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Jul. 9th, 2008 @ 08:53 am More GSL and OGL Stuff
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Well, it's been a while now, but most of the open ranting about Wizard's Game System License (GSL) has died down. We are now in that time where many publishers have to make that fateful decision whether or not to use the GSL.

The worst people had feared--that a company using the GSL at all can no longer sell OGL-based material at all--turned out to not be true.

Nonetheless, such a rule did apply in the case of product lines, and some planned products DID plug into a product line. For example, Necromancer Games was planning on releasing Tegel Manor, a classic Judges Guild products, as a 4e adventure. But Wilderlands was a long established product line published under the OGL, and under license with Judges Guild, which also has an arrangement with Troll Lords for C&C (also OGL) products. Indeed, NG's boxed set is a rather compelling PDF purchase, as it's such an information dense product that it really benefits from the pdf search capability. It would be a pity to see that product pulled from the PDF market. Last I had heard, NG was still considering the fate of Tegel Manor.

Apart from the issue of the poison pill, many publishers were given pause by the terms of the GSL. Lack of cure periods and broad discretionary powers on the part of WotC made some wonder if it was worth the risk to use the GSL. While these sorts terms are not unprecedented in IP licenses, many companies were expecting something out of the GSL more comparable to the D20 STL and OGL in tone. Considering that Scott Rouse indicated some sort of commitment to Open Gaming at last years Ennies, that would have been a pretty fair assumption to make.

Interesting things are happening. There is some debate on whether Goodman Games will be embracing the GSL or not. They have already started a fire sale of 3.5 OGL Dungeon Crawl Classic adventures*, and their Free RPG Day offering was a systemless setting that sounds strongly inspired by Sanctuary of Thieves' World fame. There was some talk that Goodman had entered a non-GSL agreement with WotC, and some speculation that these were really unlicensed adventures. Goodman has said little specific, other than to confess that the GSL had altered their plans and they were considering alternatives:

Yes, we're looking at options to make the 3.5 DCC's still available under 4E rules. We originally planned to convert the 3E modules via downloadable conversion documents, so you could buy DCC #1 at your local store then download the file to get the 4E stats. That unfortunately won't be feasible under the new guidelines for 4E products. But there are some other possibilities, like releasing new print versions that are overhauled to 4E. Nothing's final yet, but that's where we're leaning now.
(From here).

Too me, even the idea of new overhauled print versions sounds questionable under the GSL.

Some publishers have pushed forwards with plans to publish 4e compatible products without a license, leaning on traditional Copyright and Trademark caveats and disclaimers. Adamant Entertainment (adamantenter) has announced the Venture 4th line of Adventures and Tiles usable with D&D 4e.

The latest joiner in the "GSL? Feh!" department is Kenzer & Company, who has stated that their new Kingdoms of Kalamar 4e will not be under any licensing arrangement with Wizards of the Coast.

So, thus far, we are seeing existing publishers engaged in a mix of sticking with 3.5 SRD OGL-based derivatives (Pathfinder, True20, etc.), going systemless (Freeport), and now, a return to "unofficial" products as we saw in the 2e era (Venture 4th, Kingdoms of Kalamar.) Some, like Necromancer, are forging on with their plans to embrace the GSL.

As a final note, there are publishers previously uninvolved in the OGL movement that are taking a chance on the GSL. RedBrick, current licensor of the Earthdawn license has announce plans for Earthdawn for 4e.

* - It's worth noting that as these are D20 STL products, they either have to remove branding or stop selling them by the end of the year anyways, but plans to transition to the GSL would be a reason to do this sooner rather than later.
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