Wednesday, January 13, 2016

D&D 5e SRD - An Opportunity Knockspell


Yeah, that's a terrible play on words, but I couldn't come up with anything better on short notice. It seems when you are not paying much attention, huge news breaks in the D&D world.

1) Wizards of the Coast released a 5th Edition System Reference Document under the Open Gaming License.

2) WotC also set up the Dungeon Master's Guild through One Book Shelf which allows self-publishers to sell using the power of the D&D brand.

So number 1 is huge. Massively huge.

I mean, one could technically already publish 5th Edition content under the current OGL and existing copyright law (Goodman Games and Troll Lord Games are already doing this), but for those of us who a are laymen when it comes to copyright, the SRD basically tells you exactly what you can and cannot publish related to the D&D rules in your own work. That's a huge boon to those of us who are babes in the woods when it comes to copyright law. Now we can put stuff out there without worrying about C&D letters from Hasbro lawyers.

Even better, it's not just the content from the Basic game. It includes a lot more goodies (most?) from the larger rule set. I haven't had the chance to read through it all. but I'm pretty excited about what this could mean. I had been pretty critical of the lack of SRD in the past.

Number 2 is pretty important too. The cynic in me says it's just a way to get money out of self-publishers that they would not normally get. After all, there is nothing stopping me from putting 5th Edition compatible content on RPGNow without sharing a single dime with Wizards of the Coast (i.e. - Troll Lord and Goodman, as I already noted).

On the other hand, the lure of the additional exposure is a pretty big deal, and I think we may see a lot of smaller publishers biting the revenue share bullet. Additionally, there are certain elements of the Realms lore (and IP) that you are now allowed to use if you sell through  dmsguild.com.

The best best for a self-publisher would probably be to do both. It would take only a modest amount of work to have a DM's Guild version and a RPGNow version (minus the DM Guild branding). That way one version of your adventure could get the extra exposure and the other version would not have to share revenue.

Update: This appears to be against the DMsGuild terms and conditions. If you put something on their site, you can't sell the same content through other venues. There may be some legal wiggle room, especially if you are not using any WotC IP in your work, but they would most likely kick your account of the site, so you'll have to make the hard choice between extra exposure or keeping all your revenue.

So, if you are a self-publisher, what are your plans? Going to sell through the DMsGuild or just RPGNow/DriveThruRPG?  Or both?

If you haven't published anything before, are you now tempted by this new opportunity?

Will we be over-run with a glut of mediocre content like we were with 3rd Edition?

Let me know you guys think of this news in the comments!

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