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Green Ronin and Fourth Edition D&D

I know a lot of fans have been waiting to find out if Green Ronin is going to support 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and it's a fair question. Green Ronin's second product ever was Death in Freeport, an adventure for 3rd Edition that debuted the same day as the Player's Handbook almost eight years ago. We went on to do quite a lot of 3E support, ending only a couple of months back with the d20 Freeport Companion. Now Wizards of the Coast is terminating the d20 license and offering a different way to support the new edition of D&D. It's called the Game System License and we waited from August of last year until June of this year to see it. We've spent the last few weeks reviewing the license and discussing it internally and we have come to a consensus.

Green Ronin will not be signing the Game System License (GSL) at this time.

We plan to do one product in support of 4E: the Green Ronin Character Record Folio. This will be an update of the d20 System Character Record Folio and we'll be publishing it under the Open Game License (OGL).

Other than that we'll be giving our full attention to our own game lines: Mutants & Masterminds, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, True20 Adventure Roleplaying, and Freeport: The City of Adventure.

We had hoped to include 4E support in our plans, but the terms of the GSL are too one-sided as they stand. We certainly do not blame Wizards of the Coast for wanting to defend their intellectual property and take more control over the type of support products D&D receives. We do not, however, feel that this license treats third party publishers as valued partners. Under its terms WotC could frivolously sue a signatory for supposed violations of the GSL, lose the actual court case, and still ruin the winning company because the license specifies that the signatory has to pay WotC's legal fees. Also, the GSL can be changed at any time and WotC is not legally required to so much as inform its licensees.

Let me be clear in stating that I don't think that the people in charge of WotC currently are just waiting to attack companies with frivolous lawsuits. Once you sign the GSL though, you open yourself up to that at any point in the future. Who knows when new people will take over the D&D brand and who can say what their vision will be? Who knows when the political winds at WotC will change again and things will get even more restrictive? We do not want to operate under such a cloud moving ahead so that's why we won't be signing the GSL.

This means the Green Ronin Character Record Folio is the only 4E compatible product you'll be seeing from us this year and likely for 2009 as well. Perhaps WotC will revise the GSL in the positive way, but we cannot build our business on maybes. We know this will disappoint those of our fans who have embraced 4E and we're sorry about that. We have to make the best business decision for Green Ronin's future and right now this is it.

Thank you for your continued support.

Chris Pramas
Green Ronin Publishing


Comments (4)

So what are the current plans for Freeport then? Go entirely systemless? Go entirely True20? Continue mix of systemless and support for many systems (True20, 3e, Pathfinder, etc.)?

This sounds like a well-considered decision. The new license errs to far on the side of caution. Plus, I love M&M and have been toying with True20, so I like the idea of you supporting these products.

Normally, I would not have gone through the red-tape to sign up for a comment; I felt compelled to comment on GR's decision, however. It seems that you folks have really thought this through (who can blame you in this ultra-litigious nation) and your statement was well conveyed. I think GR will weather this just fine as you make great products in your own right. I follow both M&M and the new Freeport edition (ironically for use with D&D 4e :). I'll continue to support you!

I actually hope more companies follow suit. Signing the GSL will only provide opportunity to be litigated against in the future; just look at D&D's track record: old Judges Guild & Mayfair games.

If you wanted to publish 4e supplements, you can do it without the GSL, just look at Kenzer. And if you don't believe him, ask the U.S. Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

Besides that, Mutants & Masterminds, True 20, and Freeport are phenomenal without 4th Edition.

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