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BRP and the OGL


LivingTriskele

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I understand that BRP is not OGL, but MRQ is. Does this mean that writers of official BRP supplements can incorporate aspects of MRQ (for example variants on MRQ magic systems)?

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While we're on the subject, could someone please explain to me how come the "Distinctive Features" section is labelled as OGL in "Dragonlords of Melnibone" but not in the new BRP?

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I understand that BRP is not OGL, but MRQ is. Does this mean that writers of official BRP supplements can incorporate aspects of MRQ (for example variants on MRQ magic systems)?

No, that is not possible. If you use OGL material you must offer your work under the OGL as well and you must have the right to do so. The BRP license draft, which is available in the download section, does not allow the licensee to sublicense his work - and therefore the OGL and the BRP license is not able to coexist, one cannot become both a licensee under OGL _and_ under the BRP license at the same time.

You can use OGL on it's own but then you cannot produce an official BRP supplement.

Peter Brink

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While we're on the subject, could someone please explain to me how come the "Distinctive Features" section is labelled as OGL in "Dragonlords of Melnibone" but not in the new BRP?

Chaosium is free to use the "Distinctive Features" section from "Dragonlords of Melnibone" in any way they want, they do not have to offer it under the OGL - because they are the owner of that text. Just because a copyright holder has included a feature, that he has created all by himself, in a work that is offered under the OGL, he need not use the OGL in all other works that include the feature (provided, of course, that the new work doesn't use any other copyright holders OGL licensed material).

Peter Brink

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Actually if you write a OGL source for BRP (if Chaosium would let you) as long as you notate which sections are not OGL then you are not compromising Chaosium's ownership to their rules.

For example, if for some reason Chaosium wanted to use one of Mongooses OGL rules in one of their adventures or supplements, then legally they have to post the OGL license in the book with a notation: Material on page 23 (or so) is OGL, material on pages 1-22 and 24+ are not OGL.

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Actually if you write a OGL source for BRP (if Chaosium would let you) as long as you notate which sections are not OGL then you are not compromising Chaosium's ownership to their rules.

For example, if for some reason Chaosium wanted to use one of Mongooses OGL rules in one of their adventures or supplements, then legally they have to post the OGL license in the book with a notation: Material on page 23 (or so) is OGL, material on pages 1-22 and 24+ are not OGL.

You are not allowed under the OGL to select which rules descriptions should be under OGL and which don't. The OGL covers all game mechanics, that's one of the main points with the license. Besides, the BRP license contains a preamle section in which licensee agrees that Chaoisum owns the rules of BRP, so a licensee of Chaoisums could not release any BRP rules under OGL (which he would be required too do under the OGL). I'm sorry, but the OGL and the BRP license are not compatible.

Peter Brink

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You are not allowed under the OGL to select which rules descriptions should be under OGL and which don't. The OGL covers all game mechanics, that's one of the main points with the license. Besides, the BRP license contains a preamle section in which licensee agrees that Chaoisum owns the rules of BRP, so a licensee of Chaoisums could not release any BRP rules under OGL (which he would be required too do under the OGL). I'm sorry, but the OGL and the BRP license are not compatible.

Hense why I said "If Chaosium would let you". And yes you can keep rules open. Case in point the Elric of Melnibone game from Mongoose, while based on the MRQ OGL clearly states that "the material within is not OGL".

Now the problem occurs with the wording of the BRP license, which isnt OGL. Legally Chaosium could employ OGL rules from MRQ or even 3E, as long as it is indicated in the license posted in the book.

And usually, in a sourcebook, not all the game mechanics of the parent system are spelled out. So if I wrote a sourcebook on Waiters in Hollywood for BRP and wanted to incorporate Runequest's version of a skill over the BRP version of the skill, it would have to be stated. But since the orignal BRP rules are not repeated in the sourcebook, it does not step back and take those rules into the OGL. And if you look at the OGL license there is a section in there where you must state what is and is not OGL, including game rules.

Copyright protects the style and way you represent a mechanic or creates ownership of an original idea (I can't copyright George Washington, First President of the United States of America, but I could Copyright the Gothic Horror Adventures of George Washington, Vampire Hunter). I can copyright protect the way I describe 1+6=7, but I cant copyright 1+6=7.

Otherwise I think Chaosium would be able to sue the pants off Mongoose for RQ system. Which as far as I can tell, is pretty much 80% BRP.

Example: The Gothic Horror Adventures of George Washington, Vampire Hunter

Characters in GHAGW are more action oriented then most BRP games and characters. To that effect the optional rule below is used to show these men of action in a different light.

Combat Actions: Based on a characters DEX they have one or more combat actions per round, this allows acrobatic swashbuckling Politicians to battle vampires on a more even ground. Note that while these are called combat actions they are actually just general actions and can be as simple as drawing your wallet to as complex as loading your brace of pistols.

Snip snip...reprenting the rules from MRQ OGL on Combat Actions....

and so forth and then on page 88 of the book it would have the OGL license published and under section 8 (Identification: If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Game Content) you would note that "on page 23 the Combat Actions is Open Game Content if that was the only OGL you used. Any other rule or add ones you created you wanted as OGL you would also list here. Example (8. Identification: The following Items are OGL: Combat actions on page 23, how dragons vote on page 25 and Ben Franklyn's Amazing Vampire Time Disco. Material in Chapters one, Three, Four, Five and Seven are not OGL).

But if Chaosium's license says that any rule placed in a sourcebook for BRP becomes part of their library of ownership, well then that falls under the "If Chaosium would let you" note I added earlier.

And when I made Berlin '61 none of that was mentioned.

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Hense why I said "If Chaosium would let you". And yes you can keep rules open. Case in point the Elric of Melnibone game from Mongoose, while based on the MRQ OGL clearly states that "the material within is not OGL".

"Elric of Melnibone" is not based on any material from the d20 SRD. Some parts of MRQ are based on the d20 SRD (e.g. parts of the combat chapter) but those parts are not used in Elric of Melnibone, so Mongoose can publish said book without using the OGL.

Copyright protects the style and way you represent a mechanic or creates ownership of an original idea ...

First part wrong, second part dead wrong. Ideas are never ever copyrightable, nor is the style or method used when expressing an idea copyrightable.

Otherwise I think Chaosium would be able to sue the pants off Mongoose for RQ system. Which as far as I can tell, is pretty much 80% BRP.

The problem here is that expressions of the rules of a game have a very thin copyright or even non-existing copyright. Also - the trademark Runequest belongs to Greg Stafford, who is a co-author of parts of the original RQ rules. The most efficient way of dealing with a game that is very similar to your own game is to sue for "unfair competition", but that path is closed in this case since Greg own the trademark. Suing for copyright infringement when it comes to the rules of a game is a very uncertain affair if the texts are not identical.

I maintain that the OGL and the BRP licenses are constructed in a way that makes it impossible to use the OGL and OGL licensed material if you also is a licensee of Chaosiums.

This is not a problem for fan created non-commercial projects that are not published under the BRP license. We can use MRQ and the OGL as much as we like.

Peter Brink

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"Elric of Melnibone" is not based on any material from the d20 SRD. Some parts of MRQ are based on the d20 SRD (e.g. parts of the combat chapter) but those parts are not used in Elric of Melnibone, so Mongoose can publish said book without using the OGL.
But it does use the MRQ OGL. And that is what my reference here is to, not the D20 OGL.

First part wrong, second part dead wrong. Ideas are never ever copyrightable, nor is the style or method used when expressing an idea copyrightable.

No, they are. Case in point you just tell George Lucas Star Wars is not Copyright protected or that Palladium doesnt own the Copyright the the ideas of Rifts. And yes, artistic representation, which includes the written word, is definately conpyrightable.

I maintain that the OGL and the BRP licenses are constructed in a way that makes it impossible to use the OGL and OGL licensed material if you also is a licensee of Chaosiums.

And I maintain that is a decision of BRP and not you.

This is not a problem for fan created non-commercial projects that are not published under the BRP license. We can use MRQ and the OGL as much as we like.

Yes we can and with other systems, as long as the proper sources are quoted and they are under the OGL. RuneQuest is under the OGL and they can say nothing if for some reason Chaosium wanted to use said OGL.

But the main thing here is that Chaosium doesnt want the OGLs used in their works so it is a moot point. You being wrong that is:innocent:

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But it does use the MRQ OGL. And that is what my reference here is to, not the D20 OGL.

Either they (Mongoose) use the OGL (in Elric of Melnibone) or they don't. If they state that nothing in the work is available under the OGL then they cannot use the parts of the MRQ SRD that is derived from the d20 SRD (or any other OGL:ed work). Period.

No, they are. Case in point you just tell George Lucas Star Wars is not Copyright protected or that Palladium doesnt own the Copyright the the ideas of Rifts. And yes, artistic representation, which includes the written word, is definately conpyrightable.

Ideas are never copyright protected. Period. Only the expression of an idea may be copyright protected. The style, manner, or method used to express an idea also lack copyright protection. George Lukas only owns his expressions of the ideas behind Star Wars. Palladium definitely doesn't own the ideas behind Rifts. Both could try use other laws, such as trademark laws and the rules about unfair competition to keep other companies from using their ideas - but not copyright laws.

And I maintain that is a decision of BRP and not you.

If Chaosium wants to allow things, that the contract they have drafted, doesn't allow - then that's their problem. As written the two deeds (OGL and the BRP license) are not compatible.

Peter Brink

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No, they are. Case in point you just tell George Lucas Star Wars is not Copyright protected or that Palladium doesnt own the Copyright the the ideas of Rifts. And yes, artistic representation, which includes the written word, is definately conpyrightable.

The whole of the Star Wars series is Copyrighted. That means that all the species, the Force, the Jedi and the rest are Copyrighted. The idea of a Stellar Republic being turned into an Empire by Dark Knights isn't, which is why it has appeared in other novels.

Yes we can and with other systems, as long as the proper sources are quoted and they are under the OGL. RuneQuest is under the OGL and they can say nothing if for some reason Chaosium wanted to use said OGL.

Sure, if Chaosium wanted to produce a supplement using the OGL then they could do. However, to combine OGL RQ and BRP would almost certainly involve changes to the BRP licence. Because of past history and the fact that BRP has been distanced from RQ, I can't see it happening.

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The whole of the Star Wars series is Copyrighted. That means that all the species, the Force, the Jedi and the rest are Copyrighted.

:deadhorse: :deadhorse: :deadhorse: :deadhorse: :deadhorse: :deadhorse:

I think you are confusing copyright with trademarking. The actual text of the Star Wars novels and images in the films are protected by copyright - you cannot reproduce them without permission. Original terms like Wookie®, Jedi®, and May The Force be With You® would be protected as trademarks.

Ideas and games rules are not protected by copyright as such. If you reword them into original language you could publish your own version of an existing game which would be functionally identical to the original (ie. MRQ). The art and board design of a game can be trademarked and in some cases the game mechanics themselves can be patented - if you can prove them are "novel" and previously un-patented. WotC did this with Magic:The Gathering.

But you can't copyright an idea, concept, "style" or rules system.

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Wow, there is a lot of misinformation being tossed about.

1) As owners of the text, Mongoose can publish material used in their

RuneQuest OGL (nothing at all to do with d20 rules except those

rules recast into MRQ - the MRQ OGL is not the d20 OGL) and specifically

state it is not OGL. So, Elric of Melnibone, Hawkmoon, etc. are not OGL.

They may use OGL rules, which you can take from the SRD, but the actual

text cannot be lifted from Elric or Hawkmoon.

2) You are allowed, by the OGL text, to define non OGL material. This can

be purely descriptive material, or it can be game mechanics. If there is a

section of game mechanics derived from the MRQ OGL, then that section

must be OGL, and must be clearly defined as such. However, any mechanics

which are not derived from the OGL may remain closed. As a matter of fact,

the OGL states that one need only clearly identify what material is OGL,

and material so identified is the only material that is considered OGL. The

rest is closed.

3) As Jason pointed out, and as I state in 1), Chaosium released the Distinctive

Traits prior to the existence of the OGL and DragonLords of Melnibone. As

such, they can publish that text in their own works and not claim it is OGL since

they "own" the text. However, it is clearly possible to reuse the Distinctive

Traits in any OGL game since they are freely available through the existence

of DLoM.

As far as licensing BRP and using either d20 or MRQ OGL material, you would

have to discuss it with Chaosium. I am inclined to believe that it is not a

problem as long as a) you include the OGL license text as required, B) you

clearly define the OGL sections as OGL, including any rules derived from the

OGL text, and c) clearly state the rest of the material is not OGL. However,

IANAL, and clearing it with Chaosium first, and then reviewing it with a

Copyright Lawyer, is a good idea.

-V

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2) You are allowed, by the OGL text, to define non OGL material. This can be purely descriptive material, or it can be game mechanics. If there is a section of game mechanics derived from the MRQ OGL, then that section must be OGL, and must be clearly defined as such. However, any mechanics which are not derived from the OGL may remain closed. As a matter of fact, the OGL states that one need only clearly identify what material is OGL, and material so identified is the only material that is considered OGL. The

rest is closed.

Unfortunately you make the same mistake as many publishers do. Game Mechanics, and the descriptions of such, are as a starting point always Open Game Content. You can "close" some parts of the OGC but those parts are in practice limited to the names of skills, spells and such (see section 1.e of the OGL). The description of rules (i.e game mechanics) are always OGC.

Combining the OGL and its requirements that all game mechanics are OGC and the BRP license is problematic. But Chaosium may, if they wish, ignore those problems.

Peter Brink

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Unfortunately you make the same mistake as many publishers do. Game Mechanics, and the descriptions of such, are as a starting point always Open Game Content. You can "close" some parts of the OGC but those parts are in practice limited to the names of skills, spells and such (see section 1.e of the OGL). The description of rules (i.e game mechanics) are always OGC.

Combining the OGL and its requirements that all game mechanics are OGC and the BRP license is problematic. But Chaosium may, if they wish, ignore those problems.

And you're making the same mistake countless of people who misunderstand the

OGL make.

Not all of the Game Mechanics are required to be OGC. Only those mechanics

that you choose to designate as OGC, or those mechanics derived directly

from other OGL resources. New mechanics you create or pre-exist the OGL

do not have to be declared as OGC. From the old OGL FAQ:

Q: What is "Open Game Content"?

A: Open Game Content is any material that is distributed using the Open Game License clearly identified by the publisher as Open Game Content. Furthermore, any material that is derived from Open Game Content automatically becomes Open Game Content as well.

If not clearly identified as OGC nor derived from prior OGC, then it is not OGC.

And, from section 1.d of the OGL:

(d)"Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor

key terms being "and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional

content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor".

Again, not all mechanics are automatically OGC.

-V

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It is true that game mechanics can be closed under the OGL, as any number of D20 publishers have demonstrated in print (Monte Cook is particularly bad for issuing what is referred to as "OGL crippleware"). One method for this is simply to declare certain specific mechanical terms as Product Identity, such that replacing the terms amounts to rewriting the mechanics (which, of course, you can do with any non-OGL mechanics).

That said, the OGL and the Chaosium BRP license are, as written, incompatible. It's always possible that Chaosium could waive their objections in specific cases, but I doubt it.

KoOS

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And you're making the same mistake countless of people who misunderstand the OGL make.

Sorry, but no - you are the one making the mistake.

The key is the last "and" in the sentence below.

"1.d "Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor"

OGC is:

* All game mechanics and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art.

* Any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor.

All game mechanics that are an improvement over prior art is OGC, as is any other material clearly identified as OGC. Game mechanics is always either OGC or falls outside the scope of the license because it's non-protected (i.e. non-copyrightable or more properly non-patentable).

Peter Brink

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Sorry, but no - you are the one making the mistake.

The key is the last "and" in the sentence below.

"1.d "Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor"

OGC is:

* All game mechanics and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art.

* Any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor.

All game mechanics that are an improvement over prior art is OGC, as is any other material clearly identified as OGC. Game mechanics is always either OGC or falls outside the scope of the license because it's non-protected (i.e. non-copyrightable or more properly non-patentable).

Sorry, but you are just not correct.

As King of Old School points out, and as evidenced by numerous products

put out on the market, all game mechanics are not OGC if published under the

OGL. Only those mechanics clearly declared as such, or derived from prior

OGC.

Again, the d20 OGL FAQ clearly states this.

IIRC, even WotC's d20 version of Call of Cthulhu was not declared OGC at all.

It wasn't until WotC released the d20 sanity mechanics in Unearthed

Arcana did those mechanics officially become OGC. I believe the same

is true of Star Wars - no declared OGC. Both are based upon the OGL and

d20, and yet both are not OGC.

Also, of note, the PHB for 3.0/3.5 also has non-OGC material in it - character

creation and advancement is explicitly not OGC, you are not allowed to use

the PHB character creation and level advancement rules verbatim as you

would other OGC.

-V

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Hopefully this will put the OGC vs. non-OGC issue to rest.

From the old OGF-L (Open Gaming Foundation mailing list), a post

by none other than Ryan Dancey:

> I think I've heard Ryan and Clark both say that you can't PI rules.

Not me.

The only parts of any work that must be OGC are the parts that are

derivative of OGC. You can certainly make rules that are not derivative

of OGC. The Traveller ship-building rules in T20 would be one example

of such.

Ryan

See the whole thread here about having rules that are closed/PI in

conjunction with OGL/OGC material:

Re: [OGF-L] If people are *really* bothered by crippled OGC issued under

So, T20's shipbuilding rules are not OGC, and yet the book was written using the

OGL and had other OGC in it. The shipbuilding rules are standalone, and were not

designed using previous OGC, so they remain closed per the publisher.

-V

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MMMMMM interesting, based on PeterBs arguments the sanity rules for BRP are OGC now because they appeared in D20 CoC.

But then again, all rules are OGC cause they cant be copywritten according to him.

Also means Fading Suns non-D20 system is OGC because many of their sourcebooks had the OGL in it when they were dual-stating, unless of course the OGL was only for the D20 rules in the book, but then, according to his side any rule in the book becomes OGL, even if it is mentioned as non OGC in the license.

Hmmmm, this is why I didnt go to law school.

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MMMMMM interesting, based on PeterBs arguments the sanity rules for BRP are OGC now because they appeared in D20 CoC.

But then again, all rules are OGC cause they cant be copywritten according to him.

Also means Fading Suns non-D20 system is OGC because many of their sourcebooks had the OGL in it when they were dual-stating, unless of course the OGL was only for the D20 rules in the book, but then, according to his side any rule in the book becomes OGL, even if it is mentioned as non OGC in the license.

Hmmmm, this is why I didnt go to law school.

Well, to be fair:

1) The sanity rules as presented in BRP differ significantly from those that

appeared in d20 CoC and Unearthed Arcana - the core mechanics differ.

So, they are technically two distinct rulesets. The BRP version is not OGC

while the d20 version is.

2) All rules cannot be copyrighted, only the actual verbage can be. As

evidenced by MRQ, you can just rewrite the phrasing of any ruleset and

publish it as your own. The OGL was created to allow people to basically

cut'n'paste the rules so that a somewhat uniform and universal ruleset

was created. It basically bypasses copyright law in that you can directly

quote the rules, and not have to rewrite them in signficantly new language.

3) As I pointed out before, that is obviously not the case.

4) I am sure there are other reasons why didn't go to law school ;)

-V

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