Paizo bans AI-created art and content in its RPGs and marketplaces

With the sudden rise of cheap, easy-to-use AI art and text generators changing how different creative fields approach their business, ethical and legal questions about the use of computer-generated work are becoming more common and heated. RPG publisher Paizo, creator of Pathfinder and Starfinder, took a hardline stance against AI-generated work, with posts on social media and the company’s blog committing to “the work of human professionals” and promising a contractual ban on AI-generated art and text.

Paizo, which in 2021 became the first tabletop role-playing game company to unionize, has previously taken creator-oriented stances, including committing to a legal battle for the Open Game License (OGL) that made Pathfinder and many other Dungeons & Dragons-inspired games possible, and promising to help create and support an open-source “system-agnostic license” that could replace the OGL if Dungeons & Dragons owner Wizards of the Coast changes the license.

In the new posts, Paizo states that it’s changing its contracts to add language ensuring all content is created by humans rather than machines, and that it plans to ban AI-generated work from its community marketplaces as well.

Over the last few months, the world has seen a huge upsurge in interest, use, and quality of algorithm-generated imagery and text. Since we launched the company in 2002, Paizo has made its reputation with the assistance of countless traditional artists and writers, who are just as integral to the success of our games as our in-house editors, art directors, designers, and developers. The ethical and legal issues surrounding “AI art” and writing prompt programs—and the serious threat they pose to the livelihoods of partners who have helped us get to where we are today as a company—demand that we take a firm position against the use of this technology in Paizo products.

In the coming days, Paizo will add new language to its creative contracts that stipulate that all work submitted to us for publication be created by a human. We will further add guidance to our Pathfinder and Starfinder Infinite program FAQs clarifying that AI-generated content is not permitted on either community content marketplace.

Our customers expect a human touch to our releases, and so long as the ethical and legal circumstances surrounding these programs remains murky and undefined, we are unwilling to associate our brands with the technology in any way.

Stated plainly—when you buy a Paizo product, you can be sure that it is the work of human professionals who have spent years honing their craft to produce the best work we can. Paizo will not use AI-generated “creative” work of any kind for the foreseeable future.

We thank the human artists and writers who have been so integral to our success in the past, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.

The problem of detecting AI-created art and text still remains, along with the difficulty of moderating a flood of new AI-generated content. For the moment, the Paizo statement is more about intent and creators’ rights than about execution. But given the conversations now being had about how easy it is to mimic human artists’ signature creative styles with AI, coming out of the gate with a strong, specific policy sends a meaningful message that other companies are likely to take up as well in the near future.