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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Grand Lodge

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Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

I still greatly prefer Pathfinder 1st Edition, so I'm still waiting to see what falls out for that (even if Paizo never makes anything more for it, somebody might do it, if only they won't be strangled by a horde of Hasbro lawyers).

I do, too. However, the reality I'm seeing on Discord servers is that it is much harder to find PF1e players. Also, trying to build a PF1e campaign in Foundry VTT takes work because you've got to, more or less, build all your NPCs at least to the extent of importing statblocks and assigning images to the actors (aka tokens or pawns). I've got a better setup in MapTool with my own macros, but people seem to prefer Foundry VTT. Took me 1 1/2 years to develop that. When Paizo marginized PF1e immediately after announcing PF2e, they basically killed it and the PF1e community.

I'm not happy about that because I spent over $1000 on my PF1e material. Not sure I'll ever get much out of it.

All I can say is that it appears to be time to move on and hopefully Paizo does NOT do it that way to PF2e when PF3e comes out -- or at least that doesn't happen till the 10th anniversary of PF2e.

Sadly, PF1e became its most fun to play when it finally got to its 10th anniversary because it was finally finished. We finally had all the books -- most of which are still missing from PF2e.

Paizo is professionally maintaining a PF2e game system and now has prebuilt actors (tokens) with their images for Foundry VTT -- making it a very appealing VTT environment for game play. PF2e is becoming very hard to ignore and there appears to be a lot more players versus PF1e. I'm looking at the PF2e situation very seriously this weekend to evaluate switching to PF2e. Finally, going to learn the PF2e rules and character classes to help me make a decision. I can always use home rules to change a small number of things I don't like.

I mean, I got ten years of great gaming out of my 1E books. I’m sorry if you didn’t get as much gaming out of them, but I feel like the amount of enjoyment you got from them outweighs that purchase cost.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Does PF1e on FoundryVTT not have a statblock parser like Starfinder does?

Liberty's Edge

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Storm Dragon wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Thinking a bit more about the morals clause.

Just having it in there puts WotC in more jeopardy. Currently someone can publish something nasty under the OGL and WotC can just go "Not associated with us. Not our problem." Once their license says they can block the publishing of objectionable content, anything they don't block is on them. It's by default something they approve of.

Yeah, this is something I've seen come up in similar threads on the subject, like over on GitP.

I really don't understand Wizards goals with all of these clauses. The overall purpose is clear (destroy the competition, make it difficult for anyone to challenge them again any time soon) but some of the specifics seem boneheaded.

They want to become the Disney of the future.


Leon Aquilla wrote:
Does PF1e on FoundryVTT not have a statblock parser like Starfinder does?

Yes, it has one. Works great with a module that provides the statblocks. Very reliable.


Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:
Does PF1e on FoundryVTT not have a statblock parser like Starfinder does?
Yes, it has one. Works great with a module that provides the statblocks. Very reliable.

It's tiresome, though, to keep doing that because it can only do one at a time. It's much nicer that Paizo has an offering to give you all of the PF2e bestiaries for $60 with really great art work -- all ready to go for your compaigns.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:
Does PF1e on FoundryVTT not have a statblock parser like Starfinder does?
Yes, it has one. Works great with a module that provides the statblocks. Very reliable.
It's tiresome, though, to keep doing that because it can only do one at a time. It's much nicer that Paizo has an offering to give you all of the PF2e bestiaries for $60 with really great art work -- all ready to go for your compaigns.

To be clear, the $60 pack is to have the art and tokens, and to have the module tie the art/tokens to the already existing statblock. All of the statblocks are already available for free in the PF2E system baseline.


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Hello all,

I am curious to what the terms of ORC will be. If OpenD6 changes license from OGL to ORC, I will probably be interested in it.

We at Dragon Nexus Gates, a division of my company, is planning on developing our own game potentially using OpenD6 but also considering Pathfinder mechanics and such or develop a complete SRD of our own drawing from OpenD6, Pathfinder, and possibly others and would be interested in the ORC license applicable for our project that involves a video game (real-time and potentially turn-base) and TTRPG version.

Recent OGL 1.1 & 1.2 debacle is causing concerns.


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Dragon Nexus Games wrote:
I am curious to what the terms of ORC will be. If OpenD6 changes license from OGL to ORC, I will probably be interested in it.

If you want to be included, you need to join the discussion mailing list that was posted in the initial blog

Jan 12 blog post

Quote:
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.


Havn't bought a book from WOTC since 3.5 and I will be continuing that for the foreseeable future. Glad to see Paizo and others working together.


How can I view the drat(s) of ORC


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The ORC is the correct answer to WotC and their OGL...I am certain that I speak for the entire room here when I say, "Thank you for rolling a nat 20 on your Wisdom Save!"


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Baraxian wrote:

How can I view the drat(s) of ORC

There is a link in the blog post (at the top of this page) to get on the mailing list for the conversation.


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I've yet to see a use case for NFTs that is both ethical and legal. Merkle trees are useful in a peer-to-peer network in order to quickly determine if data is damaged or altered, but almost every use for NFTs could be more efficiently replaced by "a trusted authority maintains a database."

Like WotC has no need for Magic Card NFTs because they maintain their own database for "who owns what cards" for their various online versions of M:tG, which is all anybody needs in order to play Magic on those services.

Wayfinders

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stop arguing and go commit some Revolutionary Acts

Matthew Colville, Revolutionary Acts .


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Just signed up to say Thank You.

I'm done with WOTC :)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

As a DnD refugee (and excited new PF2e GM), I would like to offer my unsolicited advice for a potential morality clause should the publishers want it.

The backlash against the "O"GL 1.2 section 6f has made me realize how hard a good morality clause is - especially in the hands of an organization with financial gain at stake.

Obviously the Wizard approach isn't a good solution, but there is one that could work for the broader ORC license that would discourage "hateful" content without preventing questionable content. (Freedom of speech isn't free unless it can offend someone after all).

NOTE: This isn't a criticism of PF2e similar clause - just a suggestion for the ORC license.

My suggestion is that instead of *removing* a license from particularly un-inclusive or offensive content (which could prevent allegories and morality gray areas) - Instead the license could require a highly visible disclaimer in future publications & web pages that state "... does not meet community standards and is disavowed by the ORC licensing body." Publishers could voluntarily place this warning if they choose.

Its sort of a middle ground that allows for a "review board" that can publicly shame objectionable content without the complications of revoking a license.

Again, its just an idea from a former DnD DM that hopes ORC solves all this mess :)

Paizo Employee President

7 people marked this as a favorite.

I've removed several posts that spawned threads off a comment regarding NFTs that violated community guidelines.

NFTs are not related to the ORC license and should probably be moved to Technology or Off-Topic Discussions.

-Jim


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We at Dragon Nexus Games - a division of Cyber City - The Online Virtual City, Inc. looks forward to the ORC license. Dragon Nexus Games is currently working on and developing an RPG game (online video game) and TTRPG version (books, PDFs, potentially VTTRPG, and turn based video games) which I am deeply considering the ORC and possibly tie in to Starfinder (and by extension Pathfinder), yet stand independently. That comes down to other discussions with Paizo in the business side of things regarding the matter before any official commitment to connecting beyond say, the game mechanics.

- Richard B. (CEO/President/principal owner)
Cyber City - The Online Virtual City, Inc. | Reflected Light Entertainment| Dragon Nexus Games


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Elaundar wrote:

As a DnD refugee (and excited new PF2e GM), I would like to offer my unsolicited advice for a potential morality clause should the publishers want it.

The backlash against the "O"GL 1.2 section 6f has made me realize how hard a good morality clause is - especially in the hands of an organization with financial gain at stake.

Obviously the Wizard approach isn't a good solution, but there is one that could work for the broader ORC license that would discourage "hateful" content without preventing questionable content. (Freedom of speech isn't free unless it can offend someone after all).

NOTE: This isn't a criticism of PF2e similar clause - just a suggestion for the ORC license.

My suggestion is that instead of *removing* a license from particularly un-inclusive or offensive content (which could prevent allegories and morality gray areas) - Instead the license could require a highly visible disclaimer in future publications & web pages that state "... does not meet community standards and is disavowed by the ORC licensing body." Publishers could voluntarily place this warning if they choose.

Its sort of a middle ground that allows for a "review board" that can publicly shame objectionable content without the complications of revoking a license.

Again, its just an idea from a former DnD DM that hopes ORC solves all this mess :)

I think the challenging issue is knowing what exactly is "objectionable". This standard isn't exactly standard. It's just the values of people on a given day. While some values are persistent but the proverbial line in the sand changes in the gray area. The only safe area is a full G-rated (borrowing from movie ratings standard where its safe for all audience at all ages). Everything resulting in a more nuanced level of maturity will be objectional for someone. How do we define "objectionable content"? How do we story tell about different species in a game setting that might involve races that enslaves other races because of their own religious and xenophobic hatred? Would that be objectionable? Is that not part of the drama storytelling that makes a game interesting because bad guys are bad? Because if everyone is good guys, why would their be wars and conflicts. Wouldn't the game then by just a bunch of people singing jolly songs with a perpetual almost overly sugary smile? I understand we shall not let these "storytelling" reflect actual values of supporting the evils in the storytelling in real life. If licensing is revoked merely due to storytelling themes that may be objectionable because such themes would not be acceptable in real world... it really constrains the dynamics of the storytelling. We can see where things can get troublesome. Some people in the world finds drinking alcohol objectionable so a tavern in a game maybe objectionable. That is why we have to be careful on this front because it only gets more constricting.

Liberty's Edge

I too believe there should not be a morality clause in the ORC. (Writing this made me think about the morality of orcs, which sounds like a Batman alignment)

Because of the issues raised above in many posts.

I do not like the voting for morality with your wallet idea and leaving things to the wisdom of the free market. But it's not really an issue actually.

Because in all countries, there are already morality clauses at work. We call these laws.

Now, we might disagree with some of those. But it's definitely not the place of a private company, no matter its good intentions or lack thereof, to decide what is moral and what is not.


Ezekieru wrote:
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
Mark the Wise and Powerful wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:
Does PF1e on FoundryVTT not have a statblock parser like Starfinder does?
Yes, it has one. Works great with a module that provides the statblocks. Very reliable.
It's tiresome, though, to keep doing that because it can only do one at a time. It's much nicer that Paizo has an offering to give you all of the PF2e bestiaries for $60 with really great art work -- all ready to go for your compaigns.
To be clear, the $60 pack is to have the art and tokens, and to have the module tie the art/tokens to the already existing statblock. All of the statblocks are already available for free in the PF2E system baseline.

Sounds awesome. Thank you.


Reddevil wrote:
Havn't bought a book from WOTC since 3.5 and I will be continuing that for the foreseeable future. Glad to see Paizo and others working together.

I bought three 5e books a while ago to have a look and now I very much regret it. Didn't use it much because I also need PDFs and they don't sell them. Make 5e games too hard to run.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

I too believe there should not be a morality clause in the ORC. (Writing this made me think about the morality of orcs, which sounds like a Batman alignment)

Because of the issues raised above in many posts.

I do not like the voting for morality with your wallet idea and leaving things to the wisdom of the free market. But it's not really an issue actually.

Because in all countries, there are already morality clauses at work. We call these laws.

Now, we might disagree with some of those. But it's definitely not the place of a private company, no matter its good intentions or lack thereof, to decide what is moral and what is not.

I agree with every point. I would prefer that the marketplace decides, but if (and only if) the big publishers required something, then I would rather the terms be for a disclaimer than a revocation. (I'm assuming it would take >50% of the 5-9 biggest publishers so it would be rare just because no one would bother unless it was particularly bad.)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Elaundar wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I too believe there should not be a morality clause in the ORC. (Writing this made me think about the morality of orcs, which sounds like a Batman alignment)

Because of the issues raised above in many posts.

I do not like the voting for morality with your wallet idea and leaving things to the wisdom of the free market. But it's not really an issue actually.

Because in all countries, there are already morality clauses at work. We call these laws.

Now, we might disagree with some of those. But it's definitely not the place of a private company, no matter its good intentions or lack thereof, to decide what is moral and what is not.

I agree with every point. I would prefer that the marketplace decides, but if (and only if) the big publishers required something, then I would rather the terms be for a disclaimer than a revocation. (I'm assuming it would take >50% of the 5-9 biggest publishers so it would be rare just because no one would bother unless it was particularly bad.)

When it comes to the forum, sure, some of the moral stuff is addressed by whether someone is banned or not. That is not unlike any moderation policy. When there is serious abuse, that is documented with actual legal cases that have reached a guilty verdict, then I can see policies of revoking licenses on individuals and associated business(es) when it comes to that. However, morality clauses to the licenses regarding content of a game. That can be a problem because every single one of us will might as well self-revoke our licenses because give anything written enough time, there will always be a person that will take offence to something. Even speaking or writing in a particular language, someone may take offence. We have to be sensible about it but even that is a principle of the not so common "common sense". Just the fact of writing in English can be offensive to some. If you want to please everyone and no one ever take offense then you are set on an impossible task.

I think we should be careful about morality clauses because morality and values are dynamic and culture based. Not just ethnic, national, or religious but generational. I've noticed a fairly increased uptick of people taking offense in younger generations because the world doesn't fit the world they envisioned as they grew up by how they were taught. What is right. What is wrong. What is right? What is wrong? That isn't that clear if you look to history of the world not just a single culture but all of them, generation by generation. There's not a rule book on this. There is billions of competing rule books on this.... one for each person's values. Each person has a unique set of value even though most of it is shared by one's generation and regional values but its built upon of one's upbringing and the people in one's life growing up and establishing of beliefs, moral value system. Nonetheless, my statement just by being written in English may be offensive because of applied historical baggage of the British empire and everything that goes with it, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the horrifying. If we don't want to offend above absolutely anything else, we would all have to keep our thoughts to ourselves and never talk, speak, or write ever again. Now, that can and will be disastrous... especially in an professional industry of creative writing and other creative works.


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Phantasy has no moral limits, dark and degenerated places exist in which cruel acts happen. Only the players have the right to decide in which region of phantasy they embark to accomplish their glorious tasks.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The OGL o.1a and the ORC are game mechanic licenses unless you find something morally wrong about how you roll dice or what size die is used. There is no need for a morality clause in a game mechanic licenses. What you're rolling the dice for falls under the copyrightable part of the game and can be protected by product identity licenses that protect a companies IP and trademark is a better place for a morality clause.

My predictions are ORC won't have a morality clause at the game mechanic level, it's best if each company can make its own morality clause as they see fit or not. It might be useful if ORC defines a standard text to be used for creating the structure of a product identity license without defining the details of it. This would make it easier to convert content to multiple systems without needing to interpret how every product identity license and just need to check what their standards are.

But until we have a draft of ORC this is all just speculations

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