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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What I can hope is the language of the ORC license is good and not excessively abused. Licensing agreements for IP is generally not the place to police moral values because even those values are offensive to some. We are not globally homogenous in our values. While we may most share some common moral values, we also have differences in where the line is drawn in the sand.

Dark Archive

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

OGL 1.1 is leaked.
40,000+ people drop their DDB subscriptions
Paizo Announces System-Neutral Open RPG License
Dozens of D&D youtubes make videos on learning Pathfinder2e

What do you do?

1: Go like and subscribe to every youtube channel switching to Pathfinder or Stanfinder. Post comments on youtube, Reddit, Twitter, and Paizo forums helping new people with their Pathfinder or Stanfinder questions.

2: Fight over the wording of a document that hasn't even been written yet.

Has anyone tried playing Pathfinder or Starfinder? I hear they're much more fun than arguing on the internet.

Sadly the ORC announcement seems to be bringing people together everywhere but here. Enjoy your fight. I'm done with it.

Dark Archive

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Dragon Nexus Games wrote:


If you make it the licensing "law" that no work under such license shall be offensive to anyone, then we're screwed. RPG games are in its nature offensive to these hyper neo-puritan like people that exists in this world, literally today.

Then... maybe tell WotC that? They're literally the only people in the room suggesting a morality clause.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Storm Dragon wrote:
From what I can tell, if a game isn't something you like... don't buy it or play it. Let it be a market failure.

You're ascribing too much power to a singular person. If something is heinous don't just "not buy it", blacklist it, shout it down. Otherwise it lets everything seem as if it's perfectly okay.

storm dragon wrote:
If you make it the licensing "law" that no work under such license shall be offensive to anyone, then we're screwed. RPG games are in its nature offensive to these hyper neo-puritan like people that exists in this world, literally today.

And we're back to the ridiculous fearmongering that demands no one do anything.

Fun fact, the ORC is not, does not, will not have a morality clause, that was started by people coming in and whining over WotC's statement, not anything anyone involved in ORC has stated. So you've had people panicking on that, people pleading with Paizo not to do it, and people demanding everyone should be allowed to do whatever with no restrictions or concerns. It's a ridiculous frenzy feeding off itself and was birthed from nothing.

I'm not pushing for a morality clause to be implemented. I'm also not saying let the free market take the wheel and everything will be fine.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Richard Lowe wrote:
Dragon Nexus Games wrote:


If you make it the licensing "law" that no work under such license shall be offensive to anyone, then we're screwed. RPG games are in its nature offensive to these hyper neo-puritan like people that exists in this world, literally today.
Then... maybe tell WotC that? They're literally the only people in the room suggesting a morality clause.

WoTC doesn't have forums, people must come here and shout at Paizo instead.

Paizo Employee President

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Locking this thread. The morality discussion has derailed this conversation.

-Jim

Paizo Employee President

10 people marked this as a favorite.

Thread unlocked. I removed posts related to slippery slope fallacies and acts of unspeakable violence as reference. You don't need shocking examples to illustrate your objection to a morality clause.

Posts were removed due to violating the baiting rules under the Community Guidelines. Posts that were quoting or referencing other removed posts were also removed.

Baiting
Posts or threads made solely to provoke a strong negative reaction or conflict do not contribute to the inviting place we'd like our community to be. Threads with provocative titles will be locked, and posts removed as necessary.

Please continue to be awesome to one another.

-Jim


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Rysky wrote:
Dragon Nexus Games wrote:
From what I can tell, if a game isn't something you like... don't buy it or play it. Let it be a market failure.
You're ascribing too much power to a singular person. If something is heinous don't just "not buy it", blacklist it, shout it down. Otherwise it lets everything seem as if it's perfectly okay.

First, in my opinion, only adults are suppose to make such purchases. Minors are suppose to be accompanied be a responsible adult - especially with some RPG games that are for mature adult audience only. I live in the U.S. where we have this law in the Constitution about freedom of speech, press, and expression. I believe in the principles of it. I would not condone government or similar censorship. That is different then mass consumer boycott.

I would never have heard of this one particular game and it is a game I would not buy, play, or as a business, create. Yet, I'm not making a RPG game that's for geared for pre-teens, either. I have yet to actually see the Open RPG Creative License.

Rysky wrote:

Fun fact, the ORC is not, does not, will not have a morality clause, that was started by people coming in and whining over WotC's statement, not anything anyone involved in ORC has stated. So you've had people panicking on that, people pleading with Paizo not to do it, and people demanding everyone should be allowed to do whatever with no restrictions or concerns. It's a ridiculous frenzy feeding off itself and was birthed from nothing.

I'm not pushing for a morality clause to be implemented. I'm also not saying let the free market take the wheel and everything will be fine.

I have not seen the ORC license text itself.

I rather you make that determination for yourself regarding what RPG games you play or buy and what ones you don't. The freedom to choose for yourself and at most your children if you have any. I'm not going to punish someone who writes an RPG game that has atrocious subject matter as if they in fact committed such atrocity. It is not the same as if they commit such atrocious acts.

I am happy to know that such morality clause is not planned for the ORC.

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Are you reading from a script?

"Only adults are allowed to buy games" is certainly a take.

Bringing up the Constitution/freedom of Speech is a meaningless emotional grab since ORC isn't a governmental entity, Freedom of Speech doesn't apply.

Storm Dragon wrote:
I'm not going to punish someone who writes an RPG game that has atrocious subject matter as if they in fact committed such atrocity.

And I won't shove my head in the sand and pretend everything is fine. If someone publishes something heinous I will hold them responsible/accountable for doing so.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Storm Dragon wrote:
From what I can tell, if a game isn't something you like... don't buy it or play it. Let it be a market failure.

You're ascribing too much power to a singular person. If something is heinous don't just "not buy it", blacklist it, shout it down. Otherwise it lets everything seem as if it's perfectly okay.

...

I'm fine with most of this, except shouting it down. I have never once in my life seen that tactic do good. It has only ever been more harmful than the things people object to. If you can't hold a civil and rational discussion in defense of your beliefs, then you aren't ready to be part of such discussions.


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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
I'm fine with most of this, except shouting it down. I have never once in my life seen that tactic do good. It has only ever been more harmful than the things people object to.

The fact you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t do good. Shouting at bigots doesn’t do more harm than bigotry.

Bigots want you to stop shouting at them for a reason and it’s not because you hurt their feelings.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Richard Lowe wrote:
Dragon Nexus Games wrote:


If you make it the licensing "law" that no work under such license shall be offensive to anyone, then we're screwed. RPG games are in its nature offensive to these hyper neo-puritan like people that exists in this world, literally today.
Then... maybe tell WotC that? They're literally the only people in the room suggesting a morality clause.
WoTC doesn't have forums, people must come here and shout at Paizo instead.

No, they should not.

If you were going to go picket a Walmart but it was closed so you decided to picket a Target instead is not going to have the same effect.

Besides, I'm pretty sure WotC has social media accounts, stick it to them there, where they'll see it. Not here, where literally no one from WotC will see it.

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