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Announcing the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and Open Game License


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4 hours ago, Richard S. said:

What do I get from BRP that I don't from some other D100 OGL like Openquest or Legend or Lore 100?

You get to call it BRP and use the logo. If that's not a consideration for you, go ahead and use something else.

2 hours ago, craigm said:

Maybe expanding the SRD with the mechanics of something like the BGB would help clarify which mechanics are fair-game and which ones would cause Chaosium to be unhappy with the result.

In your own use of the SRD, you are welcome to add anything you want to it – as long as you avoid Prohibited Content (and don't violate others' copyright).

2 hours ago, craigm said:

The license makes me think that the only things that would tick Chaosium off are creating clones of existing books like CoC, KAP, Nephilhim, and the like. 

Correct, the SRD was not released to help facilitate creating retroclones of Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Pendragon, etc. It's for people to publish their own original creations, settings, games, and unique ideas using the BRP system.

 

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Chaosium is pleased to announce the release of the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document (SRD). The Basic Roleplaying SRD is based on Basic Roleplaying, the simple, fast, and elegant skill-

I just took another look at the Mythras Gateway license and noticed that the BRP license is actually quite similar in some regards - I think them main problem and the reason for most of the discussion

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 worki

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Deities and locations from Pendragon are prohibited.

I get what the intent is, but how does the language as written not exclude Jesus, Wotan, or London?

Please clarify the language such that the letter and spirit of the text align.

 

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17 minutes ago, Vile said:

The BRP logo.

Well, each of the d100-based SRD's is it's own separate base from which to build; yes you CAN tweak any of them to be more like the others, but each DOES give you a somewhat different starting point.

Mythras, FrEx, builds a bit crunchier & tactical than most of the others; you CAN strip out the Special Effects, the Action Points, etc... in other words, the things that set it apart.  And if you tweaked each one toward a common point... it would be a matter of... I dunno... whichever logo you thought was prettiest, I guess?

And, of course, there's the different terms in each OGL (and the fact that Mythras Imperative evidently ISN'T an OGL?).

 

(hey... is anyone else amused at the obvious acronym "BOGL" ? )

 

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6 hours ago, Richard S. said:

I think the point that Theodis was trying to make was "why make it with the BRP liscense instead of another one that lets me do the exact same thing with less restrictions?" What do I get from BRP that I don't from some other D100 OGL like Openquest or Legend or Lore 100?

My point exactly. Additionally, you get more to work with.

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6 hours ago, Richard S. said:

I think the point that Theodis was trying to make was "why make it with the BRP liscense instead of another one that lets me do the exact same thing with less restrictions?" What do I get from BRP that I don't from some other D100 OGL like Openquest or Legend or Lore 100?

<points to the legal problems with the "Open Cthulhu" initiative>

They attempted to use various Mythos bits in a non-Chaosium d100 engine...  which Chaosium apparently DMCA'd down, and C&D'ed, and (I think?) has been in off-and-on communication with the creators.

I think they are still working on it, and I think they get closer to disentangling from the problematic IP's with each iteration... but I'm not of the involved parties, so I don't know.

The truth is, U.S. Copyright Law is a royal mess where the Mythos is concerned!  There's this 95-year rule, with a 1924 expiry, right in the middle of the era HPL was writing.  There's other authors (such as Derleth).  There's Arkham House.  There may have been legal shenanigans with control over the estate, after HPL's death.  etc etc etc.

 

Honestly, I'm fine with not trying to retroclone RQ, Coc, KAP, and other Chaosium products... does that really seem too onerous, too restrictive?

 

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6 minutes ago, g33k said:

Honestly, I'm fine with not trying to retroclone RQ, Coc, KAP, and other Chaosium products... does that really seem too onerous, too restrictive?

 

It is only restrictive if that is what you are trying to do. And if that is what you want to do, we are not going to facilitate that.

If you want to publish your own setting, with scenarios and all that jazz, then go forth with our blessing. 

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1 minute ago, g33k said:

Honestly, I'm fine with not trying to retroclone RQ, Coc, KAP, and other Chaosium products... does that really seem too onerous, too restrictive?

I wasn't proposing cloning any of Chaosium's games. I am perfectly fine with their IPs staying their own. What I am annoyed about are the restrictions on, specifically, the mechanics for Passions, Augments, and Pushing, three rules that in no way shape or form would threaten Chaosium's IPs by their use in other games and settings and in fact would enrich other games immensely, as they are some of the simplest and most effective narrativist rules for D100 games I have come across, and if I attempted to make something "unique" to fill the gap then it will inevitably be more more convoluted and complex than works for my game. My issues lie solely with the fact that I cannot use those specific three mechanics and publish my system under the BRP OGL, despite the fact that there is nothing else in it that even comes close to infringing on the mechanics of CoC and RQG.

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2 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

I wasn't proposing cloning any of Chaosium's games. I am perfectly fine with their IPs staying their own. What I am annoyed about are the restrictions on, specifically, the mechanics for Passions, Augments, and Pushing, three rules that in no way shape or form would threaten Chaosium's IPs by their use in other games and settings and in fact would enrich other games immensely, as they are some of the simplest and most effective narrativist rules for D100 games I have come across, and if I attempted to make something "unique" to fill the gap then it will inevitably be more more convoluted and complex than works for my game. My issues lie solely with the fact that I cannot use those specific three mechanics and publish my system under the BRP OGL, despite the fact that there is nothing else in it that even comes close to infringing on the mechanics of CoC and RQG.

Passions, Augments, and Pushing were not mechanics in the BGB. Or indeed of any version of BRP (except Pendragon) until a few  years ago. Somehow Chaosium managed to publish Stormbringer, Elric, Ringworld, ElfQuest, Magic World, Nephilim, all of the BRP monographs, and heck, just about everything else, without using them. 

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2 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Passions, Augments, and Pushing were not mechanics in the BGB. Or indeed of any version of BRP (except Pendragon) until a few  years ago. Somehow Chaosium managed to publish Stormbringer, Elric, Ringworld, ElfQuest, Magic World, Nephilim, all of the BRP monographs, and heck, just about everything else, without using them. 

Yes, but now that they do exist and are incredibly good, useful, enriching mechanics, it's frustrating that they're locked out of common use simply because they weren't in the BGB. What is the point of preventing creators from putting them into a new game as long as they don't use them to completely clone a Chaosium game, especially since they aren't very tightly bound to their settings.

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45 minutes ago, g33k said:

Honestly, I'm fine with not trying to retroclone RQ, Coc, KAP, and other Chaosium products... does that really seem too onerous, too restrictive?

Even if you don't, it's just a bad offer. Take "Fhtagn" for example. They make use of a modified OpenQuest engine based on the new Delta Green and disentangled rules and setting. The rule SRD alone has 127 pages to work with.

Also, the term “substantially similar”really is a blocker. Legally it means "similar in function or capability or otherwise competitive to the products or services being developed, manufactured or sold by the Company, or are marketed to substantially the same type of user or customer as that to which the products and services of the Company are marketed or proposed to be marketed"

It essentially means Chaosium can throw a wrench in your project whenever it is cosmic horror, middle age fantasy or involves rune magic and they feel like it.

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4 minutes ago, theodis171 said:

Also, the term “substantially similar”really is a blocker.

I think this is the crux of the matter, not what is or isn't in the SRD. The OGL is successful because it offers a cast-iron guarantee to users and requires no oversight from its creators. If there is any uncertainty a potential author is better off trying to negotiate an actual licence (e.g. for a Magic World adventure).

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3 hours ago, Vile said:

I think this is the crux of the matter, not what is or isn't in the SRD. The OGL is successful because it offers a cast-iron guarantee to users and requires no oversight from its creators. If there is any uncertainty a potential author is better off trying to negotiate an actual licence (e.g. for a Magic World adventure).

If you think the Legend OGL is "cast-iron", then you are fooling yourself. Heck, on the face of it, the very license used is invalid.

But if you want to use something close to Prohibited Content, then you should probably ask myself, "would the reasonable person think this is a substantially similar mechanic?"  And really in most cases it is going to come down to, "did I really just repackage the Passions from RQG and Pendragon for my game - or did I create something uniquely tailored to my game?"

If you want to make your game using BRP, you now can - there's nothing stopping you. But if you want to make a thinly veiled retroclone, we didn't open that door.

Jeff

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Not going to get into the Legend SRD, I'm talking about the WoTC OGL 1.0a. It's a robust contract that has encouraged hundreds if not thousands of 3rd party publishers to use it. Not sure why all this talk about retroclones - that ship has sailed, and it's only ever really been about D&D (except for Cepheus Engine, maybe). Presumably the point of having a BRP logo licence is to produce supporting content for the Big Gold Book, such as adventures, settings, variant magic systems or the like, which would then increase interest in the core system. That's why WotC invented the OGL and 3.5E SRD after all, though that didn't play out quite as planned. Or maybe it did, and D&D wouldn't otherwise be the cultural phenomenon that it has become.

Anyway, the point is, introducing those "substantially similar" restrictions seems counter-productive, and those relating to RQG and Pendragon don't even belong to BRP (if we're still talking about the BGB as the base?). Why not just put those terms in the prohibited list?

Will the BGB be retro-fitted with the new logo, by the way?

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6 hours ago, g33k said:

Mythras, FrEx, builds a bit crunchier & tactical than most of the others; you CAN strip out the Special Effects, the Action Points, etc... in other words, the things that set it apart.  And if you tweaked each one toward a common point... it would be a matter of... I dunno... whichever logo you thought was prettiest, I guess?

In case of MYTHRAS and the Gateway License, substantial altering the MYTHRAS rules isn't allowed. You cannot simply strip out fundamental elements of the rules engine and keep calling it MYTHRAS. In the License document this is discussed under contractual clause 5 and gets a longer treatment in the FAQ section.

It seems it would be better to leave MYTHRAS and its special Gateway License here completely out of focus, to avoid misunderstandings.

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5 minutes ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Um... I have another question. If we publish an RPG using the SRD would we get to be paid for it?

If you charge money for it you would. Or your publisher would and hopefully you would get some of that money. Chaosium takes 0% unless you need a license for Prohibited Content or we are selling it on our site or some other service we are adding.

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I think the confusion with this license (and why it's created more mental strain and work for those trying to understand it and those trying to explain it) is it's more about what you can't do than what you can do. Having a skeletal version of BRP that can have things added on later (save for all of these things listed in the license) means the creator is going to have to navigate what can be bolted on later. When I look at a game like Fudge there is not only the skeletal system but also a wide variety of systems to bolt on or take away. Fudge is a joy to read because it gives some direction to the creators. It's what prompted the offshoot of Fate along with the other titles in the Fudge line.

I know that Chaosium is not in the "making BRP successful" business so I'm wondering if, like Fudge, there could be a community effort to build out this document. Perhaps the next edition of the BGB could incorporate these contributions and make something really special for the community of creators.

We've seen what folks have done with the OGL and D100 systems. I feel that this license, while generous, misses some of the points that make this community so special. It misses giving the community a box of mechanics to bolt on to the system. It's a lot of cognitive overhead to keep in mind what can be used and what can't be used. With Fudge the cognitive overhead was fun (I could use all of these things, but which ones would benefit the game I want to run / create), but with this it's "which ones will be fun, which ones will violate the license, and which ones will violate someone else's license".

I think a few more moments to clarify and expand this SRD would help immensely to reduce the cognitive load, both for Chaosium and the community. Otherwise anyone using it is going to have an awful lot of questions and receive exhausted and curt answers.That's not a great way to expand the community.

Edited by craigm
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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

If you charge money for it you would. Or your publisher would and hopefully you would get some of that money. Chaosium takes 0% unless you need a license for Prohibited Content or we are selling it on our site or some other service we are adding.

Wow. That is a great deal. You guys are the best! Thanks!

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3 hours ago, prinz.slasar said:

In case of MYTHRAS and the Gateway License, substantial altering the MYTHRAS rules isn't allowed. You cannot simply strip out fundamental elements of the rules engine and keep calling it MYTHRAS. In the License document this is discussed under contractual clause 5 and gets a longer treatment in the FAQ section.

It seems it would be better to leave MYTHRAS and its special Gateway License here completely out of focus, to avoid misunderstandings.

Sorry, I hadn't recalled just how different that was.

You're right -- that license really isn't very OGLish.  Thank you for pointing it out!

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6 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Yes, but now that they do exist and are incredibly good, useful, enriching mechanics, it's frustrating that they're locked out of common use simply because they weren't in the BGB. What is the point of preventing creators from putting them into a new game as long as they don't use them to completely clone a Chaosium game, especially since they aren't very tightly bound to their settings.

Passions, Augments, and Pushing (re-rolls of dice) also exist in Mythras by name. Their mechanics work differently, though. So the "substantially similar" clause wouldn't work on them if you were so inclined to implement such or similar mechanics into your BRP OGL based work (I am not a lawyer, and I refuse to use the acronym for this expression).

Take Pushing, for example: Call of Cthulhu 7th edition states: "By making a pushed roll, the player is upping the ante and giving the Keeper permission to bring dire consequences should the roll be failed a second time. Pushing a roll means pushing the situation to the limit: [...]". The main difference to other (D100) systems which allow dice re-rolls is that it doesn't  use so-called "brownie points" (a.k.a. Fate Points, Luck Points, Bennies, etc.). Mythras implements a re-roll mechanic using Luck Points. So you would be good to go by allowing re-rolls using brownie points; just don't you use the exact same mechanic (re-roll dice for the cost of more dire consequences instead of spending brownie points) that's described in CoC7.

Passions and Augments also exist in Mythras as well and use different mechanics than in RQ:G. So it's not that you can't use them in a game based on the BRP OGL AT ALL, just don't use the exact same (or "substantially similar") mechanics that exist in the relevant Chaosium games. Or just don't use the BRP OGL at all for your D100-based products.

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

Sorry, I hadn't recalled just how different that was.

You're right -- that license really isn't very OGLish.  Thank you for pointing it out!

That's exactly what I said earlier. The Mythras Gateway License is NOT an Open Game Licence.

An OGL like the BRP OGL is a free pass to do WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT, WITHIN THE SPECIFIC CONSTRICTIONS THAT GRANT YOU USE OF THE OGL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

People right now tend to concentrate on the specific constrictions, which is only natural. Once you realize how to work around these restrictions without violating them (which would invalidate your use of said license), you're free to do whatever you want. AND get the right to put the BRP OGL label onto your creation. If that is what you want.

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7 hours ago, Jeff said:

If you think the Legend OGL is "cast-iron", then you are fooling yourself. Heck, on the face of it, the very license used is invalid.

 

I seem to remember that Chaosium has stated in the past, during the OpenCthulhu arguments, that the Legend OGL and the derived Delta Green OGL were recognized as being legitimate. Is this a change of Chaosium's legal position?

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My main concern is regarding any magic systems. I have been working on my own homebrew fantasy campaign using the BRP system. It was never meant to be published, but now with this announcement, there is always that possibility down the road. I only own Call of Cthulhu, Elric, and Paladin; I do not own Runequest, so I am unaware of how many of the prohibited magic systems work.

As several magic systems are considered Prohibited content, where does the Cthulhu magic rules fall? I'm not looking to replicate spells (all mine are D&D type stuff), but my system revolved around similar activities of studying tomes and learning from other magicians and entities.

Are the Cthulhu magic rules a variation of the Sorcery rules? 

Just trying to get clarification, as I really don't want to invest a pile of work into a system, only to find out it's too similar to existing mechanics, or end up in legal trouble because of my ignorance. 

Does anyone have an example of mechanics for magic that COULD be used?

Thanks.

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On 3/27/2020 at 2:03 AM, fmitchell said:

P.S. "... and all works related to Le Morte d’Arthur"? So anything Arthurian is off limits? (EDIT: By which I mean something like Merlin or Morgan le Fay or the Grail in another era.)

You'd have to figure out how to create a BRP game that doesn't duplicate Pendragon. It would be absurd to expect Chaosium to sanction direct competition to its existing products. The FAQ says up front: "You are certainly entitled to create your own game using creatures, stories, characters, or locations derived from the Le Morte d’Arthur – you just can’t use Chaosium’s BRP system to do that. Chaosium already has a game that does just that (King Arthur Pendragon), the BRP-OGL does not allow you to publish your own variant of King Arthur Pendragon."

Using mythological figures like Merlin or Morgan le Fay in other settings, such as Urban Fantasy, should be completely acceptable.

On the other hand, if you were to create a version of The Sword in the Stone (provided you could get a license from T. H. White's estate and/or Disney…ha!), that ought to be kosher as long as you came up with new mechanics to reflect that setting's much lighter tone and whimsical approach to the Matter of Britain*—and avoided anything that could cause confusion in the market (e.g. titles, art design).

* EDIT: I'm thinking of a young-adult game—again, to avoid direct competition with an existing Chaosium title.  And for further clarification, I picked The Sword in the Stone because the novel focuses on Arthur's youth, which Malory does not discuss.

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