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TTRPG Creator License Comparisons

A List of TTRPGs with Commercial Gaming License or Creator Content Agreements that Aren’t DnD

Table Top RPGs are in a renaissance period in that the breadth of options has never been as great as it is today. While there are definitely giants in the community that make up an outsized portion of the percent of session played, there are innumerable games being played everyday! While the reports are on hold for now (as of Jan 2023) Roll 20 produces an excellent ORR report which includes the games that were played in the year.

Roll 20 is only one source of gaming, but it shows that 7 different RPGs that are played at least .6% of the total games, and uncategorized or other games for a quarter of the total games played! If you want to check out the report you can find it here.

With the plethora of game options and the current environment of creators unsure about the future of Open Game License in question, many if not most creators are looking for other games to branch into. Hopefully, this list can help guide you toward other systems you may not have been aware of, or direct you toward the needed information for a game that you have decided to publish for!

The Big Disclaimer

If it is not obvious by now, I am not a lawyer! This is not anywhere near legal advice! And most importantly, I could be wrong!

I have done what I can as a creator and fan of TTRPG’s to track down agreements, read through licenses, and decipher content agreements to collect all of the information provided here. This list is intended to be a tool for the community, as such, if you think I have something wrong, or you have anything to add to any of the information I have gathered here, also please reach out! I fully understand that this information isn’t complete, and that it may not be without inaccuracies, but I will always work to update it with any corrections!

I will work to expand and keep this list as up to date as possible, but please double check anything stated here before you start publishing! I am just a person on the internet you probably don’t know, but I don’t want to be the reason you lose time, money, or the rights to your wonderful creations!

If there is a system you are interested in that I don’t have mentioned in this article, please reach out and let me know! I am always looking for new games to add to the list.

Again, I don’t guarantee everything posted here is 100% accurate, please read through the provided links yourself before signing any agreements!

1. Open Gaming License – OGL 1.0a

Perpetual? Irrevocable?Royalty Free?Denote Compatibility?

Note: Every game on this list under the OGL heading unfortunately have a questionable future until the new ‘OGL 1.1’ is settled and released, publishing for any of these games may change drastically in the near future.

The OGL 1.0(a) has been a staple for TTRPG creators for more than 20 years. Following the big news that Wizards of the Coast may change/revoke the 1.0a and replace it with the OGL 1.1a, there are plenty, tons, countless, articles and videos on the OGL. Additionally, seeing as how it is the most used license in the community, this article won’t be covering DnD, however it will cover the other third party games that use the OGL. You can find the full text of the OGL and DnD SRD here.

In general, a game that uses the OGL will also have an accompanying Standard Reference Document (SRD), which is a list of the game mechanics, rules, and other text that can be copied verbatim into your commercial publications. If you haven’t worked with an OGL product before, be careful to make sure you read the agreement closely as there are a handful of rules that you must follow to be in compliance with the agreement.

The most obvious requirement is the legal text that you must copy into your project, and what text you will need to add to that agreement to comply with the recording clauses. Less talked about or seen however is the limitations on how you are allowed to list, describe, and advertise your project. Section 7 of the OGL states that you can’t use any type of identity with other products including compatibility statements. Individuals who have been publishing for DnD under the OGL are familiar with this clause as it has lead the community to make statements such as ‘5e compatible’ instead of ‘compatible with DnD 5e’.


OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a Copyright 2000 wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.

This section is used by other games like Pathfinder and Starfinder to enforce separate agreements for compatibility statements, and games like Call of Cthulhu and Traveller to require publishers to use the One Book Shelf Community Content program for content that is game specific. Speaking of those titles, let’s jump into the list of OGL 1.0a games!

Paizo’s Pathfinder and Starfinder

Pathfinder 2e and Starfinder SRD are managed by Archives of Nethys. This change occurred in September of 2018 per this reference on the Paizo blog.

If you want to reference your product as being ‘compatible with’ then reference the Pathfinder compatibility license and the Starfinder compatibility license.

Pathfinder is arguably the second biggest TTRPG, and definitely the second biggest fantasy TTRPG. Both games follow a similar publishing ruleset in which all of the mechanics and most of the rules are available to be used per the OGL, and anything in the SRD can be copied to a third party published product. The SRD that is offered for both titles is massive, and all of their products are available to creators in some amount under the OGL.

However, as noted if you would like to reference in your document or state in your listings or marketing materials that the product is compatible with either game, you will need to apply to the compatibility program. The program requires that you register with Paizo, and provide them with copies of any products you produce for their review. They do not take any additional royalties, but you are limited in what Paizo source books you can reference, and how you can reference them as well as what languages you can publish your products.

Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller

Traveller’s SRD can be accessed here, and the OGL is listed on the same site. Like all of the other OGL titles, you can can publish content using the appropriate guidelines using the SRD content, however you can’t advertise or mark the product as being Traveller compatible.

Mongoose at one point in time allowed third party publishers to use their logo under a different license, but that has since been revoked in favor of the Travellers’ Aid Society (TAS) community content program on DrivethruRPG. There are multiple titles that use the One Book Shelf (OBS) Community Content program, and most unfortunately, have some pretty rough drawbacks.

In order to get to the actual license agreement, you will need to follow the OBS instructions and setup an account to choose the content program you want to publish. Only when setting up the product itself do you need to agree to the license which not only takes a 50% royalty cut, but also gives Mongoose “exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to all User Generated Content included in your Work”. They can also reproduce the work and do not have to provide you any compensation for using your creation.

As is noted in the later section regarding the OBS/DrivethruRPG community content programs, you should be very careful before using the service to publish as you will most likely have to give up all rights to your work.

2. Cypher System Open License (CSOL)

Perpetual? Irrevocable?Royalty Free?Denote Compatibility?

The CSOL can be found here, and includes a link to the Cypher SRD. The CSOL is very similar to the OGL except that written into the license is no only the option to list compatibility, but it is required to indicate your project is compatible with the Cypher system. As of now it appears that the CSOL only covers the Cypher system and doesn’t cover any of the other MCG titles.

Monte Cook Game’s Cypher System

There is a pretty decent FAQ here that covers a lot of the questions regarding MCG’s IPs and what can and can’t be used under the CSOL. Cypher has one of the better OGL’s, and the fact that the SRD is fairly large and you can mark your product as compatible with the system are all great for third party producers! In everything I have read, this is definitely one that can and should be used for interested creators.

Unfortunately, if you are looking to use any of the MCG brands or IP, you will need to go through their Creator Program which uses the DrivethruRPG’s community content program and OBS license. Just like Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, and most of the DTRPG content programs, you will need to agree to give up basically all your rights to anything you publish.

3. Mork Borg Third Party License

Perpetual? Irrevocable?Royalty Free?Denote Compatibility?

Stockholm Kartell’s Mork Borg and Cy_Borg

The third party license is listed at bottom of Mork Borg’s site and includes both Mork Borg and Cy_Borg.

Stockholm Kartell’s third party license is by far the shortest and easiest to read of the license agreements. While I think that is a good thing, it does add a bit of ambiguity to the agreement. There is no link to a license similar to other US based games, and it is unclear to me if the license meets the same definitions for perpetuity and revocability.

The license makes clear what sections of the book can and can’t be directly referenced from the source books without an SRD. Provided are couple of compatibility logos, but all of the standard game, production, and development company logos can’t be used.

There are a couple of requirements to use the license including small amounts of legal text, Additionally there are some conditions laid out that your material must adhere to but the TLDR version is no NFTs and don’t be a dick.

Cy_Borg is the team’s cyberpunk game which uses the same system, and has an almost identical license agreement. The images that you can use for compatibility are updated, and section 2 which defines what you are free to reference from the source material includes different allowances.

4. DrivethrugRPG Community Content Programs

The DTRPG content programs aren’t technically one license, but they do provide a distribution for multiple different RPG systems each with a similar, but not exactly the same license format. Even quite a few of the biggest TTRPGs, including Cypher, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Free League, and Gumshoe, require you to sign the Community Content Agreement upon publishing.

For most of the titles in the program, you give the game publishing company a perpetual, irrevocable right to reproduce, license out, and distribute the whole of your work and any derivatives without additional compensation. As a non-lawyer, it would seem that you are effectively giving your product to the company to let them do with it whatever they want and without any guarantee of payment.

If you decide to publish any works through the community content programs, be sure to thoroughly read and understand the agreement you sign while setting up your new product.

One Last Disclaimer

I wanted to repeat the disclaimer from above for good measure, and hopefully having it in multiple areas will prevent the concern from being overlooked.

I will work to expand and keep this list as up to date as possible, but please double check anything stated here before you start publishing! I am just a person on the internet you probably don’t know, but I don’t want to be the reason you lose time, money, or the rights to your wonderful creations!

Please let me know what games you would like me to add to the list, or reach out to me for any corrections that need to be made to the posted material.

Future Updates

Here is a quick list of links to some licenses and games I plan to add in the near future in case you are still looking for the right system. Be sure to revisit the article in future if you would more updates regarding any of them!

Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying System License
Modiphius’ 2d20 World Builders
Free League Workshop Banner 2
If you have enjoyed the article and you would like to support the site, consider purchasing your next cyberpunk themed TTRPG using our affiliate link on DrivethruRPG!

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