I created a role playing system with not too much of a Fantasy setting about 15 years ago. It played well, but when it started to reach the 4th revision, this 4th revision I had put weeks of work in was lost in a hard disk crash. (I still have the 3rd revision.)

Armageddon is a setting in the Unisystem published by Eden Studios. I love the setting, but I hate the Unisystem for being an unbalanced luck-dependent and not storyteller-led system.

As my playing group looks for something new, I decided to rewrite my old system for the Armageddon setting. As it begins to be more mature, I wonder if I could ever publish it with the exact setting of C. J. Carella's Armageddon, but entirely my own text and system. I tried mailing Eden Studios, but didn't get an answer, as you already expected.

Self-publishing is okay for me, I would also be able to get the dice and the cards needed to accompany a book, but the legal issues make me wonder what I can do.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've added the link to the Eden Studios website for clarity, and to also show that this isn't a "dead game," but one still being sold by the publisher. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 1 '12 at 11:01

As you're probably aware, copyright law prevents you from publishing a work that has "the exact setting" of another game you don't own the rights to; it's a derivative work, and as a result could expose you to legal action by Eden Studios or C.J. Carella. The idea of supernatural apocalypse and intervention by divine entities, however, has existed long before Armageddon was published. As long as you're creating your own text and your own system, why not go all the way and create your own setting too? The only reason not to would be to piggyback on the success and reputation of Armageddon and Eden Studios, and that's the sort of thing these laws were meant to prevent.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, copyright law DOES NOT, in the US, prohibit the setting. It does preclude the characters, and the literal text. Go, read the actual circulars at copyright.gov before saying things that are untrue. Note that Trademark, a different form of IP, prevents using the name(s). Copyright prevents maps. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis Sep 2 '12 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did. Go check that circular on Derivative Works. (copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf) There's a quote in there: "Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone who has obtained rights from the author." Now, explain to me how using the setting unaltered -- that means using all the associated elements of it, which the OP said he wished to do -- to create a new roleplaying game wouldn't constitute a derivative work under that description. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 2 '12 at 0:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Circ 14 Only applies to literary works - not game rules. He's screwed on the names, as those are under trademark. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis Sep 2 '12 at 0:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ He's not using the game rules — those, he wishes to replace. It's the fiction within the book he wants to use. That's pretty clearly making a "new version" of the Armageddon rulebook, and Eden and CJC would be well within their rights to go after that as a violation. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 2 '12 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ If he's in the US, he could have every right to, and still be sued, because it's a fair use country, not a fair dealing one. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis Sep 3 '12 at 6:47

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