Kobold Press Announces Core Fantasy Ruleset Amid Dungeons & Dragons OGL Turmoil

A prominent publisher of Dungeons & Dragons-compatible material has announced plans to develop a new ruleset that will be "available, open, and subscription-free for those who love it." Kobold Press, a veteran TTRPG company known for its Midgard campaign setting and its deep line of 5E-compatible rulebooks, has announced plans to develop the Core Fantasy ruleset, a new set of fantasy RPG rules that will be available for others to use through open gaming. "As we look ahead, it becomes even more important for our actions to represent our values," Kobold Press said in a blogpost announcing the move. "While we wait to see what the future holds, we are moving forward with clear-eyed work on a new Core Fantasy tabletop ruleset: available, open, and subscription-free for those who love it—Code Name: Project Black Flag." The announcement crashed Kobold Press's website, forcing the publisher to re-issue its announcement via Twitter.

The announcement is a clear pushback against recent rumored changes to the Open Game License, which provides the framework for publishers such as Kobold Press to make material compatible with Dungeons & Dragons. Kobold Press is one of the largest publishers of third-party D&D 5E material, and even worked with Wizards of the Coast to develop the first official D&D 5E adventures Tyranny of Dragons. 

Kobold Press is one of the publishers likely to face the most challenges under the OGL 1.1. While it was previously assumed that publishers could continue using the OGL 1.0a to publish material without paying a royalty fee or agreeing to restrictive rights limitations, the leaked version of the OGL 1.1 claims to "de-authorize" the old OGL, thus preventing its future use. While publishers would not have to pay a royalty fee until 2024, Kobold Press would be considered among the top creators under the new structure based on its 2022 Kickstarter earnings. Kobold Press raised over $1.2 million to publish various 5E products on Kickstarter in 2022. Based on the already announced royalty structure, $1.2 million revenue would result in a $93,000 royalty payment. 

Many publishers and creators have spoken out against the rumored OGL 1.1. An open letter to Wizards of the Coast protesting the rumored OGL has garnered over 26,000 signers as of press time. A number of publishers have announced plans to move away from publishing 5E compatible material. Wizards of the Coast has largely been silent since the furor started last week, save for a single statement released today stating "We know you have questions about the OGL and we will be sharing more soon." The OGL controversy comes at a poor time for Dungeons & Dragons, with a movie set to be released in two months and a television show just announced for Paramount+.