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The Battle Master subclass is not in the Systems Reference Document. I am designing a Wild West supplement for d&d-5e, to be published on DriveThruRPG, and I want to add a few Gun-Themed maneuvers that can be applied when firing a gun. Can I legally say “If you have access to maneuvers, the following maneuvers are added to the list of maneuvers available to you.”, and then list maneuvers that refer to superiority dice?

I cannot figure out if this would be considered a violation of product identity or not.

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Probably not, but talk to a lawyer.

As written in the OGL 1.0a, the current license, this comes down to whether "maneuvers" count as product identity. Publishing under the OGL grants some permissions and incurs some restrictions in a way that's somewhat incongruous with normal copyright/trademark laws; "maneuver" isn't protected in those aspects (and likely couldn't be), but agreeing to the license adds some strictures.

Starting with the limitations on the use of product identity:

Use of Product Identity: You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity. [...]

If "maneuvers" are product identity, given that they do not appear in the SRD, you would not be permitted to use them or reference them, including but not limited to just indicating that you have new maneuvers that are compatible. Product identity is defined fairly broadly under the OGL:

"Product Identity" means product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; [...] names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically excludes the Open Game Content

There's no exhaustive list of what is or isn't product identity published by WotC which leaves this in a bit of a grey area, but as the OGL calls out "names and descriptions of [...] special abilities" as being product identity, my read is that maneuvers count as product identity. This would mean that you can neither use nor refer to maneuvers in content published under OGL (as long as "maneuver" is clearly referring to 5e maneuvers — use as a general term, not referring to the special ability, ought to be fine), with various hazy middle grounds. Anything more specific is likely the purview of an actual lawyer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for noticing those! In my look-overs of the OGL, I missed the line about "indication as to compatibility". I think the only grey area would be that "manuever" is a standard English word and not just a game term... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7, 2023 at 22:24
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No. If it isn't in the SRD, you can't use it.

In the open gaming movement, a System Reference Document is a reference for a role-playing game's mechanics licensed under the Open Game License to allow other publishers to make material compatible with that game Wikipedia Definition

So if WoTC didn't put it in the SRD it's protected under their copyright.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments deleted, as they're clearly not going to have any impact on what OP feels should be in the post. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Oct 16, 2023 at 0:51

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