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Announcing the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and Open Game License

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@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...

Just to note, @g33k, in this case "originates in" is intended to cover what copyright considers to be valid work, which can be either unique creations or unique treatments, i.e. sufficiently transformative work based on existing properties.

For example, Malory did not come up with the legend of the Questing Beast, which goes back to the Perlesvaus, but he did retell its legend based on Suite du Merlin in his Morte d'Arthur.  (It's possible this alone would not be enough to pass muster by 21st-century copyright standards—maybe only Malory's text would be ruled valid—but copyright as we know it didn't even exist as a legal concept in the 15th century.)  Thankfully, the case of Malory in Pendragon is clearer in Clause 1(e), which at least unambiguously rules "all works related to Le Morte d’Arthur" fall under "Prohibited Content"—which, in turn, applies to any and all genres and settings.  Anyone wanting to use the Questing Beast in their OGL BRP games will have to stick to the Perlesvaus's version.  Unfortunately, other examples that we're bringing up here are less clearly defined in the BRP OGL.

Since INAL, much less a copyright lawyer, I can't furnish Chaosium with new boilerplate language for this, but Clause 1(e) needs to reflect this distinction.

Edited by Travern

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Distinguishing between Uther's distinct portrayal in the GPC (clearly prohibited) and Uther as portrayed in one of Malory's influences is indeed a fine point that may require special attention.

However, clarifying whether the license language prohibits any real-world location/place name or historical figure that's ever shown up in a CoC supplement should not be a hard question to answer.

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On 3/31/2020 at 11:52 PM, Tanaka84 said:

Well, WoTC didn't make everything OGL either :)

And as MT Black, best-selling DMs Guild author and co-writer of Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, observed over on EN World:

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Those who are interested in the OGL may enjoy the following. It's an interview between Peter Adkison and Ryan Dancey that was posted up on the Gen Con channel just a few weeks ago:

Toward the end of the interview, they spend some time discussing the why and how of the original OGL license. Tellingly, Ryan says he encountered "off the scale" hostility to the idea of the OGL.

 

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14 hours ago, JonL said:

Distinguishing between Uther's distinct portrayal in the GPC (clearly prohibited) and Uther as portrayed in one of Malory's influences is indeed a fine point that may require special attention.

However, clarifying whether the license language prohibits any real-world location/place name or historical figure that's ever shown up in a CoC supplement should not be a hard question to answer.

As answered in the questions thread: 

If someone would mistake your content for material from one of the Chaosium games listed under Prohibited Content, it's not transformative.

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3 hours ago, MOB said:
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With regards to Section 10's  <%30 revised/new content threshold for permitting continuing use of a previous version of the license after a new version is published:

By what metric is 30% to be measured, word-count? Percentage of pages with changes on them? Something else?

Is the 100% to which the %30 is compared the entire publication, or just the portion that is BRP Open Game Content?

These distinctions would be relevant to cases such as a new printing with mostly unchanged text but updated art & layout, or a new edition of a setting or campaign guide that contains few/minor changes to BRP Open Game Content rules material, but more substantial changes to the publisher's proprietary setting or background info.


30% by total word count of the entire Work.

If a book contains 30% or more new or revised text by total word count it is considered a new work for the purposes of the license. 

Many thanks for this answer—this helpfully clarifies the revision question.  Will the BRP OGL Clause 10 be updated to reflect this?  Meanwhile, the question of whether BRP Open Game Content is included or not in the total word count remains open.  For shorter works, this could pose a significant hurdle. 

 

5 hours ago, MOB said:
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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)?

If someone would mistake your content for material from one of the Chaosium games listed under Prohibited Content, it's not transformative.

And thank you also for this important clarification.  Will this be incorporated into the FAQ until the BRP OGL's language is revised?  The former currently does not address this at all.  ("Q: Can I Make A Game Using Public Domain Material? A: Unless the materials are on the list of prohibited content, you can certainly do that. Make that Jules Verne game you always wanted, or something based off the works of Alexandre Dumas, or an ancient Roman trip to the moon inspired by Lucian of Samosata. Just make sure of two things: 1. this isn’t on the list of prohibited content; and 2. it is really public domain.")  And Clause 1(e)'s ambiguous language remains in effect.

Edited by Travern
emphases added

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7 hours ago, MOB said:

And as MT Black, best-selling DMs Guild author and co-writer of Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, observed over on EN World:

 

Ryan Dancey was talking about people at Wizards thinking it was a bad idea to give D&D away. He also spends a lot of time explaining why that was wrong and the OGL/d20 was good for Wizards and D&D. One key decision was the idea to make the system available, minus some key items of product identity, to publishers via a free unrestricted license so that any 3PP products would be easily compatible. This is a key difference between the d20 SRD and the BRP-OGL: by providing a bare-bones system Chaosium are requiring third party publishers to do most of the work in producing material.

I would like to add that the controversy with the BRP-OGL has not been from within Chaosium, but from third party publishers. A better analogy would be the D&D GSL for 4th Edition which was disliked by third party publishers because of its restrictions and sunset clause.

Edited by yojimbo
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26 minutes ago, yojimbo said:

I would like to add that the controversy with the BRP-OGL has not been from within Chaosium, but from third party publishers. A better analogy would be the D&D GSL for 4th Edition which was disliked by third party publishers because of its restrictions and sunset clause.

There is no sunset clause in the BRP OGL. Material published under any version of the License can continue to be published using the terms of that version - see clause 10.

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On 4/2/2020 at 5:42 AM, 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.

 

I have an honest question, why would the BRP OGL be a better option than the Legend OGL with is far less restrictive?

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5 hours ago, Cross Planes said:

I have an honest question, why would the BRP OGL be a better option than the Legend OGL with is far less restrictive?

Because you have BRP.

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On 4/5/2020 at 3:34 PM, yojimbo said:

Ryan Dancey was talking about people at Wizards thinking it was a bad idea to give D&D away. He also spends a lot of time explaining why that was wrong and the OGL/d20 was good for Wizards and D&D. One key decision was the idea to make the system available, minus some key items of product identity, to publishers via a free unrestricted license so that any 3PP products would be easily compatible. This is a key difference between the d20 SRD and the BRP-OGL: by providing a bare-bones system Chaosium are requiring third party publishers to do most of the work in producing material.

I would like to add that the controversy with the BRP-OGL has not been from within Chaosium, but from third party publishers. A better analogy would be the D&D GSL for 4th Edition which was disliked by third party publishers because of its restrictions and sunset clause.

By providing a bare-bones system, we are having third party publishers tailor the system for their setting.  And that's a key difference here. 

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18 minutes ago, Jeff said:

By providing a bare-bones system, we are having third party publishers tailor the system for their setting.  And that's a key difference here. 

There is no requirement that one has to use of all of the D20 SRD or the open content of Legends. Having the bulk of the rules as open content particularly the “lists” like creatures, items, spells, etc was an aide for those us who focus on adventures and settings. To use the BRP SRD an author has to focus on coming up with those items first and then they can get on with their adventure or setting.

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35 minutes ago, Robert said:

There is no requirement that one has to use of all of the D20 SRD or the open content of Legends. Having the bulk of the rules as open content particularly the “lists” like creatures, items, spells, etc was an aide for those us who focus on adventures and settings. To use the BRP SRD an author has to focus on coming up with those items first and then they can get on with their adventure or setting.

This is exactly Jeff's point. The D20 SRD allows you to tailor the rules to your setting. The BRP OGL mandates this by not providing some important contents (for example, magic).

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2 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

This is exactly Jeff's point. The D20 SRD allows you to tailor the rules to your setting. The BRP OGL mandates this by not providing some important contents (for example, magic).

Okay, but I don't see how this is supposed to be preferable from a third party POV.

I think it is becoming clearer that the BRP OGL is mainly for third party publishers who are willing to design a full setting and most of the rules, and not that much for 3PPs who want to focus on producing scenarios and have little interest in coming up with rules. Which is quite okay; it's just not what I expected (or wanted - I have neither the gift nor the patience to design good rules, and I have no ambition to create a setting - with settings like Glorantha, Tekumel or Talislanta out there that are much better than anything I could come up with, I frankly don't see the point).

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6 minutes ago, Jakob said:

Okay, but I don't see how this is supposed to be preferable from a third party POV.

I think it is becoming clearer that the BRP OGL is mainly for third party publishers who are willing to design a full setting and most of the rules, and not that much for 3PPs who want to focus on producing scenarios and have little interest in coming up with rules. Which is quite okay; it's just not what I expected (or wanted - I have neither the gift nor the patience to design good rules, and I have no ambition to create a setting - with settings like Glorantha, Tekumel or Talislanta out there that are much better than anything I could come up with, I frankly don't see the point).

I dunno how it will go, nor if it is indeed the case...

However question come to mind (out of curiosity, I am not really in that sphere) is there any thing that prevent an independent today to release adventures with BRP on adhoc basis?

But maybe it's a good move, since the most profitable RPG product so far are based on whole settings, books, and adventure all together, or so I heard...

Edited by Lloyd Dupont

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6 minutes ago, Jakob said:

Okay, but I don't see how this is supposed to be preferable from a third party POV.

I think it is becoming clearer that the BRP OGL is mainly for third party publishers who are willing to design a full setting and most of the rules, and not that much for 3PPs who want to focus on producing scenarios and have little interest in coming up with rules. Which is quite okay; it's just not what I expected (or wanted - I have neither the gift nor the patience to design good rules, and I have no ambition to create a setting - with settings like Glorantha, Tekumel or Talislanta out there that are much better than anything I could come up with, I frankly don't see the point).

It really depends on what a third party wants to do. Unless you are doing bog standard generic stuff, you should do this anyways. If you want to create a book of equipment, or a book of monsters or animals (like the Gateway Bestiary) that's fine. Or you could create your own magic system and publish it. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Jakob said:

Okay, but I don't see how this is supposed to be preferable from a third party POV.

I was just trying to emphasize what Jeff meant (or what I think he meant). Whether this is an advantage or not depends on your opinion. I do not want to argue on that point. 

Edit: cross-posted with Jeff. It seems he actually meant this.

 

5 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

But maybe it's a good move, since the most profitable RPG product so far are based on whole settings, books, and adventure all together, or so I heard...

If you exclude GURPS, Savage Worlds, Fate Core and some editions of D&D, among others, then yes.

Edited by RosenMcStern
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1 minute ago, RosenMcStern said:
6 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

But maybe it's a good move, since the most profitable RPG product so far are based on whole settings, books, and adventure all together, or so I heard...

If you exclude GURPS, Savage Worlds, Fate Core and some editions of D&D, among others, then yes.

There is obviously some miscommunication / misunderstanding here...

Since I heard that from you! :P
Can't find the reference, but when you explained you were happy to acquire the licence to the Go-Nagai story as it should help promote RD100! ;) 

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9 minutes ago, Jeff said:

It really depends on what a third party wants to do. Unless you are doing bog standard generic stuff, you should do this anyways.

 

Well, you can write a great scenario that is playable within a bog standard generic fantasy setting. Or you can write a scenario that implies a setting that is far out weird, but leaves it to the GM to provide (or adjust it to) a broader concept (which is the typical mode for lots of the good D&D OSR stuff out there). Anyway, there are tons of examples for extremely creative fantasy scenarios that don't necessicate a specific setting or specific rules. it is a totally different approach to setting than that of Glorantha, but it is just as valid.

EDIT: Actually, Stormbringer with its Multiverse is a very good example of how you can come up with highly creative and unusual scenarios without having to create a whole setting and ruleset for every new idea.

Edited by Jakob

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6 minutes ago, RosenMcStern said:

If you exclude GURPS, Savage Worlds, Fate Core and some editions of D&D, among others, then yes.

Small aside: as someone who recently liquidated his GURPS collection to the FLGS and watched as the core rulebooks disappeared almost instantly while everything else mostly sits on their shelves I can echo this sentiment. Some systems are better at selling the rules than others.

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8 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

There is obviously some miscommunication / misunderstanding here...

Since I heard that from you! :P
Can't find the reference, but when you explained you were happy to acquire the licence to the Go-Nagai story as it should help promote RD100! ;) 

Must have been my other split personality :)

Anyway, none of the product lines I mentioned rejects the idea of merging setting and rules. It is just that the selling point is the rules, not the setting. But some individual settings may still sell better than the generic rulebook.

Edit: Cross-posted again! Maybe we open a new thread about generic vs. setting-specific? Not that it has never been discussed here, but at least we avoid the off topic.

Edited by RosenMcStern
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3 minutes ago, RosenMcStern said:

 

Edit: Cross-posted again! Maybe we open a new thread about generic vs. setting-specific? Not that it has never been discussed here, but at least we avoid the off topic.

Good idea!

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Until there exists an ecosystem of open settings (explicit or implied) I don't know if we're going to have a good set of books aside from just core book after core book.

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7 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

This is exactly Jeff's point. The D20 SRD allows you to tailor the rules to your setting. The BRP OGL mandates this by not providing some important contents (for example, magic).

I understood exactly what Jeff is saying. What I am saying that mandate acts as disincentive to authors just interested in adventures and settings.

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Sorry... But can't a budding author write his adventure and copy paste spell and equipment of interest in an appendix section straight from the BGB?

It seems to me like one could, that Chaosium would be Ok with it, and one interested GM could pick up the scenario with OpenBRP easily enough. Isn't that good enough?

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20 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:
21 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Sorry... But can't a budding author write his adventure and copy paste spell and equipment of interest in an appendix section straight from the BGB?

It seems to me like one could, that Chaosium would be Ok with it, and one interested GM could pick up the scenario with OpenBRP easily enough. Isn't that good enough?

 

I'm pretty sure Chaosium has already addressed this...

I don't believe straight copy/paste is allowed.

BOGL asserts only a few elements of the BGB are Proprietary Content (and thus off limits even as subject-matter (e.g. the CoC-origin SAN mechanics, among others)) but the rest is still (c) for the specific words used, the specific expression.  You need to go through some motions to make it your own, even if it's mechanically identical.

I Am Not A Lawyer / etc.

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