So Paizo and Kobold Press are at the head of an initiative to create a new open license for shared RPG mechanics that completely bypassed WotC and aims to establish a common standard for second and third tier publishers as well as everyday GM’s for releasing their own material as open content. Great idea, I am absolutely for it.
But they decided to give it a name that shortens to ORC. Like OGL and OSR. I get it, it’s a bit of a pun. Cute.
And I get how this might have seemed like a great choice when things were going very fast and there was a race to establish facts on the ground and take charge of the conversation. But do we really want “ORC” to be the banner under which small content creators unite?
I know this isn’t the kind of subject that my assumed typical readers care about (but still have a really strong opinion on), but orcs are pretty much the main poster boys for controversies about uncritical use of stereotypes in fantasy in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I’m not too bothered by people who still want to make orcs work in their own creations, or who just use them now as big green humans. Their choice, I’m not going to fight it. But expecting that this is a label that everyone who is interested in this kind of licensing arrangement should unite under does feel like a major misstep. Nobody would expect the greater RPG world to rally behind the motto of “Love the Craft!” or something like that.
I feel like I’m having a pretty moderate position on this topic, but I still feel very uncomfortable with the thought of maybe releasing something as an ORC license product. I got some OSE material in the work that I’d love to share as a proper release, but if future OSE releases would have to be under an Orc license, I actually might rather not to.
I really think this should be addressed before the first actual game material is released under that license. Name it something else. Anything else! Just don’t name it after the most controversial and divisive topic in recent RPG history.