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dieselpunk

If I wanted to publish something with d100...

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I've been thinking about publishing a setting with stats for things using an established system because I don't have the interest in creating a whole separate game. BRP would be a good fit, but apparently there's no real way of using it. I've read the "Just a reminder there is no OGL for BRP..." thread. I suppose this question isn't specific to BRP, but what would go into licensing a system? Is it just a matter of paying enough money and not colliding with existing or planned product lines? Or would the licenser also own part/all of my property?

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I'd suggest looking into either Mythras (if you want a complex, extensive set of BRP-derived roles) or OpenQuest (if you want to go rules lite). Mythras has the so-called Gateway licence, which is, from all that I hear, very creator-friendlich. You can contact Lawrence Whitakter ("Loz"), one of  its authors and publishers, here on the boards. OpenQuest ist totally open to everyone, you don't even need a license - there's a third edition in the works right now. You can contact OQ's author also here through the message boards ("Newt").

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20 hours ago, dieselpunk said:

I've been thinking about publishing a setting with stats for things using an established system because I don't have the interest in creating a whole separate game. BRP would be a good fit, but apparently there's no real way of using it. I've read the "Just a reminder there is no OGL for BRP..." thread. I suppose this question isn't specific to BRP, but what would go into licensing a system? Is it just a matter of paying enough money and not colliding with existing or planned product lines? Or would the licenser also own part/all of my property?

I think everyone here pointed at their favourite iteration of the rules, but forgot to reply to the specific questions here.

  • None of the systems mentioned here require third parties to pay for the right to use the system.
  • There may be instead other requirements for publishing, mostly depending on whether the system uses the OGL (Legend, OpenQuest, Renaissance or Revolution) or a Gateway License (Mythras).
  • In general, the OGL allows you more freedom, but this mostly when you want to build a new ruleset on top of an existing one. Since what you stated is that you wanted a ruleset for your setting, then the OGL probably has few (or no) advantages over a Gateway License.
  • Obtaining a license for one of the aforementioned systems does not transfer the ownership of IPs between parties. At least in the OGL or Gateway licenses used by the aforementioned publishers.

You can read other considerations about third party publishing with the OGL here

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21 hours ago, dieselpunk said:

I've been thinking about publishing a setting with stats for things using an established system because I don't have the interest in creating a whole separate game. BRP would be a good fit, but apparently there's no real way of using it. I've read the "Just a reminder there is no OGL for BRP..." thread. I suppose this question isn't specific to BRP, but what would go into licensing a system? Is it just a matter of paying enough money and not colliding with existing or planned product lines? Or would the licenser also own part/all of my property?

How you license the system is going to be important to how your project works, as RosenMcStern suggests. If you use the OGL, there is a great deal of freedom, but the OGL has a lot of nuances in its structure concerning its use and how it works with intellectual property. 

If you license through a company, such as the Gateway license we have, it is likely to be easier, although there will be certain conditions you have to meet to ensure compliance with the license. Usually these are quite clearly spelled out, or the licensor will work with you to help meet them. 

With our Mythras Gateway, we don't assert any rights or control over your IP, but we do seek assurances that it's an original work that doesn't infringe existing IPs. You remain the owner of your original work, and we remain the owners of ours. 

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I'm taking the opportunity to mention that the Mythras Gateway license is really the most creator-friendly one I have encountered (and I've read a lot of these licenses recently). A lot of the so-called "community content programs" go far beyond protecting their own IP and take away your IP or block you from using it. And a lot of them are not as up-front about this as one would wish (you don't get to read the terms of the Cypher System CCP before you are actually ready to publish something for it on drivethru rpg - so you've already done all the work, and then you find out that you can only publish it by giving up your IP ...).

The Gateway license lets you keep your IP and is very straightforward about what it allows and what it doesn't. And it's extremely fair.

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It really depends on how you publish it and what references you use. 

In the United States, instructions cannot be copyrighted.  Only the means of expression are copyrighted.  Therefore, the rules for any system are not subject to copyright, but the text used to explain the rules is. (Notice how many of the games use the 3d6 and the same stats that are percentile based.)  Trademark is different.  Trademark, in theory, was intended to protect the consumer.  However, thanks to Edgar Rice Burroughs, it has become a tool for companies to control intellectual property.  Fundamentally what that means is that name Basic Role Playing is trademarked.  You cannot use that without permission.  That same would apply to any of the other systems. 

The key issue would be is if you want to use the text from any of these games or if you want to say it is compatible with a certain trademarked property.  In theory, could could say that something is compatible for Basic Roleplaying and not violate the trademark as long as you are clear that Basic Roleplaying is owned by someone else and you are not affiliated with them.  But, as I said, trademark has become a tool of companies, and not consumer protection anymore.  You can say it is for use with percentile based system.  

As long as you are not copying text from another book or telling players to go refer to something is some other book, then you are clear to publish a setting.  People can then use BRP, OpenQuest, or whatever they want for the mechanics.   

With that said, if you are worried, then get a license.  It should not be a concern, but since T$R suing over things that were clearly not protected, people in the gaming community have been extremely concerned about lawsuits.  Lawsuits, however, do cost money and those suits were a significant contribution to TSR's bankruptcy . . . 

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3 hours ago, Jakob said:

(you don't get to read the terms of the Cypher System CCP before you are actually ready to publish something for it on drivethru rpg - so you've already done all the work, and then you find out that you can only publish it by giving up your IP ...).

 

You can do a search for it.  You shouldn't have to, but I believe here it is: https://support.drivethrurpg.com/hc/en-us/articles/208596786-Monte-Cook-Cypher-System-Creator

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Hey all.

This is super helpful and actually fascinating. Thank you!

I'm still very much in the pondering phase still, but right now I'm thinking of it mainly as an art book of a SF setting. Ideally it's heavier on the visuals and inspiration and lighter on the text and rules. You'd want to buy or read this thing because the product is attractive and the setting has gaming potential.  The fact that there's notes in it to use as a game almost secondary. Not totally because I'm still a gamer. :) I just don't have time or motivation to be a game designer. 

In fact, the main place I want to have "rules" is NPC or pre-gen PC stats. It's conceivable that there might be some ships or even powers created, but I really want to leave that as open ended as possible. So the system choice is about what sketches out the gameable bits in a way that lends itself to easy adaptation. d100 systems are descriptive that way because of the percentages. Another different direction is Fate Core because of the aspects.

So being able to own my IP is the important thing as I'm not thinking about it as a game really. It never actually occurred to me that if you don't mention anything about a published system or use it's language that you could use the stats freely. Not sure it's practical, but darn interesting!

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5 hours ago, steamcraft said:

In the United States, instructions cannot be copyrighted.  Only the means of expression are copyrighted.  Therefore, the rules for any system are not subject to copyright, but the text used to explain the rules is. (Notice how many of the games use the 3d6 and the same stats that are percentile based.)  ... 

I have seen this often cited as part of "fan wisdom" and have previously held that position myself.  I am now... less certain... of this.

Another game fan -- one I believe to be a lawyer -- has advanced the claim that the law as-written isn't entirely clear-cut... and more to the point:  no deep pocket litigants have ever thrashed the issue through, to provide case-law and precedent.

So it could reasonably go either way.  Gamer-Lawyer-Guy says in fact he sees pretty clear arguments against this article of fan-wisdom.  He just doesn't see, AFAIK, any deep-pocket indie developer who wants to enrich lawyers by challenging a deep-pocket owner of an existing (c)'ed ruleset (and without the deep pockets on both sides, there would inevitably be unexplored sidelines and lacunae where legal loopholes might lurk).

Given that he has (I believe) an actual law degree -- and I do not -- I now regard my prior belief in this article of fan-wisdom to be... well, decidedly in question.

===

But -- in addition to not being a generator of Scrooge McDuck levels of deep-pocket wealth -- RPG gaming is basically a small community made up mostly of... gamers.  Even amongst the authors & publishers.  And I think these gamers (who are authors & developers & publishers) mostly all like (or at least respect) each other, and don't want to piss each other off, piss in each others' pools, &c.

So they ask one another nicely, license mechanics where called for, and generally behave like friends sharing the cake, instead of rivals who are strictly maximizing their own advantage under all circumstances.

YGMV

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This is not "fan wisdom", g33k. There is a precedent now:

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=05891d4f-1658-4f00-884f-8310cfeb4b0f

Now, a Court of Appeal or Supreme Court could still overturn this ruling, but the fact stays that a US Court of Justice has confirmed that the interpretation of the law saying that rules cannot be copyrighted is correct. As of today, this is the most authoritative opinion in the debate, as it comes from a sitting court.

Note also that this does not mean that everything in a game is free game (pun not intended) for plagiarism. As the recent Open Cthulhu incident showed, there are usually plenty of elements in a game that are copyrightable and protectable and this stands in the way of would-be plagiarists. But none of this is relevant to the OP's case, as he has clearly stated that his intention is to publish his original work, just with some d100 stats attached.

Speaking of what... @dieselpunk, you should probably have a look at M-Space as a ruleset. It sounds like the best fit for your ideas.

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On 9/9/2019 at 5:53 PM, g33k said:

I have seen this often cited as part of "fan wisdom" and have previously held that position myself.  I am now... less certain... of this.

Another game fan -- one I believe to be a lawyer -- has advanced the claim that the law as-written isn't entirely clear-cut... and more to the point:  no deep pocket litigants have ever thrashed the issue through, to provide case-law and precedent.

 

I am not a lawyer, I am a publisher so I would say that whatever gamer lawyer you are talking about doesn't know copyright.  The US Copyright office is clear that you cannot copyright instructions: https://web.archive.org/web/20181118195041/https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf 

And

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ33.pdf

According to the office, " Copyright law expressly excludes copyright protection for 'any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied.'"

The procedure, process, system, method of operation are just ways of saying instructions.  This is why recipes cannot be copyrighted and other forms of instructions cannot be copyrighted. 

Has there been a final ruling at the highest levels dealing specific with table top games?  Nope.  I do know that there is a huge issue dealing with coding.  Code is instructions?  What parts of code can be copyrighted?  Companies are using patents instead of copyrights.  If you are looking to make money in law and IP, then I highly recommend getting into the issue of what is legally protected in coding.  Billion dollar companies suing each other and fighting trolls seems to be a good market to be in. 

But again, if anyone is worried and there is an OGL of some sort, then I suppose you can use it to give you some piece of mind.

Edited by steamcraft

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2 hours ago, steamcraft said:

 ...  But again, if anyone is worried and there is an OGL of some sort, then I suppose you can use it to give you some piece of mind.

The (c) issues of OGL are (to my mind) of secondary importance.

IMHO, the real upside for "Open..." anything -- computer code, gaming mechanics, etc -- is the sheer volume of tweaking and stress-testing that has gone before.

Love the d20 family or hate it, it is undeniably the most-thoroughly-explored game-engine in existence, because there are so F'ing many variants, played by so F'ing many groups, and discussed/debated/dissected on so F'ing many forae, for relatively-many years (i.e. 5e is even bigger, but is so much newer)

Sure, BRP has more decades since birth.  But once you put  [play-hours]X[number-of-players]  into the equation...  OMG.  Then add the "d20 glut" which saw innumerable variations explored on the open market!

The BRP/d100 "extended family" has a lot of variations within it, and a lot of stress-testing of the core components, so it's also a really robust system too; but (a) some of BRP's fringes (such as supers/superheroics/etc) are rather less-explored; & (b) only some branches are safely/non-disputedly OGL/SRD'ed, so that "secondary" concern of mine becomes relevant to the would-be publishers out in the wild.

Make no mistake -- class/level systems ain't my jam, never have been.  In the 3-ish years that AD&D was my fantasy system of choice, I put in more tweaks and fixes and HR's than I did in the 35-40 years of BRP that followed (modulo my long digression into Ars Magica, hacking ArM3 similarly, but playing ArM4 and ArM5 mostly RAW).  D&D3 came closest, for me, to being "classless."  I liked the mix&match classes, which amounted to small bundles of skills/abilities/etc; and I liked that about it... but then came 20-level-long minimax'ed builds, unexpected & broken race/class/feat/etc synergies, and all the other banes of of the complexity death-spiral.

 

And I value all that raw d20 info based on WotC's original OGL/SRD because I know there are even variations on the class/level tropes that I dislike... and I know the limitations of those variants... and I know that for most of my gaming needs, the d100 family IS my jam.

🤗

Edited by g33k
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g33k... not to add anything on what you say.. but to illustrate....

While I generally like all D100 variant well over any D&D variant, there is one thing that irks me with all D100... most of them have horribly overpowered magic over D&D, at least to my liking.

I.e.a level 7 Wizard can cast fireball, dimension door, fly but he is still a (relatively) benign force.
But give any flavor or teleport, fly and energy projection to your wizard in most if not all D100 variants and he is a fucking god! :( 

Well most D100 players and GM seems OK with that.
But it's a problem for me. I like to give fly, teleport and project energy around, and I don't like spell caster to put all other players (and the rest of the world) to shame... 😮 

As a side note... Revolution D100 is growing on me, for various reason, including, but not limited too, the fact I think I can make magic work the way I like it! :) 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont

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This merits some research: There are Energy Projection and Teleport spells in the Sorcerer's lists in OpenQuest. But Sorcerers are rare and, in the eyes of most folk, frightening and more than a little suspicious.  a lot of people will not meet one over the course of their entire lives -- and that includes city-folk.

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Well there are too reason to that...

most D100 have the exponential increase in power inherited from Runequest.. so the sorcerer can teleport more and more people further and further way at once... I guess this is okayish....

also most D100 variant will do 1 dice of damage per negligible coast /limit. and make spell by pass armor. so the sorcer can strike with the power of 7 sword at once, on multiple targets, ignoring armour, cannot be parried or dodged, with very little effort, on every action. and that's available to beginner sorcerer or just after a few adventure / some XP (in D&D the player will be level 3 by then)
there are many variations but the problem always looks like that...

the counter argument is always magic is powerful, those spells are rare, deal with it.

sure.. but the point is you can hardly recreate a D&D settings with D100 variant...
(I happen to like D&D settings)

BRP is better with teleport and fly. Default magic has fixed range, time, etc...
But Lightning/Fire is still a problem. 1D6 per might. Max might is INT/2. Hence beginner sorcerer with 8D6 of damage incoming!

One fix could be fixed damage. Why should the damage increase after all? Doing as much as an arrow should be good enough!

But, as I was challenged on the Revolution D100 forum, how do you kill a dragon then? (or any big buffy ennemy) (Seems like magic is the only viable solution)
there are way latest D100 variations cope with that. Mythras and RevolutionD100 both maximise your power to one tenth on some percentile. But the wizard power (over time and experience) still won't progress as nicely as in D&D....
Playing with some optional Revolution D100 rules I found some interesting solutions:
- casting time... maybe mana is not the limiting factor. but time. strike with the power of seven sword might take as much time as 7 attack to cast.... (could be adapted to all D100 variant really)
- also RevolutionD100 doesn't just polymorph / teleport / dominate people instantly. saving throw / resistance roll is replaced with a conflict phase that might last a few round... I quite like it

Edited by Lloyd Dupont

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2 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

also most D100 variant will do 1 dice of damage per negligible coast /limit. and make spell by pass armor. so the sorcer can strike with the power of 7 sword at once, on multiple targets, ignoring armour, cannot be parried or dodged, with very little effort, on every action. and that's available to beginner sorcerer or just after a few adventure / some XP (in D&D the player will be level 3 by then)

there are many variations but the problem always looks like that...

the counter argument is always magic is powerful, those spells are rare, deal with it.

sure.. but the point is you can hardly recreate a D&D settings with D100 variant...
(I happen to like D&D settings)

 

This is not really about publishing any more so you might want to start a new thread. There are many about magic systems here.

Mythras Classic Fantasy is one way to directly convert the D&D experience to d100, if that is your goal.

A 'new' character in BRP is not the same as a first-level character in D&D. BRP characters are moderately experienced when they begin, and become somewhat more so over time, but not with the same 'zero to hero' arc as D&D characters. Beginning sorcerers in either system don't have access to many spells, but the few that the BRP sorcerer can access might be quite powerful.

Magic is one of the pain points in BRP conversion, and one of the few areas which gets lots of variants and house rules. I think it's because magic mechanics are very setting-dependent.

If you want levelled spells (and therefore sorcerers increasing slowly in power like low-level D&D), I did a BRP adaptation of Rolemaster's Spell Law which I use in my games. It would work with any collection of spell lists with levels, such as D&D -- though the work there has already been done by Classic Fantasy, mentioned above. In my system the chance to cast the spell is influenced by the spell level. This means that higher-level spells are not castable until the skill increases; the spell caster automatically 'learns' the higher level spells when their skill % increases sufficiently. To cast the most powerful spells generally requires more POW than the average sorcerer possesses; more can be gained from bargains, braziers of power, sacrifices, rituals and/or magically charged places and times.

 

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3 hours ago, Questbird said:

This is not really about publishing any more so you might want to start a new thread. There are many about magic systems here.

Indeed. This subject is very interesting, but we are cluttering the thread with off-topic. The original subject may be of interest to many would-be contributors of contents, so it would be a shame to make the thread less accessible.

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