A personal commentary from Game to Grow founder Adam Davis on what the OGL means for TA-RPG and Critical Core.
We have been watching the commotion in the larger RPG community about the open gaming license and the ongoing struggles to clarify what the next steps are for those using the open gaming license to build on the works of Wizards of the Coast, or those who are using Dungeons and Dragons specifically.
If you’re not familiar with this issue, I suggest you do a YouTube search and you will find a wealth of commentary and coverage of the issue. I’m not prepared to unpack the fine details, and as I’m certainly not a lawyer, I won’t be prepared to make any declarations about what is or isn’t legally viable. There are so many takes and the issue seems to be evolving so consistently, I have been hesitant to make a statement that may become quickly outdated as the situation rapidly evolves.
However, we’ve received many inquiries about what this means for Critical Core specifically, Game to Grow generally, and the larger community of applied RPGs more broadly.
In short, I don’t know yet. I’m cautiously optimistic because the tide of public opinion (and thus the tides that alter the course of those with profit motive) are in the favor of the wider community being able to continue creating and to continue cultivating the community that has been built by, for, and through RPGs. If you have an investment in the issue, we encourage you to make your voice heard in the ways you feel most comfortable.
Critical Core was developed using the OGL, and since it’s already printed, distributed, and sold regularly, we have a personal, financial, and mission-based investment in being able to continue to do so. We will advocate for our ability to continue to allow Critical Core to serve its mission. Because of this issue with the OGL, I anticipate future printings and versions of Critical Core will be built without a reliance on the OGL, though it’s too early to know for sure the best alternative.
We’ve always advocated a system-agnostic approach to TA-RPG. Our training doesn’t focus specifically on any particular game system, and we encourage those who purchase Critical Core to take the wisdom in the material and apply it to other game systems that may be great for the specific population. The tapestry of the human experience is broad and rich, and there won’t be one game/genre/setting/adventure that will serve everyone equally. Play lots of games, pick and choose the aspects you think best for your specific community of players, reflect, and iterate.
I just ran a training last week and gave some credit to the OGL for helping diversify, generalize, and democratize the RPG community. I think it’ll be impossible to put that genie back in the bottle. What we’re doing with TA-RPG in the Game to Grow approach uses the game as a vessel for relational narrative play. Nobody owns that. It’s in our DNA.