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Message From the Owner - The OGL and Us

Updated: Feb 14

(This is an excerpt from HHP Owner Shane Collins that went out in out January 19th 2023 Newsletter)

Hey Folks,

Shane here, owner and CEO of Headless Hydra Press. First, I just want to say Happy New Year! I also want to take this moment to thank you so much for being a subscriber. We are only a few short months away from celebrating our company’s three-year anniversary and it still feels surreal. Owning a tabletop gaming company and creating content that makes people’s game nights even better has been a dream come true for me.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, there has been a lot of controversy the past two weeks around Wizards of the Coast attempting to revoke the Open Gaming License (OGL 1.0a) that third party publishers such as us rely on to make 5e compatible gaming content. On Friday, WotC addressed this scandal with a statement, claiming the leaked OGL 1.1 was just a draft (despite that OGL being sent by WotC to publishers with a contract to sign) and is temporarily backpedaling some of the OGL 1.1's most predatory language. However, it does appear that WotC will try to revoke the OGL 1.0a that we currently use for Sandbox Adventures, Spectacular Settings, and our forthcoming Adventurer’s Agency campaign setting.

It's been an emotionally raw start to 2023 for me and for many of us in this industry. I’ve felt saddened by the deep sense of personal betrayal I've experienced as a creator and unofficial ambassador of Wizards of the Coast as I feel Headless Hydra Press has added value and commerce to Dungeons and Dragons by promoting it and creating what I believe is excellent content for fans of their games. I’ve felt angered by Wizard’s lies, and their apparent disdain for the D&D community, and their unfortunately predictable corporate greed. I’ve felt anxious for the livelihoods of the thousands of other D&D content creators who have poured their hearts into the content they make and for the unknown future of the tabletop RPG future. However, I’ve also felt immense pride at the expansive coalition of third party publishers, influencers, fans, content creators, artists, writers, editors, and reporters who have stood together in defiance of predatory corporate greed.

While we don’t know what the future holds for the OGL and the hundreds of third party publishers who create content under that license, I can tell you that we aren’t going anywhere. We are better positioned than many creators in that our two best-selling products – Organic Towns and Hexplorer Map Tiles are system neutral. We are part of a community Discord containing hundreds of creators who are working together to defend the OGL. We have reached out to Kobold Press in support of their Project Black Flag RPG system and have offered to help playtest it. We have also contacted Paizo to provide feedback on their system neutral Open RPG Creative License and are strongly considering opening up Organic Towns under this license once it’s finalized. We have bought core rulebooks for Pathfinder Second Edition, the Cypher RPG System, Mork Borg, and Castles and Crusaders – all of which have Open Gaming Licenses of their own. Additionally, I can announce to you today that we have been working on our own Original RPG system for a number of years and are now prioritizing the development and creation of this system. We’ll have more information on this in the coming weeks and months.

Many people have asked me what they can do to push back against Wizards of the Coast. There’s a lot, actually. It was reported that 40,000 people have cancelled their D&D Beyond subscriptions in protest. Wizards’ pseudo-apology came only after this backlash and it seems that losing money is the only type of communication they understand. If you have a D&D Beyond account, I encourage you to download your character sheets and cancel the service. I 100% believe that this method is the only thing we can do that has a chance of making WotC keep the promise of the OGL 1.0a alive. The second thing you can do is to support your favorite third party publishers. A lot of publishers – including ourselves – have a lot to lose if the OGL is revoked. Your continued support is the only thing preventing us and other third party creators from walking away from the TTRPG space. You can also boycott upcoming D&D releases such as upcoming books already available for pre-order and the D&D movie scheduled for release this spring. You can also boycott other WotC and Hasbro products such as Magic the Gathering. Lastly, you can spread the word about what is happening. Message your players, share social media posts and memes, and make sure other gamers know what’s happening.

One last thing I want to say is there are many passionate, dedicated, and kind people who love the D&D community who work at Wizards of the Coast. Unfortunately, these are not the people who are making these decisions. Hasbro and WotC executives are the ones to blame for this debacle. Please be kind to the WotC employees who have nothing to do with this and who are just as upset about this as the rest of us.

While the future is uncertain, I do know that we are stronger when we stand together. Thank you so much for your support and we are so appreciative that you are here. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week.

Shane Collins

Owner & Lead Creator

Headless Hydra Press

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