The Future of the IKRPG

Yesterday, the books from our most recently crowdfunded expansion for the Iron Kingdoms RPG arrived in our warehouse. The excitement that comes with the arrival of a freshly printed book has never waned, even after 23 years; we can’t wait to crack the cases open, rifle the pages, smell the ink. And there is the immense satisfaction from knowing we’ll soon be delivering these books, the product of our creative passion, to the people who have faithfully and generously supported our efforts. Best of all, once we ship this latest expansion of a world we spend more time in than the real one, we’re poised to do it all again with the next project that we’re eager to unveil. But yesterday, the excitement that accompanies a delivery of our latest work was overshadowed by a deep uncertainty regarding what comes next.

By now, if you are part of the expansive TTRPG community, you have most likely heard that change is in the air. Like many of you, we are waiting to see exactly how that change will play out. The product that launched Privateer Press 23 years ago—the first chapter of The Witchfire Trilogy—was among the early wave of D&D 3rd Edition OGL products that would both benefit from the rebirth of Dungeons & Dragons as well as help extend its reach and dominance as the preeminent roleplaying game system. Had it not been for the existence of the OGL at that time, we never would have considered creating the product that would become the foundation of a setting that would grow into a library of content over nearly two dozen years. As it has for many publishers of all shapes and sizes, the OGL provided an avenue to bring our creative aspirations to an enthusiastic and supportive community of RPG players, allowing us to find our people and to nurture something from the kernel of an idea to an expansive world that has connected us with brilliant creators and an inspiring community of players across the globe. It was the shared love of dungeon spelunking, dragon slaying, and the freedom to thrive without boundaries in the pursuit of our dreams under the OGL that provided the opportunity to do what we do today.

Had the OGL taxed our efforts, restricted our creativity, put a ceiling on our ambitions, or presented a path that could be taken away in an instant, we never would have pursued this endeavor. There would be no Iron Kingdoms today. And so, as we evaluate the changing landscape ahead, it is the risk posed to the future of the Iron Kingdoms, and more important, those invested in them, that we must weigh.

First and foremost, forever, our commitment is to the people who support our efforts. With you, we have a sacred covenant: the privilege to indulge our imaginations as a livelihood is afforded only as long as you are delighted by our labors. If we fail our supporters, then we cease to be relevant. We cannot exist. Whatever path we take ahead will be guided by our commitment to delivering an experience our players desire. If we cannot continue to publish under the current terms of the OGL, then our promise is to find the best way to deliver new content that rewards the investment our supporters have made in our products so far.

The value in the OGL has never been about tapping into a free game system. The advantage to publishing under the OGL is about reaching a community that speaks a common language. This language gives players the ability to explore realms far and wide without restriction. It gives publishers the ability to introduce players to new worlds without the friction of learning a whole new language. The OGL provides the infrastructure for an ecosystem that supports community, creators, and ultimately, its origin. We are hopeful that a path will avail itself that allows this wonderful ecosystem to continue to thrive. If denied that possibility, we will follow the community that has endowed us with the chance to live as creators, we will find a way to deliver to our supporters, and we will support a future where creators have no boundaries.


Thank you for your support.

—Matt Wilson

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