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29

TL;DR If thousands of other people are doing exactly the same thing for years on the net and the current employees of the firm are endorsing it (by participating, streaming, tweeting, linking-to, it) you are in the clear. There are literally tens-of-thousands of blog posts, wikis, podcasts, and vlogs of actual-play including by D&D employees past and ...


27

I am not a lawyer. This doesn't constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice in a practical matter, retain a lawyer. Yadda, yadda. However, these are two well-understood parts of game design, so I can comment generally. Rules cannot be copyrighted, as they are procedures and processes. The correct arena of government-granted production monopoly for ...


25

Legal issues First, I'm not a lawyer. I've spent the past 15 years paying attention to the shifting landscape of copyright and trademark and other IP law, so I can point you toward a few ideas that might help, but I'm still not a lawyer and can't give you legal advice that's worth a damn when you actually start publishing. Infringing others' IP rights ...


25

I am a game designer with my own game designs already on the market. My primary system at the moment is currently the number one RPG system on Amazon.com. I'm also a writer with over ten books to my name and dozens of shorter stories. I've read a lot of books with regards to copyright law and checked both the Canadian and U.S. laws concerning copyright, ...


24

In terms of the GURPS part, assuming this is not for sale and just posted publicly on the Web, your use would be dictated by the Steve Jackson Games Online Policy. This allows you to make adventures and stuff but not things that require a restatement of the GURPS rules - so you'd want to be careful that your "fan book" doesn't do that. In addition, the ...


23

Anything you find in the SRD is Open Gaming Licence content and thus free to use so long as you abide by the terms of the OGL. You'll note that it does not contain XP or Wealth-By-Level rules, and you'll also notice that it doesn't really contain fluff; those rules (and the fluff) are still WotC's property and cannot be used. Beyond that, you're perfectly ...


18

There's a thread on Story Games about this. Let me summarize: Scribus is free, multi-platform, but has a steep learning curve because it's a desktop publishing tool, built for experienced layout folks. But if you're an experienced layout folk, you'll be annoyed by missing features. Serif Page Plus is free for noncommercial use (very cheap for unrestricted ...


17

My experience for their POD service was that the quality was equivalent to Lulu, in both hardcover and softcover deliveries. The hardcover projects I received were case-bound and not stitched, but the paper quality was good (slightly better than with paperback releases). Anecdotal experience has led me to feel that this method of glue-binding hardcover ...


16

Keep them in-line, but use indentation, italics, or a change in font to clearly mark the creation example sections. That way, those who are interested can read them and those who'd rather stick to the instruction sections can do so easily. I find that having worked examples close to the suggestions is a great way to ease learning of new skills.


16

All FR gods and other setting proper nouns are the intellectual property of WotC - probably copyright, maybe some trademark, maybe even some trade dress... The specifics aren't all that important in this case. Technically, legally, and unless you have a bunch of money and lawyers to try to fight it, you need permission to use them. This kind of use is NOT ...


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15

I focused on copyright and cyberlaw when I obtained my JD, but I never took the bar because I knew I didn't want to practice law. So this is backround material, not legal advice, and I am not a lawyer. There are two legal areas to pay attention to here: trademark and copyright. Trademark was created to protect businesses from fraudsters trying to masquerade ...


14

According to this: I'm pretty sure that I understand what an Ash-Can is: It's a text that comes implicitly (and maybe explicitly) packaged with a disclaimer ... "contents are sold as-is, no guarantee of quality is implied, nor should any be inferred." And According to wikipedia: An ashcan copy is a term that originated in the Golden Age of Comic ...


14

I laid out the Heralds of Hell playbooks using Scribus, which is a cantankerous piece of software but does the trick and is free. (Other layout options are described here at RPG.SE in the question "What free software can I use for laying out my own RPG?".) I did them in the original booklet format, not the new tri-fold, so I can only speak to that form ...


14

You would use Creative Commons because it's a solid license people use frequently in other forms of artistic endeavor. A number of RPGs use Creative Commons, but probably the most successful is Eclipse Phase. Many RPGs prefer the Open Gaming License (OGL) simply because that license came to be in the RPG realm and they are familiar with it. It is not ...


13

Let's get the depressing bit out of the way. Publishing for free on a website is a thankless task. The web is littered with sites on which beautifully-designed games languish. So you have an uphill struggle. You can't just publish it online and hope people will find the way to your site. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it. It means you need to work ...


13

No, we don't have evidence about the whole industry, let alone specific data on revenue that would give us the ability to extrapolate to the effects on the whole industry, because too few companies share the kinds of sales information necessary to do such a wide-scale analysis. There are anecdotes aplenty about how digital effects individual companies, but ...


12

(This is all based on reading about ashcans on a variety of indie RPG sites a year or two ago. I have purchased a few.) The word "ashcan" comes from the comic book industry. In recent usage in the comic book industry it tends to mean a smaller format comic (for varying meanings of "smaller") used as a freebie to try and hook new readers. In the indie RPG ...


12

You can do a search on deviant art for creative commons art work. The quality will vary though. EDIT: You could also search flickr. if you got o flickr then click search -> advanced search then in there type what ever you are looking for (elf in the example link below), rather you want photo's or drawn art and click the creative common's check box. Example ...


12

Introduction The current 4th Ed. offerings are somewhat divided into three parts: The starter set (Red Box), the Essentials series of books, and the "normal" -for want of a better term- tier of books. I haven't covered other settings than "Points of Light". I owe a lot to dnd4.com, so thanks. If you want release dates for most of the books listed, check ...


12

For those curious, I created my own attempt at a multi-system stat block. Here's what I came up with: A few notes: Apocalypse World attributes aren’t equivalent to D&D‘s, so they’re listed separately. Combat-related rows are colored differently, to make them a little easier to see. This coloration might not show up well in this screenshot, depending ...


12

Yes, and the law says you don't actually need the Open Game License to do it. But, You probably need to use the OGL anyway because the world is crazy. The OGL is the legal vehicle that most publishers used during the d20 craze, and is what Pathfinder uses, to be "compatible with" D&D 3rd Edition; it was given by Wizards of the Coast during their ...


12

We're quiet, publicly, at the moment. However, we're hard at work on 3 full-length books, a tournament adventure for Kobold Press, and two stand-alone roleplaying games, to be released over the next 2-4 years.


12

You cannot copyright a name. Still, this doesn't mean you can use them freely, because characters can be copyrighted. The deities in Forgotten Realms are no doubt fictional characters with individual characteristics, so they are subject to copyright. This means that, you can use the names, but if you also borrow the characteristics (appearance, moral ...


11

RPGGeek is a very exhaustive RPG database (including related things). As of February 2013, it lists 29541 individual published RPG items (that is, books, fanzines, published PDFs and so on) belonging to, according to their count, 4007 different RPGs. You can browse the list of all “individual RPGs.” These are published RPGs (all homebrew is grouped under ...


11

It depends on what you want to use and how you want to use it. As Lord_Gareth mentioned, all of the content from the System Reference Documents are available under the Open Game License. If you write your adventure and setting in a sufficiently generic way, you may not need to bother with the OGL. The answers for Copyright of Existing Systems might also be ...


11

There is no such central directory or community. RPGs are largely edited by people who have connections with the designer(s). Whether it's a big game publisher with professional connections to editors and editing agencies, or it's an independent designer who knows a semi-pro game editor on Twitter, the pattern is the same: who you know is how you connect ...


11

There's a formal breakdown This breakdown is generally considered true across the RPG (and for that matter videogame) community, making for three classes of material: First Party Material is created and/or published by the developer directly (such as Paizo publishing for Pathfinder or Nintendo making a game for the Wii U). This can be hard copy books ...


10

Lulu and RPGNow share the same printer, Lightning Source, within the United States. If there is a difference it is because Lulu's ability to process a PDF is better than RPGNow's. A correctly formatted PDF, a PDF saved using PDFX1/a format, will print the same on both. But Lulu has fewer pitfalls in their setup so the chance that a given author has a ...


10

Crapping on your Dream: Freelancing 101 by Robert Schwalb Five elements of appeal in commercial RPG design by S. John Ross The Forge articles Getting started by Monte Cook Game Industry Etiquette (Or, "How to Avoid Looking Like a Pathetic Jerk") by Monte Cook Finally, a useful piece of advice from Ed Healy: "The best way to learn about game design & ...



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