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Old 01-24-2023, 03:31 PM   #1
Embassy of Time
 
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Default Does anyone even, like, own rules??

I just got back into RPG industry gossip after, you guessed it, the big Wizards of the Coast OGL 1.1 screw-up. Somewhere in the many articles I caught someone (I think Legal Eagle) say that rules cannot be copyrighted. The texts describing them can, but not the actual rules themselves. Anyone know how this works? Could SJG technically release "GURPS D&D" without WotC being able to punish them??

Last edited by Embassy of Time; 01-24-2023 at 03:37 PM. Reason: Timestamped link
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Old 01-24-2023, 05:39 PM   #2
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Default Re: Does anyone even, like, own rules??

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Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
I just got back into RPG industry gossip after, you guessed it, the big Wizards of the Coast OGL 1.1 screw-up. Somewhere in the many articles I caught someone (I think Legal Eagle) say that rules cannot be copyrighted. The texts describing them can, but not the actual rules themselves. Anyone know how this works? Could SJG technically release "GURPS D&D" without WotC being able to punish them??
It's more like the difference between an SRD and the full text. The SRD is the recipe for the game, but standing alone is unlikely to be enough to actually run it.
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Old 01-24-2023, 05:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Does anyone even, like, own rules??

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Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
I just got back into RPG industry gossip after, you guessed it, the big Wizards of the Coast OGL 1.1 screw-up. Somewhere in the many articles I caught someone (I think Legal Eagle) say that rules cannot be copyrighted. The texts describing them can, but not the actual rules themselves. Anyone know how this works? Could SJG technically release "GURPS D&D" without WotC being able to punish them??
There's a difference between 'rules' and 'expression of rules'; the first cannot be copyrighted, the second can, and the line between those two is not super well defined. Also, D&D is a trademark so SJG absolutely could not publish GURPS D&D.
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Old 01-24-2023, 06:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: Does anyone even, like, own rules??

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There's a difference between 'rules' and 'expression of rules'; the first cannot be copyrighted, the second can, and the line between those two is not super well defined. Also, D&D is a trademark so SJG absolutely could not publish GURPS D&D.
No, not by that name, I understand that completely. But if someone made a GURPS supplement that effectively made it possible to use D&D material in GURPS, I wonder if it would be legal. Not sure how it would work, but...

No plans or even suggestions, the concept just grabbed me!
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Old 01-24-2023, 07:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Does anyone even, like, own rules??

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No, not by that name, I understand that completely. But if someone made a GURPS supplement that effectively made it possible to use D&D material in GURPS, I wonder if it would be legal. Not sure how it would work, but...

No plans or even suggestions, the concept just grabbed me!
From time to time, I'll run across somebody's unofficial conversion guide for D&D to GURPS, and I'm quickly struck by what an exercise in masochism it must be. The two games are so different in both philosophy and mechanics, it's almost like oil and water. In D&D, a fifth-level party is a match for the entire town watch. If you try that nonsense in vanilla GURPS, you can expect a TPK. But I get it - rust monsters are cool, beholders are cool, and gelatinous cubes are cool, and you want them in your GURPS game. I don't think you really need a conversion guide to stat them up, just a copy of Bestiary and some common sense. If it's for your Thursday night game only, you don't even need to change their names. If you're thinking of including them in some sort of published work, DON'T.
Also, I 've never had a close look at Dungeon Fantasy, but I'm sure the advantage there is Kromm and company have suffered all the pain so you don't have to.
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Old 01-24-2023, 07:15 PM   #6
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In D&D, a fifth-level party is a match for the entire town watch. If you try that nonsense in vanilla GURPS, you can expect a TPK.
Depends on point levels in vanilla GURPS, and edition and equipment in D&D; D&D is not as high powered as people think, and GURPS is perfectly willing to operate at cinematic scales -- a DFRPG party can kill an awful lot of town watch.
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Old 01-25-2023, 09:42 AM   #7
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Default Re: Does anyone even, like, own rules??

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Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
I just got back into RPG industry gossip after, you guessed it, the big Wizards of the Coast OGL 1.1 screw-up. Somewhere in the many articles I caught someone (I think Legal Eagle) say that rules cannot be copyrighted. The texts describing them can, but not the actual rules themselves. Anyone know how this works? Could SJG technically release "GURPS D&D" without WotC being able to punish them??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
No, not by that name, I understand that completely. But if someone made a GURPS supplement that effectively made it possible to use D&D material in GURPS, I wonder if it would be legal. Not sure how it would work, but...
So by a specific law/legal precedent, rules cannot be copyrighted, though the way the rules are written down can be. So SJgames could release a class-based RPG with attack bonuses by level, spell casting slots, and basically all of the structure of D&D classes.

However, just because something is legal and you should eventually win in court doesn't mean that someone can't sue you over it. Wizards of the Coast could probably sue in that case, finding some small quibble to spend lots of money litigating about (and force the "offender" to spend money defending). Its hard to take away someone's ability to sue.


This is why RPG companies (including both wizards and sjgames) have frequently made requests to their fans in the realm of copyright. It helps clarify those "well I could sue anyway" waters.
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