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Role Playing (Games)

White Wolf Withdraws Pay-To-Play Policy 74

Posted by Zonk
from the seeing-the-light dept.
WorselWorsel writes "After almost two weeks of fan outrage White Wolf has canceled plans to implement their Pay-to-Play policy. In a forum post, Philippe R. Boulle writes 'Based on all your feedback, it's obvious that the policy as currently worded is not going to accomplish these goals. So, we are pulling it off the table as a blanket policy. I realize that the proverbial genie can't be shoved back in the bottle, but the guidelines I handed to a few people at ORIGINS and posted here last week clearly need to be reworked and rethought, so please consider them withdrawn.' The withdrawal of the policy can be read in full on the forums."
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White Wolf Withdraws Pay-To-Play Policy

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  • Summary (Score:4, Funny)

    by hobotron (891379) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:52PM (#13068495)

    From: The Collective Internet
    To: White Wolf


    told u so, kthxbai

    p.s. i r0ll 20's
  • by Seumas (6865) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:53PM (#13068511)
    The jokes about half-naked fugly chicks and annorexic retarded looking pasty boys pretending to be vampires at your local WOC/WW LARP Shari's event at 2am practically write themselves

    Seriously, D&D nerds make fun of LARPers... Do you realize how lame you have to be for a D&D nerd to make fun of you?!

    (Former minor-D&D nerd)
    • Like D&D nerds have any taste. Come on, they play D&D.
      • But at least they don't go around shouting "TWO MAGIC TWO MAGIC TWO MAGIC!" and hitting each other with paper-towel tubes.
        • Where can I find a WW/WoD LARP with this kind of behavior? WW doesn't have a fantasy LARP setting and there certainly isn't any physical contact. Come on, D&D is boring gamist crap. Level based? What year is this, 1970?
          • by Anonymous Coward
            The year is 2005.
          • by damiangerous (218679) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @08:53PM (#13069210)
            Well, yeah, gamist. I look for that in a game. White Wolf has some good fiction, but as game rules it leaves an awful lot to be desired. Pretty much everything beyond the most basic concepts is left to the Storyteller to deal with. Thanks...if I wanted to write my own game system I would.

            WoD is a bit of a paradox to me. It seems to be targeted at people who like storytelling and drama, yet generally those are fairly creative people to begin with. WoD goes to great lengths to provide its own built in story, history and rich world, yet what's the one thing creative types are weakest at? Solid and balanced game mechanics. WoD's failure is that it's designed by right-brainers AND targeted at right-brain gamers. There's no left-brain in there to give them some logical base. It's far easier to put a pretty world on solid rules than to try to backport rules hacks onto an existing game, and that's where WoD falls down.

            The beauty of (current) D&D is its relative straightforwardness. It scales well from beer & pretzels up to moderately simulationist. It caters mostly to the gamist crowd, sure, but you can leave out so much that it covers without sacrificing anything. Nearly any situation can be resolved with a single d20 roll...or you can choose not to roll any dice without damaging the intergrity of the system. I don't think most dramatist gamers realize that because it's cool to hate d20. You claim that D&D is gamist, but what you're not seeing is that that's what dramatist gamers need. d20 provides a solid, fairly well balanced structure for right-brain gamers to do what they do best: create a rich, well developed world that already has a rules structure to be hung on. D&D isn't perfect, but it has very little in common with the 1st and 2nd editions everyone loves to hate.

            • Whippersnappers like you rely on game rules. When you've played enough (I don't care to reveal how many years it's been) you'll notice that rules just get in the way. All you need is some very basic rules for skill checks and combat, everything else can be done by the GM. Hell, sometimes we don't have any books whatsoever and the GM jus states that to succeed you have to roll, say, 75 or better to pass a skill check.

              The rules don't make the game. The background, the GM and especially the players make the g
              • Whippersnappers like you rely on game rules. When you've played enough (I don't care to reveal how many years it's been) you'll notice that rules just get in the way.

                I've been playing for over 20 years, thanks. You've got it backwards. Most of the old-timers I know grew up on wargames and the early RPGs which were much more wargame-like than RPGish. What you describe is very much a new wave of gaming, and I don't care for it at all. It's not a game, it's more like an "interactive story", which is fine

                • Over 20 years for me, as well. I'm aware the a almost-without-rules RPGing requires a lot of trust in the GM. If that trust exists and he has a hands-off approach, it works. It works for us, and we'd never turn back to page 34, paragraph 3 about blocking a blow. Useless.

                  If I want to play chess, I'll play it. If I want to have a blast with my friends, I play RPGs.
            • Pretty much everything beyond the most basic concepts is left to the Storyteller to deal with.

              I thought that was the point.

              Thanks...if I wanted to write my own game system I would.

              But this gives you a nice framework in which to set your story, and allows a situation to evolve rather than stick to the whims of the GM.
    • There used to be a coffee shop in a semi run-down part of the town where I grew up that hosted a LARP out in the neighborhood once a week.

      There was a popular story among folks at the shop that the people who lived in the area tried to complain to the police about it (loitering laws), but the police let it keep going because it scared away the drug dealers and such.
    • I don't know--our group included some spectacularly good looking girls, including a couple of runway models. And none of the guys looked particularly pasty.

      It's not a game about vampires, it's a game about politics. At least, that's the way we played it.
  • by BinaryOpty (736955) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:56PM (#13068525)
    This policy was touched upon by today's Something Positive: http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp07142005.shtml [somethingpositive.net]
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:04PM (#13068578) Homepage
    They've said they're going to go back and "hammer out license terms" anew. So it's not as though they've abandoned their stupid idea; they're going to try again.

    Frankly, I'd find the idea that game developers are trying to impose a license on players (particularly given that it doesn't appear to be even vaguely necessary from anyone's perspective) to be unacceptable all by itself. The terms of the license, whatever they are, are not the part that's objectionable.
    • Yeah, but when the article contains the words "consider them withdrawn," can you imagine a more accurate way to report it?

      On the subject in general, they said the purpose of the license agreement was to impose quality control on the games that get run for money. I don't see how they can possibly accomplish this, since there are definitely more poor storytellers than good ones. And anyone can spend twenty bucks.
    • That was my reaction at first then after reading WW's rebuttal, I started to see a little of their side of it. They are not after your typical gaming geek friends who come over and play. They are trying to regulate the people who run and coordinate the bigger games (as I understood it).

      And to some degree, I sympathize. You see, I used to play Vampire and Werewolf (tabletop) They are cool games with lots of fun to be had. And a couple of times, I even tried the Live-Action Mind's Eye Theatre stuff.

      And I h

      • The Camarilla membership offers, in theory, good benefits to those who want them, but a lot of the indy LARPs neither need, nor want a Big Brother WW telling them how to run their games, especially when many of those LARPs allow under 18 people to play, which the Camarilla does not.

        Even to those in the Camarilla, the benefits aren't as great as you may think.

        The character database, in either version, is slow, clunky, and hard to work with.

        The e-zine is regularly late (there used to be a print magazine, b
  • Poor business model (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kyndig (579355) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:10PM (#13068612) Homepage
    This is just poor business modeling. The current solution to alleviate the concerns of the outraged players is to now get with larger organisations charging a fee to seek out contracts or licensing terms. It is clear the developers intentions is to wreap some spending capitable benefits off their products, and rightly so. Doing so in this manner though will lead to a loss in users and community support (IMHO). There are other methods to capitalise on a product. Im not a big LARP fan, but basic business management and a little ingenuity should put some copper in their pocket.
  • I'd have to wonder if that scheme would even be legally defensible, considering that (or "if", rather... I haven't seen the new edition) this isn't mentioned in the book.

    (Analogy-mobile... away!)

    It's like charging teachers above-and-beyond the price of a textbook for... actually using the textbook. There might be some sort of leverage along the lines that players are creating a derivative work, but (go, analogymobile, go!) really, that's like "How to make a birdhouse" trying to charge you license fees for
  • Anyone care to explain what the hell White Wolf is?
    • Uh, no offense, but if you don't know, you probably don't care. It's a gaming company that publishes Vampire: The Masquerade and a variety of other LARPS and TTRPGs.
      • Thanks -- I'm guessing text based RPGs.

        You're right too -- I don't care.

        Mod away.
        • Re:What is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NBarnes (586109)
          He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes. He who does not is a fool forever.
          - old chinese proverb

          White Wolf is mostly a table-top 'old school' RPG publisher. Their IP has been pretty dramatically successful, so it's gotten licenced a lot.
  • by RM6f9 (825298) <rwmurker@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @09:44PM (#13069477) Homepage Journal
    After the horrible mangling they put "Vampire: The Masquerade" through in order to get more $$$ for "Vampire: The Requiem", I (and several of my associates) voted with our wallets and our feet, i.e., departed. Any game-administrating company that shows as much callous disregard for the wishes of its customer/players as White Wolf has deserves to crumble into the dust.
    • I know I'm probably a bit out of the loop (I play 'em more than I follow 'em, and I hardly play 'em much at all any more), but what was this "mangling" you speak of?
    • I have to agree. I wasn't planning on buying any of the new stuff anyway, but now I have an additional reason. The last thing I want to do at this point is put any more money in the pockets of a gaming company that would even consider that they actually have the right to try and enforce such a license.

      It's a shame, I like their old games. Too bad they apparantly don't want me as a customer anymore.

    • "After the horrible mangling they put "Vampire: The Masquerade" through"

      Oh, they're the ones responsible for giving us "Vampire: The Pretension?" Heck, I'd boycott 'em just for that!

      (Disclaimer: I can't remember if I got that parody title from either Something Positive [somethingpositive.net] or The Devil's Panties [keenspace.com].)
  • Ha... interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by obeythefist (719316) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:36PM (#13069764) Journal
    Well I RTFA, and it wasn't so bad.

    What White Wolf are saying is that if people run and use White Wolf games at conventions and charge people money to play for a *profit*, then they need to obtain a license to make said profit using White Wolf's material as the key engine for doing so. You can still play not-for-profit for the once off cost of buying the source material.

    I actually think that is fair, if people are using White Wolf IP to make a profit, White Wolf deserves the right to ask for a cut. Whether they will make some cash or not is a different question.

    The problem? RPG's are wholly creative works so all anyone needs to do is just make up their own free system and use that instead. Kinda like open source software coding but much easier to do.

    Heck, D20 system is "open" in that WoTC encourages people to make and publish (for money!) rules and content based on the core system, and they don't ask for anything in return other than the basic acknowledgement.
    • Re:Ha... interesting (Score:3, Informative)

      by iCEBaLM (34905)
      What White Wolf are saying is that if people run and use White Wolf games at conventions and charge people money to play for a *profit*, then they need to obtain a license to make said profit using White Wolf's material as the key engine for doing so. You can still play not-for-profit for the once off cost of buying the source material.

      Not entirely true, charging a fee to simply cover expenses of the venue (and therefore still not for profit) seemed to also require a license fee, which was the big issue.
      • Yes, but that's because there's no way to really verify what's an "expense" and where the money is going. If they're going to do it at all, they pretty much have to draw the line at "when money changes hands."
        • If they're going to do it at all, they pretty much have to draw the line at "when money changes hands."

          That's why they shouldn't do it. I don't play these games, but I did play D&D a few times. Somebody would usually bring along a few bags of chips and something to drink. We would usually each pay him a buck or two for his expenses. If we had played White Wolf's games, under the new License, we would have had to pay them for that.

          It's simply a stupid idea.

        • Copyright law does have a concept of "public performance", which probably comes into play here.

          If you're just paying for a room, then it's not a public performance. Every member is going to be quite thoroughly vetted and it's quite clearly private. If you're allowing anyone to come and play for a fixed cost then it's public even if you're working on a break even basis. If anyone can play and you let them in for free, then it's still public, but the rules they used wouldn't have required them to pay fo
    • by FLEB (312391)
      I actually think that is fair, if people are using White Wolf IP to make a profit, White Wolf deserves the right to ask for a cut. Whether they will make some cash or not is a different question.

      They got their profit. People buy the books... the product they chose to produce and sell... in order to run the game. They got what is rightfully theirs.

      If White Wolf wants to profit from running games, they have the full right to go ahead and start running their own games. They choose to profit from selling boo
      • Re:Ha... interesting (Score:3, Informative)

        by obeythefist (719316)
        Let's not confuse morality with IP law here!

        You can make a tool and you can sell it on the proviso that people pay you a fee to use it. You can charge however you like, you can pay a intial purchase cost and an ongoing rent, rent only, or whatever you like.

        Now, what prevents this kind of thing from becoming rampant is our good friend the free market economy. You make a $5/month screwdriver, and the guy next door is just going to make a $5 own it for life screwdriver. Who's going to win that price battl
        • by Anonymous Coward
          White Wolf own the IP that you're borrowing, and they want to change their marketing model slightly.

          What possible legal theory would give an author the right to retroactively raise the price of books he's already sold?

          The restrictions WW asked for were far beyond the scope of copyright law. The only way they could legally force obedience is to get signed contracts before every sale- and with the number of rulebooks out already, it's too late for that.
          • WW is not retroactively raising the price of the books. I know this is slashdot and people don't read the articles or anything... but anyway.

            If it helps you to understand, it's like a franchise, say, Subway.

            Now, you can (presumably) buy the instructions from Subway from the head office, on how to make subs and cookies and all the other stuff they sell.

            This means you can go out and start making subs and selling them under the subway brand with subway prices and everything, right? And they won't expect an
    • What White Wolf are saying is that if people run and use White Wolf games at conventions and charge people money to play for a *profit*, then they need to obtain a license to make said profit using White Wolf's material as the key engine for doing so.

      I disagree. It's like if a guy buys a moviemaker's guidebook, proceeds to make a great movie based on the advice on the guidebook, and then the writers demand royalties from the movie.

      WW already got their money when the storyteller bought several books ne

      • That's not a very good analogy. White Wolf own the copyright on things like "Camarilla" and "Brujah" and "Malkavian". Like any copyright owner they have a right to tell you when you can and can't use those terms and concepts and storylines in a public forum to make profit.

        It's kind of like making a play about Jedi and Gunguns and Midichlorians and then charging the public to go see it without permission from George Lucas. If I did that I'd also be expecting a letter from his lawyers pretty soon.

        Likewi
        • Re:Ha... interesting (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Like any copyright owner they have a right to tell you when you can and can't use those terms and concepts and storylines in a public forum to make profit.

          No, they don't. Copyright laws don't restrict "use", only copying and distribution. Nothing done in a public, for-pay game constitutes copyright infringement. It's not distribution, it's not public performance (of the copyrighted work). It's nothing.

          If it's infringing to run a paid game at a convention, then it's equally infringing to play a free
          • There's also public performance. Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it could stick.
          • Here's the really interesting part. It is "infringing" copyright to run the game at home (insofar that you are using WW copyrighted and trademarked terms).

            The difference however, is that WW encourages you to do it, and doesn't actively chase down people in their homes.
        • But aren't you buying implied licence with book to perform? You bought source rules and setting world to be used for gaming purpose, they even give you authorization to copy character sheets for those purposes. If you need separate licence to play game with people how many would by books?
        • It's kind of like making a play about Jedi and Gunguns and Midichlorians and then charging the public to go see it without permission from George Lucas. If I did that I'd also be expecting a letter from his lawyers pretty soon.

          This is not a great analogy either, as you probably haven't payed(sp?) George Lucas & co. anything, whereas the GM already has spent at least dozens of dollars buying the books, thus paying for the right to use the material. Could it be argued (in a court even), that the GM ha

    • "What White Wolf are saying is that if people run and use White Wolf games at conventions and charge people money to play for a *profit*, then they need to obtain a license to make said profit using White Wolf's material as the key engine for doing so."

      Yes, but on what grounds? Running a game using WW's rules doesn't require a copyright license, since you're not making a copy or performing the work publicly or creating derivative works or anything else that falls under the aegis of copyright. It doesn't re
      • I believe they're classifying an event where a fee is charged to play the game as non-private, which means they consider it to be a public performance.

        You can't do a public performance using trademarks and copyright from another organisation without permission. Goes back to my George Lucas analogy.

        You can't do a play about midichlorians and jedi for profit without paying a licensing fee to Lucas, the copyright holder.

        Now, buying WW rulebooks is no more or less of a license than buying a Star Wars DVD gr
    • Well I RTFA, and it wasn't so bad.

      You missed several details when RTFAing, apparently.

      if people run and use White Wolf games at conventions

      Actually, they explicitly EXCLUDED conventions.

      and charge people money to play for a *profit*,

      Actually, they simply said "charge". Breaking even paying for the venue was specficially used as an example requiring a license.

      I actually think that is fair, if people are using White Wolf IP to make a profit, White Wolf deserves the right to ask for a cut.

    • How do you decide if the person is charging people to play, versus charging them to sit at some table they own, and playing a game with them for free? This kind of attempt to suck money out of your customers never works.
    • There are copyright exceptions.

      Specifically, playing a game is upheld by precident not to be a copyright violation.

      There are also trademark exceptions. The key one here is nominative use. It allows me to use a trademarked term in reference to the actual item.
      (I.e., the same way that Subway can reference a Big Mac in their commercials.)

      So running a game is allowed. Using the terms is allowed.

      And don't get me started on the laches issue here.
  • by GrnArmadillo (697378) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:44PM (#13070097)
    White Wolf: Alright, we need some quick cash, so let's charge people for using the books we've already sold them. We should at least make some effort to pretend we have justification for this. Let's say that all the volunteers spending their time and effort to write and run the games that make our product worth owning should either eat the costs out of pocket or join our "fan club" along with all their players to get a "license".
    Storyteller: You're going to need to make a diplomacy check to get the players to agree to that.
    WW: Why? We own this stuff.
    Storyteller: Roll the dice.
    WW: Oh, alright. *rolls die* Uh... what does "critical fumble" mean?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ahh.. here's the reason. Take a look at some stats from WW's character sheet:

      Character Name: White Wolf

      Firearms: 00000
      Driving: ***00
      Business: *0000
      Diplomacy: 00000

      Merits: Gifted Artist
      Flaws: Cursed, Bad Sight, Derangement

      Posessions: White Wolf IP

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