My core rule books have more material than the SRD. Several sections that are in the rule books the SRD cuts off or leaves out. For example:

  • Some racial subtypes are missing.
  • Some class options are mentioned but not described.
  • Some feats are also missing. (There is only one.)
  • Some magic items are missing.
  • Some magic items that have variants (like ioun stones) are incomplete.

Are these intentionally removed or were they just forgotten? If they were intentionally omitted, what's the point of an incomplete SRD?

Is the entire rule book Open Game Content or is only the SRD information Open Game Content?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Which edition of D&D are you referring to here? The licensing for various editions of D&D are very different. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 6, 2016 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ this is an attempt of making a canonical dupe target for such questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Oct 6, 2016 at 16:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think trying to cover 3.5e and 5e with one question is too broad, as they come to the table with fundamentally different approaches (OGL def in coreboook vs none with explicit SRD). \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 7, 2016 at 3:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still feel like this is too broad (most artificial attempts to create a "canonical" question are) and just ends up being confusing. Five strong men can override me, but I think making a multi-edition question of this sort is counterproductive. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 7, 2016 at 21:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since we only have two editions' OGLs to account for (meaning only two questions), and the OGLs for each have somewhat different content and goals, I think having two separate questions for this would be quite reasonable and effective. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2016 at 19:04

3 Answers 3


The SRDs are intentionally incomplete.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and you should probably talk to a copyright lawyer before publishing derivative works for profit.

The point of the D&D SRDs as a document is to give potential paying customers a taste of the system, so they can see if they like it and potentially buy books. To quote the D&D 5th edition Basic Rules site:

We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that.

They were also intended to give publishers the ability to easily write material using the core rules, to encourage more third-party publishing. It also exists to provide an easy rules reference (to a limited set of rules) for people who already own books, but don't have access to them at a particular moment. It is not intended to replace the books entirely, because Wizards of the Coast likes to make money, and seems to be of the opinion that releasing the entirety of their ruleset would cut into their profits.

Given this, it is likely that anything that exists in the books and not the SRDs is left out intentionally, so that players have a reason to buy the books, and so that Wizards can charge licensing fees for more of their work.

One other thing to note: There are two different D&D SRDs. Their legal provenance looks to be the same, but one applies to D&D 3.5 and one applies to D&D 5th ed. Material from one edition's SRD isn't compatible with the other's, though they both serve the same legal purpose.

To determine what is and isn't Open Game Content, look for the copyright notice at the front of the document or book. For a majority of D&D 3.5 books (possibly all, but I don't own them all), there is a note saying that they contain no OGL content. In the 5th edition Player's Handbook, there is no mention of the OGL at all, which means that nothing in that book is covered under the OGL. To my knowledge, the only 5th edition document covered by the OGL is the SRDs, which means that any content not in that document is not open content, and can't be used in a derivative work without the written permission of Wizards of the Coast.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Some people think that there's only one D&D SRD -- we had a user recently who thought that d20srd material was part of D&D 5e, because they'd heard about the D&D 5e SRD. I'm not sure where would be best to put it, but it might be worth clarifying there's different SRDs. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2016 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I added a note to that effect, and replaced "SRD" with "SRDs". \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 6, 2016 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ The point of the 3e SRD was explicitly to get other games to use the same “engine”. (And sell more PHBs since the SRD intentionally left out information about leveling up characters.) It was never primarily intended to give potential players a taste of the system. The 5e Basic PDFs are clearly meant to give potential players a taste of the system, which suggests to me that the 5e SRD has a slightly different purpose. But I haven’t been keeping up as much with 5e developments. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2016 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 for "The point of the D&D SRDs as a document is to give potential paying customers a taste of the system, so they can see if they like it and potentially buy books" - the point of the SRD is to distribute what 3rd parties may include in their compatible works. At least for all the D&D ones... \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Oct 8, 2016 at 11:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 5e Basic PDFs and the 5e SRD are different things. dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/… \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2016 at 15:01

I am not a lawyer. I am not providing legal advice. Contact your local IP attorney for legal advice before using the OGL.

The answer lies in the OGL declaration in the Corebook. Or in its absence.

The OGL requires a declaration within the text of what is and is not open content. Often, this is either just before or after the license text itself, or is added as a subsection of sections 1(d) and 1(e), and sometimes as section 16.

If the corebook does not include the OGL ①, then nothing in it is open content. Period. When writing, forget that that corebook exists.

If it does contain the OGL, examine the declarations in sections 1 and (if present) 16, and/or on the copyright page. It should tell you what is Product Identity. If the corebook includes some things that didn't make it into the SRD, but which are not Product Identity ② (eg: Mind Flayer brain sucking ability), you can use them, but need to document the corebook in your section 15 declarations.


① The Wizards OGL 1.0a is not the only open license in use. All of them require different things. Mixing different licenses is definitely time to contact a lawyer.
② if the declaration is unclear, don't use the document until you get clarifications.


I am presuming you are referring to 5th edition.

To answer your question(s) directly. Only the SRD is covered by the OGL. If you choose to use the SRD to develop content, you are bound by the OGL. (For example, you cannot state that your content is compatible with DnD 5th edition or mention the Monster Manual or Dungeon Master's Guide as this would violate item 7 in the OGL.)

Under Fair Use, you can publish compatible content and reference WotC intellectual property (trademarks and copyrighted material) as long as you don't infringe on their rights. For example, you can have an NPC who is a Veteran and reference that a Veteran is on Monster Manual p.250, but you cannot reproduce the statblock that is presented on Monster Manual p.250 in your material. (The line at which a quote becomes copyright infringement is kind of fuzzy, though.)

It is worth noting that anything you post to the DM's Guild site must adhere to the OGL.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is intended to cover both 5e and 3.5e as a canonical question. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2016 at 19:01

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