When signing up for the playtest, you sign an agreement that basically says you can't quote or share material from the playtest packet.

However, recently, Wizards of the Coast has started to sell modules and the Ghost of Dragonspear castle book, which comes with a rule set for DnDNext. When purchasing this module, it does not ask you to click to agree to any playtest rules, or similar thing.

Additionally, officially the "public playtest has been completed."

Does this mean that I can quote rules from the rules which comes with the modules, or are am I still bound by the agreement for the public playtest?


1 Answer 1


First, I'm not a lawyer, I just have a keen personal interest in IP law, from a desire to be a well-educated consumer and creator. You likely don't need legal advice for this, but if you do, get a lawyer, &c.

Yes, the "NDA" is still in effect, but no, it doesn't control use of the retail rules.

The Online Playtest Agreement ("OPTA") only covers the material in the playtest packet. It has no relationship to any material accessed (legally) in any other way; so the retail rules have no connection to the OPTA. Being bound by the OPTA in relation to the playtest packets has no effect on your legal relationship to the retail products in question.

That said, just because the OPTA doesn't bear on your use of the retail rules doesn't mean you can freely quote them. The retail rules are still protected by copyright law, which will vary depending on the jurisdiction you live in. In general, you can expect that discussing and paraphrasing the rules is fine, but copy-pasting them (or copying-then-editing-into-different-words) is going to be a violation of copyright unless that copying falls under a "fair use" or similar exception provided by your local copyright laws. In general, it is safe to assume that any copying at all is not permitted under your local laws; it's often also safe to assume that a violation is unlikely to result in anything more than a stern "remove that, and don't do it again". Again, consult a lawyer if you have any concerns about how you use text owned by Wizards of the Coast.

Finally, just because the rules are out there doesn't mean the OPTA doesn't still control the text that appears in the playtest packets. If you want to discuss a rule in a retail product that happens to also appear in the playtest packet, you still can't quote or distribute text from the playtest packet, even if copyright law wouldn't prevent that use, because the OPTA says you can't. The OPTA (and copyright law) doesn't care if text is the same elsewhere, it cares where you got the text that you are copying. The OPTA doesn't have an expiry date either, so it applies to the playtest packet text forever.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In the context of "Here is what the rules, say, word by word, so X's understanding of the rules is correct/incorrect. How does the copy paste rule work? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMNoob
    May 11, 2014 at 5:45
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @GMNoob Some jurisdictions may count that as Fair Use (in the US, that may qualify for the teaching exception) or equivalent, but if not, it's a copyright violation. If from the playtest, the OPTA doesn't provide any exceptions at all and it would violate the agreement. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2014 at 5:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to make that more clear in your answer. I get what you mean about copying from the PDF file which is the playtest vs the PDF file which is a purchased ruleset, even if they have the same text, but others may not. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMNoob
    May 11, 2014 at 6:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie It's also pretty well understood that discussing quotes in the context of a critical analysis would be fair use, which is what almost any rules discussion would fall under. I mean, they'd trivially pass three of the four prongs of the (US) fair use test with flying colours. (Non-commercial intention, small amount quoted, doesn't affect commercial market.) \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    May 11, 2014 at 22:25
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @starwed Maybe. Depends on the purpose of the quote. Some people ask for explanations in order to get rules for free, which does impact the market for the source. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2014 at 23:51

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