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I just want to say thank you to Liz and to Paizo for this blog.
A few of Jon Brazer Enterprises PDFs on sale that I want to highlight.
Got Awesome Monsters and NPCs? Well we do, up to 80% off.
Are you a spellcasting player? At up to 67% off, you have to try these spells and class options on for size.
Before I go, I want to highlight a few releases from my fellow publishers that I feel you should check out.
I've been making a big push this year to add all of JBE's open content to d20PFSRD. Here's what I've added lately.
Favored Class Options from Shadowsfall: Favored Class Options
Still to come, favored classes for the soulknife, wilder, time thief, and the malefactor.
Book of Heroic Races: The Reapers ("Plane-touched psychopomp people". Think Ifrit and the elemental races, but for the neutral Psychopomps.)
Even more than that, he helped the:Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane and
Book of Beasts: Legendary Foes
be as amazing as these books are. He is credited in both as an editor. And he was one of the original playtesters of the Shadowsfall: Temple of Orcus adventure.
Mark has done some awesome work. Couldn't have happened to a better guy.
Return to classic fantasy in the River Nations. Whether your players are putting an stop to a bloody baron or starting their own kingdom, the River Nations series is everything you need. This $1 and $2 sale has all the resources you need, at up to 67% off the regular price. The sale lasts only one week, though, so grab these titles today!
Download the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations, Book of the River Nations Complete, and Book of Friends and Foes: Assassins in the River Nations all week at deep discounts at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow and d20pfsrd today.
Steve Geddes wrote:
richard develyn wrote:
I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
What he means is that if Wizards wanted that spell to be OGL, they had the chance (twice infact, once for 3.0 and once for 3.5) to release it OGL. They didn't. You can honor their wishes and leave it alone (playing nice, as many off us publishers try to do) or you can thread the needle in the loophole in the law (and not play nice). Not playing nice tends to result in tighter restrictions like tighter licenses like the 4.0 GSL.
Actions have consequences. Some directly affect you, some directly affect everyone. I suspect that more often than not, such actions fly under the radar, but do you really want to take that chance of being the next Book of Erotic Fantasy.
richard develyn wrote:
Everyone should have the right to write.
Its like I tell my girlfriend all the time when she complains about the world. What should be and what is are two different things. Wishing doesn't change it. You can accept it the way it is or work to change it. Pretending that it is otherwise gets you nowhere.
richard develyn wrote:
This goes outside of gaming as well, of course. If you lose your free speech you pretty soon lose your freedom.
XKCD had a great comic on this, just this past Friday. Mind you, the author was talking about hateful forum commenters instead of corporate lawsuits, but the basic principle of not being shielded from consequences still applies.
richard develyn wrote:
Still a bit puzzled,
Here's the thing to remember: with few exceptions, none of us publishers can survive the time/expense of a law suit. If a publisher decided to put another publisher out of business, all they would have to do is examine all of their products, find something that is "close enough," hire a lawyer and file a law suit. The amount of money the defending publisher would have to pay a lawyer (plus travel expenses and a hundred other small expenses that will pile up fast, plus taking time off of their day job) would easily surpass the amount of sales the publisher had last year. Plus while the defending publisher is fighting the suit, they don't exactly have the time and energy to create new products to sell so the amount of money coming in is going to go down. Even if the defending publisher wins the suit, they are still out of lawyer fees and lost ... gobs of time. More than likely, the publisher will require time away from the company or might even close the doors altogether just from sheer burn out.
Now imagine the plaintiff publisher is Wizards of the Coast, a company that (comparatively speaking) has unlimited funds, can drag the law suit out until well after you declare bankruptcy and it won't cause any slow down in their production schedule since the people fighting the law suit are completely different than those making new products. At that point, it doesn't matter if you are right, or even if you win the suit (which are two completely different things, legally speaking), you're finished as a company and probably economically destroyed in the process. A good scenario would involve you closing your company (like Fast Forward Entertainment did).
So any publisher should be at minimum a little skiddish of doing something that could draw the ire of WotC. Hell, we don't even want to draw the ire of our fellow Pathfinder Compatible publishers. We all know it could happen. None of us want it to happen and to my knowledge it hasn't happened, yet. (Personally I attribute that to the fact that none of us are that big of a d*ck, but I'm sure there are other reasons as well.) But that doesn't mean it can't happen and when you're talking about using non-OGL material, it makes that standard of "close enough" just a little closer.
Can the OGL and "Rules cannot be copyrighted" exist side by side? Yes. Buuuuuuuuuut ...
richard develyn wrote:
For example, the 3.5 D&D book Ghostwalk is of type (b) above. This book contains within it a spell called "Bonerattle" which I would quite like to use in my adventure. Although written for 3.5 D&D it hardly needs any conversion. Could I include it in my adventure using the OSR-style copyright exclusion principle ...
No. Absolutely not. Not even close. This is a major no-no.
Lets start with, "What does 'rules cannot be copyrighted' mean?"
Here's what it means, roughly (a hired lawyer will be able to tell you better, I am neither hired nor a lawyer, disclaimered). It means the basic idea, the math (if you will), behind the system cannot be claimed as one's own. To break it down really far, 2 + 2 = 4 cannot be claimed by any company as their own property. To translate that into direct game terms, no company can say that "if d20 roll + modifier > target number, then success" is their own property.
But what can a company say is theirs? The presentation. So plagiarism is still plagiarism and you can get sued over that. A company might name the modifier. That name is copyrighted. The paragraph that a company types to explain how the mechanic worked is copyrighted. To use your example, the name "Bonerattle," is copyrighted and you cannot use that. Nor can you copy the text from this spell, make a few minor changes and publish it.
What you can do is this: you can take the idea and the mechanics behind the spell, write a completely new spell that uses the same idea and similar mechanics and name it something completely different.
Mind you, if you are writing for a publisher, you should tell the publisher you are doing this. Some are less comfortable than others skating that close to the thin ice area (and yes, this is thin ice). And the publisher will let you know if you should drop this or not. If, however, you are planning on publishing this yourself and making money off of it, contact a lawyer in very short order and have them explain this to you in much greater detail (because there are variations on the specifics of this that depend on where you live). The less you know, the more it can hurt you in the end.
Its not about "limiting," MMCJawa. Its about customers understanding what a book is for.
Put yourself in my shoes for a second. Imagine you are at a convention and a conversation with a customer starts off with, "This book says River Nations on the cover. I'm playing in an adventure path in the River Kingdoms. Will this work with my game?" You explain it some. Then that person follows up with, "I don't understand. Why does it say River Nations if it can be used in the River Kingdoms?" You explain it again, in a different way. Then end it off with, "I don't know. My GM might be confused by the River Nations when we're playing in the River Kingdoms," or "I don't know. We're playing in the River Kingdoms and I don't want to use anything that is completely different from the adventure path in my game," right before they walk away, confused because "Nations" vs "Kingdoms" blew the person's mind.
Now have that conversation 100 times.
In one day.
Each day you are at the convention.
Now imagine having that conversation on forum thread after forum thread across various message boards every single time you talk about the book.
Imagine having that same conversation on a regular basis over the course of years.
Now imagine having conversations just like that for every single product you make.
All of them.
Every. Last. Product. You. Make.
"Limited" is not the word. "Frustrated" is. Frustrated to the point of walking away, like I am doing.
The above is a solution. It requires no oversight because everything is unofficial. It hardly limits anyone's creativity since it is off the official map. It curtails the number of competing campaign settings and does not invalidate products from the main campaign setting. And if the license to do so has the appropriate protections, it could be easy for the licensing company to pull the logo an individual product or the offending publisher if the license is violated.
If you think a universal campaign setting that other people can publish content for is such a money maker for the campaign creator, why don't you create it? Then everyone wins.
1) I didn't say a "universal campaign setting." I said a small, unused portion of an existing campaign setting that will (most likely) never be developed. Thank you for blowing my words out of proportion.
2) I am. Foreven Worlds: Fessor Subsector was the first of many releases that I am doing in such a case. The Foreven license says that anyone using the license can refer to someone else's material in an OGL-like fashion. It goes further then that. Another company could all but copy and paste my text and (as long as it was referenced properly) publish everything I wrote. So I am doing exactly that. I am putting my money where my mouth is.
Recently I commented that JBE is stepping away from developing for Pathfinder on a regular basis. Sure, we will be doing a Pathfinder release when we believe that there's a significant contribution to be made, but we are not going to release a Pathfinder product every two weeks just to keep our place in the market. But the single biggest reason I personally am stepping back from the game is because Pathfinder is no longer fun for me. I do this after I get home from the day job so this is what I do for fun. And when it is as enjoyable as the day job, I have to reevaluate what I am doing.
So most of my time lately has been involved in some 13th Age but mostly Traveller. JBE started out with Traveller and it is great to get back to the company's roots. But I am having far more fun these days then I have been for a long time with Pathfinder for one simple reason: I am devoting much of my Traveller design work these days to Foreven Worlds as an unofficial part of the Third Imperium setting. It is just SOOOOOO NIIIIIIICE to be able to have a Zhodani bad guy or a Vargr thief or to just say the The Third Imperium.
More than anything else, Jon Brazer Enterprises is known for the Book of the River Nations. Why did we call it the River Nations? Because we couldn't call it the River Kingdoms. We had to get as close as possible so that most people would figure that it was *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* the same place. But then we had to explain to others over and over again that we "cannot legally call it the River Kingdoms so this is as close as we could get," "are not lazy designers, are aware that it is really called the River Kingdoms but we can't call it that legally," "designed it this way on purpose so that you would know it would work in your game," and on and on. It really was a tiring, never ending battle of explaining that every product that had "River Nations" on the cover was not a mistake, not us being lazy or underhanded, or outright malicious before a person will consider looking at the release. Mind you, that is after the tiring effort of making sure there is not a single other reference to any other Pathfinder setting location is in the product to begin with.
This is not just limited to Pathfinder, mind you. We are experiencing the same issue with 13th Age. The idea of icons is OGL but the icons themselves are not. So I can't say, the High Druid. Instead I have to say the Great Druid. And again, we got called "lazy designers" for "messing up the name of the icon." As such, our releases with 13th Age have been limited.
Now, compare that with the Foreven license for Traveller. I can define the area all I want and make all the adventures in that section of space as I desire, calling a Vargr a Vargr instead of an "Uplifted Canine Alien" without getting in legal trouble. And no one has yet to call me a single name for doing so. Infact the two reviews for our first release have been glowing. The less glowing review, his chief complaint boils down to him wanting more because he really enjoyed what was there so much. Plus, setting development is just more enjoyable then system development. All of this translates to me having MUCH MORE FUN designing for this then just about anything else I have worked on for Pathfinder.
Take the Forgotten Realms Map for a moment (click on the link for a image). You see several continents with nothing defined on them and others with not everything defined. Even Faerun isn't fully detailed. It was first published in 1987 and is arguably the most developed RPG campaign setting in the world. Can anyone give me a single competent reason why a continent that has nothing defined on it to date cannot be opened up to other publishers on an unofficial basis? Or even just one country in the undefined parts of Faerun? Or take the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. Paizo didn't start defining the setting in a major way until 7 years ago when Rise of the Runelords was released. Even if you ignore all the D&D 4E Forgotten Realms material, that setting has 21 years of development to Pathfinder's 7. So if the Pathfinder Campaign Setting is still going strong 14 years from now (2028), will it be as defined as the Forgotten Realms is today? If you take a look at the FR map, that still leaves lots of room for Paizo to grow the Pathfinder CS if they reserve one country or even one continent for other publishers.
Now the real question would be: why on earth would a publisher want to open up part of their campaign setting, even on an unofficial basis, to other publishers? Easy answer is this: money. Lets say Paizo allowed other publishers to make material for the area just south of Geb. No country is defined there so odds are Paizo hasn't even considered planning a single product there. So it costs Paizo nothing to release if another publisher created an adventure path set there (we'll call it South of Geb to make life easy). Now compare that with someone playing in the Cross of Fire Adventure Path from LPJ Design (which I am looking forward to reading, btw). What does Paizo sell to a GM running in the two APs? Cross of Fire: more PFRPG hardcovers and that's it; South of Geb: same PFRPG hardcovers, Inner Sea Gods, if Paizo released a Geb campaign setting book, that would probably would be bought as well, plus a number of other campaign setting books/players guides to help the GM get a full understanding of the surrounding region and the organizations involved, plus some stand alone adventures of Paizo's incase the players go off the rails (since they take place in Paizo's world, they are easier to move to a different country then to a different setting). How about players? Cross of Fire: a few copies of the player focused hard covers (so no Bestiaries) that the player didn't already own and that's it. South of Geb: those same player focused hard covers plus Inner Sea Gods (possibly the full campaign setting as well), a players guide for the race the player is playing, another player's guide that covers the class, and several more. So for both players and GMs, Paizo sells more products to them.
If all of this sounds familiar, it is because it is the basic ideas behind the OGL to begin with. This, however, takes it to its next level. The campaign setting material is not invalidated because the group did not change settings. There's a reason why Wizards stopped supporting all their 2e campaign settings once they were bought by Wizards and went to 3e. If it had a Forgotten Realms label on it, gamers didn't feel it was useful in their Greyhawk game. So those gamers didn't buy it. So Wizards consolidated the number of campaign settings they supported during their 3e days: Forgotten Realms and Eberron. Paizo took that same idea and made a single setting that could encompass just about every possible style of d20 play. But now the areas that are not being developed much (like Psionics) are getting support from other publishers who, because they can't touch Paizo's setting, are making their own setting, with a corresponding adventure path (also really enjoyable and highly recommended). So a desire maintain a tight control on the number of campaign settings has actually resulted in more campaign settings, a kind-of return to the 2e days.
Now I'm sure that Wizards is not going to do this and I wonder if Paizo will. But what about 13th Age? Can Pelgrane Press honestly say that they will have the world beyond the Dragon Empire detailed as much as Golarion is today in 7 years? Or how about other settings? If we all took a lesson from Traveller and opened up part of our campaign settings for unofficial development, maybe the setting would get more development and more players.
And designers like me would have more fun.
Be sure to check out all of Jon Brazer Enterprises' downloads for Pathfinder, Traveller, and 13th Age at the d20PFSRD store today. Be sure to visit the JBE blog at d20PFSRD.com for more musings and ramblings.
Share your thoughts below.
When you are a for profit publisher gaming is your "real life".
While I don't know the specifics about Gary's or FMG's situation, I can say that real life still does get in the way of for profit publishing. Most of us do this after coming home from the day job, spending time with the spouse/kids, helping out around the house, doing this after everyone else goes to bed. For this group, schedules are almost as real as some of the monsters in the Book of Beasts. The few publishers that do it as a full time job have a much better chance of actually making a consistent schedule, but there are only a few of us that fall into that category.
Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
But why prevent a 3pp from creating something for a niche market?
Simple, the Pathfinder name is on every book. This is a name currently on a card game, minis from several companies, comic books and more. They don't want their name associated with something like the Book of Erotic Fantasy.
That is fine by me. If I wanted to do something like that, all I'd have to do is to take off the PFRPG compatible logo and ask my lawyer for the appropriate language to indicate compatibility while keeping me out of legal hot water.
Might I also recommend Rite Publishing's #30 Evocative Vehicles. It doesn't have a great review, but I enjoyed it (to each their own).
From the depths of the desert sands, beneath the unrelenting sun, Great Pharaoh, blessed of the Gods, has collected these Objects of magic and power. Chronicled by the Scribe at the behest of our God-King, every item has been meticulously recorded. Some items protect the user while others aid the user in adventurous endeavors; they may be portable or stationary. It is the sincerest wish of Pharaoh that all find within this scroll items that bring Glory to their Names.
Within this 16 page PDF, you will find:
Don’t leave the pyramid without these exciting magic items.
I would like to take a moment and say that Marie did an exceptional job on this. She put a serious amount of work in on this and her efforts deserve recognition. Next I would like to recognize Kevin, the editor on this project, Steev, our resident Hero Lab programmer, and Richard, JBE's other editor. All three of whom really went above and beyond to make Treasury of the Sands something to be proud of.
But most of all, I would like to thank everyone that sent in a magic item to our open call. We received a number of amazing magic items and I wish we could have used them all. The ones that were published really knocked it out of the park. Thank you all.
Jesper at Blood Brethren Games wrote:
Incomplete is a bad word. Don't think of it like that.
Think of it a different way. When I came up with the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations, I skirted the line between being ok legally speaking and illegally using Paizo's material. Now, I knew exactly where the line was so I never crossed it.
Paizo, in the same way, knows exactly where the line is between perfectly legal and plainly illegal. So they can cut it closer than those that do not know where that line is.
So unless you understand what they did, how they did it, and why they did it, don't follow their example. Stick with the long version of listing everything.
Now to it the ARG's OGL being incomplete: it isn't. They referenced everything they needed to reference to be perfectly legal. If you're not sure exactly how that is so, you shouldn't try to emulate it. Heck, I understand what they did, how they did it, and I have a reasonable guess as to why they did it and I'm not going to try it, because it is too close to the line for my liking.
Jesper at Blood Brethren Games wrote:
That person would then be in violation of of the OGL, because Paizo's S15 in ARG is incomplete...
Section 6 requires you to do 2 things:
So if you used the ARG in something you were working on, you have to include what it says in the ARG's section 15. Even if you don't understand how they included B1-3 without all the rest, you don't have to look up B1-3's OGLs to find out what is in them.
I was talking with someone over email today about the Section 15, specifically whether you should just list the books you use or everything that those Section 15's as well. And I realized that this is something that has been discussed many times on these boards and others should hear it as well.
The OGL says:
OGL Section 6 wrote:
Notice of License Copyright: You must update the COPYRIGHT NOTICE portion of this License to include the exact text of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any Open Game Content You are copying, modifying or distributing, and You must add the title, the copyright date, and the copyright holder’s name to the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any original Open Game Content you Distribute.
This means that every book that you publish, you must list everything in the section 15s of the books you reference. Everything. No exceptions. Period.
But that argument gets quickly countered with, "Just look at Paizo. Are they doing it wrong?" Here's the Advanced Race Guide's Section 15:
ARG's Section 15 wrote:
So why did they not list the mammoth long listings for Bestiary's 1-3 in this book. Why wasn't the listings for the Pathfinder Core Rulebook listed? Well, technically speaking from a pure OGL standpoint, they didn't have to list those four books in the first place. I mean, they own B1-3 and their contents (atleast the parts they didn't take from OGL sources). So if they don't list them, who is going to sue Paizo? Themselves? Not so much.
Everything Paizo needed to reference in their OGL is either in the d20 SRD or in the Tome of Horrors. Paizo could have left B1-3 off of their OGL. But they didn't. Why did they do that? I don't know, you would have to ask them to be sure. However, if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that they wanted to credit the authors from B1-3 that did not work on the ARG. Some of the authors for B1-3 may not have worked on the ARG. If those authors did not contribute to ARG worked on some of the races, they didn't need to be credited in the OGL. But I imagine that Paizo felt that they should be credited so they simply listed those books in their OGL. So now if you use an Oread or a Udine (just to pull two out of the air, no clue if they actually were the same authors in the two books or not), the original author for each is listed in your OGL.
However, this leads many to confusion. Many feel, "Oh so I only need to list in my OGL what I used, not what those books listed." That is not true. You still need to list everything you used and everything those books used in your section 15.
As an example, in Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (print on sale for $2), I used a dhampir and a fetchling as well as creating the umbral kobold and the wanderer. Because I used two races detailed in Paizo's books, I'd have to list either B2 or the ARG. But if I made a supplement that detailed the Umbral Kobold and made no mention of the dhampir or fetchling, I could leave them out if I so choose. But if I wanted to add in the Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion to my section 15, I could do that. Now, technically speaking, I should add in everything in the Sf: SPPC's section 15 as well. That is good form and a safe legal practice. Doing anything else is shaky, legally speaking and I would not recommend doing it without talking to a lawyer.
Jesper at Blood Brethren Games wrote:
What do I do, buy it. It's that easy. It's a business expense. I understand that the book is expensive and you don't want to, but frankly if you want to get the legal part right you can either a) buy the PDF and get it right or b) don't use it.
This week, we are giving you some free pirate booty. We at Jon Brazer Enterprises are giving away our Book of Magic: Pirate Spells for free for today only. Download this book of spells for your adventures on the high seas today. And do not forget to check out our other Books of Magic to enhance your world and your game today.
Another present to you from all of us at Jon Brazer Enterprises, we present to you the first piece of fiction released for Shadowsfall. Pawn Deception and Sacrifice is free for download today only. This exceptional short story, written by geek author Mur Lafferty. Introduces the dhampir character Valdia and shows the deadly Plane of Shadows. Only the truly brave venture into the darkness. Download this amazing story today.
It’s the holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Boxing Day or the Winter Solstice or Festivus or any others. Our present to you this season is a $2 sale on printer Shadowsfall books. As the days grow shorter, play on the Plane of Shadows, where high noon looks light twilight and a blood red moon shines on a good night. Grab the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane and Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Players Companion in print today for a holiday miracle of a price.
Order the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane and Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Players Companion, each for $2 today. Also be on the lookout for other One-Day Free Downloads throughout the month.
Thank you mention Shadowsfall, Caedwyr.
I should mention that Shadowsfall is not a standalone campaign setting. It's designed to be the plane of shadows for any existing campaign setting. It works with standard campaign setting without changing the familiar setting you already know and love.
Also rather awesome: Jon Brazer Enterprises' Shadowfall - essentially adventuring in the shadow plane.
Thanks for the mention EZG. Yea, the Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion and the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane are the two main books at the moment covering Shadowsfall. the setting works with any campaign setting, allowing you to plug-and-play (as it were) the setting right into your existing campaign setting. Several other supplement for Shadowsfall, as well as fiction, can be found here.