And that's how you slay the dragon.

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Back when I started to GM/Play TTRPGs again, my wife made me decide on one system. Pathfinder won hands down as, with only three books, I had the backstory of my first Pathfinder First Edition Character. In 2013, I made the request as I wanted to become a Venture-Officer and that did occur. This is the second time that I knew I made the right decision to back Pathinder and Paizo (I love Starfinder as well.).

I am looking forward to the ORC and future!!


I questioned: but manual 3rd, I pay in case I can to sell?

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I guess I like Ryan Dancey now? He made a lot of bad decisions in regards to Living City, but the OGL was briliant, and he deserves a great deal of respect for doing it.

Much respect to Paizo for doing this. I plan on dropping D&D entirely and going Pathfinder only from now on. I say this as someone who has published modules with them for 24 years.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Now, Paizo MUST come out with an Iconic ORC Redeemer Champion . . . .

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