Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First WotC 5e "Cease & Desist?"

Thanks to +Tony T for the heads up.

Link to the post at 5e Spellbook Generator

Here's the text in full:
Dear Fellow RPG fans, 
Thank you guys for supporting my work and spreading it out through the multiverse. I am glad it has gotten enough attention to have finally garnered a cease order from Wizards of the Coast. 
Unfortunately, I would not like to make any real legal trouble to myself, so I have taken down the spellbook generator as it is. I will be providing (give me a week or so) the code as open source, not including any database with the spell information. If at any time, the Wizards decides to release an OGL for 5e, I will be more than happy to bring this back online. 
I am really touched by how many people have sent me inquiries already about the spellbook generator. If you guys would like to continue to support the right and need for players to have tools such as this, feel free to email Wizards of the Coast and voice your concerns! As a DM and a player I wanted a tool in which to help my group out and together, a ton of you guys came and made that dream come true. As much as I understand why I was served a cease order, I am also saddened at the need for it. This generator did not help you play the game at all, it just made it so that you as a player could easily go through the beautiful content Wizards has provided. You still needed a PHB to play, so you've already given Wizards your money. 
Good luck to all you gamers out there. This will not be the last you have heard of the spellbook generator! For other resources, feel free to check the about page. Use them until Wizards takes them down too!

Philip Vuong 
*UPDATE* - Open source code available here. 
NOTE TO WIZARDS - I am only open sourcing the code that I have written and own. I will not be distributing any underlying database or datasource containing the spell information to populate the application.


  1. I can see both sides here

    I played 2nd Ed for years before I owned any books, as my mother thought they were evil.

    Lots of people who play never buy anything, especially with pdfs and downloads available.

    1. At the same time, if I'm now allowed to share my tinkering with other people, then I'd rather play a different game which allows me to do that.

      Whether or not WotC is in the "right," I'm personally much less inclined to spend money on them now.

    2. A couple minutes of digging around strongly suggests that what this 5E Spellbook did was duplicate text from the book. That's not tinkering. That said....I think you would have been able to make a safe assumption that a product like this wasn't available legally to begin with, so other OGL-based games would have been better for you to begin with.

    3. I can see WotC's reasons for the C&D, but I am firmly with LS; I have no interest in playing a game that doesn't allow you to support it. Take a look at the difference between WotC's response and Goodman Game's response - the Purple Sorcerer tools and the Reference Sheets/Books are made available with GG's blessing.

      WotC could easily have offered some form of simple licensing agreement to allow what is, AFAICT, a "rapid generation of content" tool to remain available. After all, rapid generation of content is a good form of system support.

      If the issue was simply the reproduction of spell content (and I assume that we are not talking reproduction of content in the already-free basic pdf?), then the tool could have been modified to delimit whatever WotC found objectionable. Again, in the GG model, spell results can all be accessed through the Crawler's Companion.

      It's not a matter of "right" or "wrong", IMHO; it's a matter of what you are willing to pay for, and how much you want to control/share your material. The OGL made a ton of cool things possible, and I, for one, have no interest in stepping backwards from it.

      (YMMV, of course!)

    4. Copy text as written out of the rule book into an online resource is not "tinkering" but is outright copyright violation. I'm pretty liberal when it comes to fair use, but this was not.

    5. This guys site would print out a custom spellbook for you character from the actual lists and texts in the published Rulebooks.

      I believe that this same function is a planned part of the online component for D&D that WotC has planned.

  2. Ether wizards expects to create a similar product or they should buy him out and maybe hire him.

  3. Not being familiar with the site, was he using the exact text of the spell descriptions from the Player's Handbook? That would make sense; even an OGL wouldn't allow you to use the exact text.

    1. Yeah I was wondering the same thing. Copying and pasting spell text from the book would be a bad idea. Making an OGL spell generator that coincidentally lists OGL spells also in the 5E book (but which does not duplicate spell rules or text) would be okay under the OGL, I think.

    2. Yes, the site would print exact copies of just the spells your character had.

      A custom spellbook.

  4. Having used the site, I can tell you it included the full text from the books for the spells, and generated reference cards, like in 4e, for your spellbook. From what I understand, he is able to offer the sourcecode, sans copywrited material like the spell text, from his website.

  5. Technically, this may not be the first C&D... It's just the first one that was made public.

    There was another guy who set up the 5e "SRD" web site that had large swaths of text copied from the Basic PDF. That came down in a matter of days. I'm pretty sure he got a C&D (or his host provider was sent a DMCA take down notice).

  6. The real question is why are people buying into a 5th edition of D&D when there are already numerous other versions available, many for free.

    1. Because it is "teh awesome". :)

      Seriously though... It's D&D.

      Brand is important because despite the dozens (if not hundreds) of OSR rules out there, finding a group to play "Gargoyles and Goblins" is a thousand-million times harder (even with the internet) than just going to the FLGS with a "D&D Players Wanted" flyer.

      I went to one of the D&D Encounters events the other week and met 12 players playing 5e who could be potentially added to my group of players. No OSR game has evangelists pushing for public gaming events or other awareness campaigns. No OSR games show up in Barnes & Noble or other retail stores (or even a FLGS for that matter). Audience goes where the audience is.

    2. Audience goes where the advertising draws them.

    3. Because early reviews indicate that it is a good game.


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