The ORC Alliance Grows

Thursday, January 19, 2023


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


Over the course of the last week, more than 1,500 tabletop RPG publishers, from household names going back to the dawn of the hobby to single proprietors just starting out with their first digital release, have joined together to pledge their support for the development of a universal system-neutral open license that provides a legal “safe harbor” for sharing rules mechanics and encourages innovation and collaboration in the tabletop gaming space.

The alliance is gathered. Work has begun.

It would take too long to list all the companies behind the ORC license effort, but we thought you might be interested to see a few of the organizations already pledged toward this common goal. We are honored to be allied with them, as well as with the equally important participating publishers too numerous to list here. Each is crucial to the effort’s success. The list below is but a representative sample of participating publishers from a huge variety of market segments with a huge variety of perspectives. But we all agree on one thing.

We are all in this together.

  • Alchemy RPG
  • Arcane Minis
  • Atlas Games
  • Autarch
  • Azora Law
  • Black Book Editions
  • Bombshell Miniatures
  • BRW Games
  • Chaosium
  • Cze & Peku
  • Demiplane
  • DMDave
  • The DM Lair
  • Elderbrain
  • EN Publishing
  • Epic Miniatures
  • Evil Genius Games
  • Expeditious Retreat Press
  • Fantasy Grounds
  • Fat Dragon Games
  • Forgotten Adventures
  • Foundry VTT
  • Free RPG Day
  • Frog God Games
  • Gale Force 9
  • Game On Tabletop
  • Giochi Uniti
  • Goodman Games
  • Green Ronin
  • The Griffon’s Saddlebag
  • Iron GM Games
  • Know Direction
  • Kobold Press
  • Lazy Wolf Studios
  • Legendary Games
  • Lone Wolf Development
  • Loot Tavern
  • Louis Porter Jr. Designs
  • Mad Cartographer
  • Minotaur Games
  • Mongoose Publishing
  • MonkeyDM
  • Monte Cook Games
  • MT Black
  • Necromancer Games
  • Nord Games
  • Open Gaming, Inc.
  • Paizo Inc.
  • Paradigm Concepts
  • Pelgrane Press
  • Pinnacle Entertainment Group
  • Raging Swan Press
  • Rogue Games
  • Rogue Genius Games
  • Roll 20
  • Roll for Combat
  • Sly Flourish
  • Tom Cartos
  • Troll Lord Games
  • Ulisses Spiele

You will be hearing a lot more from us in the days to come.

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Community Paizo Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Liberty's Edge

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I am in full agreement. The inclusion of any kind of ethics/morality/content clause or restrictions is a TERRIBLE idea, mainly because that kind of thing is in itself a WEAPON intended to be used to kill publications, products, and art.

It doesn't matter if the aims of it are actually held to the highest standard that human beings can or have EVER been able to maintain, it could still be weaponized as morality is, BY DEFINITION, a subjective measure of actions/beliefs/values. There can be no universally unbiased arbiter of this type of thing because morals, ethics, and beliefs are grounded in biases and subjective thought so heavily that they fundamentally represent the core foundation of basically every diverse society that has ever existed. Nobody can be trusted with the responsibility of handling this on a universal level that would need to be simple, easy to understand, and use as is the intention of the ORC.

As for individual Licencing to use the IP related to the products that the ORC will NOT cover for various settings and publications made by ORC partners, thats another beast altogether and that falls to the individual publisher to handle which I think is the way it should be.


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

Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no such clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.

Which makes sense. Paizo's own Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility license has that in Section 4.


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Leon Aquilla wrote:

Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.

Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?


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I signed up but I'm worried. I'm a content creator but I don't have anything to prove my existence because for the past year I've been working full time and caregiving when not.

Do I have a voice at all (such as here?), or is the Alliance going to be a revenue-ocracy? To be fair, there's gotta be filtering of some sort or 1500+ publishers will make the dysfunction of the United Nations look cute.

P.S. Darn you, WotC! The timing of this couldn't be worse for me.


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thejeff wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:

Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.

Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?

The more I think about this, the less I like it.

At least with a morality clause in the license, you know where you stand. With this, every publisher gets to add their own morality clause and have it enforced under ORC terms.

You absolutely know some will use this to ban queer or trans content made with their material. Or to block "wokeness" in general.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
thejeff wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:
Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.
Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?

'Morality clauses' aren't attached to SRDs. SRDs were licenced by OGL before and (presumably) will be licenced by ORC in the future. Exclusively.

'Morality clauses' are commonly attached to trademarks and IPs not included in SRDs, which is a different licence/contract.
So stop panicking, please ;)


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William Morgan wrote:

How can Anderson Morgan Gaming Join the ORC.

In the first blog post, there's a link to sign up

Paizo Announces System Neutral Open RPG License


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Errenor wrote:


So stop panicking, please ;)

Tone policing people as fear-mongering when we've gone from "Boy I can't wait to see what 2023 brings for Paizo" to "...will Paizo even still be in business in 2024?" as a legit question in the span of a month makes me wonder if you're just now joining the conversation.


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Errenor wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:
Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.
Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?

'Morality clauses' aren't attached to SRDs. SRDs were licenced by OGL before and (presumably) will be licenced by ORC in the future. Exclusively.

'Morality clauses' are commonly attached to trademarks and IPs not included in SRDs, which is a different licence/contract.
So stop panicking, please ;)

That's how I expected it to work, but "there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises" implies otherwise.

Though Leon Aquila could have gotten it wrong, I suppose. Or I could be misreading it.

And I'm not panicking, I'd just hate to see this approach taken in the ORC.


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

To clarify I probably messed up some of the wording from his interview on RollforCombat, that's just the nature of me trying to summarize a TWO HOUR LONG livestream but the idea was that the primary license, ORC, probably won't have any language like OGL 2.0's Warranties and Disclaimers Section (e), but much like Paizo's licensure was a sub-license under the general OGL 1.0a he said that other publishers who publish their own material could choose to add additional conditions on usage of their work

What that's called, whether it's SRD, fan-use policy, or whatever, I don't know. I chose to be sensible with my life and didn't go to law school. I also don't have any time for hair-splitting and "akshually" on what part of the legalese it falls under.

It's also important to remember we haven't even seen an ORC draft.


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Let's bear in mind that OGLv1.0a wasn't a paradigm shift of copyright law. In hindsight, the only thing it offered was certainty that WotC wasn't going to be "They Sue Regularly" all over again. Mind you, that was a HUGE benefit; legal costs can be significant for an indie publisher. Just saying the benefit was economic, not legal.

I don't know what ORC plans to do but OGLv1.1 was legally untenable. You can demand royalties for 3rd party content and revoke a license for code of conduct violations all you want, but mechanics are not protected by copyright so these power grabs were always a huge bluff by WotC. Beyond protecting their trademarks (which WotC never opened up in the first place) they have no real power over others' original works, no matter how derivative. I can demand everyone here pay me and conform to my personal code of ethics, but I have no legal power to enforce it until my plans to take over the world are completed.

That in mind, IANAL but my best understanding is ORC can't contain a morality clause that would function as desired. Hypothetically ORC could boot someone from the Alliance, and setting aside the uncomfortable questions of whose job is it to be World TTRPG Police and how to prevent abuse of such power, that may be the thing to do just on principle. But any effect beyond good feels would be a formality because the exiled can still publish anyway ("compatible with Pathfinder" etc.). In practice you can't sue someone just for being objectionable; the legal means here would be something like defamation, which is a tough road if the dispute boils down to Content Creator A is offended by Content Creator B. At most ORC could serve as a quality standard like JIS but is that really part of the plan?

IMO, ORC doesn't NEED to be the be-all, end-all runbook of game publishing anyway. The morality angle originated from the odious OGLv1.1, and personally I suspect it was put in there as a PR smokescreen for the awful stuff. In practice, all it'd do is EXCLUDE bigoted content from WotC's royalty scheme via revocation whereas the publication itself can't be stopped. As envisioned, the woke folks are still stuck paying 25%. FWIW, there are other ways of dealing with TTRPG pariahs without throwing a legal document at them; just ask Wizards of the Coast how their month is going.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
thejeff wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:

Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.

Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?

The more I think about this, the less I like it.

At least with a morality clause in the license, you know where you stand. With this, every publisher gets to add their own morality clause and have it enforced under ORC terms.

You absolutely know some will use this to ban queer or trans content made with their material. Or to block "wokeness" in general.

So let them. I imagine they will have a tough time hiring creative types and/or persuading people to buy their products if they can get them made. If for some reason they sell really well, that would mean that social attitudes have changed radically from what they are today, and nothing we say today would matter in that hypothetical distant future.

Remember, all anyone had to do to tank sales from the nu-TSR Star Frontiers was post excerpts of its racist portions. The free market did the rest.

The main risk to publishers is having their brands tainted by material published by their licensees, but a big requirement of the OGL and probably the ORC as well is the inability to claim compatibility with the source product in the absence of a secondary license that allows it. The place for a morality clause (preferably one that is clear in intent and that can be modified as social attitudes evolve) is in said secondary license.


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David knott 242 wrote:
thejeff wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:

Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.

Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?

The more I think about this, the less I like it.

At least with a morality clause in the license, you know where you stand. With this, every publisher gets to add their own morality clause and have it enforced under ORC terms.

You absolutely know some will use this to ban queer or trans content made with their material. Or to block "wokeness" in general.

So let them. I imagine they will have a tough time hiring creative types and/or persuading people to buy their products if they can get them made. If for some reason they sell really well, that would mean that social attitudes have changed radically from what they are today, and nothing we say today would matter in that hypothetical distant future.

Remember, all anyone had to do to tank sales from the nu-TSR Star Frontiers was post excerpts of its racist portions. The free market did the rest.

The main risk to publishers is having their brands tainted by material published by their licensees, but a big requirement of the OGL and probably the ORC as well is the inability to claim compatibility with the source product in the absence of a secondary license that allows it. The place for a morality clause (preferably one that is clear in intent and that can be modified as social attitudes evolve) is in said secondary license.

Yeah, as long as it's a secondary license tied to compatibility claims/logo/branding or use of product identity, not something tied to the ORC open content, that's cool.

I was reading that as a mechanism in each SRD to add their own restrictions to the actual SRD content, which I would have a problem with.


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I have to imagine that use cases for a "morality clause" under the ORC would be to allow work to be covered by different licenses, like how Creative Commons is actually six different licenses.

So you can offer the protection of "you can make derivative works that don't make us look bad" with one license, with a sliding scale of permissions for various license options.

Since the whole point of said clause in the new OGL is just "we want to avoid PR disasters in case someone makes us look bad". You do want the ability to insulate yourself from this somehow (which could also be "what you are allowed to license is not identifiable as us".)


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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Jason Lillis wrote:
Glad to see so many folks showing up! Glad you’ve got a good crew to work with here.

Hi everyone--

I am moving to PF2e and here is what I posted on the DNDBeyond OLG survey tonight:

I am 52 and have played D&D since I was ten years old with the D&D Basic edition. I am also a DM and a player on Roll20 and have been using 5e for the past four years. I have spent multi-thousands of dollars on TSR and WOTC D&D products (digital PDFs, ROll20 resources, official miniatures, novels, board games, accessories, hard-copy books, Dndbeyond subscriptions, MOTG cards, and MOTG online) over the past 40+ years. I was loyal to the brand for all these years and supported literally all products TSR and WOTC produced. I am the ideal customer for WOTC.

I am very upset with your disregard for the D&D community. Your view of third-party publishers and how you have treated them through this OGL situation is awful. They help you BUILD the brand, and you turn around and alienate them, destroying some of their business models, as you seek to monetize D&D even further. Yes, you are running a business and I am not opposed to you making money with the D&D brand, but your deceptive approach to increasing your revenue through misleading communication has caused irreparable harm to your reputation in the community of gamers. I am extremely disappointed with how you view gamers like myself. You have deviated dramatically from Gary Gygax's vision for D&D, and I don't like it.

I will not do business with WOTC again and am moving my gaming dollars to Paizo.


Looks like the Deathstar's days are numbered :-)

Liberty's Edge

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William Morgan wrote:

How can Anderson Morgan Gaming Join the ORC. Most we just streamed live on Facebook. First with 3.5 then Pathfinder. At one time I am just under an million subscribers. We did the you could make money streaming Dnd online. I had most high school and collage females. But they liked white wolf better. We had 7 to 13 players. Because are adventure path was written for 3.5 but after my art team moved or got busy, I have dm at gencon with both 4th and p1 st.

The initial post on the Open RPG Creative License (ORC) is here: Paizo Announces System-Neutral Open RPG License:

The most relevant section, which includes a link to join is here:

Quote:
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.


thejeff wrote:
Errenor wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Leon Aquilla wrote:
Based on the interview w/ Erik Mona, there will be no clauses in the ORC license itself, but there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises.
Even that seems like it could lead to serious problems. If there's a mechanism in the SRD caches to restrict use beyond the actual ORC license, isn't that just a way to change the licensing without changing the license?

'Morality clauses' aren't attached to SRDs. SRDs were licenced by OGL before and (presumably) will be licenced by ORC in the future. Exclusively.

'Morality clauses' are commonly attached to trademarks and IPs not included in SRDs, which is a different licence/contract.
So stop panicking, please ;)

That's how I expected it to work, but "there may be clauses related to such things in the SRD caches that give you permission to use IP from various franchises" implies otherwise.

Though Leon Aquila could have gotten it wrong, I suppose. Or I could be misreading it.
And I'm not panicking, I'd just hate to see this approach taken in the ORC.

Leon did get it very wrong and mixed up two different things.

As far as I understand, it's either impossible or very hard to licence the same thing under two different licences at the same time (at least when one of them is OGL1.0-like or ORC-like in its probable version) and it's not a common practice at least. As well as add any additional arbitrary clauses to this type of non-negotiable licence (and then call it compliant with such licence). So you are inventing scary but very improbable (or even impossible) scenarios basically out of thin air. Thus 'panicking'. I'm glad it's not it but it looked like it.
We already do have very real and unpleasant things with the OGL1.2/2.0 to be concerned about.


Thus is great news!ⁿ


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Should we have heard something by now?

Adamant Entertainment signed up on the first day that ORC was announced, but we haven't received any emails.


Gareth-Michael Skarka wrote:

Should we have heard something by now?

Adamant Entertainment signed up on the first day that ORC was announced, but we haven't received any emails.

Yes, you should have received an introductory email welcoming you to the alliance with a link to the ORC Discord server. That is all I have received thus far.


Thanks. Somebody just shot me a copy of the invite link via Direct Message on Twitter.

No email, and so I re-filled the form, just in case I forgot to click the "agree to have messages sent" box -- still nothing.

Ah, well. Discord it is, then. :)

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