49 votes

Is it legal to adapt a video game franchise into tabletop RPG for private use?

The practical answer is that, if your adaptation is truly for private use only, then whether it's technically legal or not doesn't really matter, since you're very unlikely to get sued (or even to get ...
Ilmari Karonen's user avatar
44 votes
Accepted

Would there be legal repercussions for using words like 'kindred', 'embrace', 'disciplines', terms defined in dictionaries, in my RPG?

I'm not an IP lawyer, so I can't give an authoritative answer (I doubt any authoritative answer can exist without going to court or otherwise reaching a legal agreement on the status of your works), ...
ShadowRanger's user avatar
43 votes

Which part of the PHB is free for public use?

None. But you can use the content in the SRD (Systems Reference Document), as long as you follow the terms of the OGL (Open Gaming License), which is included with it. The SRD contains all the ...
Adeptus's user avatar
  • 28.5k
38 votes

How can I make use of the material that doesn't fall under the OGL?

Sure there is—pay Wizards of the Coast to license that material. The Open Game License is free, but only covers a subset of the game. Often it covers just one example of each kind of thing. In order ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 352k
37 votes
Accepted

Can I mention Dungeons & Dragons in a D&D 5e OGL product description?

It appears that you cannot. The issue here is not copyright. Titles and short phrases generally aren't protected by copyright ­— there is trademark law for that. Dungeons & Dragons certainly is a ...
mattdm's user avatar
  • 29.9k
34 votes

Is it legal to design and publish a game with D&D's ability scores?

Yes I am not a lawyer and anyone can sue anyone for anything. However... Many RPGs, not under license from D&D using the OGL or otherwise, have used identically named ability scores since 1975 ...
mxyzplk's user avatar
  • 175k
33 votes

What editions of D&D are derived from the d20 system?

You’re conflating several issues. There’s Dungeons & Dragons (in its various editions), the d20 System, the d20 System Trademark License (with associated d20 System Trademark Guide), the Open Game ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 352k
32 votes

What is Dungeons & Dragons' unique intellectual property?

I'm not a lawyer but I play one on the internet. For the purpose of this discussion, intellectual property breaks down into two concepts that are often confused: copyright and trademark. Copyright is ...
Darth Pseudonym's user avatar
28 votes
Accepted

Are classes from a tabletop RPG copyrightable?

Technically no, but be careful with what that means You cannot copyright ideas. That means you cannot copyright the concept of small folk from a quiet village traveling deep into the wastelands of ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 352k
25 votes
Accepted

What's the legality of making a character editor?

I am the developer of Wild Card Creator, a commercial character creator for the Savage Worlds RPG. While I don’t have direct experience working with Catalyst Game Labs or Shadowrun, I think that my ...
Thunderforge's user avatar
  • 15.8k
25 votes
Accepted

Would abiding by WotC's 'fan content' policy be sufficient to legally create a spell searching website for D&D 5e?

The Fan Content Policy is the same thing that enables the fan-made Magic card search engine Scryfall to operate. I've been active in Scryfall's community nearly since the time it was launched: they ...
doppelgreener's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Is it legal to design and publish a game with D&D's ability scores?

Short version: Str/Con/Dex/Int/Wis/Cha appears to be available for use, but tread carefully. This is a very gray area, and any advice you get isn't worth much, unless it's from your lawyer. If you ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 17.1k
22 votes
Accepted

What kind of license or ownership does uploading content to D&D Beyond grant WOTC?

User content on D&D Beyond is open source Since the sale of D&D Beyond by Twitch to Fandom.com, the licensing situation has changed (or more accurately, been added to). The original Twitch/...
SevenSidedDie's user avatar
21 votes

Does the OGL let me write D&D 5e compatible rulebooks legally?

If you're only using content from the SRD and your original work, then you can release it under OGL. A conversion of someone else's non-OGL rules from a previous version would not be allowed under the ...
Adeptus's user avatar
  • 28.5k
20 votes
Accepted

Which D&D monsters are copyrighted?

The version and stat blocks of the monsters found in any Wizards of the Coast literature would be copyrights held by Wizards of the Coast. Some of the monsters they include in the game are based on ...
J. A. Streich's user avatar
20 votes

Which D&D monsters are copyrighted?

All the monster descriptions are Copyright applies to any work that is fixed in a tangible medium. Even if you describe a creature from the public domain in such a medium - like text - then your ...
Trish's user avatar
  • 43.2k
19 votes

If Drow and Duergar are allowed as monsters in the D&D 5e SRD, are they allowed as subraces as well?

You may not reprint the official Drow and Duergar subrace options The monsters and the subraces are different mechanically, and those non-OGL subrace mechanics are exactly what you’re hoping to use. ...
SevenSidedDie's user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

Is it legal to adapt a video game franchise into tabletop RPG for private use?

The issue at hand is likely that of Trademarks. Trademark law protects distinctive words, phrases, logos, symbols, slogans, and any other devices used to identify and distinguish products or services ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.7k
18 votes

Can a PC protected by copyright be used by the DM without player permission?

This is a fascinating question, and it's the kind of thing you might come across in an exam in a copyright law class. I hold a J.D. but am not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice. I'm just running ...
Erik Schmidt's user avatar
  • 11.2k
18 votes

Would there be legal repercussions for using words like 'kindred', 'embrace', 'disciplines', terms defined in dictionaries, in my RPG?

As ShadowRanger points out, even if you win a trial it will still cost more money than you have. I would like you to sit back and ask yourself why you want to use the word "Kindred". The ...
Stig Hemmer's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

Is Forgotten Realms geo-location data copyrighted, or free to use?

The short answer is that Forgotten Realms is copyrighted and is not free to use. The longer answer is that a portion of 5th edition D&D known as the System Reference Document, or SRD, is ...
gksmithlcw's user avatar
17 votes

I want to use the kinds of monsters that appear in tabletop RPGs for commercial use in writing; how can I tell which content is public-domain?

Even public domain things can have elements subject to copyright and/or trademark For example, the word “drow” is public domain: it refers to mythological northern Scottish elves. If you use it in ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 211k
17 votes
Accepted

With the new Creative Commons SRD and the OGL no longer applying, can I name spells from Tasha's Cauldron in my supplement book?

The phrase "Synaptic Static" does not appear in the rules published under Creative Commons. It means that the new license does not apply to the spell name or description in any way. This ...
Mołot's user avatar
  • 24.4k
16 votes
Accepted

Does referencing specific monster actions break the 5e SRD/OGL?

Anything in the SRD is open-game content, and thus you can use any of it in any OGL-licensed product. So if you can find those actions in the SRD, you can use the any or all of the text describing ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 352k
16 votes

Can I use the name Vecna for a different character in my own work?

The owners of D&D have never noted or asserted “Vecna” as a trademark That is, you won’t see “Vecna™” or “Vecna®” anywhere on products by TSR or Wizards of the Coast. Trademarks are kind of funny, ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 352k
15 votes

Is it legal to design and publish a game with D&D's ability scores?

Assuming that this is written with U.S. law in mind, game rules cannot be copyrighted, at all; neither can words. Thus, you can certainly use the same names for ability scores without infringing on ...
Jerry Stratton's user avatar
15 votes

I want to use the kinds of monsters that appear in tabletop RPGs for commercial use in writing; how can I tell which content is public-domain?

Find them in other public domain works. Gary Gygax faced the same problem when TSR was threatened with a lawsuit over creatures appearing in the works of Tolkien. His solution was to prove that these ...
Quadratic Wizard's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Creating an RPG with a similar setting to Shadowrun: is it a derivative work?

What you're describing is a genre — specifically the fantasy-cyberpunk genre. Genres can't be copyrighted, so derivative work isn't a set of concepts that are relevant. If you were actually using ...
SevenSidedDie's user avatar
14 votes

Who owns the Dragonlance intellectual property?

As to your first question, about who owns the Dragonlance intellectual property, that appears to have always been Wizards of the Coast. According to a Q&A on the website of Tracy Hickman, the co-...
Raj's user avatar
  • 6,379
14 votes

What is Dungeons & Dragons' unique intellectual property?

Items claimed as "product identity" by Wizards of the Coast I am not a lawyer, and not even playing one on the internet (I am playing a Hobgoblin). Wizards is claiming the following items to ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar

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