Open Game License
The Open Game License (OGL) is a public copyright license by Wizards of the Coast that may be used by tabletop role-playing game developers to grant permission to modify, copy, and redistribute some of the content designed for their games, notably game mechanics. However, they must share-alike copies and derivative works.
Language of the license
The OGL describes two forms of content:
Open Game Content (or OGC)
...the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity....
Product Identity (or PI)
...product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts; creatures characters; stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark...
Use of another company's Product Identity is considered breach of the licensing agreement.
The OGL (v1.0) was originally published by Wizards of the Coast in 2000 to license the use of portions of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, via a System Reference Document (SRD), thus allowing third-party publishers to produce compatible material. This move was spearheaded by Ryan Dancey. Publishers could also use the separate d20 System Trademark License to include a logo indicating compatibility.
Those individuals, groups and publishing companies that license their works under the OGL and similar documents are sometimes collectively referred to as the "open gaming movement". The OGL led to the development of the stand-alone Pathfinder Roleplaying Game which is a modified version of the 3.5 game.
In June 2008, Wizards of the Coast transitioned to a new, more restrictive royalty-free license called the Game System License (GSL), which is available for third-party developers to publish products compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. The GSL is incompatible with the previous OGL. However, by its own terms the OGL is irrevocable, and remains in widespread use.
Additionally, content creators can access an additional license option by publishing through the Dungeon Masters Guild storefront; this license goes a step further by allowing individuals and third party publishers to create and sell content based on specific Wizards of the Coast intellectual property such as the Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, Eberron, and Ravnica. Content creators are allowed to set their own price, however, Wizards of the Coast and OneBookShelf take a 50% cut of the proceeds.
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- Archived 2 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Full text of Open Gaming License version 1.0a] RTF
- THE (UNAUTHORIZED UNOFFICIAL) OPEN GAMING LICENSE OGL D20 FAQ
- Wizards of the Coast: The Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Game System License
- Open Game Definitions: Frequently Asked Questions Version 2.0 -- January 26, 2004
- Open Gaming Foundation