Wizards of the Coast on Tuesday published a system reference document for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition under the open gaming license it originally released for 3rd Edition back in 2000. While some third-parties had already been publishing compatible game material using veiled references to “fifth edition fantasy” and similar language, this means that those interested now have a WOTC-recognized legal avenue for releasing products that openly acknowledge a connection with Dungeons & Dragons.
Drawing on the approach modeled by parent company Hasbro with 3D printing, Wizards of the Coast also on Tuesday launched the Dungeon Masters Guild, an online marketplace for independent D&D material such as adventures, monsters, and character backgrounds. Revenue from sales in the market are split evenly with with participants, who are also able to set their own prices.
Publishing OGL 5th Edition material through the Dungeon Masters Guild is not required but does provide authors the additional benefit of being able to incorporate elements from WOTC’s Forgotten Realms setting in to their creations. This at least is the stated intent. The Community Content Agreement, which is required to add new products, does not actually specify the intellectual property that participants may use, referring only to “portions and elements of Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings.” Additionally, by signing the Agreement, the author grants other participants license to use all elements of their work in subsequent products.
Together the two moves have the potential to significantly expand the landscape of 5th Edition D&D products, however it seems to me that the Dungeon Masters Guild is targeted more toward supporting fan content, while commercial publishers may be better served by sticking to the OGL.