So I am doing a side project to build a platform where different groups of people can play D&D 5e online. While looking for resources online, I stumbled across the OGL. Now the OGL has a lot of data but doesn't have the complete data (for eg, class archetypes are not present). Now I want to know if there is any way how I can use the data not falling under Open Game Content.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Many related questions can be found by searching dnd-5e + intellectual-property. Good luck! \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Feb 18 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your project only for you and your friends? Is it supposed to be open to anyon? To earn money? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Feb 18 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. It might be easier to answer your question if we know what the purpose of your "side project" is, in more specific detail. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 18 at 22:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ What kind of interface will your system have? Would simply allowing users to upload character sheets do? What kind of functionality are you shooting for? \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Richardson Feb 18 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot It is supposed to be free for all open to anyone. Prolly gonna make it opensource as well to accept contributors \$\endgroup\$ – DarthSett Feb 20 at 8:48

Sure there is—pay Wizards of the Coast to license that material.

The Open Game License is free, but only covers a subset of the game. Often it covers just one example of each kind of thing. In order to include the rest of the content, you need to license it from Wizards of the Coast—but they don’t offer it under the Open Game License, so you’ll have to get it under some other license, which won’t be free.

This is precisely what, for examples, Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 have done. They pay Wizards of the Coast some amount of money, and receive a license to include 5e content beyond what’s available under the OGL on their platforms. How much they pay, the exact terms of this license, are not public information. Wizards of the Coast does not simply have a store somewhere selling licenses of its content. Instead, those licenses and the associated licensing fees are negotiated between Wizards of the Coast and whoever is doing the licensing.

Notably, both Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 were existing, functioning platforms before 5e even existed. Part of the “payment” that Wizards of the Coast might demand may be some kind of assurance that your platform is going to be a real thing that people really use, because part of the value they derive from selling these licenses is the increased exposure of D&D via these platforms. So if you’re still working on the platform, they may not be interested in even negotiating a payment. Or maybe they are—again, these aren’t public details, so there’s no way for us to really know. There is presumably some amount of money you could throw at them to get them willing to pay attention even if they have doubts about your platform.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 That’s precisely what the reference to Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 supposed to be: we know this is how it works, because that’s what these two have done. They wouldn’t have paid money if there was a way to get that content free. I have not personally worked with any developer whose needs went beyond the OGL—we were interested in creating our own content, not in using Wizards’. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 18 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay--gotcha. Makes sense, I was reading onto the answer some things, I think. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Feb 18 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not to say you are wrong, but WotC can certainly offer their content on a per-person basis under a different licence, which can be free or paid. For example, they might offer a student license or something similar, and they might be interested in a system meant to use D&D as a teaching tool in public schools. It's probably not OP's case, but I just wanted to mention it, especially since you said "part of the value they derive from selling these licenses is the increased exposure of D&D via these platforms" \$\endgroup\$ – Blueriver Feb 18 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Blueriver Of course they can offer anything they want with respect to their own property. Available evidence (statements in the Fan Content Policy, the fact that Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 pay licensing fees, etc.) suggest that they don’t, however. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 18 at 23:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that they have no obligation to sell anyone a license (even if they have done so in the past). From a course change to having sold as many licenses as they were ever planning, there might be reasons why they aren't interested in selling a license at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Jasper Feb 20 at 2:46

Here is the guide to the use of Wizards of the Coast intellectual property:


Two parts that are most interesting to you are:

Can I use all of Wizards’ IP?

Unfortunately, no. You cannot incorporate Wizards patents, game mechanics (unless your Fan Content is created under the D&D Open Game License), logos, or trademarks into your Fan Content without our prior written permission.


If your Fan Content isn’t covered by this Policy, you’ll need our prior, written approval. If you have any questions or the Fan Content you want to make isn’t covered by this Policy, contact us by logging into the Wizards Help System at https://support.wizards.com. We’ll reply back as soon as we can.

Please understand that if you don’t hear from us, it does not mean we approve of your requested use of Wizards IP; it probably just means your question is covered by the Fan Content Policy.

So, by their FAQ, if your creation does not fall under OGL, you are supposed to log in to their support system, and ask.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Please understand that if you don’t hear from us, it does not mean we approve of your requested use of Wizards IP; it probably just means your question is covered by the Fan Content Policy." What a bad defaultcase... This says in the end "If you don't hear anything from us, you know as little as you already know" x'D \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Feb 19 at 9:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis community is big and WotC can only hire so many people and still have a profit. They could do that or default to simple "no". Either way is not particularly good. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Feb 19 at 10:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a default "no" would be better here, cause they actually say, if they don't answer its probably covered by given policy. Assuming that someone thinks, they understood that policy and it is not covered, someone will wait in uncertainty for an answer. I would be very annoyed by that. ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Feb 19 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis That did strike me as an especially awful fallback behavior. It makes the actual policy "Do what you want for now, but we may bring the banhammer down at any time for any reason." \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Feb 19 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells Exactly what I tried to put into words. You just brought it to my point ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Feb 19 at 16:30

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