Dev Update and Maybe my last comments on the OGL Drama

Dev: Bare Knuckle

First the good stuff, Bare Knuckle is coming along. I didn't get to work on it much over the weekend. Have you ever taken a bite and as you chew, it magically gets bigger and bigger in your mouth, making it harder to swallow?

That's what's happening with the new magic system. It's based on this post from years ago by Daneel (used with permission.) I thought, how elegant, just a page or so to do a whole magic system. At the core, that's right, but I've also been refining it, tweaking, trying to make it do more. Maybe when I'm done I'll end up cutting a lot of the extra stuff, and you'll say to yourself "I thought there would be more?"

But since I feel like I have time while I wait for the ORC anyway, I don't feel a need to rush something out.


I keep naming and renaming things in my head.

So there's the already existing Mini Six Bare Bones Edition

I'm currently working on the Mini Six Bare Knuckle SRD. Remember, this is the "de-OGL'd," "de-OpenD6'd" version of what Mini Six Revised would have become if the OGL drama didn't happen, without any extra bits (settings, fluff, extra rules modules) with the exception of the new magic rules which replace the "simple magic system" found in Bare Bones Edition. It would be trivial for someone else to retro-convert it into something even closer to BBE if they want, and since it will be released as an open game, that's fine with me.

The next thing I'll turn my attention to is Mini Six Second Edition. It will be a more robust offering than Bare Bones Edition was, and isn't designed to be compatible unless you squint at it really hard. The core rules will still be "mini" but there will be a lot more optional content.

It will be released alongside its own SRD, which I previously called Bare Knuckle 2.0.  I've decided not to do that because it will create confusion. The SRD  for Mini Six Second Edition will just be called something like "Mini Six Second Edition SRD."

The OGL Stuff

Like everyone else, my thoughts continue to evolve. In a better world, WotC wouldn't be messing around with 1.0a at all and none of this would really matter.

I've heard that the publishers using the Cepheus engine are stuck in a situation that has some similarities to the OpenD6/OGL world right now. I feel for them. Cepheus is a fun project, and I hope that those folks get to keep doing it the way they want.

I've read several times when folks say things like "you don't need the OGL anyway... You can't copyright rules... this lawyer on TikTok or YouTube said X..."  You know what these folks don't generally have in common with the Cepheus, OpenD6, or D&D SRD publishers?

They're not at risk of being sued by someone over this. They're not wondering if it's worth it to even consult a lawyer on a game that's just pizza money for them. Yes, most of us agree on all of those points, but we also don't want to be the small guy that WotC targets regarding 1.0a usage on new products because we are easy targets unlikely to be able to mount a significant defense, due to budget constraints, or because we decide that the stress isn't worth it.

So all of these hypothetical cases of winning in court or whatever doesn't mean too much to small guys like me. Yes, a bigger fish like Paizo might mount a winning challenge, but that's the case that WotC will do everything possible to stall for as long as they can. All the while, they can strike at smaller publishers to send a message. And while that happens, a lot of small and mid-tier publishers withdraw or are starved out. This is WotC's implicit message with the OGL 1.2: "we will get litigious again."

Yes, there's virtually a 100% chance that I'm not personally on WotC's radar. But that's the kind of thing you have to consider in these cases. It doesn't matter what any lawyer says until a judge or jury agrees with them.

Then there are the folks who say "The OGL has always been a bad deal." That may be the case, legally, but it was never really about the law - it was about the illusion of safety. That's broken now. There are companies out there who probably never would have been formed without the safe harbor that the OGL "granted." We're all wiser now, but the OGL was a net positive for the community for two decades. People weren't fools for using it, it was the guardrail that lent some confidence to put ourselves out there. "The OGL was a bad deal" is technically correct but fails to consider the psychology of the hobbyist creator.

I've already said it, I won't be under the OGL moving forward. Like everyone else, I've been burned. Even if WotC backed off completely I'd still claw my way out from under the OGL because they've proven that they will always consider 1.0a to be something they can shut down, even if their website stated the opposite until 2021.

For similar reasons, I'm leaving OpenD6 behind. There's obviously no intent to hinder creators coming from anyone in the OpenD6 community or the trademark owner, but since it's tied to the OGL, it's a complication I just can't deal with. I love the OpenD6 system, and I love its parent the D6 system even more, but I just want to make fun stuff and all of this legal crap is getting in the way of me having that fun.