For a few months now, there’s been a serious controversy brewing in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, as fans began to hear rumblings from D&D creator Wizards Of The Coast (itself owned by Hasbro) about upcoming changes to the games’ Open Game License, an expansive document that allows third-party publishers to use elements from the Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks—classes, spells, and monsters, for instance, but also base gameplay rules, like rolling a 20-sided die to resolve attacks or skill checks—for their own content.
(If you want more info on the OGL, we’ll direct you to our colleagues over at io9, who’ve been covering this topic, and the growing firestorm around it, extensively over the last few weeks. The upshot of the initial license, though, was the arrival of a huge number of new tabletop systems and campaigns that used D&D as a jumping off point—increasing the prestige, and profit, of the home system, while also encouraging further creativity. Perceived threats to those systems, like the hyper-popular Pathfinder, are a big part of the anger at play here.)
Rumors (spurred on by leaked documents) that the OGL might be revoked, or significantly altered, in the near future have already produced multiple apologies from WoTC, as well as real financial consequences, with reports that users have canceled their subscriptions to the company’s online D&D Beyond service in response to the reports. And then, today, angry users managed to get #BoycottDNDMovie at least briefly trending on Twitter.
Said D&D movie is, of course, Honor Among Thieves, the Chris Pine-starring upcoming heist movie that Hasbro et. al are presumably hoping to use to wash the taste of the last live-action Dungeons & Dragons movie out of everybody’s mouth. (And build-up a brand that’s reportedly become a very large portion of the toy company’s profits.) Critics of the company are apparently targeting the film because they’re pretty sure doing so is the best way to make Hasbro’s leadership look inept in front of investors, identifying it as a weak point in the company’s platemail.
As with any such trending, it’s not clear how much sincere energy there is behind a boycott movement for the film, currently aimed at a March 31 release. But Wizards Of The Coast did release multiple statements today, including a long apology from Dungeons & Dragons executive producer Kyle Brink, and a Twitter thread hoping to debunk rumors that the company has been ignoring player feedback for years. So somebody is clearly paying attention, even if it’s not clear what the protest movement will eventually amount to. (Honestly, we’re just waiting to see Pine and his co-stars have to field questions about all this during the movie’s junket; love a celebrity interview with explanatory footnotes.)