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Wizards of the Coast announces the OGL and what it means for Fantasy Grounds

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 was an important day in the tabletop RPG gaming world. On this day, Wizards of the Coast announces the long-anticipated Open Gaming License and System Reference Document 5.0 for use with D&D fifth edition. While they had previously released the D&D Basic Rules for players and DMs, this was an even broader release of rules that should allow more people to try out the game or even play it indefinitely. As the only licensee for D&D fifth edition digital tools, we were immediately asked what we thought of this announcement and if there were any concerns about some of the content we have a license to distribute being suddenly made available to our competitors.

My answer to that question is that we are generally okay with it. We have know about the upcoming release for some time and Wizards of the Coast announced that there would be an OGL in the first few days of release of D&D fifth edition. The only thing that we didn't really know was what content would be included. We learned that at about the same time as everyone else. Since that time, I've been busy building our own version of the SRD and I just now released it as a free update to all Fantasy Grounds users (non-Demo users.) I'm very impressed with the amount of content that is available. If people had any concerns about their ability to play D&D with only the 4 races and 4 classes from the D&D Basic Rules, I can bet that those concerns are now a thing of the past. Every single class and race are present in the SRD content. With the included modules, you can build characters just like you can with the official products. As a DM, you can build encounters full of D&D monsters and build treasure parcels full of equipment and magic items to award your players.

What's the catch though?

Well, there are some small ones, but they are very minor. For each of the races that have subtypes, they will only give you a single option instead of a choice of options. For classes, you'll get a single archetype instead of selection here, or a single domain instead of your pick from a wide range of options. The spell list is pretty robust and all but a select handful of spells is included. The same is true for magic items and the entire equipment list is included. A few items and spells have been renamed and descriptions have been altered to remove IP that belongs to Wizards of the Coast, but it is super usable as-is. The Bestiary is full of a few hundred monsters, but the descriptions and images are removed, along with some of my favorite monsters from D&D history. For the DD5E SRD Bestiary that we just finished building, however, we were able to link these with tokens that we already give away for free. These are nice top-down style tokens that we licensed from Raymond Gaustadnes a year or so ago.

How does Fantasy Grounds stack up to the competition?
While there may now be other tools that do some of what you can do in Fantasy Grounds, I've always been very proud of how powerful the interface is for FG users. The SRD PDF is a great resource. The FG version of the SRD is jaw-droppingly awesome and it shows people some of the true power behind Fantasy Grounds without having to take a leap of faith.

We have free 30-day trials with no commitment where people can download a full-fledged version of the software and try it out with all the bells and whistles. People can use the new SRD content to get a feel for how the full versions will work. Some people may use this as a base and just enter the extra content they need, and others will opt for the true Cadillac experience. Either way, I see that this ultimately helps lower the burden for people wanting to get in and play. The one complaint I have seen repeated by potential customers was the price tag. Many people took the leap of faith and bought all the modules and then saw how much value was packed in there, but others were reasonably skeptical. Making the SRD content available for free can only help this.

For anyone looking to get their hands on the SRD in FG format, you'll be pleased to know that it installs automatically with a new installation or as a free update for existing users. Just run a Check for Updates and it will download and install the modules. Launch a 5E campaign and then activate the modules under Library > Modules. There are three new modules: DD5E SRD Data, DD5E SRD Magic Items and DD5E SRD Bestiary. As a GM, you can decide which of these modules you want your players to access. Most GM's will choose to share the DD5E SRD Data but keep the other two for GM use only.

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