osr – Can a translation of a text declared as OGC be declared as Product Identity?

When translating something, you become the author of a derivate of a work, but not the sole author. As you are not the sole author, the joint copyright in the derivate rests within the original author and you – but you are still bound by the OGL.

However, you only got the license to make your derivate by the OGL 1.0a. The OGL says, that all derivate work, especially translations, need to be under OGL license in paragraph 2. Since your translation is a derivate work, not a free-standing work or your own product identity, you need to release your translation under OGL license. Your translation is OGC, and you can’t make it Product Identity yourself, and in fact, you may not even use any Product identity in your translation! To use the Product Identity of someone, you need to license that material differently – and any and all names and characters automatically are in this category. So you can’t just translate someone’s adventure.

Everything else you have to release under OGL. If it was OGC, it has to stay OGC. If it was Product Identity, you can’t touch it without a separate license. The only person that can re-declare something Product Identity would be the original author, but they had chosen OGC instead. You can’t change that.

The relevant parts of the OGL 1.0a are (emphasis mine):

  1. Definitions:

(a)”Contributors” means the copyright and/or trademark owners who have contributed Open Game Content;

(b)”Derivative Material” means copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into other computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment or other form in which an existing work may be recast, transformed or adapted;

(c) “Distribute” means to reproduce, license, rent, lease, sell, broadcast, publicly display, transmit or otherwise distribute;

(d)”Open Game Content” means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity.

(e) “Product Identity” means product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts; creatures characters; stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically excludes the Open Game Content;

(f) “Trademark” means the logos, names, mark, sign, motto, designs that are used by a Contributor to identify itself or its products or the associated products contributed to the Open Game License by the Contributor

(g) “Use”, “Used” or “Using” means to use, Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content.

  1. The License:

This License applies to any Open Game Content that contains a notice indicating that the Open Game Content may only be Used under and in terms of this License. You must affix such a notice to any Open Game Content that you Use. No terms may be added to or subtracted from this License except as described by the License itself. No other terms or conditions may be applied to any Open Game Content distributed using this License.

  1. Use of Product Identity:

You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity.

osr – Can I copy verbatim text of a game declared as Open Game Content under the OGL License?

I am not a lawyer, I am certainly not your lawyer, and I have not examined the details of your specific case. This answer is meant to be educational, based on my understanding as someone who has worked under the OGL (but not as someone who has been responsible for ensuring the OGL compliance of our work). Especially if your motivation is primarily profit, you may wish to speak with a lawyer before pursuing this, as otherwise you will be assuming the risks associated with your actions (e.g. in the event that I am wrong about anything).

That out of the way, here’s my understanding:

You can copy the full text of Open Game Content, verbatim, freely or for profit. This much I am pretty confident in—there are a lot of copies of Open Game Content out there that are not associated with the original copyright holder. E.g. d20pfsrd.com hosts Open Game Content from Pathfinder by Paizo, but is unaffiliated with Paizo. There has even, at times, been some tensions between the two, but Paizo hasn’t claimed that d20pfsrd.com is not allowed to host the Open Game Content that it does. And Pathfinder 1e itself is based on Open Game Content from Wizards of the Coast, and despite Pathfinder being the primary competition for D&D, Wizards hasn’t sued Paizo over selling Pathfinder. So copying the full, verbatim text of Open Game Content should be no problem, nor should selling it.

However, I believe you are limited in that any “derivative work” you create from Open Game Content will also be Open Game Content. That means anyone can take what you make and upload it on a website for free, even if you would prefer people buy it from you, potentially limiting your sales.

(Realistically, with piracy being as prevalent as it is, anyone choosing to pay you for your work is basically volunteering to do so regardless. Even if your work is entirely original and cannot be copied or distributed legally by anyone, it still will be. So it might not make that much difference.)

The exceptions here are Product Identity, which can cover a fair few things—characters, spells, items, and similar elements can be declared Product Identity and then would have to be left out of any legal copy of your work. Artwork and other graphical elements are likewise usually Product Identity, so people couldn’t legally just put your entire PDF up online, even if all of the text is Open Game Content.

Luckily for you, Product Identity can include “trade dress,” which I believe would include the design of your cards. Therefore it’s unlikely that anyone could directly copy your work here—and may mean your product will have value in the marketplace.

dungeon crawl classics rpg – What’s a good comparison of different OSR Systems?

I’m looking to play a retro clone or something that is similar to old style D&D, but with the rules smoothed over a bit.

I’m seeing LOTS of different systems and it’s a bit daunting.

Some attributes I’d like to compare, to give you an example:

  • randomly spawning monsters?
  • random monster attitudes towards the players?
  • random treasure
  • random diseases
  • random etc…
  • inventory management: weight? slots?
  • player reviews
  • popularity / size of community
  • what is the max level / how long to recover from player death
  • are all encounters beatable?
  • how is armor class calculated?
  • are there dungeon turns?
  • light management
  • hex-crawl rules / overworld travel rules
  • reaction rolls
  • number of skills
  • death at 0HP vs stabilization rolls
  • magic system mechanics

Is there a comparison chart that can help me compare lots of different systems?

published adventures – If OSR modules are unbalanced by design, why do they often have recommended level brackets?

Unbalanced encounters is one of the staples of the OSR/old school modules. However, most of them have some kind of recommendation regarding PC levels and/or numbers. For example, this extensive list of OSR adventures has a dedicated column for recommended character levels.

If the modules are not supposed to be balanced anyway, what the recommended levels are for?

osr – How many spells does the magic user have in his spell book in S & W Core?

In Swords & Wizardry Complete the rule book says:

[…] The magic book of a beginning Magic-user contains as many of the eight basic spells as the newcomer knows [based on his intelligence score].

Swords & Wizardry Core seems a bit ambiguous:

[…] A magic user has a spellbook that does not necessarily contain all the spells of the standard lists.

How do you determine the number of spells a magic user has in his spellbook in S & W Core?