Disclaimer: I am using this as an outlet to collect my thoughts on the current state of affairs with the OGL and the ttrpg industry in general. Blogish, but also just a stream of thoughts that I don’t want to forget, because that happens to me… a lot.
I watched the full podcast interview of Ryan Dancey done by Roll for Content. Watch it here. Some great history of the industry, original intent of the OGL, business perspectives of ttrpgs, and many questions answered. One of my big epiphany moments was when Mr. Dancey said “The value is not in the product, the value is in the brand and in the network. The product is irrelevant.”
Standardized gaming network idea. This is being done by some 3pp already but being released as “system neutral” content. We need more system neutral content that can be worked into whatever system we play in. In a sense, this is something that can already be done by using a “monster manual” or “creature codex” from whatever game we play, then fill in the game mechanic blanks that exist in the system neutral content I want to play.
I feel like this is how 3pp modules should be written. Apply them to any game, not just one system. I feel like there needs to be recognition on the system publisher side though, but I’m not sure yet what that would look like. Maybe a SRD (system reference document) of open ideas to be used in 3pp modules that crosses over all systems. Or a video/document that explains how to play system neutral content in their setting.
I heard people talk about how a game module without game mechanics is really just a novel. It’s really not though. It’s kind of like an outline to a novel that is fleshed out by the game-play. GMs (DMs) don’t write novels, the whole group does, players and GMs together. Together. Not GM vs players. We all create stories together when we sit around the table to play a ttrpg.
Much like how the OGL allowed a renaissance in the ttrpg industry over the last 23 years, we did it together. Now though, it seems as if WOTC thinks that that this is all by their permission. It’s not. The network, and the brand created it at the behest of the players. I feel like the new era OGL should not be tied to one publisher, it should be a new document that everyone buys into independently. Otherwise we have the current unpleasantness, where WOTC wants to make changes and it fractures the community. That shouldn’t happen.
If we had a list of standardized enemies that could be dropped into any system neutral content, then everyone wins. Much like the D&D SRD omits certain IP that they didn’t want to lose control of, if each system publisher had a list of spells/monsters etc that were included in their own SRD then there is your standardized gaming network buy in.
Right now the ttrpg community continues to be fractured. We need to connect again. I see people saying they are going to make their own system (ie fantasy heartbreaker, as per the interview), or they are going to a new system. Imagine if two players who play different systems came together because they both played X module that was system neutral, and they both really loved it. What a world that would be.