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I'm developing a campaign setting with my S.O. which we intend to publish. (We're uncertain of exactly where we'll publish yet.) I was reading through the D&D 5e SRD released under OGL to see what was and wasn't allowed for use. I noticed that Dwarves and Elves only have one subrace each, but that Duergar and Drow appear in the monster listing. Are they usable as subraces as well, then? Would I need to create my own interpretation of them as a player subrace?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for clarifying that this is the D&D 5e OGL SRD release. Could you clarify for us if you're intending to publish the campaign setting anywhere or is it for your own private use? If you do intend to publish it, do you intend to publish it via the DM's Guild or elsewhere? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 28 '18 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ We had intended to publish it, but were uncertain of exactly where yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeramia Schafer Jul 28 '18 at 20:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ It was just a discrepancy I saw. It's not the only one of its kind I've noticed in the OGL, and I wanted a clarification as to what was and wasn't allowed for use. For example, the Cleric only lists the Life domain, yet the deities listed have many more domains than that one. Does this mean I can use those domains as well? Can I use them in name only, and have to develop my own mechanical descriptions for them? \$\endgroup\$ – Jeramia Schafer Jul 28 '18 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Use them for what? What are you doing with them? Are you reprinting player options whole cloth? Are you including pregen characters? Creating NPCs? Listing player option limitations? \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jul 28 '18 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ We had no intended use specifically for Drow or Duergar, they were simply an example of the discrepancy I had found in the OGL. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeramia Schafer Jul 28 '18 at 23:38
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You may not reprint the official Drow and Duergar subrace options

The monsters and the subraces are different mechanically, and those non-OGL subrace mechanics are exactly what you’re hoping to use. Although conceptually and in-game they’re related ideas, as far as publishing is concerned, subraces and monsters are unrelated bits of content.

The subraces are simply not licensed as open content in the SRD and may not be published in OGL-compliant products.

You could make your own

Your product could provide your own version of Drow and Duergar player subraces. They could not resemble the official ones though, as that would be obviously copying and modifying the original, something neither copyright nor the OGL allow. This would be very difficult, since the Drow and Duergar as we know them in D&D are original inventions owned by WotC, and even the names aren’t available in an SRD-derived product. You’d have to make up completely original Underground Elf and Underground Dwarf concepts and abilities.

Since your versions would have to be original and incompatible, there are only a few cases where it would even be worth it. A campaign setting is one reasonable purpose for original creations like that.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

However, there’s no reason to even include character creation in your campaign setting, so you could just avoid the whole issue entirely and direct people to the PHB and other books to make characters.

For your campaign setting–product purposes, you’d probably be better off simply listing “drow” and “duergar” with all the other races that exist in your setting and telling your readers to use the WotC books to make characters as normal.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the 3.5 edition Drow/Duergar are Open Game Content, and I know the PFRPG versions are. So it's also an option to port over from those if you cite the appropriate books in your OGL. You should still avoid making it too similar to the 5e versions though. \$\endgroup\$ – SuperJedi224 Dec 19 '18 at 15:18

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