Wizards of the Coast Fails a Saving Throw


A post to the Open Gaming Listserv today from Ryan Dancey (one of the most important people in the world of d20/Open Gaming) indicated that today was the day for the long-rumored Wizards of the Coast downsizing. Among those affected was Mr. Dancey himself. What will this mean for the future of Wizards, D&D, d20, Open Gaming and RPGs en masse? Time will tell.

As the Open Gaming Listserv is a public forum, and since most Gamegrene readers probably don't subscribe, I'm posting this here as a public service. The only changes I've made to the post are removing email addresses, to prevent spammers from harvesting them. The original post follows:

Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 18:28:26 -0800

From: "Ryan S. Dancey"

Subject: [Ogf-d20-l] Changes at WotC, Ryan Dancey ending relationship with company

Dear Friends,

As you all know, WotC is downsizing today. My personal sympathies go out to all involved. These are tough times, filled with turbulence and discontent. Hopefully the days ahead will be brighter.

On a more personal note, as a part of their general effort to cut costs, they've decided to terminate my consulting agreement, as of today.

There will be practical implications to that change.

First, I'm not going to be directly involved in the MasterTools development effort any more. That responsibility will now be taken on by Peter Kim at Wizards. I will continue to allow the MasterTools beta test list to be hosted on my servers, and the beta will continue under Peter's oversight.

Second, I will not be meeting regularly with R&D on further SRD approvals. The R&D team and I need to work out a system to finish that work without my direct oversight. Anthony Valterra at Wizards will now become your primary contact for all issues related to the OGL and the D20 System Trademark License as they apply to Wizards' product and policies. This change is related primarily to personal issues between WotC and myself, and does not reflect WotC's continued commitment to the idea of Open Gaming, or to the release of the SRD in a complete format. Unfortunately, due to this change, I will not be attending the WotC hosted OGL meeting at GAMA on Monday. For obvious reasons, from this point forward, I do not speak on behalf of Wizards in any official capacity related to their Open Gaming efforts.

I will continue to operate the Open Gaming Foundation, and the OGL mailing lists. OrganizedPlay's license to operate the Living City campaign also continues without change.

While I am sorry to see my official relationship with Wizards of the Coast end, it is my hope that you will all see a smooth transition and a minimum of disruption.


Ryan S. Dancey
CEO, OrganizedPlay
(for information about Open Gaming, please visit www.opengamingfoundation.org)

The original post (with email addresses) is archived at the aforementioned website:


All is as I predicted elsewhere. The beginning of the end for the d20 concept, as it was in fact from day one nothing more than a way to flush out, maroon and then destroy independent voices within the D&D hobby. Soduk to WotC and HASBRO (since it is really only a HASBRO wearing the skin of a WotC).

Gee Jonathan,

Aren't we a bit paranoïd?

The D20 open license is a Pandora Box that WotC won't be able to close simply by laying off some people. I'm no lawyer but there is something of a contract between the little guys and WotC, so they can't legally "destroy them" as you said. For some perspective on these lay offs and what it means for the D20 license, check out Monte Cook's website: http://www.montecook.com

Last I checked the little voices in the D&D hobby weren't really listened to until the OGL. What WOTC did, instead, was flood the market with gaming material without taking any risk in the deal. Or little risk as the case may be. This flood generates competition whicn creates a sink or swim situation. Produce quality material or go out of business, pure and simple. Its good old American capitalism and was necessary for a stagnating industry.

The OGL made everyone think differently about RPGs and that was important. And one last thing, this does not spell the doom of the OGL. WOTC cannot revoke the license agreement, we are stuck with it forever, for good or bad.

Personally, I don't care for the OGL all that much other than it allows me to write for the industry, creates many more author opportunities. But understand it is a fair deal for small timers and the behomoth that everyone seems to love to hate.

Does anyone know if Mastertools is still under development and when it will ship? Is there still a discussion group devoted to it?