Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne interviews Troll Lord Games CEO Stephen Chenault about their response to the OGL 1.1 incident by exiting the production of 5E books.

The furor over Wizards of the Coast’s proposed changes to the OGL has died down but still some significant changes occurred as a result (see "OGL Version 1.2 Still Some Concerns").  One company that relied heavily on the OGL and produced product under it for Dungeons & Dragons 3E, 3.5E , 4E, and 5E is Troll Lord Games.  When I saw the company clearance its 5E line of products, I contacted CEO Stephen Chenault to ask some questions about their response to the OGL 1.1 incident.

For those not familiar with the company, what is Troll Lord Games?
Stephen Chenault:  Troll Lords Games, a subsidiary of Chenault & Gray Publishing, LLC, has been publishing Role Playing Games since 1999.  They began publishing their own system, quickly converted to Dungeons & Dragons d20 system and became the primary publisher for Gary Gygax from 2001 until his passing in 2008.  They are best known for their long-standing Castles & Crusades RPG which launched in 2004, continues to enjoy a wide following, and is currently on its 7th printing.

TLG publishes a small host of other RPGs, including Amazing Adventures, Victorious and Harvesters.  Their long-standing world setting The World of Aihrde is supported by both RPG books and its own line of fantasy fiction.

I noticed you are liquidating a lot of 5E materials on your website.  Do you plan to exit the market and focus on Castles & Crusades?
Chenault:  Troll Lord Games is leaving the 5E market.  The latest attempt by WotC to repeal the Open Game License caused massive problems in our production schedule and threw an entire line of products into doubt and caused us to readjust Castles & Crusades releases.  This wasted valuable time at a critical moment when we were sending four massive art books to the printers (Robert E. Howard Art Chronology).  For that reason, we decided almost immediately to pull the OGL from Castles & Crusades and move away from it.

The OGL content in Castles & Crusades is minimal, and when 5E switched their game to an attribute-based system it made the OGL even more superfluous.  Castles & Crusades has always been its own game with its attribute-based game mechanic (the Siege Engine).  We used some OGL material, such as spell names and abilities, so that players making the switch from D&D to Castles & Crusades would be able to spend less time on terminologies and more on gaming.  We wanted the switch to feel like you were coming home.

January proved that the OGL is safe from immediate repeal, but it is not immune to problems and challenges.  It is best for TLG and everyone who plays Castles & Crusades to move away from it, so that is what we are doing.

What are your plans for the next one to two years for Castles and Crusades and Troll Lord Games?
Chenault:  Pulling away from 5E content removes a distraction and allows us to expand the Castles & Crusades line, which is already rather large, even more.  Our schedule for the next long while will focus solely on Castles & Crusades.  We’ll release the Codex of Aihrde material in the near future, with the Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde being the first non-OGL book.  After that, we’ll launch a Kickstarter for the two-volume Adventurers Armory.

In the summer months, we are looking at the revamped Castles & Crusades Players Handbook, Monsters & Treasure, and Castle Keepers Guide, with the OGL, removed.  That will be the 10th printing of the Players Handbook.  After that, we shift into planar adventure (Codex of the Planes) books and more mythology books with a focus on the Finnish myths and the Baltic.  Though we are still scrambling to get back on track after January’s disturbance, it all feels quite natural.  We are coming up on the 20th anniversary of Castles & Crusades.  It is a good time to join us at the table.

Your thoughts on the failed attempt to repeal the OGL?  Email me at

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of