Other shoe falls: Book of Erotic Fantasy has D20 license revoked

That’s how they announced it – not that they’d decided to go OGL instead of D20, but that their D20 license has been revoked. The product will be published as OGL, in November rather than October. Full press release below.

The below is The Valar Project’s press release text.


September 23, 2003 (SEATTLE, WA) — Due to the recent addition of the “quality standards” provisions in the D20 System License, Valar Project, Inc.’s D20 license has been revoked for use with Book of Erotic Fantasy, effective immediately. The company announces today that Book of Erotic Fantasy will no longer be published as a D20 product, instead Valar Project, Inc. will be applying the Open Gaming License (OGL) to the game.

“We strongly believe in the quality and integrity of the Book of Erotic Fantasy,” says Valar Project CEO Anthony Valterra. “Switching the product to OGL allows us the creative freedom to publish an adult product, without changing any of the game mechanics, that adds value and depth to your fantasy roleplaying game.”

The Book of Erotic Fantasy provides rules for issues of sex, seduction, love, marriage, conception, as well as other relationship issues, compatible with the world’s best-selling fantasy roleplaying game. The Book of Erotic Fantasy will also feature an exclusive Phil & Dixie cartoon. Originally scheduled for an October release, the necessary changes to make the product an OGL complaint product will move the Book of Erotic Fantasy’s release to November 2003 (MSRP $34.95).

Further, Valar Project, Inc. is obligated to request that all distributors and retailers in possession of the 32-page Gen Con exclusive Book of Erotic Fantasy preview immediately remove them from distribution. Distributors and retailers should either destroy the products and certify destruction to Valar Project, or return them to Valar Project for destruction. Valar Project will be contacting and working with distributors and retailers to ensure destruction of the previews.

Visit Valar Project, Inc. on the web at http://www.valarproject.com. Valar Project, Inc. is a privately held corporation formed by passionate gaming enthusiasts looking to fill the void of adult content in the gaming community. Recognizing the diversity of its consumers in belief, gender, race, orientation and preferences, Valar Project, Inc. will strive to create games of the highest caliber that entertain, stimulate and challenge, adding value to your campaign while holding true the promise of your gaming pastime.


  1. I know I’m going to shed any tears over this development. The sooner Anthony Valterra’s fifteen minutes are over, the better.

  2. I’m not surprised. Wizards’ QSD crap is already grating on me. I mean I thought this is 2003, not 1993.

  3. Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if WotC eventually gets sued over their use of the d20 decency clause. I’m surprised the RPGnet survey on the main page hasn’t had more responses to that effect.

  4. I agree with Bones 100%. While I am a staunch supporter of freedom of speech I have been a gamer since 1977 and have a huge problem with all of the dross that companies have been pumping out in the last few years. If you really need a book to spell out how to play eroticism in your game, my first thought is why can’t you figure it out yourself and my second is what kind of adventure needs this much erotic detail? I mean, my players have ventured into brothels, but we didn’t dwell on it THAT long and certainly didn’t need rules and rolls to figure what went on

  5. The wording of this press release confuses me every time I read it.. It sounds more like they’re voluntarily changing licenses on this product and hyping it up to me… Since this is the first attempt by Wizards to regulate the content of the book, and in a recent interview they stated directly that they wouldn’t be regulating this book, even when mentioned by name.


  6. Amen, Mr. Sugarbaker. The curtain’s up, the stage is set, and now all it’s gonna take is one little spark to set off the powder keg WotC is sitting on. It’s no longer a matter of “if” it will happen, simply a matter of when (and who).

  7. Bring down the castle sooner rather than later. I found myself tossed from the WotC nest with D&D3.5. Fortunately, I’ve managed to clutch onto a few other gaming systems that are like breaths of fresh air compared to D&D (Feng Shui, 7th Sea). I could care less right now if someone sues D&D right into the ground. I don’t see myself buying new products from WotC any time this year.

  8. “If you really need a book to spell out how to play eroticism in your game, my first thought is why can’t you figure it out yourself and my second is what kind of adventure needs this much erotic detail?” MY RESPONSE: Well, we have shared ideas on less sensitive subject matter on the form of many third-party products, I don’t see why we cannot share ideas of a more sensitive subject matter like erotica. Obviously, this product is not for you and your gaming group any more than a political intrigue campaign is not suitable for hack-n-slash players, but there are a wide variety of gamers out there with a wide variety of playing styles. I don’t see why they should single certain hot topics because they want to be yet another Disney label. That’s why I’m opposed to Content Policing.

  9. “Fortunately, I’ve managed to clutch onto a few other gaming systems that are like breaths of fresh air compared to D&D (Feng Shui, 7th Sea).” MY REPONSE: Heh. Of course, Atlas Games may go the opposite route of WotC and produce adult-themed erotica products for the FENG SHUI system. (or simply use the d20 ruleset to make such an OGL product … you do know they are supplementing their income by also making d20 products, right?) And we’ve yet to see how far the 7TH SEA publisher, AEG, is going with the d20 SPYCRAFT exploring the art of seduction. Of course, if the 7TH SEA is anything like mirror counterpart of Renaissance Europe, they could explore subject matter akin to Maquis De Sade and his … form of entertainment.

  10. Hey Dai Oni, I’m opposed to censorship, my beef is it’s not even well written. I have seen the 32 page Gen Con preview, and I was shocked at how bad the material was presented. If you’re gonna do it, do it right.

  11. The lawsuit idea is silly. I mean, the D20 STL is a contract that other companies enter into willingly, and wording that allows WotC to make certain kinds of changes to it has always been there. Given the vagueness of “quality” and “decency,” there is really no firm promise there that WotC can concievably break, so… I don’t think a third-party publisher would have a leg to stand on if they sued over losing their D20 license. And if they were at all worried, they could just go with the OGL to begin with. As far as charges of Disneyfication, (I had hoped I wouldn’t have to spell this part out) Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. Largest. Makes Toys-R-Us look like the corner grocery. Walmart has strict decency standards for any brand they carry, so WotC’s hands are tied if they want to be there. And guess what? When they only other way they can sell more core books is by revising them at great expense, you can bet they’re hankering to grow their market by getting those books in front of people who wouldn’t see them anywhere but Walmart. Allege a crime against aesthetics and local businesses if you want – I wouldn’t argue real hard against you – but understand that WotC is a business, and that D&D will always need new blood.

  12. Misuba got it right in one. It is a license, and can be changed at will by those issuing the license. Software developers enter into these types of contracts all the time. Since people love to bag on Microsoft, let’s use the “underdog,” Apple as an example. You want Apple’s official sanction and the ability to use their logo, which they have spent 25 years and millions of dollars branding…you gotta play by their rules. How is the D20 license any different? You don’t like the rules, don’t frickin’ write anything under said license. (But OH so many do, cause that’s where the money is, and the free advertising by playing off the brand image that is “the d20 license.) Pretty plain and simple, hunh? You want all the “glory and stigma” that is attached to the D20 brand…play by their rules. Again, seems pretty simple and straight forward to me. A law suit in this case seems pretty similar to the fat kids trying to sue McDonalds…they ate the burgers…they got fat, Boo Hoo.

  13. Tempest: d20 is different *because* the license can be changed at will, which is a far cry from the written agreements software developers (or anyone else, for that matter) use. Such contracts have provisions and stipulations which both parties must adhere to and, in most cases, do not allow the licensor to “change the rules” simply because they feel like it. If they want to alter the deal, they have to abide by the language of the original contract and adhere to its “code of conduct.” The d20STL, on the other hand, is like playing Monopoly with real money and someone (i.e. WotC) who likes to cheat. In the end, your only option IS to pack up and go home – because if you stick around, sooner or later, you’re gonna lose your ass.

  14. So, what is the difference between D20 and OGL? OGL site has the 3.0 rules as well as BESM D20, so D20 is 3.5 as opposed to 3.0 OGL? ::is confused::

  15. Open Game License (OGL) is a content license. It legally defines and governs the use of Open Game Content (OGC). Think of it as designated open source code you can share with other programmers including using other designated open source code, as long you put them under the OGL. Although it is often associated with d20 and WotC’s System Reference Document (the ruleset designated OGC), it is a generic content license, as we have seen lately a new and original ruleset have been put under the OGL, it’s called the Action! System Reference Document.

  16. d20 System Trademark License (d20STL) is a trademark use license. It governs the use of WotC’s selected trademarks (outlined in the accompanying Trademark Logo Guide). Unlike the OGL, where you cannot indicate any compatibility with other trademarked products (without permission), with the d20STL you can label your product as indicating compatibility with the first d20-based product, D&D Third Edition. Of course, this license prior to the recent version (5.0) is very restrictive but to ensure that stay within the parameter of compatibility with D&D and all other products. While publishers are free to deviate from some of the more common rules, some try not to deviate too much. One of the terms of the d20STL includes a minimum 5% OGC in a product. That means that not only the d20STL must be applied to the product, but also the OGL. A lot of people mistaken the d20STL and OGL as one license, but it isn’t. While d20STL requires the OGL due to the minimum limit of OGC, the OGL does not require the d20STL, if you’re not going to apply WotC’s trademarks, including the square “d20 System” logo.

  17. What confuses me – I saw an interview with Charles Ryan from WOTC/GAMA on ICv2 News ( http://icv2.com/articles/home/3492.html )- & in it Ryan claimed that Valterra had known in advance of the policy change & makes no mention of any intention of revoking the D20 license for the Book of Erotic Fantasy. Was Ryan lying? Is Valterra lying to create hype? It sure seems like neither WOTC nor Valterra have a clear idea of what’s going on here…except maybe free PR.

  18. Methinks he “made no mention” of it for a reason. Given the PR liability it seems already to be amongst the Internet-vocal, why stir up trouble?

  19. That’s not the only thing he “left out”. Mr. Ryan went on to say that “We’ve never required that a d20 product be recalled…” (7th line, 2nd paragraph, final question of the ICV2 article mentioned above), which just isn’t true. WotC forced Fast Forward Entertainment to destroy and/or terminate no less than FOUR products: Enchanted Locations: Crypts & Tombs, Rings of Power, Dungeon World, and Dungeon World: Secrets of the Enemy Capital. Not satisfied with that, they then required FFE to issue a public statement about it as well. (You can get all the grisly details by clicking on OC’s “archives” link – at the bottom of the page – and then selecting “April 2003.”) Granted, this was a “reserved property” issue, not decency; and that FFE’s editorial staff was at fault in this case is certain. But I think said incident definitely qualifies as a “recall”.

  20. What Wizards is trying to do in effect is to put a definition on what is pornography and what is art (In the bigger sense this is what the license is trying to do). If someone is refused a D20 license because he is showing to many bare nipples he could turn around and say it is a part of the art of the book. This is the same thing public libraries and other publications are dealing with and will never resolve – What are the fine lines between Porn and Art. Thus if some publisher got the inkling to they could turn around and sue good ol’ WOTC for infringing on the Fifth ammendmendment as well as other artistic issues

  21. Direct2Video: by “recall” he probably meant “pull from stores,” which didn’t happen in the FFE case. They destroyed all copies still in their possession, but their press release makes no mention of having pulled any product from the channel. You can read it at http://www.ogrecave.com/archives/003302.shtml. And Durak, we’ve covered what Wizards is trying to do: get into Walmart. Also, you might want to reread the Bill of Rights and make sure you’ve got everything straight.

  22. While I think WotC getting their products through WalMart’s doors is a good thing for the hobby, I don’t like the vagueness of the d20 License decency clause. The potential for abuse is just too high. *However*, it would be bad for the hobby if the flagship product (D&D) and it’s publisher were dragged down in a fit of lawsuits. So I hope it doesn’t come to that.

  23. Not to mention the high risk for small print presses of putting out “non-vanilla” products that no one have put in the market. Wizards don’t get involved until the final product is on the store shelves, and if they find that product questionable under the QSD and order the small company to destroy the material, that’s money and potential revenue going up in smoke. Someone thought that the QSD is a good thing so it forces publishers to print “quality” products, but in the past three years, there have been a flood of G-rated “vanilla” products that are safe within the boundaries of the QSD, most of which don’t even pass the mediocre quality rating, so it doesn’t make any difference at all. So the result will be nothing new: just kid-friendly “vanilla” products with no expansion. I mean no one dares to write a compilation of real-world religions for a modern-day setting for fear that perhaps one simple sentence may set off an alarm as being offensive. Personally, you can write all the decent fluff you want, I’m more interested in the crunch (rules mechanics) being correct.

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