In my essay on the OGL and GSL the other day I said this:
“The thing I’m really interested to find out is whether the GSL will have a clause that forbids its use with the OGL. I think this is entirely possible. It would the mean that you couldn’t take previously released OGC and use it in a book released under the GSL. A book like the already announced Tome of Horrors 4th edition would not be possible under this restriction.”
From comments here and on EN World, it seems I ought to clarify this statement.
I picked Tome of Horrors as an example for several reasons. First, it’s one of the few announced 4E products from third party publishers. More importantly, it’s an example of a book that is really going to require the use of the OGL to do right. This is because of the history of the project. Necromancer made a deal with WotC many years ago to update old AD&D; monsters that hadn’t made it into 3E. Tome of Horrors got those monsters back into the game and opened them up for use by other companies via the OGL.
Many people have asked if companies can take their own copyrighted material and update it to 4E without using the OGL. The answer is that yes, of course, you can do what you like with material you own. The issue with Tome of Horrors is that Necromancer does not own those old D&D; monsters. They licensed them from WotC. Now they did also add some of their own monsters and continued to do so in subsequent volumes of the series. So Necro could do a Tome of Horrors that was 4E updates of only their own original monsters and that’d be fine; it just wouldn’t have the unique selling point of the original. Now personally I can live without an update of the flumph or the adherer, but they do have their place in the D&D; lore.
Should there be a GSL restriction on using the OGL with the new license, the only way those monsters could be done would be for Necro to make a new licensing deal with WotC. I don’t see that happening though. The original deal was made with Anthony Valterra, who is long gone from WotC. He made that agreement without really talking to R&D; about it, and it was not a popular move at the time. I think it likely that was a one time thing.
In any case, there’s no point in freaking out about anything now because we still don’t know the terms of the GSL. Hopefully, we’ll see it soon and then the speculation can end and the real planning can begin.