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BRP System Reference Document/OGL Questions Thread

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This is a thread whose specific purpose is to answer questions related to the Basic Roleplaying System Reference Document and OGL, which is available here (PDF) and here (online, editable format).

Please post your entries in the form of simple, direct questions, with page/section references if required.

To keep this manageable, please limit the number of questions you ask per post to a maximum of three. If you want to ask more questions than that, do so by all means, just start another post.

Questions will be responded to by Chaosium staff (Rick, Jason, MOB, Jeff, etc). Please take arguments, dissent or debate about responses to another thread. 

Before asking your question, please take a look at the FAQ here to see if your concern has already been addressed.

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7 hours ago, craigm said:

For the purposes of the BRP OGL would it be OK to say that mechanics in the BGB are considered part of the BRP OGL?

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

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7 hours ago, JonL said:

Are all proper nouns and story elements appearing in an off limits work prohibited, or only those originating in those works?

Are works that Mallory drew upon when writing Le Morte d'Arthur prohibited, or are only later works that draw upon his considered "related?"

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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1 hour ago, NickMiddleton said:

Just to be clear - we can write our own text that replicates the mechanics of non Prohibited Content from the BGB, but none of the text of the BGB is Open, correct?

Yes, and Correct.

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4 hours ago, Ghee said:

How about the Sorcery rules from the BRP manual - can they be used, or are they considered too close to the Runequest Sorcery rules?

If it is not Prohibited Content then you are free to create your own derivative work. But note that none of the text in the BGB is Open.

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7 hours ago, Grey said:

Are bonus/ penalty dice rules, as in CoC 7th edition useable (if reworded/ not copied verbatim)?

You can create your own bonus/penalty dice rules (but note that Pushing is Prohibited Content, if substantially similar to the Call of Cthulhu rules).

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2 hours ago, Mikus said:

Lets say I wanted to recreate nearly all the mechanics of Runequest III, (the AH version which is also fairly easy using the BGB), including the weapons tables and skills yet use an entirely different set of spells, monsters and my own setting.  For example one with dirigible like airships and sorcerers who can open portals to other worlds where the Airmen make viking style raids across the world as well as several others.  This makes it easy for someone to venture into the old published material if desired yet is something very different from anything published under BRP.  Would this be allowable under this license?

As long as you aren't using any of the Prohibited Content, this is fine. Heck sounds awesome.

2 hours ago, Mikus said:

Part of what I am asking is that if you did not include, (for example), the sai weapon in the OGL can I simply lift it from RQ3 or the BGB, (for consistency across BRP),  or do I need to change all the specs for this weapon?

You can go ahead and use the Sai. We are not asserting any restriction to use of mechanics except to the extent that they are specifically covered in Prohibited Content.

2 hours ago, Mikus said:

What about the hit locations table?  Can I use the various ones from RQ3 or BGB, (once again for BRP consistency), or do I need to change up the numbers?

You can use the hit locations table. We aren't going to assert an exclusive claim to the Left Leg being 05-08 on a D20.

Is it OK to say that this setting is written to be used with the BGB or RQ3?

BRP yes, RQ3 no. No right is given to use the RQ trademark in this license.

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14 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Can the mechanics from supplements for the BGB, such as the magic systems in Enlightened Magic, be used, as long as they aren't substantially similar to prohibited content?

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.

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On 3/31/2020 at 7:36 PM, Crel said:

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of "substantially similar." Would the following micro-system be considered substantially similar to RuneQuest's spirit magic? What specific characteristics mean it does/doesn't count as "substantially similar" to spirit magic?

Thank you very much!

Combat Magic

Spell Descriptors

  • Distance: Defines how close the magician must be to the spell's target. There are three distances: selftouch, and ranged. Self spells may only target the magician. Touch spells are cast upon a valid target the magician touches. Ranged spells are cast on any valid target within 150 feet. (N: I chose this range for the example because it's basically parallel to spirit magic's 50 meters.)
  • Time: Defines how long a spell is in effect. Spells are either instant or temporal. An instant spell's effects happen the moment the spell is cast. A temporal spell lasts ten combat rounds. [A combat round lasts for six seconds.] (N: These metrics were chosen because it is the same mechanical duration as RQ's spirit magic, but a different in-world time passes.)
  • Cost: A spell either is variable or has a set casting cost in magic points. Variable spells cause increasing effects for each point spent when casting them.
  • Spell Knowledge: A magician can only know total points of combat magic equal to their INT characteristic. 

Casting a Spell

A spell is cast by rolling under the magician's POW×5 as a percentile, and marking off the expended magic points on the magician's character sheet. Casting a combat magic spell costs the magician's action. [So, a magician cannot both cast a spell and attack with a weapon in the same combat round.] Depending on the casting roll's result, the following effects may take place:

  • Special Success: The spell costs one less magic point, to a minimum of one.
  • Success: The spell is cast for its normal cost in magic points.
  • Failure: The spell is not cast, and the magician loses no magic points.
  • Fumble: The spell is not cast, and the magician loses magic points equal to its cost.

Spells

Block

Touch, Temporal, Variable

Each point of Block cast gives the touched shield +1 armor point, and increases the wielder's shield skill by +5%. Armor points from Block cannot be destroyed by mundane weapon damage unless the shield is reduced to zero normal armor points. They are destroyed first by magic damage (such as from Crusher or Magic Blast).

Crusher

Touch, Temporal, Variable

Each point of Crusher cast gives the touched crushing weapon +1 point of damage, and increases the wielder's weapon skill by +5%.

Magic Blast

Ranged, Instant, 2 points

Magic Blast deals 1D6 damage to a random hit location. It cannot be dodged, but armor reduces damage as usual. If a shield is being used to cover the rolled hit location, that shield's armor points protect against the damage of Magic Blast.

Piercer

Touch, Temporal, Variable

Each point of Piercer cast gives the touched piercing weapon +1 point of damage, and increases the wielder's weapon skill by +5%.

Protection

Self, Temporal, Variable

Each point of Protection cast gives the magician +1 armor point of protection against both mundane and magical damage. (N: I've intentionally named this Protection for the example, but if I was trying to be sneaky I'd probably name it "Armor.")

Slasher

Touch, Temporal, Variable

Each point of Slasher cast gives the touched slashing weapon +1 point of damage, and increases the wielder's weapon skill by +5%.

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.

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2 minutes ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Once we have a product ready, will we have to submit it to Chaosium before publishing?

No, you do not have to submit it to Chaosium for approval before publication. Or pay royalties. You just go ahead and publish. 

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5 minutes ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Also, I have seen answers stating that it is acceptable to use mechanics the Big Golden Book as long as they exclude Sanity and any Rune Quest rules, but it says that the psychic powers are derived from ElfQuest so would that make them prohibited?

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.

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

I can see recreating the core mechanics to include in a print copy because the BGB is like $100-200 on eBay

You can buy the BGB on www.chaosium.com right now for far less. We are keeping it in print.

https://www.chaosium.com/basic-roleplaying-softcover

https://www.chaosium.com/basic-roleplaying-pdf

Edited by MOB
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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.

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On 4/4/2020 at 5:54 AM, Travern said:

[Discussion moved to discussion thread]

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.

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On 4/3/2020 at 5:11 AM, Robert said:

These are the some examples found in prohibited content.

The use of Knights (KA Pendragon), Martians (Malleus Monstrorum),  Dragon (Magic World, Runequest), a Chimera (Magic World), a Merchant (KA Pendragon)

vs.

Questing Beast (KA Pendragon), Hastur (Call of Cthulu), Broos (Runequest). 

 

We make no claim on such generic concepts as  "Knights", "Martians", "Dragons", "Chimera", "Merchant"

Hastur is Cthulhu Mythos. So no, that is Prohibited Content.

Broos are an original creation of Chaosium. So again no.

You could use the Questing Beast from the Perlesvaus - which is entirely different from the version in Malory/KAP.

As noted in the answer above, If someone would mistake your content for material from one of the Chaosium games listed under Prohibited Content, it's not transformative. In other words, if it looks like you cut and paste material out of a published Chaosium book, then don’t do it.

 

Edited by MOB

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On 4/4/2020 at 5:56 AM, fieldworking said:

When creating something using this SRD/OGL (adhering to the limitations Chaosium has set out), would I need to present everything exactly as is? Does the SRD text need to be included as is, or can I write it up with modifications? Can I edit what I would use from the SRD/OGL (as in, can I leave out Handedness,  change up the character sheet, create new derived rolls, etc.)?

You can cheerfully modify the SRD.

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On 3/31/2020 at 3:08 AM, Tanaka84 said:

- A creator has no guarantee that once their development cycle begins the license won't be updated changing stuff that might render their work illegal.

Section 10 of the OGL states "Material published under any version of the License can continue to be published using the terms of that version".

Do we leave this open as an eternal license, so you can spin products out forever? No. By design. If the license changes, you need to have new products keep up. But the old ones can stay in print forever under the old license. BTW WotC's OGL has exactly the same provisions.

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On 3/28/2020 at 9:57 AM, Runeblogger said:

Question: Can this OGL be used to publish an D100 game in other languages other than English?

Yes.

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On 3/29/2020 at 1:08 AM, 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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On 4/2/2020 at 7:58 AM, JonL said:

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. 

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On 3/28/2020 at 1:47 PM, 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.

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

Quote

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.

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

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On 3/31/2020 at 1:04 AM, Tanaka84 said:

Your license unintentionally infects future works derivative of the original OGC, since any WORK that is a revision (such as the same book with a different system) has to be published with the most up to date license. I know that's not your intent, but the poor wording is there.

Not so - content not considered open gaming in works published under the BRP OGL is explicitly permitted by the license.  The onus is on the creator to identify material that is to be considered open gaming content.

19 minutes ago, Robert said:

The issue with this that it remove the incentive for author to contribute mechanics light works such as adventure. The portion of the SRD used by an adventure and in many case setting would not amount to 30%.  Because of this the author would not be able to repurpose the work as they would not be able to satisfy the 30% requirement. For example my own Scourge of the Demon Wolf, or my Blackmarsh setting.

 

There is nothing in the BRP License that obligates anyone publishing a new edition of a work to continue using the BRP License, if they want to stop using the BRP content and trademarks. A creator is always free to publish a new edition of a work with another system, in which case the BRP License no longer applies to them. Material declared Open Gaming Content in the earlier edition of a work remains Open Gaming Content, but otherwise they can remake their work with another system at will. Only if a creator wishes to publish a new work or new edition of a work under the BRP License are they are obligated to use the most recent authorized version of this License, as explained in Section 10.

Edited by MOB

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4 hours 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?

If it is not Prohibited Content then you are free to create your own derivative work. But note that none of the text in the BGB is Open.

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On 4/5/2020 at 10:25 PM, Robert said:

The problem if I was to make a work incorporating knights, merchants describing a setting, campaign, or adventure in a feudal realm then it would look much the same as KA Pendragon.

As we have already stated only works related to Le Morte d’Arthur are Prohibited Content. So of course you can you go ahead and create "a setting, campaign, or adventure in a feudal realm"; in fact under this license you can even make one using King Arthur et al:

On 3/31/2020 at 5:22 PM, Jeff said:

Just Mallory and works drawing on his creations [are Prohibited Content]. 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.

To reiterate, If someone would mistake your content for material from one of the Chaosium games listed under Prohibited Content, it's not transformative. In other words, if it looks like you cut and paste material out of a published Chaosium book, then don’t do it. Otherwise the field is wide open.

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On 4/5/2020 at 5:41 AM, MOB said:

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

11 hours ago, MOB said:

To reiterate, If someone would mistake your content for material from one of the Chaosium games listed under Prohibited Content, it's not transformative. In other words, if it looks like you cut and paste material out of a published Chaosium book, then don’t do it. Otherwise the field is wide open.

On 4/5/2020 at 7:49 AM, MOB said:

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. 

Thank you for the clarifications (and others in this thread and elsewhere on this forum).  When will they be incorporated into the BRP OGL and the Chaosium FAQ?  Cheers,

Edited by Travern
Added the important revision clarification

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