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Thule120

Legend, its engine, and Open Content.

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Hallo all BRP-enthusiasts,

and especially those who have been working with providing games or other materials out of "Legend".

First off, a short presentation of myself: 

I am an old OSR-person who has been, and still is, a dye-in-the wool player of Runequest and BRP games, including derivatives. Pendragon was a huge favorite of mine, but that game uses D20 instead of D100 as you know. I would like to design my own game, and given the many possibilities with OGL connected to D20 systems, so popular now, acquiring a D20 OGL doesn´t seem that difficult. But I like D100 systems very much, and above all Runequest.  By coincidence I found this game "Legend", and sure enough; in its core rulebook it is written without further ado in the two last pages:

a. "Legend & Open Content". Those of you who possess "Legend Core Rulebook" can see for yourselves about the generous Open Content declaration.

b. "Open Game License Version 1.0a"  (from WotC).

My understanding of reading these two pages is that I could start using Legend or parts of it for my own game design at once. It is an excellent game, beautifully and pedagogically written; really 

a great achievement by Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash. 

I haven´t really been able to track down the different derivatives of Runequest, of who that had which copyright at which times (RQ2, MRQ2, Mythras, Runequest Glorantha, etc.).

From my vantage point, the background story(-ies) of this growing pedigree is completely unimportant to me. I just want to design a game.  But the dilemma is that I can´t really understand how I could use such an excellent game that Legend is, without asking the authors (Whitaker and Nash) for permission. But they don´t work with Mongoose anymore, but with their own company, The Design Mechanism. Yes, I know, you can´t copyright game mechanics, I am aware of that. Basically, the statement a. and b. should be sufficient, am I right?

That said: My greatest respect to Mongoose, The Design Mechanism, Moon Design, and last but not least: Chaosium! You are the ambassadors of a great engine.... . 

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Hello Thule120,

This is not necessarily a direct answer to your query, but it might be helpful. Check out Newt Newport's development of OpenQuest and use of the OGL . I eventually developed my own gaming-group-&-setting-centric version of our beloved game (for my own enjoyment and most decidedly NOT for sale, profit, or posting) using Newt's use of the OGL 1.0a as a guide. 

Cheers,

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As far as game design goes, you can pretty much use whatever game mechanics you like for whatever games you like. Game mechanics can't be copyrighted and aren't protected. Now actual text, and setting stuff, are protected, and can be copyrighted . That why there are a half dozen or so RPGs out there now that use game mechanics similar to RQ. You just have to make sure you type stuff up in your own words. You also want to add new content and alter a few things, otherwise what would be the point of doing your own game?

 

And that's assuming you want to sell or otherwise distribute your game. 

Edited by Atgxtg

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Hello Thule, and welcome to the community.

I think the point boils down, essentially, on what sort of game you wish to create. Should it be based on the MRQ/Legend/RQ6/Mythras core assumptions (no general HP, no resistance table, skilll bases are CHAR+CHAR, no huge MP costs for spells, action points, effect-based combat, etc. ) or should it be a more classic ruleset with fixed base skills, resistance table, etc. ?

If the latter, then you could start with OpenQuest, or even better GORE, which is a retro-clone of classic BRP and compatible with CoC and RuneQuest. Both games are absolutely free and require no permission to use the SRD, just crediting the authors and including the OGL in your rules. 

If the former, then you could use Legend as the base for your game, even without TDM permision, as they wrote this version of the rules while working for Mongoose so they do not own the copyright to the text (you still have to give them credit, though). HOWEVER, you might be more interested in obtaining their permission for the non-OGL but nevertheless licenseable version of the ruleset, that is Mythras or Mythras Imperative. This is actually rather simple: you just click on Loz's name on one of his posts here to reach his profile page, and then hit the "Send Private Message " button to contact him about a Gateway License or other agreement. He will explain to you what the terms are, or can be.

If you have any other ideas about the game you wish to develop, feel free to post it here. We are always available for useless rule debates giving a fellow author some pieces of advice on these forums.

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2 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

We are always available for useless rule debates giving a fellow author some pieces of advice on these forums.

+1

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17 hours ago, Thule120 said:

Hallo all BRP-enthusiasts,

and especially those who have been working with providing games or other materials out of "Legend".

First off, a short presentation of myself: 

I am an old OSR-person who has been, and still is, a dye-in-the wool player of Runequest and BRP games, including derivatives. Pendragon was a huge favorite of mine, but that game uses D20 instead of D100 as you know. I would like to design my own game, and given the many possibilities with OGL connected to D20 systems, so popular now, acquiring a D20 OGL doesn´t seem that difficult. But I like D100 systems very much, and above all Runequest.  By coincidence I found this game "Legend", and sure enough; in its core rulebook it is written without further ado in the two last pages:

a. "Legend & Open Content". Those of you who possess "Legend Core Rulebook" can see for yourselves about the generous Open Content declaration.

b. "Open Game License Version 1.0a"  (from WotC).

My understanding of reading these two pages is that I could start using Legend or parts of it for my own game design at once. It is an excellent game, beautifully and pedagogically written; really 

a great achievement by Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash. 

I haven´t really been able to track down the different derivatives of Runequest, of who that had which copyright at which times (RQ2, MRQ2, Mythras, Runequest Glorantha, etc.).

From my vantage point, the background story(-ies) of this growing pedigree is completely unimportant to me. I just want to design a game.  But the dilemma is that I can´t really understand how I could use such an excellent game that Legend is, without asking the authors (Whitaker and Nash) for permission. But they don´t work with Mongoose anymore, but with their own company, The Design Mechanism. Yes, I know, you can´t copyright game mechanics, I am aware of that. Basically, the statement a. and b. should be sufficient, am I right?

That said: My greatest respect to Mongoose, The Design Mechanism, Moon Design, and last but not least: Chaosium! You are the ambassadors of a great engine.... . 

I've moved this over to the Legend folder.

Additionally, in my considered opinion the statement "you can't copyright game mechanics" is oft-repeated but also never been upheld by an appellate court. I can certainly see a court concluding that "you can copyright game mechanics" (in fact, with the right facts, I think a court certainly would conclude that you can copyright game mechanics to some extent) - the only question is whether there is ever a plaintiff deep-pocketed enough to test that proposition.

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36 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I've moved this over to the Legend folder.

Additionally, in my considered opinion the statement "you can't copyright game mechanics" is oft-repeated but also never been upheld by an appellate court. I can certainly see a court concluding that "you can copyright game mechanics" (in fact, with the right facts, I think a court certainly would conclude that you can copyright game mechanics to some extent) - the only question is whether there is ever a plaintiff deep-pocketed enough to test that proposition.

I see. I got the meaning of your post. Well, that means that I will look for OGL:s completely outside of the BRP/RQ D100 system. Best, Thule120.  

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11 minutes ago, Thule120 said:

I see. I got the meaning of your post. Well, that means that I will look for OGL:s completely outside of the BRP/RQ D100 system. Best, Thule120.  

I might misunderstand your meaning but why would you give up on the d100 family? You can choose from Legend, OpenQuest, GORE and Mythras Gateway. Plenty of opportunities there.

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OP seems to be looking for a  'free' licence to write an RPG to compete with something written in the Eighties (I can't find the original post again) that he claims is overwhelmingly prevalent in his country. I did a quick check when I saw the first post and couldn't find anything referring to the said game in English so although it may be popular where he's from but it's virtually unheard of outside.

As far as writing a game based on using a pair of percentile dice goes there's hardly a need to acquire a licence as several games/editions have been published that use d100 dice in Sweden and haven't suffered from any legal difficulties. As Jeff points out no-one in this business has deep enough pockets to take anyone to litigation. A Cease and Desist letter is another matter and can easily be sent by contacting (and paying) a lawyer in the country of the publisher and hoping that they are frightened off by the letter. It's worked for Games Workshop but they have a squadron of lawyers constantly poised to attack any attempt to infringe on their IP (a completely different thing to writing a set of RPG rules).

Edited by nclarke

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5 hours ago, Thule120 said:

I see. I got the meaning of your post. Well, that means that I will look for OGL:s completely outside of the BRP/RQ D100 system. Best, Thule120.  

IANAL and Jeff IAL, but I don't think Jeff was trying to shut down the discussion or to shut down people from producing OGL supplements.

As long as d100 rules are published under the OGL and the OGL has not been successfully challenged in court, you should be OK to produce supplements or even rulesets.

I certainly intend to do so and I am sure other people will.

Just don't call them RuneQuest or Mythras, as they are not OGL.

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As I mentioned in an earlier thread, if you intend to produce anything under the Open Game Licence, be sure that you understand your rights and responsibilities. The OGL is a legally-binding contract between yourself and the owners of whatever Open Game Content you use. In particular, note that you cannot indicate compatibility with any game system without a separate trademark licence or compatibility licence offered by the publisher. Not only does this mean that you can't mention Mythras or Runequest, it also means that you can't mention Legend or OpenQuest without a separate agreement with the publisher. In these cases, the publisher has been generous enough to offer a compatibility licence, but you need to understand what you are getting into here - the publisher can't revoke the OGL because the licence is "perpetual", "worldwide" and "non-exclusive", but they can pull the plug on the trademark licence at any time. This happened with D&D when the transition from 3.5 to 4e occurred. WotC withdrew permission to use the d20 brand in favour of their more restrictive GSL. It also happened when Mongoose transitioned from the 1st edition of Traveller to the 2nd edition. This is the reason why the Cepheus engine exists. Once again, I would emphasize that you need to understand exactly what you are signing up to and where the boundaries are.

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9 hours ago, Jeff said:

Additionally, in my considered opinion the statement "you can't copyright game mechanics" is oft-repeated but also never been upheld by an appellate court. I can certainly see a court concluding that "you can copyright game mechanics" (in fact, with the right facts, I think a court certainly would conclude that you can copyright game mechanics to some extent) - the only question is whether there is ever a plaintiff deep-pocketed enough to test that proposition.

I would second the opinion that this is a dangerous area. Although the law may not protect raw game mechanics, it does protect specific expressions of those those mechanics. So even if you change the wording and file off the serial numbers, you can still land up in hot water if your work constitutes plagiarism of an existing intellectual property. This can be a bit subjective - you might think you have done enough to distance yourself from the source material, but the law might disagree. So be careful here!

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One final note, specific to the d100 game family. Be very careful about using anything from the System Reference Document from the first edition of RuneQuest published by Mongoose. This is easy to find on the internet, but there are legal problems with it. The SRD inadvertently contains some Glorantha-specific material that is the intellectual property of Chaosium (via Issaries). Mongoose lost the legal right to release this material when their licence to publish RuneQuest terminated as per the section of the OGL relating to "Authority to Contribute". This means that you are infringing on Chaosium's rights if you use any of this material. My understanding is that pre-existing publications under the MRQI SRD (e.g. OpenQuest) are ok, due to the section of the OGL indicating that sublicenses survive any breach. But trying to produce anything new using this SRD is a legal minefield. Stick to the Legend OGC, which is on stronger legal ground.

Also, it is good manners to respect the immense contribution that Chaosium has made to the hobby. The folks there are nice people and have been happy to licence third-party publishers in the past, but they have a legal responsibility to defend their trademarks and prevent people from ripping off their IP.

Edited by Prime Evil

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On 7/16/2018 at 6:53 AM, Thule120 said:

I see. I got the meaning of your post. Well, that means that I will look for OGL:s completely outside of the BRP/RQ D100 system. Best, Thule120.  

Despite the disputes around the Mongoose OGLs/SRDs, you DO have options within the BRP/d100 (originally RQ) system.

I urge you to contact d101 games and/or TheDesignMechanism.  Chaosium has said they both have agreements.  Either one may have a license that entirely works for your needs.

And of course Chaosium itself offers licenses.

All three also offer reasonable fan-policies.

If I were looking to publish, I'd ask all three and see what my options were.

Edited by g33k

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OpenQuest is completely OGL, you don't need to contact me for a sub-license or any sort of approval.

Here's the link to the developers kit/srd

https://d101games.com/openquest/openquest-developers-kit/

As well as a download for the text of the game, there's an explanation of how to use it to comply with the Open Gaming License that underpins it.

If you want an idea of the type of games/supplements that have used OQ as their base scroll down to the bottom of this page, to the section Powered by OpenQuest.

https://d101games.com/openquest/

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On 8/2/2018 at 6:58 AM, g33k said:

Despite the disputes around the Mongoose OGLs/SRDs, you DO have options within the BRP/d100 (originally RQ) system.

I urge you to contact d101 games and/or TheDesignMechanism.  Chaosium has said they both have agreements.  Either one may have a license that entirely works for your needs.

I wish it was so clear and neat, geek. But is it?

For instance, Newt has clarified above that OpenQuest is OGL and all development of games from OpenQuest can pass through the OGL, in the terms indicated in the link he has provided. A link that happens to clearly state that you can make your own game out of OQ without limitations – except the prohibition to misuse IPs by third parties.

And Thule has clearly expressed his wish to create his own game, not just publish scenarios for OQ or Mythras. Or so I understood.

So let us wonder for one moment: Thule follows your line of reasoning and goes along with Newt’s instructions (he does not need to further contact Newt, he already has the answer above). He then creates his own game, with lots of original contents built over the OQ chassis. Incidentally, this is exactly what Renaissance does.

Does this make his game “approved by Chaosium”? And if it does not – as I suspect, since it would be very unwise to extend approval to derivative works which might include lawful but questionable contents, like pornography or racial slur -  then why sub-license an allegedly approved system, if this does not make your game “officially approved”?

So, while it is certainly a good thing for Thule to hear from TDM and D101, I suspect that things might not work as you implied above.

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2 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

I wish it was so clear and neat, geek. But is it?

... <SNIP cogent argument> ...

So, while it is certainly a good thing for Thule to hear from TDM and D101, I suspect that things might not work as you implied above.

I see that the issues just get murkier the deeper you look into them.

I'm sorry for that, and for any bad advice I have offered.

I continue to think the BRP chassis is worth attention (even by developers who desire to avoid even potential/theoretical violations of (c)).

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1 minute ago, g33k said:

I continue to think the BRP chassis is worth attention (even by developers who desire to avoid even potential/theoretical violations of (c)).

Well, at least about this we are in agreement.

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On 8/3/2018 at 11:40 AM, RosenMcStern said:

For instance, Newt has clarified above that OpenQuest is OGL and all development of games from OpenQuest can pass through the OGL, in the terms indicated in the link he has provided. A link that happens to clearly state that you can make your own game out of OQ without limitations – except the prohibition to misuse IPs by third parties.

And Thule has clearly expressed his wish to create his own game, not just publish scenarios for OQ or Mythras. Or so I understood.

So long as you abide by all of the terms of the Open Game Licence, you can use any Open Game Content (OGC) to create derivative works. This can include adventures or sourcebooks or campaign settings. It can also entire games.  This is what makes things like Renaissance possible. It is also what allowed Paizo to fork D&D 3.5 to create Pathfinder when 4e came out. 

However there are some important limits on this freedom. Firstly, you can't use any material that the publisher of the game has designated as Product Identity (PI). Secondly, you can't infringe on the trademarks of the creator of the source material. So you can't misrepresent your work as an "official" OQ publication. And you can't indicate compatibility with OQ without a separate license with Newt allowing you to do so. So you can't use the OpenQuest logo or say that your work in "Powered by OpenQuest" without permission. This is why many OGL games release the game system as Open Game Content but have a separate trademark licence allowing you additional rights to indicate compatibility with their system.

On 8/3/2018 at 11:40 AM, RosenMcStern said:

Does this make his game “approved by Chaosium”? And if it does not – as I suspect, since it would be very unwise to extend approval to derivative works which might include lawful but questionable contents, like pornography or racial slur -  then why sub-license an allegedly approved system, if this does not make your game “officially approved”?

Nothing in the Open Game Licence indicates that upstream publishers "approve" of any derivative works. The licence is designed so that if you misuse it, upstream publishers are protected against legal liability. If you use OGC for questionable purposes, then you are on your own. If you want to place a stamp on your work saying "approved by Chaosium", you need permission from Chaosium to do so - and they can place whatever restrictions they like on this approval. For example, back in the day there was a section in the d20 licence indicating that Wizards of the Coast could withdraw approval for publishers to use the d20 logo on works that breached community standards. 

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On 8/3/2018 at 2:20 PM, g33k said:

I continue to think the BRP chassis is worth attention (even by developers who desire to avoid even potential/theoretical violations of (c)).

I think that the survival of the BRP system over thirty years despite numerous "real-world" problems along the way is a testament to how solid and adaptable it is. If you go back and read RQ2 and compare it with other stuff coming out at the same time, you get a sense of just how brilliant it was.

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