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Announcing the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and Open Game License


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3 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

Isn't Lovecraft’s work in the public domain?

Chaosium makes no claim that we "own" the Mythos, never have.

Not all aspects of H.P. Lovecraft’s work or the Cthulhu Mythos are in the public domain though. While H.P. Lovecraft was the originator of the Mythos, he generously collaborated with a wide circle of writers, and since his death others have continued to contribute to its ongoing creation. Included in this group are such names as August Derleth, Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, Sandy Petersen, and Chaosium itself, among others.

Because HPL died over 70 years ago, his individual writings are now in the public domain, but the Mythos was/is a shared creation—even in HPL's lifetime ("the Lovecraft Circle"). Many of the writers HPL collaborated with lived on much later into the 20th century, e.g. Clarke Ashton Smith (d.1961), August Derleth (d.1971), Robert Bloch (d.1994), etc. Certain elements of the Mythos are theirs, or have been created by other still-living authors including Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell and indeed Chaosium's Sandy Petersen. What these writers created in the Mythos won't enter the public domain until they have been dead for 70 years (or in Sandy's case, maybe never, because he is clearly an Immortal Being). We don't claim to own the Mythos in general, although certain elements of it including storylines, names, creatures, characters, descriptions, and depictions are Chaosium IP. We do own the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and and are obliged to protect it.

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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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2 minutes ago, MOB said:

We don't claim to own the Mythos in general, although certain elements of it including storylines, names, creatures, characters, descriptions, and depictions are Chaosium IP. We do own the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and and are obliged to protect it.

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?  

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13 hours ago, Tanaka84 said:

Well, WoTC didn't make everything OGL either :). For example, certain monsters like the beholders are protected by IP, and in the 5e SRD feats are missing, (well, there is just one + the rules so people can legally make their own), racial subtypes, magic items, and all names and story elements of their settings (That's what the DM's vault is for). And let's not forget that back in the day the 3E SRD didn't include XP tables (tehee).  So in the end, the licenses are similar in that regard.

Yes, as M.T. Black, the well-known co-writer of Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus for WotC and highly successful DM's Guild author, commented elsewhere:

Quote

I'm old enough to remember people making the exact same argument about the SRD that WOTC released back in 2000. People complained that it was a "license to breath" and that WOTC couldn't stop people from using the protected terms.

As we all know, the D&D SRD became a successful and important plank of the industry. There was no real cost to companies complying with it, and by doing so it gave consumers an easy baseline for system compatibility. When people see Odyssey of the Dragonlords 5e, Midgard 5e, Primeval Thule 5e, and Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e, for example, they know exactly what they are getting. I personally buy a lot of 5e compatible stuff because I know there will be a low learning curve on it, and I can re-use the stuff I like in my #dnd campaign.

 

Edited by MOB
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20 minutes ago, 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?  

It's the "BRP" that they control; if you want to use OpenBRP, you need to abide by their terms.

If they bizarrely wanted to forbid any redheaded PC's, or halberds, or foodstuffs beginning with the letter "f" ... they could do so  in conjunction with the OpenBRP license.

Because they're protecting KAP, they forbid Arthuriana-chez-Mallory in conjunction with the OpenBRP license.

Because they're protecting CoC, they forbid  the Mythos  in conjunction with the OpenBRP license.

... etc

 

If they had a RPG where redheaded, halberd-wielding PC's ate lots of fish and figs and flan, then they'd be... really really bizarre.  😉

 

 

<scurries off with a new concept for a Vingan PC>

 

Edited by g33k
Mallory (tyvm for the pointer, MOB!)
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19 minutes ago, TrippyHippy said:

Say, somebody makes a scenario using BRP and includes a reference to Merlin or Camelot in it, would there be legal precedence from the BRP document to stop them? 

No, only works related to Le Morte d’Arthur are Prohibited Content, as noted in the OGL. Jeff responded to a similar question in the BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread thusly:

Quote

Just Mallory and works drawing on his creations. You want to base your setting directly off the Mabinogion, go for it. Or you want to directly use Prophetiæ Merlini without later filter from Mallory and those who drew upon him, go for it.

 

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3 minutes ago, MOB said:

No, only works related to Le Morte d’Arthur are Prohibited Content, as noted in the OGL. Jeff responded to a similar question in the BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread thusly:

Quote

Just Mallory and works drawing on his creations. You want to base your setting directly off the Mabinogion, go for it. Or you want to directly use Prophetiæ Merlini without later filter from Mallory and those who drew upon him, go for it.

 

 

 

OK, I admit that -- while I love me some Arthuriana -- I'm not up to threading the Monmouth-vs-Mallory needle (even if I wanted to (which I don't!)).

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2 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

Clearly explained and understood. I just don’t know how the legal process would work, really, when Chaosium doesn’t actually own these terms or concepts. The same is true for King Arthur Pendragon. Say, somebody makes a scenario using BRP and includes a reference to Merlin or Camelot in it, would there be legal precedence from the BRP document to stop them? 

They don't have to. If you would do as you say you would violate the license. It's not a law, it's a contract. You can use any D100 system you like, but not BRP - at least not for publishing. They could even demand to put the Word "Fnord" at the end of each sentence. Not fine with it? Don't use the license.

That's the entire point of the nine pages of thread above.

Edited by theodis171
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1 hour ago, MOB said:

No, only works related to Le Morte d’Arthur are Prohibited Content, as noted in the OGL. Jeff responded to a similar question in the BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread thusly:

 

My point is if that Chaosium intent that not how the license reads. It prohibits the use of any element from Le Motre d’Arthur in conjunction with BRP open content and thus knocks out many of the pillars of traditional fantasy roleplaying.

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5 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

That circumstance occurred 40 years ago when Lovecraft’s work was not in the public domain. Now it is, and circumstances are different.

I feel Jeff explain it pretty simply earlier. Anyone can make games with the public domain portions of the Cthulhu Mythos, you just can't use BRP to do that. The license isn't making at large copyright claims in this case, but simply saying "You can't use BRP OGL to do Cthulhu," just like it says "You can't use BRP OGL to make content which would besmirch Chaosium's reputation" (or however they actually worded it).

It's just a variation on "you can't use our product to do X."

Edit: woops, looks like that was already answered. I missed the most recent page of the thread. My B.

Edited by Crel
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9 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

Isn't Lovecraft’s work in the public domain?

Some of it is, sure, but a lot of Chthulhu Mythos stuff was written for Call of Cthulhu and isn't.

But, that is beside the point.

Chaosium have stipulated as part of the BRP OGL that it cannot be used to create games, or presumably supplements, based on Cthulhu Mythos works. That doesn'

t mean you can't use Legend OGL , Openquest OGL or Revolution D100 OGL to produce a D100 Cthulhu Mythos work, of course you can, you just can't use the BRP OGL to do this.

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4 hours ago, 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?   

It's not a matter of IP, the Cthulhu Mythos is deemed Prohibited Content in this context. If you want to do your own Cthulhu Mythos game, then you can't use the BRP OGL, you'll have to use some other ruleset. 

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4 hours ago, theodis171 said:

It's not a law, it's a contract. You can use any D100 system you like, but not BRP - at least not for publishing. They could even demand to put the Word "Fnord" at the end of each sentence. Not fine with it? Don't use the license..

Fnord. I mean, correct.

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On 3/30/2020 at 6:36 PM, JonL said:

If any reference to The Matter of Britain is prohibited, say so in such a way that Britain, Jesus Christ, and every real-world place that's had a CoC adventure set there aren't placed under a cloud in the same breath. If you would rather clearly enumerate specific Arthurian elements that are prohibited to protect KAP, do so. Don't make people have to guess what "from" implies or whether or not any given piece of Arthuriana written before or after Mallory's time is sufficiently "related to Le Morte d’Arthur" as to be prohibited.

I think you're missing the core legal point that proprietary text from The Chaosium cannot legitimately be plagiarised.

It does not require that texts in the Public Domain cannot be used, with the massive caveat that all that is Lovecraftian must needs be Handled With Care.

(also, Malory is NOT the be-all and end-all of the Arthurian ; as Greg BTW was keenly aware of)

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9 minutes ago, Julian Lord said:

I think you're missing the core legal point that proprietary text from The Chaosium cannot legitimately be plagiarised.

It does not require that texts in the Public Domain cannot be used, with the massive caveat that all that is Lovecraftian must needs be Handled With Care.

(also, Malory is NOT the be-all and end-all of the Arthurian ; as Greg BTW was keenly aware of)

@Jeff thoughtfully clarified the intended scope of the Mallory prohibition in the Q&A thread.

We have still yet to see a clear statement on the general case of proper nouns etc. present within prohibited works that originated elsewhere. I don't for one minute believe that they intend to prohibit Massachusetts along with Arkham and Miskatonic University, but the current license text could be read either way.

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19 minutes ago, JonL said:

We have still yet to see a clear statement on the general case of proper nouns etc. present within prohibited works that originated elsewhere. I don't for one minute believe that they intend to prohibit Massachusetts along with Arkham and Miskatonic University, but the current license text could be read either way.

This ambiguity remains an issue since, as written, the Prohibited Content clause covers the entire Call of Cthulhu product line, which includes plenty of non-Cthulhu Mythos creative works.  For instance, the now-out-of-print Malleus Monstrorum includes H. G. Wells's Martians from The War of the Worlds.  Does this mean that they cannot appear in an OGL BRP sci-fi space opera?

Edited by Travern
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16 minutes ago, Travern said:

This ambiguity remains an issue since, as written, the Prohibited Content clause covers the entire Call of Cthulhu product line, which includes plenty of non-Cthulhu Mythos creative works.  For instance, the now-out-of-print Malleus Monstrorum includes H. G. Wells's Martians from The War of the Worlds.  Does this mean that they cannot appear in an OGL BRP sci-fi space opera?

Eegad, how would anyone who doesn't have that old book even know that Wells's Martians were in it

Edited by JonL
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42 minutes ago, Travern said:

This ambiguity remains an issue since, as written, the Prohibited Content clause covers the entire Call of Cthulhu product line, which includes plenty of non-Cthulhu Mythos creative works.  For instance, the now-out-of-print Malleus Monstrorum includes H. G. Wells's Martians from The War of the Worlds.  Does this mean that they cannot appear in an OGL BRP sci-fi space opera?

HG Well's Martians are fine to use in general, regardless of being in Malleus - just write them up in your own words, etc. That's like the CoC King of Chicago book having the City of Chicago in it. Using the City of Chicago is fine as well - just write it up in your own words. When asked these sorts of questions, I usually ask myself "can I reasonably imagine that item/person/place being used in a non-cthulhu way" (or non-RuneQuest way, or non-Pendragon way, etc.)

I hope that helps.

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45 minutes ago, Rick Meints said:

HG Well's Martians are fine to use in general, regardless of being in Malleus - just write them up in your own words, etc. That's like the CoC King of Chicago book having the City of Chicago in it. Using the City of Chicago is fine as well - just write it up in your own words. When asked these sorts of questions, I usually ask myself "can I reasonably imagine that item/person/place being used in a non-cthulhu way" (or non-RuneQuest way, or non-Pendragon way, etc.)

I hope that helps.

Changing "from any of the following:" to "originating in any of the following:" in 1.(e) would clear up most of this. 

Edited by JonL
Had, 1.(c) before, but then I put on my glasses. 8)
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2 minutes ago, Rick Meints said:

HG Well's Martians are fine to use in general, regardless of being in Malleus - just write them up in your own words, etc. That's like the CoC King of Chicago book having the City of Chicago in it. Using the City of Chicago is fine as well - just write it up in your own words. When asked these sorts of questions, I usually ask myself "can I reasonably imagine that item/person/place being used in a non-cthulhu way" (or non-RuneQuest way, or non-Pendragon way, etc.)

I hope that helps.

Many thanks for the clarification—that's good to know.  Would it be possible for this to be incorporated in some form into the FAQ (if not the BRP OGL)?  Cheers,

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1 hour ago, JonL said:

@Jeff thoughtfully clarified the intended scope of the Mallory prohibition in the Q&A thread.

Nothing in Malory per se can be copyright-protected -- BUT certain particular modern renderings of his texts, notably in this case those of the (excellent) modern Oxford University Press edition, or sources published by The Chaosium and/or licensees, cannot legitimately be plagiarised.

This is because those particular texts are © those who have provided them.

So that the particular Arthurian setting provided in Pendragon by The Chaosium is, to virtually all basic intents and purposes, their own property to have and hold, just as, say, The Mists of Avalon belongs lock, stock, and barrel to the Estate of Marion Zimmer Bradley and the original Publisher of that work and/or their ayants-droit.

People can start professionally publishing their own Pendragon-derivative stuff without a license nor agreement and fully legally just as soon as the original work will fall into the Public Domain.

i.e. sometime towards the end or the beginning of the 21st or 22nd Centuries. I look forward to those titles ...

Literary copyright Law is exceedingly complicated, and not all works will instantly fall out of copyright just from date & year considerations. 

 

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2 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

. That's like the CoC King of Chicago book having the City of Chicago in it. Using the City of Chicago is fine as well - just write it up in your own words.

 

Au contraire M. Meints. If you will pardon the humour in a very serious thread (In my defence, I will point out the date) one might say, beware the litigious City of Chicago... As one of my fave bands, the Chicago Transit Authority, er Chicago, might well attest!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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4 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Au contraire M. Meints. If you will pardon the humour in a very serious thread (In my defence, I will point out the date) one might say, beware the litigious City of Chicago... As one of my fave bands, the Chicago Transit Authority, er Chicago, might well attest!

Ah Bill, you seem like the kind of guy who waits all year long for April 1st:)

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9 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

HG Well's Martians are fine to use in general, regardless of being in Malleus

Why? When the wording of the license preclude such use. My point about the license strict wording over the use of concepts and characters that appear in Chaosium branded RPGs hasn't been addressed. Instead we have various staffers, like yourself, assure people that it is OK. So why it is OK for me to use a Knight, Martians,  a Dragon, a Chimera, a Merchant when it is not OK to use the Questing Beast, Hastur, Broos, etc when the wording of the licenses concerning Prohibited Content doesn't make a distinction between the two lists? Should I consider the statements made by you and other staff legally part of agreeing to the license? If so that would be highly unusual.

 

Edited by Robert
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