Wizards of the Coast, the company which owns the biggest tabletop game, the Dungeons and Dragons franchise and the top dog collectible card game, Magic the Gathering, has recently opened their gaming licenses to allow some of the most creative people to share their creations: the players themselves.
Starting just in mid-January 2016, Wizards of the Coast released guidelines for publishing content under their Open Gaming License (OGL), which allows the fans to publish their own material using Dungeons and Dragons content. So, if you want to go create a mobile app with the D&D content, and it fits the OGL criteria, you can publish it. If you want to design a unique campaign world and use the 5E rules at the core and print a million copies, you can do that too.
The best platform they have is something called the Dungeon Masters Guild, which offers different kinds of publishing opportunities right on the Wizards’ website, in an online markeplace. That’s gold for someone that loves to create 5E D&D content for their players, and now they can share it with the gaming world, and make a couple bucks at the same time.
D&D’s 5th Edition is the newest edition of the D&D game, which has brought flocks of players back from Pathfinder – after they ran away from 4th Edition due to its needlessly complex and slow gameplay. The gameplay of 5E, which has been well publicized, is a throwback to the simplicity of the old 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, with the best stuff from 3rd, 3.5 and 4th Editions. It’s no wonder that’s why they are back on top.
So, now you can design content using 5E rules for D&D, or publish Forgotten Realms (their most famous D&D gaming world that’s been around for gamers since 1987), or sell your own D&D products all on the DM’s Guild online marketplace. If you want to create your own original campaign world, using the 5E rules, or print and sell your own D&D product, you can use the OGL and do it yourself outside of the Guild.
It’s actually a really great system to allow players for a couple of bucks to pick up new options, or feats or monsters without having to spend the $50 for a new book (not that you won’t anyway). Or, if you want to use the Wizards material on your own fan site, you can do that too. Download the Fan Tool Kit off the Wizards site; just make sure you read their policies.
One last point I’d like to make about 5E, is that Wizards’ brain trust did a very smart thing with their marketing and product releases. The first major adventure they released was the Rise of Tiamat and the Hoard of the Dragon Queen. In conjunction, they opened up with a third-party vendor Wiz Kids to produce their D&D miniatures and then released a series of high quality painted plastic minis. It’s great to have the minis at the same time as the books, and adventures whether it was Out of the Abyss, or the Dragon Queen, or Elemental Evil, giving the players options if they want to take them. It’s not so heavy handed to force you to buy them, only if you want to add them to your collection.
My only complaint is the whole “collectible miniature” business model from Wiz Kids. It probably works well for the many other products they sell, but not so much for the D&D game. When you have to buy a booster pack and have no idea what you’re going to get, you have to buy a few boosters to get what you want. Unless it’s a ‘rare’ mini, in which case you may never get it by buying boosters. Of course, you can spend $50 online if you really want it.
I’ll be very interested to see what they do this fall, when Wiz Kids goes to an unpainted individual plastic miniature system. It’s back to the way it used to be, unpainted minis, but without the lead poisoning…