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How The Latest Dungeons & Dragons Drama Could Lead To Honor Among Thieves' Critical Failure

For a while now, it seemed like the "Dungeons & Dragons" franchise was on a hot streak. A new movie, titled "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," was greenlit and has a current release date of March 31, 2023. It stars such big-name talent as Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant. There's also the news that a live-action "D&D" series is in the works at Paramount+ that will come courtesy of "Red Notice" director Rawson Marshall Thurber. 

It seemed like the franchise was rolling nothing but 20s until some upsetting news came out from Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro that owns "D&D." As Gizmodo reported earlier in January, WoTC threatened to tighten its open game license, allowing the company to make money off of storylines created by individual dungeon masters. Basically, how it works is this: D&D creates many stories for players to follow. However, dungeon masters can create their own adventures, making a little bit of money by selling them online or to various organizations. Under the proposed new guidelines from WoTC, Hasbro would then own those adventures and profit from them. 

Long-time "D&D" player Baron de Ropp told The Guardian, "It honestly feels like your grandfather paid for your college education, and now that you're 40 years old and have a stable career, he says you owe him 25% of all the money you've been making." The decision has caused quite an uproar in the community and could very well threaten all of the goodwill toward upcoming "D&D" projects.

Wizards of the Coast reversed its position, but the damage might be done

Shortly after The Guardian came out with its piece, Wizards of the Coast released a statement reversing its decision to change its open game license agreement. Part of the statement read, "The company is reversing its position on the OGL to protect 'educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay' and other content created by community members. It has also announced that the redrafted agreement will not include 'any royalty structure' or the 'license-back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work.'"

The memo ends with the bafflingly divisive statement, "You're going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because making your voices heard forced us to change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won — and so did we." It seems WoTC realized what it was doing was angering fans and decided to reverse course, but switching directions may be too little too late at this point. Many "D&D" fans are already over the company. According to a poll done on D&D Beyond, 67.2% of respondents have unsubscribed from the platform, while 25.2% wanted to wait for an official response from the company. 

Even on Reddit, people seemed put off by WoTC's statement, with u/KhelbenB voicing a shared opinion on the matter, "They just want to gaslight us into thinking we won so we can put away our pitchforks, but we are not fools." It seems the fact WoTC would even consider a course of action like this has upset fans, and that begs the question of what's to become of the upcoming "D&D" projects. 

A lot of D&D players are skeptical of Honor Among Thieves

A "Dungeons & Dragons" movie seems like a slam dunk. In 2017, it was estimated that there were 13.7 million active "D&D" players around the globe. Those numbers, along with people who just want to see a good fantasy movie, would suggest "Honor Among Thieves" would kill it at the box office. However, the recent controversy could sour a lot of people on spending more time and money on the franchise. 

The Guardian spoke with several former "D&D" fans, and while they said they would probably give adaptations of the game a shot, there was plenty of skepticism. William Earl, who has a YouTube channel devoted to "D&D" culture, said, "D&D is a collaborative, interactive storytelling experience. The appeal is that you engage with the narrative and share that experience with others. Pizza, potato chips, Diet Coke, and laughter, that's as much a part of the D&D experience as dragons, dwarves and demons."

On the other hand, one Reddit thread asked people if they would boycott the new "Dungeons & Dragons" movie. Most people sounded like they would still see it, with u/shadowthehh writing, "Honestly though I think the movie should still be supported. Boycotting it would be more of a message to Hollywood that people don't want movies like this, rather than telling WotC we don't like the new OGL." It's hard to say how the OGL madness will impact interest in "Honor Among Thieves," but with millions of fans out there, it'd be best for WoTC to stay on their good side.