Game System License

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The Game System License is a license that allows third-party publishers to create products compatible with and using the intellectual property from the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).[1][2] It was released to the public by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) on June 17, 2008.

A System Reference Document (SRD) of the 3rd edition of D&D had been licensed under the Open Game License (OGL). The OGL is a copyright license, allowing the use of copyrighted text created by others in one's products. Also released at the same time was the d20 System Trademark License, allowing third-party publishers to indicate compatibility using a system logo, but not allowing the use of the D&D trademark.

The GSL, however, grants use of the 4th Edition System Reference Document, which lists trademarks, words, and short phrases that could be used to refer to materials in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition rules, but contains no rules itself. People wishing to use this license are also granted a logo that must be placed onto their products to state that they are compatible with Dungeon & Dragons 4th Edition.[1] The license also can be updated by Wizards of the Coast and updates affect all licensees; in case of litigation the licensees must pay the legal costs of Wizards of the Coast.

After reviewing the terms and conditions of the GSL, Necromancer Games co-founder Clark Peterson declared it "an unmitigated disaster", and that his company would cease its efforts to support the new edition.[3][4][5] Prior to Gen Con 2008, it was announced that the GSL was undergoing a revision.[6] Shortly after the end of the convention a number of Wizards of the Coast's jobs were eliminated, including the Licensing Manager position that was held by Linae Foster.[7]

With the release of the 5th edition of D&D in 2014, and the release under the OGL of an SRD for that edition, the GSL fell into disuse, though it remains the only license for 4th edition.


  1. ^ a b The Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Game System License
  2. ^ "Interview with Scott Rouse, Part 1". April 25, 2008. Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  3. ^ "Necromancer Games-What is up with Necro and 4E? An Update from Orcus".
  4. ^ page 179, quoting Clark Peterson of Necromancer Games. Appelcline, Shannon. Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (4 vols.), (Silver Spring, MD: Evil Hat Productions, 2014).
  5. ^[bare URL PDF]
  6. ^ WotC to Revise D&D 4th Edition GSL and SRD
  7. ^ Wizards Announces New Organizational Alignment