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I’m trying to figure out to what extent fan RPGs set in the 40k universe are allowed, clearly anything commercial is off the table — but as soon as it is explicitly non-commercial, it does seem in line with the guidelines?

https://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Intellectual-Property-Guidelines

Quotes of interest

Fan-fiction, hobby books and magazines Individuals may write their own stories, hobby books and magazines based on our characters and settings, but these must: not include text, artwork or imagery copied from any official Games Workshop material be non-commercial, with no money being received or paid…….

  • Do RPGs classify as hobby books?

Games and apps – individuals must not create computer games or apps based on our characters and settings. These are only to be created under licence from Games Workshop.

  • This only seems to apply to a digital medium.

My questions:

  • Do you interpret non-commercial TTRPGs as being in-line with the guidelines? Is my read too favorable?

  • Hobby books must not include GW produced text, does this include individual names as well? (is using space marines or astartes off-limits etc?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that there is "the law" in theory and and then there is using the law in practice. If GW brings up a lawsuit, even if it has only slim chances, would you have the money to defend yourself? That should probably as much of a guideline as "is it legal". \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 6:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also depends on the scale you are working at. If it is not mass distributed/popular and it is an edge case, they are likely to not bother. Still, you might want to ask at law.stackexchange.com as this is really a legal question. And you can always just call them Space Nazis :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 6:34

1 Answer 1

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It's right in the document!

an RPG is kind of a hobby book and thus most likely falls under this clause:

Fan-fiction, hobby books and magazines Individuals may write their own stories, hobby books and magazines based on our characters and settings, but these must:

  • not include text, artwork or imagery copied from any official Games Workshop material
  • be non-commercial, with no money being received or paid. This includes all forms of fundraising activity, and generation of any advertising revenue
  • not be publicly distributed, except for no-charge digital distribution make it clear that they are unofficial, without using any Games Workshop logos, and include the word ‘unofficial’ prominently on the front cover
  • not be prejudicial to the goodwill, reputation or integrity of Games Workshop or its intellectual property

We have a zero tolerance policy in respect of infringement of our intellectual property rights. This includes:

  • unauthorised use of our trademarks - unauthorised use or registration of our trademarks in respect of similar products or services is not permitted.

Your read is in so far ok, in that you can't have any money coming from it. But you also can't be prejudicial to other GW IP, which includes the sanctioned/licensed RPGs, such as Rogue Trader or Warhammer Fantasy RPG. You NEED to brand your game "Unofficial".

Text is typically more than a single word or a name. However using some names in the wrong way might be seen as breaching the prejudicial stance.

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