What I am trying to do:

I am building a character sheet application for use on my phone or tablet and would like to be able to make a few bucks off of it should it turn out handy during my own game play. I would like to use Races and Classes in the application so certain attributes (racial ability bonuses/penalties, racial traits, spell-like abilities, spells per day, and anything else used to determine character sheet data) will auto populate. Can I use that much information in an application I plan to sell or am I stuck with mechanics only (calculating the abilities scores and HP for example but the user has to enter all info for these calculations)?

It would be nice to provide feats and spells list so the user does not have to type in the info (and to keep from too much data duplication in my database).

My plan at this point would be to allow PCs up to lvl 4 for free and charge a buck or two to lvl up past that. I will definitely provide all PRD information I use as reference for free in my application.

What my issue is:

I am having a hard time determining what Paizo considers to be Open Content and Product Identity.

I have read the OGL posted on Paizo website but am unsure what exactly is considered PI.

All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, etc.), dialogue, plots, storylines, locations, characters, artworks, and trade dress.

The PRD lists races and classes but not specific characters or deities so am I to assume if it is on the PRD it is Open Content?

The PRD included this text on their home page:

This compendium of rules, charts, and tables contains all of the open rules in the system

It says it contains all open rules but does not explicitly say that all the content is open.

I did see this question and the second answer seems to say that everything included in the PRD is OC, but I assume they mentioned PI on their OGL page because something in the PRD is not OC.

Am I making this too hard?

What I am unsure of:

What is "etc." in the Product Identity clause and why include it in the OGL definition page if all the PRD content is OC?

Can I use Race, Class, Spell, and Feat data in my application if is in the PRD?


3 Answers 3


(usual disclaimer that I'm not a professional lawyer and that you should consult one)

You're quite right to question the PRD as being 100% open content, as there are indeed some PI terms used within it. The PRD's Open Content declaration only specifies that rules included within are open (in similar wording to many printed products that state the same thing), at no point does it actually state the entire text of PRD is Open Content. In addition, PI falls under the implicit terms of the OGL as being protected in section 1(e) of the License. In that way, the PRD cannot be considered as 100% Open Content in the same way as the d20 SRD can.

Your best bet is to pick out those terms, and email Paizo directly to query whether it is okay to use them under the OGL.

One notable example is the Prestige Class "Pathfinder Chronicler", which is a specific term used within Paizo's Golarion setting background and not a generic name such as "Loremaster", "Wizard", or "Fighter", as well as containing the term "Pathfinder" which is protected as PI as the product name itself. In this example, you can create a prestige class in an OGL product using the rules of the Pathfinder Chronicler (or simply reproduce the class itself), but would have to call it something different. To borrow a little from Mxyzplk's answer, you could probably call it "PF Chronicler" ;)

Note that the advice I'm giving is based upon the interpretation of Paizo's OGC declaration, not the intent. It may well be that they intend all terms within the PRD to be Open, but they have not specifically said that in their declaration. Obtaining permission/clarification from Paizo is a simple matter of sending an email, so there's really no reason not to ask them to be 100% sure on the matter. Assuming it is okay because other products have used those terms (and they have) is not good practice - it only means you'll also be in violation if the OGL if they are.

Paizo contact emails can be found at http://paizo.com/paizo/about/contact - my guess is the Licensing Coordinator would be a good place to start asking.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "The PRD's Open Content declaration only specifies that rules included within are open ... at no point does it actually state the entire text of PRD is Open Content." -- although, the OGL requires them to "clearly identify" OGL material, which would include all the text from 3.5 that's carried forward. If the term "rules" doesn't include such text, would they then be violating the OGL? \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @starwed - that's a good point. This is where we have to drill down a little deeper into the OGL text to discover that your rights are (in incredibly simplified format) "to use Open Game Content from this product, but you can't use Product Identity" - so basically you're given OGC with one hand, then have to deduct PI with the other. I've probably leaned a little too much on the "rules" definition in my answer and not enough on the "but not PI" part. In that respect, they could well say "we identified everything as rules, and therefore OGC, with the exception of anything declared as PI". \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2014 at 20:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One thing worth bearing in mind here - d20pfsrd.com were recently informed they were using PI in what they assumed to be OGL text extracted from print products. The changes they had to make were to the names of various feats/spells/etc as they included Golarion-specific references. They're still using "Pathfinder Chronicler" however, which leads me to guess (and it's very much just a non-binding guess) that Paizo's intent for PI claims is "anything Golarion-specific that isn't in the PRD" and that PRD stuff is fine. Best to be safe and still ask, though :) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2014 at 21:03


The real answer is that every single book has a declaration of what parts are considered open content and which are considered PI.

All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, etc.), dialogue, plots, storylines, locations, characters, artworks, and trade dress.

In that, the "etc." is not a general "whatever else," it modifies "proper names," which is what you learned in school was a proper name. Individual people, places, things, and so on, usually capitalized.

Many things can be and are OGC in the products that aren't in the PRD. The PRD only covers a subset of open products, note all the additional information in the d20pfsrd.com site (like all the Chronicles and Player Companion line products). Of course that's those (non-Paizo) guys' interpretation of what's open (they rename a lot of the prestige classes for that reason).

The Paizo PRD and OGC

Is it safe to assume items in the Paizo PRD are open though? Kinda. Note that the PRD is presented as a product in and of itself and bears the exact same statement about what's PI and what's OGC within itself.

So the super risk averse answer is "nothing," the next most risk averse answer is "get a lawyer." However, if you're just looking at publishing some pdfs or whatever that's overkill - the clear intent of both SRDs is to contain open content, and it'll be quite unusual for there to be any issues there. If there is a corner case (like Pathfinder Chronicler does look suspicious since it contains their trademarked game name) I'd email them/post on the forum to ask, but in general you are making this too hard - if you were making just a pdf or gaming product. Paizo's friendly - make the thing, if they object you can bowdlerize the name later. See this post by Vic Wertz on the Paizo forums for their thoughts to someone in your shoes.. The main trick is that the OGL actually prevents you from making compatibility claims like "Pathfinder Character Sheet" - but Vic actually comes out and says "Yeah, but if you say PFRPG it's all good man."

For a mobile app you're going to make $100 off, I personally would just do it. Other people have (Summoner, PRD apps) and the world hasn't ended.


NB: I am not a lawyer and the answer below is my own personal understanding of the OGL license. If you are unsure about copyright infringement and you plan to release a money making application you should consult a solicitor for clarification .

Product Identity as described under the OGL covers all contributers to Paizo for their work. This is mostly for stories, adventure paths and the lore of Golarion. It covers everything that is not a mechanic for the game.

Pretty much anything that is a mechanic in the game is covered under open content and can be used. If it's on the PRD then it's open content. Their intro page states as much:

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is released under the Open Game License, meaning the core rules that drive the Pathfinder RPG system are available to anyone to use for free under the terms of the OGL. This compendium of rules, charts, and tables contains all of the open rules in the system, and is provided for the use of the community of gamers and publishers working with the system.

So in answer to your question, if it's not in the PRD then it's most likely to be considered Product Identity content.


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