Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Role Playing (Games)

D&D 4th Edition Game System License Announced 131

Posted by Zonk
from the listen-to-foreplay/long-time-for-me dept.
Wizards of the Coast has announced plans for a brand-new system license for the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons . As with the d20 STL for Third Edition, this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC. The new system reference document will be made available early in June (just after the release of the new edition). That license only covers fantasy gaming, but a second license (the d20 GSL) will be released allowing for any type of gaming product to be developed. For analysis and follow-up on the announcement, the ENWorld boards have full details.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

D&D 4th Edition Game System License Announced

Comments Filter:
  • It'll be interesting to see how many third parties will release generic products free, (a la a lot of the 3.5Ed d20 stuff available online) or whether we sweaty basement-dwellers will merely have more choices as to which among several publishers we send our disposable income to.
    • by The Relentless (901624) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:18PM (#23112626)
      We basement dwellers ARE basement dwellers because we know buying these games/modules is NOT disposable income.
    • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:57AM (#23115492) Homepage
      I haven't read the details of this new license, but if it's anything like the license for D20, then it's not free at all, it only looks like it's free. Let me explain.

      A project I was working on some months back was game-related, and we figured we'd use the D20 system because if someone is going to know how to make a compelling game engine, it's going to be the makers of Dungeons & Dragons.

      So we researched the license for D20, were really excited for a while, but eventually found a sentence or two buried deeply in the license which brought us to a screeching halt.

      D20 allows you to use the game rules defined by the D20 engine for pretty much any purpose you want, royalty free; I think with some attribution clauses or the like. You never have to pay WotC a dime.

      However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.

      Essentially the system is open and free for as long as you don't turn into a juicy target for WotC, who reserves the right to take whatever you produced away from you and sell it themselves, and keep you from selling or even using it any longer.

      When you have a litigatious-happy company like WotC offering an olive branch, you must watch out for any poison-tipped thorns contained in it, and at least for D20, there is one, and it is deadly.
      • by alzoron (210577) on Friday April 18, 2008 @07:37AM (#23115942) Journal

        However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.
        Buried? The clause is about as buried as the word "caffeine" is buried in the ingredients for Mountain Dew. The license is only two pages long, and in a 12-point font. Also, nowhere does it state that they can "sieze" anything, only that you cease marketing your product and destroy all copies if you breach the license.
        • by nahdude812 (88157) *
          It's been a couple of years since I looked at it, and it may be that the license has changed, but all the guys involved in the project I was working on agreed that the clause we discovered was fatal.

          It may have something to do with the termination clause coupled with the sharing clause.

          Termination:
          Wizards or its designated agents may terminate this agreement at any time by notice to you via email or surface mail. If this agreement is terminated, you agree to remove any electronic versions of this conversio

      • by starwed (735423) on Friday April 18, 2008 @07:41AM (#23115970)

        However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.
        1. You seem to have confused the d20 license with the OGL. To use the d20 game mechanics, you only need to obey the OGL. The d20 license is only to use the d20 logo and TM.
        2. What clause are you talking about? There's nothing in the OGL which allows WotC to seize material that you haven't released under the OGL, even if it's in the same book as OGL stuff.
        • by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Friday April 18, 2008 @08:07AM (#23116144) Homepage

          They can't seize it in the sense of use it and deny you from printing your own books - but they and every other publisher has the right under the OGL to use the game mechanics created by any other publisher under the OGL. This has rarely been capitalized on but it has happened - Mongoose publishing put out a series of collection books on spells, feats and the like regardless of who originally published them.

          That is true to the give and take nature of the OGL. You get the right to use materials designated as open under the license - such as Wizard's System Reference Document (which is an open clone of the D&D core rulebooks). You give up the right to close off your unique game mechanics from all other parties to the OGL.

          This really isn't any different in principle from the Gnu Public License (No accident - the GPL inspired the OGL) - you get the right to use code from any program released under the license, but you give up the right to keep your derived code closed off from everyone else.

      • However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.

        Can you quote the specific language which you are referring to? I see nothing in either the OGL or the d20 License that grants them the rights you speak of. The closest thing I can find is the clause that terminates your license if and only if you are in breach of the contract.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Nothing to see here, this is just some guy who wishes for a BSD style license when the OGL is a GPL style license. Essentially if you use their stuff you agree that others can use your stuff. There's nothing preventing you from continuing to use your stuff, unless you breach the license.

        Apparently this is unacceptable to the parent.
  • Game Rules (Score:5, Informative)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:48PM (#23112418)
    One point that is often forgotten when discussing the OGL and D20 license is that game rules cannot be copyrighted. You are free to create a new game using essentially a ripoff of the d20 rules. What you are not allowed to do is use their particular expression of the rules. That means you can't copy and paste text, you can't use names, settings, unique creative elements, and so forth.

    My understanding is that the WOTC gaming licenses give you some extra rights (for instance, you could use their skill and magic descriptions verbatim), but takes away others (you are given certain restrictions, such as requiring use of the D20 logo). I'm not criticizing WOTC, just saying that using their licenses are not the only way to write compatible rules and expansions.
    • One point that is often forgotten when discussing the OGL and D20 license is that game rules cannot be copyrighted

      Neither can a story. Or a collection of facts. But if you add enough details to a story, or enough specificity to those facts, you have a fairly solid case that you have something distinct and copyrightable.

      The game rules for D&D are "everyone sits around a table, and one person describes the world. The referee asks players what they want to do, has them roll dice to determine specifics, and the game continues as a collaborative drama."

      Where exactly the line between the above (which anyone can, and

      • by mdwh2 (535323)
        Neither can a story. Or a collection of facts.

        A story can be copyrighted. A particular collection of facts can be copyrighted (but not the facts themselves - e.g., someone is free to make a collection independently). Rules can't be copyrighted.
    • My understanding is that the WOTC gaming licenses give you some extra rights (for instance, you could use their skill and magic descriptions verbatim), but takes away others (you are given certain restrictions, such as requiring use of the D20 logo).

      There were two main licenses, the Open Gaming License was a copyright license which let you use the material covered by their copyright with some restrictions; it is loosely analogous to an open-source software license.

      The d20 System Trademark License, that both

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dmgxmichael (1219692)

      Yes, you can try to produce a compatible product with someone else's game or even as you put it 'rip it off' - but can you financially withstand a court battle drug out over the course of years if you do.

      The main lesson that should be taken from the whole SEO circus is you don't need any merit or evidence whatsoever to sue someone in court. Large companies can knock small competitors out of business quite easily by bankrupting them with legal fees.

      Moving back from the general to the specifics of this ca

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      What you are not allowed to do is use their particular expression of the rules. That means you can't copy and paste text, you can't use names, settings, unique creative elements, and so forth.

      There is actually a lot of uncertainty in what is a "particular expression" of the rules. Verbatim copying is certainly out but what about a "character" called a "cleric" who casts "third-level spells" against a monster with 10 "hit dice?" Those terms are all expressions of the rules...

      What you can and can't do i

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 (535323)
        There is actually a lot of uncertainty in what is a "particular expression" of the rules. Verbatim copying is certainly out but what about a "character" called a "cleric" who casts "third-level spells" against a monster with 10 "hit dice?" Those terms are all expressions of the rules...

        Well, he said you can't use "names", and yes, it would be risky to use names like "hit dice", or names of spells.

        But then words like "character" and "cleric" are words that already existed to describe the terms they are used
        • by SirGarlon (845873)

          But then words like "character" and "cleric" are words that already existed to describe the terms they are used for - they can't claim copyright over that!

          Agreed. My point was to show there's a continuum of game terms from general ("healing spell") to specific ("Cure Light Wounds"), and somewhere along that continuum falls a dividing line between what a court would call copyright infringement and what it wouldn't. If you want a game that looks like D&D and plays like D&D, but doesn't require Wot

  • by creature124 (1148937) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:53PM (#23112454)
    In my humble opinion, the 'useless' skills they are taking out in D&D 4.0 aren't half as useless as people make them out to be. Of course, that all depends on the DM. Our DM runs more free-form games than the standard lead by the nose dungeon dive. And it's awesome. Decipher script isnt such a useless school when the DM regularly throws encrypted documents into the game as quest hooks and whatnot.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      o_O Your DM uses encrypted scripts? Best puzzle my DM gives is making us remember the clues from an individual from 3 quests ago!
    • Decipher script would be a lot more useful if they treated it more like actual cryptography. That means being able to turn it around to make your own codes, with your skill in code-writing being counted as hard it is to crack.
    • by AP31R0N (723649)
      Take the character sheet. Grab a pen. Write in whatever skill you want. The spooky wizard doesn't care.
    • by Poeir (637508)
      This was always a problem with D&D: generating the right kind of character was always a matter of luck, unless you played with the DM before or were running a known published adventure. A wizard with Fireball doesn't do much good in a political high intrigue campaign, and a bard with maxed out Diplomacy doesn't do much good against a dungeon full of ochre jellies. Few DMs are good at providing very wide diversity.

      It might be nice if there were two categories of skills: One with things like Perform, Di
      • A good campaign is about character creation and developing a storyline. The player should be allowed to develop their characters in a way that is meaningful to their original vision of their characters. I used to use wish lists, where the players could write down certain things they wanted from a campaign and I could weave them in. Another often forgotten practice in being a dungeon master is that you should ALWAYS work off a copy of the character sheets when making your own adventures. Then again seeing as
      • A wizard with Fireball doesn't do much good in a political high intrigue campaign
        How wrong you are. [youtube.com]
    • Decipher script isnt such a useless school when the DM regularly throws encrypted documents into the game as quest hooks and whatnot.
      Yeah, and Use Rope isn't useless if your whole campaign revolves around getting Tenderfoot rank in the local Boy Scouts chapter.

      Your game doesn't really sound all that free-form if the lack of a skill on a formal list will determine whether or not your plots can still be played through.
      • Decipher script isnt such a useless school when the DM regularly throws encrypted documents into the game as quest hooks and whatnot.

        Yeah, and Use Rope isn't useless if your whole campaign revolves around getting Tenderfoot rank in the local Boy Scouts chapter. Your game doesn't really sound all that free-form if the lack of a skill on a formal list will determine whether or not your plots can still be played through.

        I never said that our games would be unplayable under the new ruleset. Only that it would probably end with our DM making custom rules for the deciphering the codes he likes so much. And Use Rope IS a useful skill. If you use it right, that is. It is used for more then tying knots, your know.

        • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday April 18, 2008 @11:06AM (#23118604)
          Use Rope doesn't merit having its own individual skill, though. It's pretty much the exemplar of wasted skill ranks after 3.5 got rid of Intuit Direction and Innuendo. You can do what with it -- secure a grappling hook, tie someone up, or splice two ropes together? Yawn.

          Why isn't using a grappling hook under Climb? Why not fold tying someone up under getting out of it (i.e. Escape Artist)? Who finds drama or challenge in trying to splice rope together? (For that matter, Profession (Sailor) doesn't include any of this?)

          It's a senselessly fine-grained skill definition that wastes precious resources (i.e. skill points) that could be spent on things like Survival or Move Silently or Climb -- you know, skills people would actually *use* every adventure.

          4e's philosophy on skills is that skills will generally be broad and cover common adventuring challenges. Their system is designed so that party members aren't excluded from the fun when a rare type of challenge is needed, like the party that won't use horses because only one player has the Ride skill. Lastly, their system is designed with versatility in mind, encouraging players to find creative uses of their skills to defeat challenges, like using History to escape pursuers by remembering an entrance into the ancient catacombs under the city.

          If deciphering documents is essential to your game, then there's no reason you couldn't let someone make an Arcane, History, or Thievery check for it, representing their experience with tomes of cryptic lore, translating dead languages, or espionage, respectively. Having a largely one-trick skill is limiting and either forces the DM to find contrived ways to make it relevant or leaves the player with wasted skill points. 4e gets rid of that.
          • I see your point, though I still disagree. From your arguement, I would assume that your group spends more time in dank, musty caves and underground labyrinths than in more realistic settings. Our group, for contrasts sake, spends more time in towns dealing with NPCs. Trust me, a good Use Rope scores when attempting to take down and deliver alive a rogue with many ranks in Escape Artist.

            Skills like Use Rope and Decipher Script may not be used every game, but when they are used they are incredibly helpful.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Valdrax (32670)

              Trust me, a good Use Rope scores when attempting to take down and deliver alive a rogue with many ranks in Escape Artist.

              Only because 3e has those specific skills. In 4e this would be an opposed Dex-check or Thievery check. No need for narrow skills that provide absurd results.

              What absurd result, you might ask? Look up the Escape Artist checks for getting out of chains and manacles sometime. It's a fixed DC. At high levels, it's better to bind someone with a rope than it is to put them in irons -- because apparently you can get more skilled with ropes but not with chains (which has no skill).

              This is the end result of an

  • Memories... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:01PM (#23112504)
    Fantastic, I can brush off those old wizard outfits, dust off the pointy hat, and break out into a fresh era of uber-geekiness all over - but only if I make my save roll vs RL Self-Respect
  • by Shadukar (102027) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:04PM (#23112532)
    Having been a very long time fan (do DMs of several 2-3 year long campaigns count as fans?) of dungeons and dragons 2nd and 3rd edition there is one thing i do find missing among all the news about the new ad&d editions:

    Good quality books.

    While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids), Eliminster wasn't a bad series and anything with Raistlin was a lot better. In fact, most of Dragon Lance books were amazing, some greyhawk were decent, a lot of Forgotten Realms books were also quite good. There were some good authors writing these books too!

    I think most of these books were done by TSR/random house, I do think it is sad that Wizards of the Coast decided that they can just cash in on the long time fans by spewing out more and new shiny books without remembering ALL the things that made dungeons and dragons great:

    The inspiring, awesome, fun stories.

    I don't think I am the only person who 1st read the various fantasy books and thought "hey, this is pretty cool, I wish I could play a game based on this, I'd totally be a female dwarf cleric"

    While there is plenty of ad&d games to go around, I think the number of new/good ad&d books entering the market is depressingly low - sure, they are there, but it looks like the effort just isn't quite there like there used to be. Sure, someone could argue that you can read the old books and they do translate quite well into 3rd or 4th edition ruleset but ...it would only work on people who are very new to the whole thing. Most advanced users/fans/etc would be constantly jarred by "no wait, thats not how it works" and "ugh, this is soooo second edd..."

    It really seems like in the good old days (doh) the holders of the license were like "hey, you can write and you know our world, why don't you write something cool for us ? no pressure, no big lawyery contracts, you write something good, we help you get it published, we'll split profit 3 ways, no worries, lets make a great world" What this means is that lots of good and/or new books would come out all the time.

    I read fantasy very rarely, reading mostly sci-fi these days, but forgotten realms and dragonlance are a special place for me. I wish these two places got as much attention as shiny new rulebooks, plastic-manufactured Ebberon, etc

    • by The Evil Couch (621105) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:44PM (#23112776) Homepage

      While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids)
      I fail to see what being a fan of Drizzt has to do with being a moody kid. Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is.

      I also find it amusing that you point out stereotypically whiny kids groups and then spend the next five paragraphs complaining about how everything used to be better "back in the day". Fourth edition D&D is all about stripping out rules that shouldn't matter, because it gets in the way of telling a good story. After playing a few of the public play tests, I have to say that I haven't been this excited about D&D since my uncle described my first dungeon, back in '85. Combat is tactically interesting and flows quickly. In all of the earlier editions of D&D encounters ate up most of the play time, because it took so damn long to get through big fights. In fourth edition, instead of spending 10 minutes on plot and 2 hours on combat, most games will be able to split their time more or less evenly between the two.

      Also, the reason why Eberron got so much more love than Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in the past few years is because Eberron's new. There's an entire universe of things that people don't know about it. On the other hand, between the 100+ novels and sourcebooks, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance are pretty well defined. It's really hard to fill a sourcebook with new information. They could retread the old material, but that's boring for everyone except new players and people that are really rabid about their campaign setting.
      • by delong (125205)
        instead of spending 10 minutes on plot and 2 hours on combat

        Its been my experience that combat is the most memorable part of the game. People I know recall fun and funny moments of DND combat from nearly 20 years ago, not plot points.
        • Indeed.

          As someone who used to play a bard that ended up being the smart ass of the group, I can safely say that more people fell out of their chairs during combat than most other times while we gamed.

          For example...

          Standing watch by myself late at night.
          DM: A lone goblin approaches.
          Me: I reach into my pocket, pull out a marshmallow, and toss it to the goblin.
          *everyone looks at me*
          DM: The goblin pokes it with his spear then picks it up and eats it
          Me: I cast Enlarge on the marshmallow.
          *several players choke on their drinks*

          Then there was the rather large group of monsters coming at us down the stairs while we were still on the floor below.
          Me: I cast cantrip to create a banana peel in the middle of the monsters.
          *saving throws. A monster fails*
          DM: The monster slips, taking half of his comrades with him
          Me: Okay, guys. I've done my share. The rest are yours... *grin*
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by querist (97166)
            OK, since you started it...

            I was a DM as well, but in one campaign (AD&D 2nd Ed) back in the 80's I was playing a halfling psionicist. My poor DM never saw this one comming...

            DM: The ogre approaches.
            ME: I place a psionic portal on the ground directly below his feet.
            DM: Where is the other end?
            ME: About four feet above it.
            DM: And why are you doing this?
            ME: Do the math. (that was a "catch phrase" we had back then.) He will continue to accelerate due to gravity. Give him a minute or so of freefall and then
        • Its been my experience that combat is the most memorable part of the game. People I know recall fun and funny moments of DND combat from nearly 20 years ago, not plot points.

          I don't mind having a combat-heavy game. Those can be a hell of a lot of fun. What I was trying to get at was that previously, you basically had no choice; you had to spend more time in combat than you did role-playing. With 4th edition, you can make your own choice; you can knock out a big fight in a half hour or less and have time for

        • by msuzio (3104)
          People I know recall fun and funny moments of DND combat from nearly 20 years ago, not plot points.

          Wow. My experience over the last 20 years has been the exact opposite. Totally.

          Oh, we recall some memorable times when a completely crazy move or lucky roll made the difference, sure. But we usually remember more how we got into that fight in the first place ("He's doing what? He's just supposed to tail the evil wizard/rogue/possible demon, not start a fight with him! Oh shit, let me double-check that lis
      • by Stormie (708)

        I fail to see what being a fan of Drizzt has to do with being a moody kid. Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is.
        Actually, the fact is, the population of moody emokids is considerably larger than you think it is.
      • by fragbait (209346)

        ... Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is. ...

        Indeed. Login to WoW and check out how many night elf hunters there are with some form of Drizzt as their name. ...then there are the Legolas clones.

        The propensity to name ones character after a favorite fantasy character is amazing. Recently, WoW added a black panther figurine trinket. You can bet every Dizzolas and Legolizzt out there is drooling to get it. Sheep.

        -fragbait

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. You seem to be under the impression that the novels are a hook to get people playing the game, when in fact I'd wager it's the other way around. There's no immediate connection to the P&P game when someone picks up a Dragonlance novel, but anyone who plays D&D likely has at least a passing familiarity with the Dragonlance setting.
    • Everyone has their opinion I guess. I thought that every bit of 'literature' written in the D&D realms was total crap. Then again I'm also an old timer and started playing LONG before anyone thought of making a quick buck by writing some crappy novels based on the game.
    • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @08:40PM (#23113132) Homepage Journal
      Let me paste in the words of "Bod", who this about Dragonlance in alt.peeves eleven years ago:

      God. Jesus. No. For fuck's sake, no, no, no. I've read a lot of shit in
      my time (I was, for a while, the copy-editor on the "New Adventures of
      Doctor Who" novels), but I can say without a single unmitigated shadow
      of a doubt that I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever read a pile of shit
      so huge, so mouldering and steaming, so slime-encrusted and maggot-
      ridden, so bereft of ideas, characterisation, characters, plot,
      background, setting, tone, atmosphere, themes, motifs, sense or words
      strung together in an even vaguely readable order as the first
      Dragonlance book. It is awful. No, it is beyond awful. It is an affront
      to literacy, history and humanity. If Gutenberg had been shown a copy of
      this book, he would have placed his head in his printing press and
      instructed his apprentices to squash it until the brains were running
      out of his ears and they heard his skull crack. It should be taken out
      and burnt. Everyone associated with its production should be fucked and
      burnt. The Nazi pogroms and book-burnings should be reinstated, together
      with the Spanish inquisition, purely to erase all traces and records of
      this book from our planet's history.

      I was once stuck on a train for six hours with nothing to read except a
      copy of this book. After sixty pages I decided that spending the
      remaining five and a half hours sitting very still and meditating on the
      five screaming children in the seat opposite and their appallingly
      stupid parents was preferable to having to read one more word of the
      drivel before me.

      It even has fucking SONGS in it.

      The only good thing associated with Dragonlance is Margaret Weis's
      daughter, who is a fox.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        God. Jesus. No. For fuck's sake, no, no, no. I've read a lot of shit in
        my time (I was, for a while, the copy-editor on the "New Adventures of
        Doctor Who" novels), but I can say without a single unmitigated shadow
        of a doubt that I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever read a pile of shit
        so huge, so mouldering and steaming, so slime-encrusted and maggot-
        ridden, so bereft of ideas, characterisation, characters, plot,
        background, setting, tone, atmosphere, themes, motifs, sense or words
        strung together in an even vaguely readable order as the first
        Dragonlance book.

        Wow, I don't know whether to give this guy Left Behind or Battlefield Earth. I bet I'll be able to hear the crinkling of his soul withering.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by brkello (642429)
        Thanks, now I spent a half hour of my life searching for pictures of Lizz Weis. I don't even know if I found her or not. Jerk.
    • When I was an adolescent, I read the R.A. Salvatore, Douglass Niles, Troy Denning, and so forth Forgotten Realms books and loved them.

      When I was a teenager, I read the vast majority of the Dragonlance Books and loved them. I also re-read the Forgotten Realms books, and decided they were really bad.

      In college, I re-read many of the Dragonlance books. I realized they're really bad too, and their main virtue over Forgotten Realms was a different setting.

      Good fiction in an RPG universe is very rare. I
  • by Vthornheart (745224) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:09PM (#23112556)
    I'd like to see them follow this up by "open sourcing" some of their proprietary IP regarding their card games. For instance, in order to make a Card game where cards are "tapped", you currently have to pay royalties to Wizards of the Coast. Ditto for many other mechanics that form the foundations of most CCGs. I wonder why they chose to "open" the D&D system but left their CCG systems closed? Is it that they make more money with one versus the other? Does anyone have any insight into this?
    • by santiago (42242) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:19PM (#23112636) Homepage
      It's because in Magic, the cards are the product, and selling them is where the profit lies. Additionally, Magic is a game in the competitive sense, and maintaining a balanced environment is key to overall player interest in the product. Wizards doesn't trust third parties to maintain that balance, because escalating power level is a good way to increase short-term sales while damaging the long-term viability of the product. Also, much of what drives the appeal of new Magic sets is novel mechanics. Letting other companies chew up potential design space would eat into what Wizards itself could then sell.

      In RPGs, by contrast, core books outsell supplements, even from the first party publisher, by an order of magnitude, yet the amount of work to produce a book is roughly the same for both. Supplements make the core books more attractive to potential players, yet are much less profitable to produce. So, in a stroke of generosity, WotC enables other companies to tie into their product, thereby increasing the salability and appeal of the D&D brand without having to invest in supplements no one will buy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Also, much of what drives the appeal of new Magic sets is novel mechanics.
        That and banning old cards in tournament play.
        • by Miseph (979059)
          Then stop playing in tournaments with rules that only allow new cards. Types 1 & 2 are both widely played, and have very liberal restrictions on what cards you can use. Granted, they're expensive to get into, but I've seen some pretty brutal decks that don't actually cost too much to build (read: no Black lotus, no Mox, no Timewalk, etc...).
    • I wonder why they chose to "open" the D&D system but left their CCG systems closed?
      1: Because D&D's patentable innovations were created twenty years before WotC bought TSR.

      2: Because Ryan Dancy convinced them that it's save tabletop gaming as a whole, and D&D's bottom line in particular, to let smaller companies support D&D.
  • one question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @07:12PM (#23112584)
    As with the d20 STL for Third Edition, this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC

    Does this free license apply only to pen-and-paper games or could you build a [non-commercial] computer RPG based on the WoTC rules?

    • As another poster mentioned, game rules are not copyrightable, only the specific expressions, language, and setting. So as long as skill checks were described as, say:

      def skillCheck("skill", target):
      foo = rollD20()
      if foo >= target:
      return true
      else return false

      you'd be okay.

      (Sorry if my Python isin't 100% correct tonight)
      • by westlake (615356)
        def skillCheck("skill", target);

        I think what I had in mind was not the mechanics of the die roll - but of striking the right balance between the different elements of a game.

    • by BobMcD (601576)
      If the new license is anything like the old one, no. Well, strictly speaking, you COULD write one, but you'd have to exclude certain parts of character generation and advancement, as were excluded from the original SRD. For those missing bits, one was expected to purchase a PHB.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Does this free license apply only to pen-and-paper games or could you build a [non-commercial] computer RPG based on the WoTC rules?
        If the new license is anything like the old one, no. (...) For those missing bits, one was expected to purchase a PHB.
        So you finally decide to make a cool hobby project that won't be ruined by the PHB at the office, and the first thing you need to do is to get a PHB? Talk about mood killer...
      • With the old licenses you had a separate license for the D20 logo and the OGL stuff. The D20 license was what prohibited character generation and such.
        • by Nadaka (224565)
          to elaborate: You can use the SRD's OGL material and even include your own versions of character creation and advancement in a digital game provided you can produce the game is such a way that the OGL material is clearly defined.

          This can be achieved somewhat easily if the game is an engine that interprets a text/xml document that defines the rules of the game.

          However, you would not be able to include the d20 logo or reference compatibility with the D&D brand.
    • Does this free license apply only to pen-and-paper games or could you build a [non-commercial] computer RPG based on the WoTC rules?
      1: Based on past behavior, no.

      2: You'll have better luck trying a COMMERCIAL game than vice versa.
    • by deniable (76198)
      Well, they didn't like the things people did with the license for 3rd edition, so they are planning to tighten it up for 4th. I was looking at something like this and the 3rd edition licenses had the following problems:
      - The OGL would let you do it but didn't cover things like character generation and a couple of other key parts.
      - The D20 license let you use the extra parts, but you couldn't 'create an interactive game.' The translation provided by WOTC was that you could build software but couldn't roll an
    • by Jellybob (597204)
      I was looking into this recently, and the last D20 license explicitly forbids creating computer games using the rule set... probably because Atari/Blizzard (not sure which) has the license for D&D based games.
    • There are a lot of people wanting to know the answer to that question. But my magic 8-ball says 'no' and no matter how hard I shake the thing the best I get is "Don't count on it."
  • d20srd.org (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As long as something as useful as d20srd.org [d20srd.org] is produced under the new license, I will be happy.
  • by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @08:54PM (#23113224)
    ... finally allow girls to play?

    I love me some D&D and I can't imagine much better than girls playing.

    Perhaps my wish should be filed along with "Year of Linux on the desktop" and Duke Nukem Forever...

    • by Zedekiah (1103333)
      Joke, I know, but that's one hell of a tired stereotype you've got there. Every group I've been in has been at least 50%, if not more, female, and I know others with the same story.
      Hell, I've even played D&D with women on the internet, of all things ^^
      • So, I'm a giant nerd, but I managed to find a LARP group at my local all-girls college. Fun times, and theres more women than men there, quite obviously.

        Also, anyone who plays pen+paper games through IRC or skype can tell you that theres actually a good ratio of women playing games in that medium. Mostly housewives, oddly enough.
      • Yeah I know it's a tired stereotype and it was certainly the easy joke on this topic. I'm glad to hear that there are plenty of girls who play D&D though. Perhaps it's just my circle and the people I've met. I've hardly met any girls who actually play pen and paper D&D (know plenty of female computer/consule RPGers). Maybe a new group is in order!
    • Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmRSuYIL1zc [youtube.com]

      It will answer all your questions about D&D and girls!
  • Will their "DnD Online" software (the thing they are releasing with 4E) have enough breathing room to allow 3rd party stuff? Such as inserting your own class abilities, spells, feats, skills, etc...?
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday April 18, 2008 @07:01AM (#23115754)
    I love when somebody gives me permission to do something that I already had the legal right to do anyway, but attaches caveats...

    Under what made up law did they think they could stop people from creating 100% original content that works within their game rules?
    • Sure you believe you have the right - do you have $100,000 lying around just to prove it? If you think the SEO litigation has lived to long then you should know there are copyright litigation cases that have been in and out of the courts for decades.
  • Seriously... I am getting sick of constant version updates from WoTC and White Wolf. I know it's a money grab, but it is frustrating. If you want the new content, you need to switch, which makes your old books useless in terms of rules data. So far I haven't seem much that is innovative in 4th edition, and some of the new 'basic' races and classes seem like very odd choices. Most of the changes they've made are already in our house rules. We don't tend to use skills all that much except in the case of
    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      That said, anyone want to buy $2k worth of 3.5 Edition books?
      Sure. I figure they are worth about $50 if you cover the shipping. On the other hand, consider donating them to the public library. You get to take the tax writeoff and they get to figure out what to do with them.
    • by Yosho (135835)

      We don't tend to use skills all that much except in the case of Rogue characters, and we tend to resolve most fights verbally rather than by rolling dice.

      First, why are you playing Dungeons & Dragons at all? No, seriously -- the rules for tactical combat and skill usage are the largest parts of the game mechanics. There aren't very many mechanics other than that, except for maybe non-combat spells. If you don't want to use them, why don't you play a different system whose default rules align with what you really want to play?

      If you want the new content, you need to switch, which makes your old books useless in terms of rules data. ... I mainly buy books for ideas and setting information,

      So your complaint is that a new rules system makes the rules in your old books useless, and next you say that you buy books fo

    • If you really aren't tied too tightly to the official rules as written, I suggest:
      Keeping the core books.
      Ditch the rest of your rule books.
      Make up the extra rules (like prestige classes, spells, feats, and so forth) as you need them, or download the thousands of free fan-created ones online.
      Use a library card to get new setting content. It's cheaper.

      I admit, I may pick up the 4th edition books out of curiosity. But for actual playing, I prefer Spirit of the Century, True20, and The Dying Earth RPG.
  • this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC

    Third parties are already allowed, by law, to publish products using the rules developed by WotC

    From the US Copyright Law Factsheet on Games: [copyright.gov]

    The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

    Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, o

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond

Working...