Announcement: The End of 5e and the Future of UO

Hi Folks,

By now, I’m sure that many of you have heard the latest news regarding how Hasbro/WotC is planning to work with third-party creators going forward.

You can read the full article here, but the TLDR version is that they’re not. 

Their decision to remove 3PPs from their community unless they make some very compromising financial and ethical decisions has forced us to radically change how we will continue going forward. I’ll try to answer any questions that you might have preemptively below, as well as lay out how we’ll face the next year as transparently as possible, but if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please post them here or join our conversation on the discord.

What’s Happening?

The article linked above lays everything out thoroughly, but here are the highlights:

  • As of the release of the new license, the old version of the OGL that we use to publish for 5e will be revoked. It doesn’t really matter whether this is “legal” or not. We don’t have the capital necessary to fight Hasbro in court, so we’re forced to concede.
  • To continue to publish anything for D&D going forward, you would have to agree to the new license, which would mean we would need to (if we manage the growth that we’re shooting for) open our financial records to WotC, possibly pay royalties, pay large percentages from Kickstarter projects, and lose control of our IP.
  • The new license does not cover or allow for VTT conversions, minis, board games, etc. Anything that is not a PDF or a physical book isn’t allowed.

How Will This Affect Underground Oracle?

We’re sure there will be ripple effects that we’ll all be dealing with as a community that we haven’t even considered yet, but these are the changes we’ll be applying immediately.

  • We’re no longer producing material for 5e. We still have one final “farewell to D&D” gift planned for all of you here that we’re delivering by 1/12 (the deadline), but going forward there will be no more 5e-compatible books and supplements produced by Underground Oracle Publishing.
  • For the next year, we’re focusing on publishing materials for the Cypher System. We’ll begin looking into additional systems to convert and diversify our catalog of offerings at the start of the following year.
  • We will no longer be producing new Shard VTT-compatible materials. This is incredibly difficult, as you all know the love and respect that we have for everyone on the Shard team, but since we’re no longer producing 5e supplements, there’s, unfortunately, nothing that we can do. The conversion of Under the Harvest Moons, which will be delivered prior to the 1/12 deadline, will be the final new supplement that we add to the Shard marketplace.
  • Backlog conversion to Foundry VTT will have to end immediately. We are pretty certain that we will be able to convert our new Cypher supplements to Foundry going forward, but will not be able to pursue our plans to convert our past 5e materials.
  • Our publishing cadence will change slightly, which we’ll dive into more below.

Going Forward

In the face of this impending change, which we have been hearing rumors about since slightly before Christmas, we’ve sat down and restructured how our Patreon will operate and how will focus our efforts as a publisher going forward.

We’re taking this challenge as an opportunity to make a leap forward. Each quarter (3-month block) we’ll be drilling into one of our many settings. At the start of the quarter, our Patrons will get a base setting that won’t be available publicly which we’ll expand over the remaining two months of the quarter. At the end of the quarter, we’ll either Kickstart the final setting book or make it available to the public on our storefronts.

Outside of this month (which you’ll need to bear with us through while the dust settles), you can expect our schedule to look something like this:

Month One

  • Base Setting – Heralds, Sages, and Diviners
  • Cypher Shorts – Sages and Diviners (will go to stores)
  • Portent – Diviners

Month Two

  • Setting Expansion – Heralds, Sages, and Diviners
  • Cypher Shorts – Sages and Diviners (will go to stores)
  • Adventure – Diviners

Month Three

  • Setting Expansion – Heralds, Sages, and Diviners
  • Cypher Shorts – Sages and Diviners (will go to stores)
  • Portent – Diviners
  • The full book goes live in stores or on Kickstarter

We will release our full planned publishing schedule for the next year in a subsequent post. We have some very exciting settings in the pipeline and we want you to know what we’re building with you.

As we stated earlier, all of the above materials will be created using the Cypher System, although those of you who have been with us for a while know that our writing often makes it possible to pull a lot of valuable system-agnostic lore from our supplements.

The biggest change in our tiers will be that we will no longer be able to offer consistent VTT rewards. This is truly disappointing since we very recently developed these new offerings, but again, our hands are slightly tied in this situation. We may add VTT options back to our tiers in the future, but that will have to be after we see how everything plays out with our first few quarters as well as how the updates being made by WotC impacts the VTT space as a whole.

If you are one of the folks that had signed up to a tier annually and would like a refund in light of any of these new developments, please direct message us and we’ll get you taken care of.

We Want To Thank You

We completely understand that you all joined our Patreon and put your support behind us with the understanding that we’d be producing D&D materials. To be perfectly frank, we thought we’d have the option to publish for D&D for the life of our company. We love the game, we love the community, and we never thought we’d be facing this decision.

To those of you that decide to part ways with us, we absolutely understand and we want to sincerely thank you for the support you’ve given us. We published our first materials, hired our first freelancers, worked with our first artists, and completed our first Kickstarter because of all of you. Nothing will ever change those facts, no matter how the publishing landscape might change over the next year.

We hope that you’ll continue with us on this next leg of our journey. We think that ultimately, this is going to provide us with the push necessary to sculpt Underground Oracle Publishing into the vision that we’ve had for it from the beginning and we would love for all of you to be a part of that.

As always, we wish you all the best and the happiest gaming.

~ Jess and Keith

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