OGL: Time is a Flat Circle
I'm going to keep this brief. Please note that this is an OpEd and all opinions expressed here are my own.
I was there when D&D was at its peak in the mid 80's. Then came the shock, announced through Dragon Magazine, that Gary was no longer part of TSR.
We would all learn later that this was because the helm of the company had become deeply engrossed not in the betterment of the IP, but in the money the IP generated. This to such an extent that TSR soon rewrote the rules (2.0) not primarily for the betterment of the game, but to evade royalty payments to Gary.
The shlock published by TSR in the late 80's and onward was, to many of us, laughable. Castle Greyhawk (1988) was a kick in the teeth and, to fans, an insulting parody. Dragon Dice was a joke no one got. The fall of TSR thereafter is an objective fact. Not until it was bought and stewarded by TRUE fans of the game (Peter Adkison et. al. [whose Primal Order system I extol every chance I get) did Raise Dead seem possible.
D&D exploded from the soil.
But here we are again, in a place the gray beards will recognize. The new stewards are casting long shadows, telling us how much they love the game and how great they are going to make it; how they are going to PROTECT it...by taking away the driveshaft.
The driveshaft is creative players.
TSR made mistakes back in the day seeing other, smaller publishers as competition, rather than the perpetual motion machine that IS grass-roots creative support.
Nothing. And I mean NOTHING can keep a product alive like a devoted fan base. I know this because there are still fan-made missions coming out for a little known cult classic of a video game called Thief: the Dark Project, which was published in 1998. NINTY EIGHT. What the actual...?
There is, today (Jan 20th 2023) a NEW OGL out for you to read and provide feedback.
The salient bit is this assertion from WotC: We need to deauthorize OGL 1.0a to protect you from hurtful content made by third parties.
ANYONE who wants to protect you from the big bad world by taking away your ability to choose is the devil in disguise. This rewrite of the OGL is just a new spin on the same play: Deauthorize OGL 1.0a. People are focusing on the contents of the new and trying to parse whether it's tolerable. But this is a distraction, an attempt to glammer while the pick pocket is standing behind you.
The only thing you need to know is this: whatever is in the new OGL is irrelevant, including promises of the moon. Deauthorization of OGL 1.0a is the primary goal. Because if this can be accomplished, it gives control back to the overlords. Deauthorization trades out the "unbreakable" for the "breakable". And this is all the new stewards want, control by any means, including selling you the notion of protection from "harmful ideas".
The world is full of harmful ideas and being a person means being a personality----with CHOICE: the freedom to embrace [or] disavow any idea as YOU see fit.
I don't know what the future will mean for those of us who have taken our passions and personal campaigns, commissioned art and paid for layout and offered it to the community in support of the greatest game of all time. The supplements I offer remain on Lulu for now. The future of my current project (the Silver Castle) is uncertain. It will depend entirely on precedents that remain after the dust of this tumult settles.
My only advice is to make your voice heard by canceling subscriptions, writing passionate but polite emails, and expressing your frustration clearly. The only acceptable resolution to this is for the original OGL to withstand this test. The orignal OGL is hard currency. It must NOT be traded away for promises hastily re-written on scraps of internet-paper.
Bravo to Paizo for saying they will attempt to prove in court what MUST be proved in order to ensure the survival of grass-roots creative support.
There's a shortage of Perpetual Motion machines out there, so I hear. It would be a shame to dismantle this one.