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License alternatives for 3rd party D100 supplements


RosenMcStern

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So, now that the MRQ logo license is dead as an "open" alternative and only exists as a negotiated, commercial license, what are the alternatives for small press who want to make something with a BRP-like system?

I can see several ones:

a) GORE (the least likely, I think)

B) D100Rules (but I can see some legal issues here)

c) OpenQuest (see Newt's comments here)

d) Make your own using the MRQ OGL - it is still open

e) BRP - the license terms are affordable in the end

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Anyway, what good are licenses? Can't people publish what they like, so long as they don't infringe decency, copyright or trademarks? So long as you don't use Chaosium or Mongoose logos you're fine. Right?

I am not so sure. "Fair use" applies to US laws only. WotC allowed retro-clones of D&D, but it could have sued.

Basically, if you wish to do a fanzine-like thing, you can do it. But if you want something more professinally made, that sells, you better have a license of some sort.

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I should have phrased it as "third party" supplements. Trif, would you change the thread title?

I am still interested in the idea of releasing a free product using BRP.

What options are open to me?

With OpenQuest, I can blend my content with the rules and provide a self contained OGL product.

However, what options do I have with BRP? Could my free end product only provide background material with a few new spot rules, while only making reference to the BRP core rules?

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What legal issues might there be for d100Rules? (I must admit to being worried by this thought myself, when Trif announced it).

Surely there is another alternative (and isn't this what d100Rules is?)...

f) Do a BRP-clone (without using Chaosium's copyrighted words, Logos, or Trademarks e.g. the name "Basic RolePlaying" or even "BRP")

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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In my view it would depend somewhat on Mongoose's terms for a commercial

MRQ II license and their willingness to support third party products, for exam-

ple with a concept like the one they use for Traveller products in their Flaming

Cobra network.

If a MRQ II license turns out to be significantly more expensive than Chaosi-

um's model, and the support (e.g. distribution through Mongoose's channels)

not equivalent to the cost, it will hardly be and option, but otherwise I would

not count it out.

On the other hand, personally I would very much prefer to see all BRP mate-

rial and material that can easily be adapted to BRP "clustered around" Chao-

sium, where it is easier for the customer to find it and to keep aware of what

is there, than to have it scattered over a wider array of distribution chan-

nels, where it is much easier to miss interesting indie products.

For example, I might even miss something like Alephtar's Rome if it did not ap-

pear on Chaosium's website.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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a) GORE (the least likely, I think)

I'm inclined to agree - GORE is really more of a 3rd party product than a 3rd party publishing kit, and it's too tied (whether perceptually or actually) to CoC.

B) D100Rules (but I can see some legal issues here)

Well, until it happens we can't really comment.

c) OpenQuest (see Newt's comments here)

As Newt says, OQ is not BRP - although the name might confuse a few people. :P

d) Make your own using the MRQ OGL - it is still open

Probably the easiest, safest and most practical course.

e) BRP - the license terms are affordable in the end

Affordable, yes, but a big commitment in terms of future output, so not something for the novice 3rd-party publisher. And the final license would need a lot of negotiation to weed out some of the ambiguities and potential pitfalls (of the draft that I saw, anyway).

On the whole, I don't really see the need to have a BRP OGL, anyway - I like BRP and Chaosium the way they are. Not having grown up with Mongoose in the same way, I look on their OGL SRDs in a much more mercenary way. >:->

Edited by Vile

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f) Do a BRP-clone (without using Chaosium's copyrighted words, Logos, or Trademarks e.g. the name "Basic RolePlaying" or even "BRP")

It's a legal alternative certainly - it's also as morally contemptible now as when Stafford and Sprange first claimed they were going to do it, or when GORE was released and frankly, the more often it happens, the more contemptible it gets, not less.

I am still interested in the idea of releasing a free product using BRP.

What options are open to me?

Ask Chaosium politely, supplying them with some idea of what you plan to do. Worked for me.

With OpenQuest, I can blend my content with the rules and provide a self contained OGL product.

Yes, but you cannot reference ANY IP you do not hold an explicit license for in such a product.

However, what options do I have with BRP?

Ask Chaosium - it's their trademark and their copyright text.

Could my free end product only provide background material with a few new spot rules, while only making reference to the BRP core rules

Depends on what Chaosium let you do - ASK THEM.

No, there is no blanket statement that gives any third party open access to Chaosium's copyright text and trademark without seeking Chaosium's specific permission first. Doesn't mean you can't ask - and if you put a solid proposal to them, I'm sure they would listen. Maybe even including letting you use the BRP core text directly provided your final product correctly attributed their copyright and trademark ownership.

Bear in mind that "free" (as Uncounted Worlds is) does not mean "released to public domain". The text of the MRQ SRD (or any other SRD released under the OGL) is NOT public domain - it is not free for any one to use how they wish. It has been made available under a specific license with specific criteria as to how it can be used and attributed...

And here's the weird thing - for DECADES prior to the OGL/d20 STL RPG supplements were frequently published WITHOUT regurgitating great gobbets of the core rules over and over again, or worrying about "open licenses" and the like...

:rolleyes:

Nick

Edited by NickMiddleton
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And here's the weird thing - for DECADES prior to the OGL/d20 STL RPG supplements were frequently published WITHOUT regurgitating great gobbets of the core rules over and over again ...

In fact, decades before the Intertubes (and even a few years after they happened) fanzines were perfectly happily publishing unlicensed materials for their favourite games without great gobbets of legalese on their front pages, and they were charging money for them! :eek:

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Yes, but you cannot reference ANY IP you do not hold an explicit license for in such a product.

Hence the sneaky reference to my content.

And here's the weird thing - for DECADES prior to the OGL/d20 STL RPG supplements were frequently published WITHOUT regurgitating great gobbets of the core rules over and over again...

I am not planning a supplement. Yet, the problem with BRP as it stands now is that it has 400 pages to quote over and over, which is not my intention. However, the BRP core book is really a toolkit. Yes, I am the kind of person who doesn't mind referencing it along with a plethora of other odds and ends of material and house rules in games I run. However, there are some people who want a complete system in one book that they can just pick up and play, and achieve something with the basic book. I think this is partly one of the reasons why systems such as Savage Worlds are so popular. There is plenty of supplemental material for Savage Worlds that references the core rules, but the core rules are not a chore for the more common demographic to use and expand on.

Maybe this is one way to make BRP more popular, which is rather topical in a current thread.

I am considering something that I can hand out to a local group of players or at a convention, and have one work of reference. The intention is to provide people with the benefit and joy of a D100 system, yet without the overhead of needing to own the same library and plethora of books and notes (as myself), without the question of which options will be used this time.

I am looking to experiment with something that sources the toolkit, but is a mostly complete solution in one book per gaming session/group.

With a database driven documentation system, in theory, a dynamic range of books can be made as required for a given game, genre or type of play.

The block of wood is carved into utensils

by carving void into the wood.

The Master uses the utensils, yet prefers to keep to the block

because of its limitless possibilities.

Great works do not involve discarding substance.

Edited by dragonewt
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Ask Chaosium politely, supplying them with some idea of what you plan to do.

Besides, apart from being the polite thing and the right thing to do, it is also

the safe thing to do. :)

Otherwise it could happen that one day someone decides that "IP borrowing"

happened one time too often, "too much is too much", and you could get a

letter from a lawyer.

No matter whether this could stand in a court, the consequences could prove

quite detrimental to your bank account, your business credit, your reputation

and some other things you need when producing and trying to sell stuff.

So, if you want to use a system that looks like BRP, smells like BRP and beha-

ves like BRP, you really better talk to the people who own BRP. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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It's a legal alternative certainly - it's also as morally contemptible now as when Stafford and Sprange first claimed they were going to do it...

I thought they did do it. But just made such cack-handed changes that MRQ turned out to be a different animal.

...or when GORE was released...

Is GORE a BRP-clone, then? (Or MRQ=clone? Or RQ3-clone?) I gave it a look, but all I recall is I wasn't keen.

Yes, but you cannot reference ANY IP you do not hold an explicit license for in such a product.

So, what sort of things are IP that we might not expect to be IP?

Ask Chaosium politely, supplying them with some idea of what you plan to do. Worked for me.

Yes, by far the best way. IF they give the right answer...

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Mongoose bought their Runequest license from the IP owner, they did not just copy it without asking ... ;)

Surely all they bought was the name "RuneQuest"? That's different from a license to the rules, in my book, at least morally.

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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So, what sort of things are IP that we might not expect to be IP?

I do not know your expectations, but everything that has a unique proper

name that is not commonly used anywhere else would be "off limits".

Surely all they bought was the name "RuneQuest"?

I am not aware of the details of the license deal, but I think it included the

entire setting, with all the terms like "Glorantha" or "Pavis", and so on ?

Rules mechanisms are not protected, only their expressions are.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I do not know your expectations...

Mainly I was wondering about example text, interspersed amongst the rules. But other things might surprisingly qualify, like layout, typesetting, section-headings, and I-don't-know-what-all. I guess with what Rosen says about "brand" it could be quite woolly - if some or all of those things taken together can be argued to be "too similar" by an expensive lawyer, then you're stuffed...

... I think it included the entire setting, with all the terms like "Glorantha" or "Pavis", and so on ?

Ah, yes of course. Thanks.

Mongoose licensed the trademark from Issaries, who owns it. It's not just a name, it is a brand.

But the current RuneQuest brand doesn't extend as far as the BRP rules, which derive from, and are closely associated with, RuneQuest? Hmm.

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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I am not so sure. "Fair use" applies to US laws only. WotC allowed retro-clones of D&D, but it could have sued.

Basically, if you wish to do a fanzine-like thing, you can do it. But if you want something more professinally made, that sells, you better have a license of some sort.

Mongoose sort of let the cat out of the bag when they were talking about MRQI. When people asked how they could base MRQ on the RQ system, since they only licensed the RQ name, Mongoose noted that you cannot copyright a rules system, just specific settings. creatures and such.

So there is nothing to prevent someone from practically copying BRP or MRQ verbatim, as long as they don't use copyrighted terms or settings.

That is the reason why WotC "allowed" retro-clones of D&D. They didn't have a legal leg to stand on.

Now how people view this morally is another matter.

Edited by Atgxtg

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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It is extremely confusing.

In most European countries the "creative depth" of a work of art or of a part

of it decides whether it is an intellectual property worthy of protection.

Unfortunately it is rather difficult to measure "creative depth", and therefore

different lawyers - and different judges - can come to very different opinions

about the creative depth and IP protection of something.

Moreover, it is still unclear how far "backwards" the protection does extend.

In the extreme case, could Tolkien's heirs today sue the publishers who use

obviously "Tolkienesque" material, even when this material meanwhile has

been copied so often that it seems to have become public domain ?

And there are lots and lots of similar strange questions that are likely to keep

lawyers and courts busy for decades ...

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I can't see how anybody could prevent you from publishing a 'd100' game that would be compatible with most BRP/MRQ/OQ/GORE rulebooks even though it doesn't mention any of them.

I can even imagine a setting or adventure book with a short rules-introductory chapter that explains that all NPCs in this setting/adventure have their skills expressed on a 1-100 scale, and all their spells fuelled by magic points.

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Since RPGs tend to build upon their predecessors, it would be difficult (if not impossible) for most RPG companies to exist if companies could copyright RPG game mechanics.

Think about it. As much as we like the old CHaosium products, they built upon earily RPGs, such as D&D. Things like rolling up 3D6 for attributes, hits points, weapon damage dice and other all were orginaled in D&D. Even the typical RPG dice (d4, D8, D10, D12, D20 and yes D100), were first created for D&D.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I can't see how anybody could prevent you from publishing a 'd100' game that would be compatible with most BRP/MRQ/OQ/GORE rulebooks even though it doesn't mention any of them.

I can even imagine a setting or adventure book with a short rules-introductory chapter that explains that all NPCs in this setting/adventure have their skills expressed on a 1-100 scale, and all their spells fuelled by magic points.

Of course, provided you take care that neither the skills nor the spells have

names that are used only by one other game. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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