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Announcing the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and Open Game License

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On 4/1/2020 at 5:57 AM, g33k said:

Thanks for that!  👍

 

But of course KAP really IS one of the BRP systems (just hiding behind a d20)... 😉

So they've been there for a while.  😁

 

Like Fire & Sword: d20 -based but basically cut from the same cloth; incidentally a good game with a completely free licence.

Now back to more nitpicking about the BRP OGL licence..

Edited by Questbird

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On 4/1/2020 at 4:34 AM, TrippyHippy said:

And you are right to do so - I’m not trying to burn anybody here on the matter.

I’m just questioning whether “Cthulhu” and more especially “Deep Ones” (as ‘Cthulhu' is often synonymous with the game itself, on at least some levels) are Chaosium IP, in the manner that you can enforce them not being used in the context of BRP? Same thing with “Merlin" or "Camelot”, really, which is almost akin to saying you can’t use “Peter, Paul, Matthew and Luke” as terms in a BRP product. Can it actually be legalized in that way?  

Of course we can do that. If you want to build your game off BRP, you need to comply with the license. It is a contract between Chaosium and the user after all. Chaosium is letting the user create derivative works from its IP (BRP) without having to pay royalties. In exchange, the user agrees to follow the terms of the license.

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I find many of the questions on this thread to be disingenuous. Nitpicking without a goal. If you actually want to publish a game using BRP and have questions about how the Prohibited Content might apply to your game, I'm very happy to answer your questions. If you are just wanting to raise hypotheticals for the sake of raising hypotheticals, or you want to raise questions because you are annoyed that this is a different license than some other Open license, I am disinclined to play along.

Jeff

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Okay, I have to be honest here ... I, too, think that the BRP SRD could have been handled better.

I really don't want to nitpick, but a document with only a minimal set of rules that doesn't feature the wealth and flexibility of BRP is just not very helpful. And I don't even mean that in terms of "being allowed to use things", but in terms of just being able to reference things without having to spell them out oneself.

As things are, I can't just publish a fantasy scenario and give the NPCs magic as it is spelled out in an SRD and direct my readers to that for further details, because there is nothing like that in the SRD. I actually need to explain how magic is supposed to work in my scenario. That is not only a big hurdle to clear for an author, it will also result in community material that is much less inter-compatible, with each product having it's own magic system.

The BRP SRD as it is may be good for people who want to create their own BRP-based RPGs; but I don't think it will lead to the wealth of small, sometimes extraordinarily creative indie scenarios that we get for old school D&D, because it just doesn't present a sufficient point of reference. Add to that insecurities about what is allowed and what is not ...

Maybe the main intention of the SRD is to allow people to create their own BRP rpgs; then that's just how it is, and everyone who had something else in mind can just move on. It will certainly work for that, because if someone is actually creating their own RPG, they will certainly contact Chaosium about it at some point, anyway, to clear up any questions. But if the idea is also to allow people to publish all kinds of small stuff for BRP, the SRD definitely needs to be fleshed out to provide a usable common frame of reference.

Edited by Jakob
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30 minutes ago, Jakob said:

Okay, I have to be honest here ... I, too, think that the BRP SRD could have been handled better.

I really don't want to nitpick, but a document with only a minimal set of rules that doesn't feature the wealth and flexibility of BRP is just not very helpful. And I don't even mean that in terms of "being allowed to use things", but in terms of just being able to reference things without having to spell them out oneself.

As things are, I can't just publish a fantasy scenario and give the NPCs magic as it is spelled out in an SRD and direct my readers to that for further details, because there is nothing like that in the SRD. I actually need to explain how magic is supposed to work in my scenario. That is not only a big hurdle to clear for an author, it will also result in community material that is much less inter-compatible, with each product having it's own magic system.

The BRP SRD as it is may be good for people who want to create their own BRP-based RPGs; but I don't think it will lead to the wealth of small, sometimes extraordinarily creative indie scenarios that we get for old school D&D, because it just doesn't present a sufficient point of reference. Add to that insecurities about what is allowed and what is not ...

Maybe the main intention of the SRD is to allow people to create their own BRP rpgs; then that's just how it is, and everyone who had something else in mind can just move on. It will certainly work for that, because if someone is actually creating their own RPG, they will certainly contact Chaosium about it at some point, anyway, to clear up any questions. But if the idea is also to allow people to publish all kinds of small stuff for BRP, the SRD definitely needs to be fleshed out to provide a usable common frame of reference.

Magic should be setting specific.

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

I find many of the questions on this thread to be disingenuous. Nitpicking without a goal. If you actually want to publish a game using BRP and have questions about how the Prohibited Content might apply to your game, I'm very happy to answer your questions. If you are just wanting to raise hypotheticals for the sake of raising hypotheticals, or you want to raise questions because you are annoyed that this is a different license than some other Open license, I am disinclined to play along.

Jeff

I think the basic criticism here, in a nutshell, is that this BRP document is being disingenuous. I’m being frank, but that is what the criticism around the net is saying about it. We’ll see if people will take up the opportunity to be 3rd party publishers using the BRP logo or not.  My doubts that they will are based on the evidence that we haven’t actually seen any notable product produced for the ‘BRP’ system (by which I mean the Big Gold Book) for years . All the notable supplements that would be nominally ‘compatible’ have gone elsewhere. If you think this document is going to turn all this around, then good luck to you.  

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7 minutes ago, TrippyHippy said:

I think the basic criticism here, in a nutshell, is that this BRP document is being disingenuous. I’m being frank, but that is what the criticism around the net is saying about it. We’ll see if people will take up the opportunity to be 3rd party publishers using the BRP logo or not.  My doubts that they will are based on the evidence that we haven’t actually seen any notable product produced for the ‘BRP’ system (by which I mean the Big Gold Book) for years . All the notable supplements that would be nominally ‘compatible’ have gone elsewhere. If you think this document is going to turn all this around, then good luck to you.  

It is hardly being disingenuous. You want to make a game off the BRP engine and call it that, you can. We wall off certain rules, certain settings, but if you have something you want to publish that we aren't already doing, you can.Without paying royalties, without us having residual rights. And you get to call it BRP. That may not mean much to you, but it does to many others.

Seems a fair deal to me. Just because the same handful of people are grousing about it and cross-posting about it on multiple forums really doesn't say very much to me.

 

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Just now, Jeff said:

It is hardly being disingenuous. You want to make a game off the BRP engine and call it that, you can. We wall off certain rules, certain settings, but if you have something you want to publish that we aren't already doing, you can.Without paying royalties, without us having residual rights. And you get to call it BRP. That may not mean much to you, but it does to many others.

Seems a fair deal to me. Just because the same handful of people are grousing about it and cross-posting about it on multiple forums really doesn't say very much to me.

 

It's being disingenuous because the purpose behind the document is not to encourage third parties to use an open system, it’s to encourage third parties to not publish things that challenge your IPs. 

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1 minute ago, TrippyHippy said:

It's being disingenuous because the purpose behind the document is not to encourage third parties to use an open system, it’s to encourage third parties to not publish things that challenge your IPs. 

Its to encourage third parties to use the BRP system without harming our IPs. That's hardly disingenuous.

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

Its to encourage third parties to use the BRP system without harming our IPs. That's hardly disingenuous.

Other companies already do this in abundance. They just don’t put a label on it that says ‘BRP’ because they don’t have to. The 'BRP family’ is already there, as this very website proves.

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

If you actually want to publish a game using BRP and have questions about how the Prohibited Content might apply to your game, I'm very happy to answer your questions. 

Please ask such questions on the thread we have set up for that:

 

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As someone who has noodled with the idea (eg: not committed) of publishing a game using a d100 ruleset I'd have to ask myself one question about the BRP OGL:

"If I weren't a Chaosium employee, what does this license grant me that other licenses don't grant me"

At this point there are only a handful of major advantages:

  1. The ability to use the BRP trademark
  2. The ability to use the SRD document in some capacity
  3. The ability to reword any other mechanics from BRP systems, providing they're not too similar to existing material

Whereas if I chose another OGL system I have the following major advantages:

  1. The ability to use substantial parts of their SRD
  2. The ability to use mechanics from their and other systems
  3. Less cognitive overhead and stress about similarities with existing properties

As someone who doesn't have a lot of time for creation, where would I put my energies? Is being able to say that my game is part of the BRP system worth the trade-offs?

This isn't about how open the system is, it's about how much load you're putting on both yourselves and potential adopters of this system. With this license Chaosium have chosen to be in the "what can I do with this system" arbitration business. From the responses I've seen in this forum I can see that this isn't the business Chaosium folks want to be in. Neither do we.

My thought is that we can do better.

As a community of folks who want to see this succeed we can help make this better. We can help make this a license where Chaosium's fears of releasing too much of their IP can be assuaged, and the community's fears of ticking off Chaosium can be diverted to making great stuff.

The only reason for the pushback is because we care. If nobody cared then there wouldn't be this discussion. Folks wouldn't take the time to tap out long screeds about how the license doesn't promote the kinds of growth we've seen in other communities.If we didn't care we'd just nod, smile, and go on doing what we've done before.

So, which way do we go?

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Its to encourage third parties to use the BRP system without harming our IPs.

This is a perfectly understandable goal for Chaosium as a licensor.  The problems that arise stem from ambiguous language in the BRP OGL, e.g. what counts as a Chaosium IP, i.e. "Prohibited Content" in Clause 1(e), or how to calculate what is considered "thirty percent (30%) or more revised or new content" in Clause 10.

3 hours ago, Jeff said:

Magic should be setting specific.

Thanks, this is a helpful piece of general guidance (and a useful tip for game design in general).  Would it be possible to incorporate this into the FAQ?

6 hours ago, Jeff said:

If you want to build your game off BRP, you need to comply with the license. It is a contract between Chaosium and the user after all. Chaosium is letting the user create derivative works from its IP (BRP) without having to pay royalties. In exchange, the user agrees to follow the terms of the license.

2 hours ago, Jeff said:

We wall off certain rules, certain settings, but if you have something you want to publish that we aren't already doing, you can.

This conversation is simply the process of determining what these are since, again, people have questions about what counts as Prohibited Content.  It's much better to settle these now rather than later, after people have begun work on their OGL BRP projects.

For example, the BRP FAQ encourages, "Make that Jules Verne game you always wanted".  However, since Clause 1(e)'s list of Prohibited Content counts the Call of Cthulhu line which includes Cthulhu by Gaslight, does that mean Captain Nemo and Phileas Fogg are off limits because they appear in that supplement as NPCs?  What does that mean for the other famous fictional heroes and villains featured in that supplement, viz. Allan Quatermain, Count Dracula, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Doctor Moreau, Dorian Grey, Fu Manchu, The Invisible Man, The Phantom of the Opera, Prof. Challenger, Prof. Moriarty, Prof. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Varney the Vampire,  and Victor Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster.  For the purposes of Clause 1(e), these definitely count as "proper names"/"characters" and their write-ups describe events from their originating fictional works, i.e. "story elements".   Are vampire-hunting OGL BRP games unacceptable if they feature these characters, or ones about consulting detectives, steampunk adventure, gothic horror, or fin-de-siècle thrillers?

Chaosium staff's previous answers suggest they're probably OK, but that's not unambiguous from the language in the BRP OGL, which is in effect the final word.  The Prohibited Content's clause does not distinguish between what appears in and what originates in, which leaves open this issue of transformative vs. derivative works.  Chaosium understandably does not want the BRP OGL to be interpreted as an opportunity to ransack its intellectual property. How it has maximally defined this in the BRP OGL, however, may include public domain works and cultural figures that would normally be acceptable subjects for game design.  Clarifying the language should be a priority now, before it becomes a licensing problem later.

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14 hours ago, Jeff said:

I find many of the questions on this thread to be disingenuous. Nitpicking without a goal. If you actually want to publish a game using BRP and have questions about how the Prohibited Content might apply to your game, I'm very happy to answer your questions. If you are just wanting to raise hypotheticals for the sake of raising hypotheticals, or you want to raise questions because you are annoyed that this is a different license than some other Open license, I am disinclined to play along.

Jeff

While I won't pretend that I like the choices you've made with this license, I do respect them. I'm not bringing things up in some sort of spiteful gotcha game. Even if your reasons for doing so are good and wise, the path you have chosen is already going to deter adoption to a fraction of what it could have been. I'm asking you to pin down vague language, undefined details, etc. because those are things someone with an idea for a project needs to be able to clearly understand in order to decide whether BRP makes sense as a foundation for their work. I'm trying to help you help your potential licensee authors feel comfortable and confident in choosing BRP.  

If Chaosium continues to dismiss or refuse to clearly and directly answer what should be simple general case questions like appearing-in vs originating-in or what you mean by "story element" that isn't covered by the other items on the list, do you think that will make potential adopters more inclined to choose BRP as a platform for their projects, or less? 

Edited by JonL
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6 hours ago, Jeff said:

Magic should be setting specific.

Granted, I'm just saying that not everyone wants to write a setting.

I'm writing a series of scenarios for Mythras at the moment (not under any kind of open license, by the way - I'm simply working with the German publishers of Mythras), and the background is nothing more than an implied, pseudo-European fantasy middle ages that feels slightly more historical than your average fantasy campaign and has some fairytale elements. You could drop these adventures in most D&D campaign (though tonally, they might feel a little different). There are a lot of people who approach scenario writing like this: They don't have a big campaign or a gaming world, they offer story-hooks and micro-settings that can be freely combined and hacked to fit into other worlds (often worlds that gaming groups just make up along the way).

Now, if there's an open gaming license that allows you to just write a scenario without having to feature lots of additional rules, you can get this thriving community of many people offering little things that are then freely combined by GMs to create their own world from it; if, however, each product comes with its own setting-dependent subsystems, it will be much harder for GMs to make everything work together smoothely.

For me, it is not that much about the limitations; I feel that most of them are quite reasonable. It's more about the decision to make the SRD so extremely rules-lite that you can't really use it as a rulebook in itself. BRP offers so many options - why not include them, where they're not married to specific Chaosium settings? Why not include passions as an option, for example? I get that they are fundamental building blocks of RuneQuest: RiG and Pendragon, but you could still use the passion rules as written in RiG for "Romeo & Juliet: The RPG" without coming close to violating Chaosiums Pendragon and Glorantha IPs.

I just want to see that beautiful proliferation of weird and creative material that is out there for old school D&D (which, as a rule-set, is just not my cup of tea) for BRP. As someone else stated in this thread, criticism means that people care. I don't think anyone here is just trying to be annoying or angry because they wanted to build a BRP Glorantha clone, and now they can't. People just want to see more great BRP stuff.

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1 hour ago, JonL said:

While I won't pretend that I like the choices you've made with this license, I do respect them.

Likewise, I worked with the staff of Fantasy Flight and Daniel Proctor to resolve issues with their community content program license and the content they offer. I am an advocate of open content licenses that are free in both sense of the word particularly for systems, but I understand if a company want to retain tighter control especially if a system it tightly woven with a particular setting IP. 

1 hour ago, JonL said:

I'm not bringing things up in some sort of spiteful gotcha game. 

The same here, which is why here I am focusing on the issue I feel that is the most critical to the BRP OGL Namely protecting their the setting IP and the mechanics that implement setting details found in many of their RPG. There are other issues with the BRP OGL but this one is the most critical at the moment in my view. What is permitted or not permitted and how can a third party figure this out in a why that satisfies Chaosium's intent and legally binding on both so the BRP open content can be used by the third party without dispute.

Edited by Robert
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On 4/2/2020 at 12:57 PM, craigm said:

As someone who has noodled with the idea (eg: not committed) of publishing a game using a d100 ruleset I'd have to ask myself one question about the BRP OGL:

"If I weren't a Chaosium employee, what does this license grant me that other licenses don't grant me"

At this point there are only a handful of major advantages:

  1. The ability to use the BRP trademark
  2. The ability to use the SRD document in some capacity
  3. The ability to reword any other mechanics from BRP systems, providing they're not too similar to existing material

Whereas if I chose another OGL system I have the following major advantages:

  1. The ability to use substantial parts of their SRD
  2. The ability to use mechanics from their and other systems
  3. Less cognitive overhead and stress about similarities with existing properties

As someone who doesn't have a lot of time for creation, where would I put my energies? Is being able to say that my game is part of the BRP system worth the trade-offs?

This isn't about how open the system is, it's about how much load you're putting on both yourselves and potential adopters of this system. With this license Chaosium have chosen to be in the "what can I do with this system" arbitration business. From the responses I've seen in this forum I can see that this isn't the business Chaosium folks want to be in. Neither do we.

My thought is that we can do better.

As a community of folks who want to see this succeed we can help make this better. We can help make this a license where Chaosium's fears of releasing too much of their IP can be assuaged, and the community's fears of ticking off Chaosium can be diverted to making great stuff.

The only reason for the pushback is because we care. If nobody cared then there wouldn't be this discussion. Folks wouldn't take the time to tap out long screeds about how the license doesn't promote the kinds of growth we've seen in other communities.If we didn't care we'd just nod, smile, and go on doing what we've done before.

So, which way do we go?


Have a look at the 24 BRP Monographs that were published from 2008 to 2012. 
IMHO, books like these 24 BRP Monographs should be able be republished (if the authors are still interested in BRP) with an SRD as they are. 

The question is: Could these books be republished as they are, or would the authors have to spend more time and work to make them work with the new SRD?

If yes: Great!
In no: I would rework the SRD so they could. 

Edited by AndreJarosch
grammar
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  (Replying in the discussion thread to keep the Q/A thread clean.)

40 minutes ago, Al. said:

For what it's worth ('very little' I hear you cry) I see this as Chaosium's first foray into SRDs and the wrinkles will work themselves out over time. ... But they have to protect their IP (and livelihoods) and I would guess that it's much easier to slowly release control in a case-by-case basis than to declare open season and then try to claw back ownership when one of us goes too far.

Despite my vehement calls for greater clarity and precision, I don't see their choice to carve out exceptions for certain properties as illegitimate in any way. That their approach to doing so silos BRP off from the broader open content ecosystems is a regrettable consequence, but it's an understandable choice they have every right to make. 
 

Quote

They've never (in the 4 Ages of Chaosium) shown themselves to be a litigious company.

I don't expect them to abuse the unclear language either. Better language would protect adopters' work from the possibility of less friendly successors to the rights in the future though. 

Quote

The main problem for me is that with this and the UK Lockdown I'm running out of excuses to NOT actually type out the ephemeral 'ultimate BRP game for setting X' that I keep vaguely thinking I might write.

Go for it! Check out what's being proposed over in this thread. Make something awesome!*

 

* Presuming "setting X" is not Prohibited Content 😉

Edited by JonL
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20 hours ago, Jeff said:

Magic should be setting specific.

Not everyone thinks this. Having base magic of some type will entice more people in.

And yet there are general magic, and other power systems, given in notable detail in the BGB, that could have been made explicitly acceptable and were not.

SDLeary 

Edited by SDLeary
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13 hours ago, Jakob said:

For me, it is not that much about the limitations; I feel that most of them are quite reasonable. It's more about the decision to make the SRD so extremely rules-lite that you can't really use it as a rulebook in itself. BRP offers so many options - why not include them, where they're not married to specific Chaosium settings? Why not include passions as an option, for example? I get that they are fundamental building blocks of RuneQuest: RiG and Pendragon, but you could still use the passion rules as written in RiG for "Romeo & Juliet: The RPG" without coming close to violating Chaosiums Pendragon and Glorantha IPs.

This

A suggestion might be to start with the BGB, remove Sanity and other bits you folks feel fall under the list of Prohibited items. My guess is that it will be a much bigger document, and much more useful to potential authors as they will not have to re-invent the wheel. And to be frank, if you folks are not going to support the BGB, opening as much of it as you can, while still protecting your IP would be a fitting legacy for the document.

SDLeary

Edited by SDLeary
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Please note, these comments have been brought over from the BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread. The specific purpose of that thread is for Chaosium staff to directly answer questions related to the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and OGL. We asked for any discussion, arguments, dissent or debate about responses to go another thread, so here it all is: 

On 4/2/2020 at 8:05 PM, Mikus said:

Jeff,

Thank you so much for the exhaustive reply.  I was going to use, and in fact have started using, the Legend SRD for this project but have always wanted to use BRP/RQ3/BGB mechanics.  I loves me some resistance table and separate attack / parry skills!  Perhaps because I'm an old fart and Stormbringer 1st Ed is very high on my list of all time favorite games.  The ability to springboard from these sources and mesh with them as desired is exactly what wanted to do but never wanted to infringe into a no-go zone.  Thank you guys at Chaosium for once again providing a great resource to the RPG community.  Being a big fan boy Chaosium I own every edition of SB, RQ, CoC. BRP, the latest MW and multiple copies of most.  You gents have been my staple since 1978 and continue to impress me.  Now...when are you going to grace us with Beyond the Mountains of Madness for 7th ed? 🤗  Kickstart this puppy and I'm all in!

 

On 4/3/2020 at 12:34 AM, Old Man Henerson said:

Okay, thanks a lot. This program is going to be fantastic, and thank you to everyone who made it happen, you guys are the best! :) 

 

On 4/3/2020 at 12:54 AM, Mikus said:

Hi JonL,

It was stated earlier or elsewhere that creating a world where a lunar empire doing battle with blah de blah...in other words a thinly veiled Glorantha.  Or perhaps a world where an albino with a runeblade...thinly veiled Stormbringer. These are implied arcs. Now, anything specifically Glorantha or Cthulhu related is a no no as stated in the document.

So you CAN make a game where Viking raiders are pillaging the coast of England. Or one where Ragnarok is upon us and the battle at the end of the world is the story arc.  Perhaps a story arc where intergalactic mummies finally reach earth from Sirius and reincarnate, setting up the pre-Egyptian pantheon and empire which directly opposes the Empire of Atlantis.

When I specifically asked about my intended story arc Jeff promptly gave me an answer and an Ok.

I think if you have an actual idea for a story arc or game mechanic or component in mind Chaosium would be glad to give you a yea or nay.  Heck, Jeff told me I could even lift the old weapons and hit locations as desired.  That is far easier than playing dance about which seem to me the situation they are attempting to avoid.  If you look at the questions I asked the answers were both prompt and complete and gave me enough information to move ahead at full throttle if I so choose.

I hope this helps.  If you don't what to make your ideas public I would suggest contacting someone at Chaosium directly.with specific questions.  I am sure they would be helpful.

 

On 4/3/2020 at 6:06 AM, JonL said:

  

See above an example from the other thread. The first part illustrates the "appearing-in vs originating-in" interpretation of "from" question that has yet to be categorically and definitely answered despite repeated examples that suggest the latter. Please clearly commit to one or the other interpretation so we can get beyond "What about this example..."  coming up again and again.

The underlined portions though get to would-be adopters needing to understand what you mean by a prohibited story element. Putting aside for a moment the public domain nature of the characters and for the sake of discussion say they are all Prohibited Content, if story elements means situations, would traveling to complete a business transaction only to discover your client is a monster be prohibited because of Dracula? If story elements means themes, would any scientist pushing the envelope of what it means to be human run afoul of Moreau or Frankenstein?  If story elements means events, would any foe joining your faction after admiring your being noble in battle and gracious in victory be prohibited by "CHAPTER X. Of a battle done by Sir Gawaine against a Saracen, which after was yielden and became Christian."? If story elements is a catch-all for prominently featured  nouns that don't fit the enumerated proper noun categories, see @Robert's ask about Dragon or Chimaera.

We could go one and on with examples based on trying to guess or infer in what sense "story elements" is supposed to be used, and the answer to all of these might well be "Yes, that's fine as long as it's not an obvious rip-off of Prohibited Content."

The basic question would still remain: What specific sort(s) of content is(are) "story elements" supposed to prohibit in the context of the license? 

Answer that clearly and directly, and readers can apply that general answer to whatever specific examples are relevant to their use case.

As with the crucial "from",  please,  just tell us what you had in mind when you wrote it. 
 

 

On 4/3/2020 at 6:14 AM, Al. said:

For what it's worth ('very little' I hear you cry) I see this as Chaosium's first foray into SRDs and the wrinkles will work themselves out over time.

They've never (in the 4 Ages of Chaosium) shown themselves to be a litigious company. But they have to protect their IP (and livelihoods) and I would guess that it's much easier to slowly release control in a case-by-case basis than to declare open season and then try to claw back ownership when one of us goes too far.

For those bemoaning the difference between this and the d20 OGL, I kinda agree with you but also think 'Paiso'. Baby steps, eh?

The main problem for me is that with this and the UK Lockdown I'm running out of excuses to NOT actually type out the ephemeral 'ultimate BRP game for setting X' that I keep vaguely thinking I might write.

 

On 4/3/2020 at 7:53 AM, Mikus said:

Perhaps the more litigious among us could create a draft statement which would clarify the intent based upon what they are hoping for and ask Chaosium if they would adopt it, (or some rendition), officially?

Right now it seems like some are asking them not only to give us their toys for free but to also possibly set themselves up for the ol' Pathfinder treatment.  My assumption is that is exactly what they are trying to avoid.  I don't get the feeling they are trying to pull a 'got ya'!  It seems they are trying to avoid the more crafty and devious among us ripping them off and producing a clone which would impact their profit margin.  OSRIC is a different beast as that is a copy of an OSR game and did not compete directly with 3.5.

This is reasonable.  They are asking us not to recreate their settings using the BRP system.  If you want to recreate a setting they commercially provide by all means do so.  From scratch, using Legend, MRQ1, d20, etc;.  But not with BRP.

Mechanics is another thing.  I can see recreating the core mechanics to include in a print copy because the BGB is like $100-200 on eBay and PDFs are not something many are found of reading.  Certainly one should not copy every option and piece of equipment, (making a clone of the BGB which is still commercially available in PDF), but using the same format for a shovel, sword or wolf while including your own setting and flavor text for these things makes good sense IF your using a SRD.

As long as we can include standard weapons tables, hit locations, stat rolls or other mechanics we SHOULD write our own setting.  Lifting the stats for a sword is one thing and should be allowed for cross platform compatibility and I have been told that it is ok to do so.  Lifting the stats for a Gloranthan Broo Staff of Smiting is quite another.  Dracula is one thing.  Lord Golan of the Heights is quite another.  According to the SRD there is nothing wrong with using BRP for 'Dracula, the RPG'.  Just don't include the CoC push mechanics, RQG passions, KAP passions, etc;.  Make your own.

Chaosium has included specific examples of mechanics and 'setting material' we cannot use.  This includes anything Glorantha, Cthulhu and certain called out mechanics which seem to be fairly clear.  I'm not a lawyer so I suppose I could get nailed but I would run the outline by them first in writing and get an ok.

I asked if I could lift the weapons tables, hit locations, and other mechanics from RQ3 for my own setting and was given the green light.  My assumption is that because RQ3 is OOP and no longer a commercial product using the mechanics is not really a threat. ?? Not sure how they would respond to "how about if I recreate RQ3 mechanics with no setting material and produce it as  BRP Core Fantasy.

My reading is that at least for now they are reserving the right to exclude and I would not create a system I was planning to pay the bills with without a written OK.  At least by email from a authorized Chaosium employee. That's just me.

 

 

16 hours ago, Travern said:

The BRP SRD's license makes no such claim.

Clause 1(e) clearly states, "The following items are hereby identified as “Prohibited Content”: All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, place names, etc.), plots, story elements, locations, characters, artwork, or trade dress from any of the following: any releases from the product lines of Call of Cthulhu […] and any related sublines", which includes Cthulhu by Gaslight which features Dracula as an NPC:

This is, of course, Stoker's portrayal of Dracula in the eponymous novel, which differs considerably from vampires in traditional folklore.  This description clearly includes the character, proper name, plot, story elements, and locations from Stoker's novel.  As such, it potentially falls under "Prohibited Content" the way Clause 1 (e) is written since no distinction is made between creative properties appearing in the Chaosium products mentioned versus those originating in them.  "Dracula, the RPG"—or even an RPG vampire based on Stoker's—could therefore easily be found out of compliance with the BRP OGL.

But to take a different example, the CoC supplement Blood Brothers includes write-ups of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as comic characters.  Since the comedy duo never appeared under their full names in their movies (in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, for instance, they played Chick Young and Wilbur Grey, respectively), does that mean that the real-life people fall under Prohibited Content or just their comic personae?  Do comic characters based on the Abbott & Costello act count?

Where does the BRP OGL draw the line between derivative works from the public domain that appear in the various Chaosium product lines enumerated in Clause 1(e)  and those that are considered transformative works that count as Chaosium's intellectual property (i.e. Prohibited Content)?

 

11 hours ago, Mikus said:

I could be wrong but I doubt Chaosium will include Dracula on the banned list.  But you can ask them.  If they do then this SRD would be less than useless.  It would be trap to be avoided at all costs and would put it on my Roll20 list.  (Never a penny, never watch any video promoting it, never use it and never miss an opportunity to denounce it)

My money is that the real issue is that they are trying to avoid getting Path-fingered the way WOC took it.  Its called limiting one's exposure to back door penetration.  They are the ones at risk here.  Most of us do not have any financial interest in the current BRP system or its derivatives.   If you do, then you are already part of the in crowd and have sources other than this forum.

If you try to include Cthulhu species or individuals then I will bet Chaosium will most likely take issue because they have a BRP Game System around these myths.  That and they say so specifically in the SRD.  In fact, a clue is cleverly hidden in the game's title. 😄 If you make trolls, (a species not an individual), which are Glorantha trolls in likeness or culture yet not in name they will likely frown on that as well.  Glorantha Ducks are out because, well...they are Glorantha Ducks and we have those in Role Playing in Glorantha.

Do you really think they will disallow Norse style trolls?  Perhaps a BRP Icelandic Setting Book because they have one published but as fantasy monsters included in a bestiary I highly doubt it. Or what about Tolkien style elves because they made Elf Quest?  Can you really see them saying "no elves" because Runequest and Elf Quest has elves?  If so then quickly many of their most loyal following will come to despise them as all their hard work has to be trashed. That or simply converted using MRQ1 or the Legend SRD which means they will likely move over to Mythras. To me most of this concern smacks of lawyering by those staring a gift horse in the mouth yet having no intention of actually riding the gifted horse.

If I am wrong than I apologize.

However...I suggest you submit an outline and I am pretty sure someone there would be happy to advise you in writing.  If not then avoid this SRD in any commercial application and use the MRQ1 or Legend SRD. Once you strip out magic, setting and flavor text, (just like the BRP SRD does), you have something so similar to BRP as makes no difference.  Then if you like the Resistance Roll chart introduce a game mechanic called... Stat Differential Roll ...where SDR= (Stat - Stat)*5+50.  No chart from BRP lifted and I give everyone permission to use it.  Not that I can stop you because it is a mechanic and apparently beyond copyright😃

Some may not know it but they are asking Chaosium to paint themselves in a corner by making an absolute statement of what is excluded and what is included.  Chaosium seems to be asking you to simply ask them if your are infringing before you step on their toes if you have any concerns.  "Can I make a game about fighting Dracula, vampires in general and also include the Frankenstein Monster, Cthulhu and perhaps a mummy or two?"  They might say something like, "We cant give you an OK to use Dracula of FM, as we have no ownership of them.  But we don't care if you do.  Generic vamps and mummies...sure.  As for Cthulhu..No way Jose!"   

But this is my interpretation and I might be totally full of it. 🤔  Sure wouldn't be the first time.....

 

 

10 hours ago, JonL said:

That's why we keep asking them to definitively and categorically state whether the "from" in 1(e) is supposed to mean "originating in" or "appearing in." Their continuing refusal to do so is immensely frustrating. If they mean it to be one or the other, why not just say so? What is the point of dancing around the question for four days rather than just saying how the license is supposed to work? How does that help anything?

And if "how it's supposed to work" is "run things by us for approvals on a case by case basis" than it isn't an open license.

 

6 hours ago, Travern said:

Erm…

This is not, of course, limited to Abbott and Costello.  Another fictionalized historical personage in the CoC product line is Buffalo Bill ("the fictionalized “dime-novel” character based on the real-life Buffalo Bill Cody") (Cthulhu by Gaslight).  There are no doubt more, although I don't have the complete CoC product line to refer to (I understand that J. Edgar Hoover appears as an NPC in the out-of-print Escape from Innsmouth), to say nothing of any of those in Nephilim.  The problem is that without a clarified Clause 1(e) on Prohibited Content, anyone wishing to use a fictionalized historical NPC in an OGL BRP project needs to double-check with Chaosium or risk infringing on a supplement they're unaware of.  This would be automatically resolved, however, if the BRP OGL were clearer about "originating in" vs. "appearing in" intellectual property.

Where does the BRP OGL draw the line between derivative works from the public domain that appear in the various Chaosium product lines enumerated in Clause 1(e)  and those that are considered transformative works that count as Chaosium's intellectual property (i.e. Prohibited Content)?

 

6 hours ago, g33k said:

 

@JonL & @Travern & IIRC @others -- I'm personally sympathetic to your POV... and it seems to me that I share some of your qualms.

Nevertheless, I will go ahead and suggest that your question as formulated (and as you note, posed repeatedly to Chaosium) is at least as inadequate to the purpose as you find the BOGL.

If you look upthread to what Jeff said (that I quoted here), I don't see how your "originating" vs "appearing" distinction helps refine the issue (Arthuriana, in that case) in any meaningful way.  Mallory "originated" very little AFAIK; it's mostly about how he put things together...

To be clear:  I do not suggest your concerns are unwarranted (as I say, I share many of them); just that the specific clarification you request isn't, so far as I can see...

 

 

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Honestly the only thing this license has inspired me to create are forum posts, an account on another site, and restless nights thinking about this, so I'm going to bow out of the conversation. Here's hoping for positive change and continued kindness.

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I am reasonably sure that this is my final question, (you guys have done a great job answering them all :)) are the superpowers in the big golden book prohibited since they are from superworld?

Oops, sorry, wrong thread. I will move it.

Edited by Old Man Henerson
Posted in the wrong thread

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5 minutes ago, Old Man Henerson said:

I am reasonably sure that this is my final question, (you guys have done a great job answering them all :)) are the superpowers in the big golden book prohibited since they are from superworld?

We aren't asserting any restriction to use of mechanics except to the extent that they are specifically covered in Prohibited Content, like Call of Cthulhu's Sanity mechanic.

(BTW, questions like this should ideally be asked in the BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread, so the answers are all in one convenient place.)

 

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1 minute ago, MOB said:

We aren't asserting any restriction to use of mechanics except to the extent that they are specifically covered in Prohibited Content, like Call of Cthulhu's Sanity mechanic.

(BTW, questions like this should ideally be asked in the BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread, so the answers are all in one convenient place.)

 

Thanks a lot. I realized that I posted in the wrong thread just as I finished. I moved it over just now. Thanks again for all the help and for making this posible. I can't wait to get to work on my new project! :)

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