OGL Pathfinder Monsters


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Liberty's Edge

Here's a question I have about something that I'm a bit confused about.

The Faceless Stalkers, to use a random example, are released under the OGL. So in theory I can use them in my own OGL adventure.

Let's say I'm going to publish and adventure called The Lost Temple of Ratatouille, and I want to use Faceless Stalkers in my adventure.

Can I call them Faceless Stalkers? Is the name of a creature part of its inherent game identity?

I know I can't reprint the whole entry with the Golarion specific background and all, but could I rewrite it in my own words with whatever changes I wanted to make? If I said "The faceless stalkers were created in the distant past by the aboleths, but have long since abandoned." would that be a violation of product identity, or is the basic concept of the creature part of its game identity?

If I wanted to include original artwork in my adventure that depicted a scene with a faceless stalker, would that be violating the product identity, or would that be derived from the creature as depicted by it's game attributes?

I'm just really confused by how the OGL works exactly.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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When a publisher does an OGL product, they get to decide what parts are and aren't open content. For pretty much all Pathfinder products, all of our monsters are open content; that includes the name and all of the stats. It doesn't include the specific Golarion world flavor, though. SO: You could put a faceless stalker into your Lost Temple, but you couldn't set that Lost Temple in Varisia. At least... not without securing an additional permission/license from Paizo.

You can also do original artwork as well, but you shouldn't try to totally copy the look of a Pathfinder faceless stalker. Take the basic description and have your artist come up with his own simliar but different interpretation.

And in the end, when you publish, make sure to include the OGL and make sure to include attributions at the end of the OGL license that lists all of your sources.

The OGL is in fact pretty confusing and complicated though; I've been using it for years and it still kind of confuses me. The best advice I have is to do what you're doing; ask around and don't try to claim something you didn't invent was yours, and don't use any specific non-open content. Again, for Pathfinder, open content is pretty much all of the rules stuff and attendant text.

Of course, in some cases, our open content is VERY tied to Golarion. The heralds of the gods is a good example, as is Achaekek the Mantis God. In those cases, while the monster itself is open, a lot of the flavor supporting the monster isn't. If you used Achaekek in your own adventure, you'd want to come up with a new backstory for your big CR 30 mantis monster.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:

When a publisher does an OGL product, they get to decide what parts are and aren't open content. For pretty much all Pathfinder products, all of our monsters are open content; that includes the name and all of the stats. It doesn't include the specific Golarion world flavor, though. SO: You could put a faceless stalker into your Lost Temple, but you couldn't set that Lost Temple in Varisia. At least... not without securing an additional permission/license from Paizo.

You can also do original artwork as well, but you shouldn't try to totally copy the look of a Pathfinder faceless stalker. Take the basic description and have your artist come up with his own simliar but different interpretation.

Okay, cool, that's basically what I was hoping you'd say.

Thanks James!

I'm interested in writing some DCC style adventures, and while I wouldn't want to set them in Golarion, it'd be nice to toss in the occasional pathfinder monster. It's cool to see new monsters in adventures like the Pathfinder APs, but then if you never see the creature again...it starts to get weird. But if someone writes a random adventure with a goblins, and tosses a goblin dog in a cave, then it only reinforces the reality of their appearance in Burnt Offerings, and creates verisimilitude.

As for the mantis god: borrowing monsters is one thing, borrowing end bosses is way cheese. Waaaaaaay cheese. I mean seriously, why don't I just write an adventure about the rise of an evil undead worm god named Kah'riss while I'm at it.


Oddly I was thinking along the same lines except for instead of Monsters I was looking at Classes. I'll assume the same basic rules apply to new classes. My thinking, if I could ever start a PDF company, that there were some real gems of clases that came out of the 3.X era but that might not be updated when Pathfinder RPG comes out and the industry effectly goes 3p or whatever. Many of those classes should be updated. My concern isn't so much if they would work with the new rules but powercreep. Which really only happened with Wizards books, but which Pathfinder seems to have done.

In any case the thing always worried be about OGL (and this is coming from someone completly on the outside so I don't really know) is tht I heard certain game rules can be closed. For example the Dodge and Parry system in Conan, or the True20 system. While all the rules that come from d20 are open ogl, I'm under the impression that their new rules(and those are example like I said I don't know) are closed, hence why True20 just made there rules OGL.

As much as I've enjoyed the OGL movement, and as much as I think most publishers (even Wizards back in the day) got along well with each other in the spirt that OGL was intended, I do actually find more confusion in exactly what can be open and what can't beyond fluff which is obviously closed. (Lord do I hate the word fluff).

Anyways always good to have a place to make things clear.


Publishers have to clearly (and you couldn't imagine how many arguments used to happen on the OGL lists about clarity) indicate what material is Open and what's closed. You can refer to that material and most publishers are going to be okay with you contacting them. Note, shocking as it might seem, some publishers might close material that can't be closed, or tell you it's closed when it's not (though this probably happens a lot less than it did 5 years or so ago).

In the main the OGL isn't a tough license to stick to, even for reusing other company's material, the real confusions can come in when you're reusing material that has itself been reused and the other company might not have updated their section 15 correctly, or with unclear designation of what is and isn't open. However, you want to be sure you know what you're doing, make sure your section 15 includes everything you've used and that you've added your own book to the end of the section.

Edit: By the way, having checked, the conan parry and dodge rules definitely aren't closed content. The only rules material that's closed in the rulebook is 'character creation rules detailing the mechanics of assigning dice roll results to abilities and the advancement of character levels'


CPEvilref wrote:


Edit: By the way, having checked, the conan parry and dodge rules definitely aren't closed content. The only rules material that's closed in the rulebook is 'character creation rules detailing the mechanics of assigning dice roll results to abilities and the advancement of character levels'

First off thanks for the info.

Seconed, this is what I mean by confusion in general. You say Parry and Dodge rules are open, but not 'character creation' nor character level advancement. In the former fine, I don't really see the benifit to them but whatever, as to the latter however I see a problem. Parry and Dodge have table of character advancement just like Fort. or Rex. saves for each classes. Seems that its like saying yeah, you roll a d20 to see if you dodge an attack, but the table you base your roll on isn't alowed. So if I wanted to do online support based on that ogl system I have to come up with my own dodge table for any perspective class. I know the conan name makes this very tricky ground so its a bad example, but it seems that nothing is ever realy clear. You have to check and double check everything.

Liberty's Edge

CPEvilref wrote:
Note, shocking as it might seem, some publishers might close material that can't be closed, or tell you it's closed when it's not (though this probably happens a lot less than it did 5 years or so ago).

See, this is the part that confuses me. Because looking at the various OGL documents attached to my various OGL books, I see a lot of people defining things that can't possible be closed content -- like the names of monsters, feats and special abilities -- as closed content. Even paizo's boilerplate seems to indicate this. It seems like if making a particular element of a monster (like its name) closed content makes it impossible to use, then that content must actually be open. And you can't very well include a nameless stat block and hope anyone will understand what creature it represents.

As for the Conan example: how can any rules content be made closed-content? Using any amount of the OGL makes all the modifications one makes to the rules open content. Sounds like Mongoose is trying to pull a fast one.


Gailbraithe wrote:
It seems like if making a particular element of a monster (like its name) closed content makes it impossible to use, then that content must actually be open. And you can't very well include a nameless stat block and hope anyone will understand what creature it represents.

Ah, no. You don't get to decide that someone's stuff really should be open. You have to go with what they say. Take a stat block and stick a different name on it.

Liberty's Edge

DMFTodd wrote:
Ah, no. You don't get to decide that someone's stuff really should be open. You have to go with what they say. Take a stat block and stick a different name on it.

No, I don't, but the OGL license itself does require that game elements be open, and the creature's name is a game element. So I don't think they can decide it's close content.

Like here, let me give you an example: Privateer Presses' OGL license claims that the names of supernatural abilities are closed content. So they have a creature, the Cephalyx, that has an ability called chirugery. According to privateer presses OGL document, that ability name is closed content. But it's a necessary part of the stat block. How you can make the name of a special ability that is included in the stat block closed content when the licenses forces the statblock to be open content? And then they try to claim that the description of what the ability does (allows the Cephalyx to apply the drudge template to other creatures) -- which is a pure expression of rules mechanics -- is closed content.

WTF? That seems like a clear case of a publisher deluding themselves about what they can declare closed content. It's like saying that the Dodge and Parry mechanics from the Conan game can be used by anyone...but you can't call them Dodge or Parry. You have to call them Avoid and Block, and the next guy, man he's really screwed because there aren't many other good synonyms.

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't hold up in court.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

No one is asking the important question...when will The Lost Temple of Ratatouille be published? I'm looking forward to fighting the vege-elemental...


Gailbraithe wrote:
Like here, let me give you an example: Privateer Presses' OGL license claims that the names of supernatural abilities are closed content. So they have a creature, the Cephalyx, that has an ability called chirugery. According to privateer presses OGL document, that ability name is closed content. But it's a necessary part of the stat block. How you can make the name of a special ability that is included in the stat block closed content when the licenses forces the statblock to be open content?

The OGL says nothing about stat blocks having to be open. I don't know where you've gotten that idea.

Gailbraithe wrote:
And then they try to claim that the description of what the ability does (allows the Cephalyx to apply the drudge template to other creatures) -- which is a pure expression of rules mechanics -- is closed content.

Which is perfectly fine as well. The OGL does not require expressions of rules to be open - unless you're using OGC from somebody else.

Now, if you want to use copyright law rather than the OGL, you can maybe go ahead and use that expression of the rules. OGL doesn't supersede copyright. If you agree to the OGL though, you can't use it.

Gailbraithe wrote:
and the next guy, man he's really screwed because there aren't many other good synonyms.

Correct, unless you made your terms for it open.

Yes, a company can phrase their OGC declaration to make their OGC content nearly impossible to use. The OGL does not require that the OGC be structured in a nice, easy to use manner. You don't get to change what is OGC to make it easier.

Liberty's Edge

DMFTodd wrote:
Yes, a company can phrase their OGC declaration to make their OGC content nearly impossible to use. The OGL does not require that the OGC be structured in a nice, easy to use manner. You don't get to change what is OGC to make it easier.

Reading through it again, and trying to make sense of it, it does appear that you're right.

Man, that is annoying. That means there is a lot of OGL stuff out there that is really cool -- like the stuff in the Monsternomicons -- but now completely unusable by other OGL publishers and completely unsupported by its creators.

Privateer Press had essentially abandoned role-playing games, and Matt and Sherry are kind of anal about their properties. The long and short of it is they aren't going to update their stuff, they aren't going to publish adventures using their stuff, and they aren't going to let anyone else update or use them either. And since the remaining Monsternomicons in the Privateer warehouse will be destroyed at the end of the year (pesky d20 license), all of that material will be lost to future GMs (unless they can find it through the used/rare book market).

Pfft. The OGL has so much promise, but man, sometimes that Product Identity thing really fails and fails hard.

The product identity section should really read: "...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, personalities, teams, personas, and likenesses; places, locations, environments, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark..."

Then every OGL publisher would have to be as cool as paizo is. I actually just found the teeny tiny print that declares what is and is not product identity in a pathfinder product, and it's awesome. It's also not where I thought it be: next to the actual OGL license.

It really bothers me the way copyright law interacts with an entertainment medium like role-playing games, particularly as a DM. The game (and the culture of player expectations) asks you to invest so much of your creativity into its premises, and becomes a formative part of your creative expression, and then copyright law steps in and says "Oh, unlike thousands of generations before you, you can't benefit from the products of your own imagination, because the myths and legends you grew up are owned by Company X."

What I mean is that I have literally been dreaming up plots involving mind flayers since I was 10 and first fell in love with them. And it sort of pisses me off that I can't actually use mind flayers in anything if I want to publish it in a professional manner and at least make enough money to justify printing it. Or hell, enough to justify investing in a decent pdf editing software suite.

It's kind of like how I realized a few years ago I can never publish my own campaign world as a setting for others, even though many people think it's quite cool. I can't because it started as Mystara when I was 13 and is rooted in the GAZ, and while it's barely recognizable with all the modifications I've made, and I could scrape all the copyrighted names off stuff, the fact is that if I can't call Darokin Darokin, then it just doesn't feel like my game world.

Um. Sorry. Long rant there. Didn't mean to go off.

Contributor

It's entirely possible to have a monster's stat block be open and its name be closed.

What that means for a different publisher is that they can use the stats, they just can't use the name.

So if Bob's Stupid Games releases a monster book and there's a monster in there called the Cheeze Fizzer of Fangragoo, and the monster is awesome despite its stupid name, and the stats are open and the name is closed ... you can copy the stats and rename the creature to whatever you want (crediting Bob's Stupid Games in your book's copy of the OGL of course). If the Cheese Fizzer of Fangragoo has an ability called "Cheese Adhesion" and Bob decided to make that name closed content ... just call the ability something else.

Being able to split content into OGL and non-OGL is very advantageous for companies that produce material for their own campaign world. It lets you have open content without accidentally releasing your world/IP to other people. So if Paizo publishes a feat called Chelaxian Devil Music that gives evils bard some crazy bonus with certain spells, Paizo can release the rules portion of that feat as OGL but keep the name non-OGL because they don't want other companies publishing stuff about Cheliax. So if Heckromancer Games decides they'd really like to use the Chelaxian Devil Music feat for their Hell On Earth setting, they can change the name to Alabama Devil Music and keep the (OGL) mechanics.

Sovereign Court

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
So if Heckromancer Games decides they'd really like to use the Chelaxian Devil Music feat for their Hell On Earth setting, they can change the name to Alabama Devil Music and keep the (OGL) mechanics.

LOL! Stop it, Sean, you're killing me! LOL!


Gailbraithe wrote:

Privateer Press had essentially abandoned role-playing games, and Matt and Sherry are kind of anal about their properties. The long and short of it is they aren't going to update their stuff, they aren't going to publish adventures using their stuff, and they aren't going to let anyone else update or use them either. And since the remaining Monsternomicons in the Privateer warehouse will be destroyed at the end of the year (pesky d20 license), all of that material will be lost to future GMs (unless they can find it through the used/rare book market).

Woah. Are you sure about this? The part about Privateer Press abandoning the Iron Kingdoms RPG?

I have been monitoring the PP forums, and I understand that they are planning an announcement sometime this month, maybe next.

One forum poster claimed at ComicCon that the PP staff said they were going to do another RPG book, and that PP wouldn't do 4E. At this point I can't say that is any better than a rumor, but that contradicts what you are saying, or at least what I think you are saying.

I seriously doubt Privateer Press is going to go 4E, but I do believe they are going to continue to support the IK RPG, either keep up the 3.X line with more books, switch to their own system, or switch to another open 3rd party system. If they do switch systems than I expect them to update at least some of their previous material.

Privateer Press put the IK RPG on a back burner when the miniatures games took off, but they did release one book a year until the last year, when they adopted a wait and see attitude for the GSL. What had been developed for the next planned book at that point went into their magazine.

I am not saying you are wrong but I am curious what makes you draw your conclusion. If they are abandoning the IK RPG completely that is surprising news to me.

Lastly, are you sure d20 books have to be destroyed at the end of the year if the publisher still has them? I wasn't aware of that.

Liberty's Edge

NPC Dave wrote:
Woah. Are you sure about this? The part about Privateer Press abandoning the Iron Kingdoms RPG?

Not 100%, but when I worked there last year (as a packer, not a designer or anything cool) that seemed to be the general consensus, that the RPG line was not profitable and it made more sense to focus on the miniatures games (Warmachine, Hordes) and their upcoming Monsterapocalypse (which I can't talk about due to a NDA, but I've play-tested and must say is AWESOME). They aren't even doing any more IK miniatures, because they don't sell at all (seriously, they have crazy overstock in the warehouse).

I know that as of December of 2007, there were absolutely no plans to ever revise or reprint the Iron Kingdoms 3.5 rules, and I bought every single last undamaged copy of the IK Player's Guide in warehouse (there were six, I gave them away as gifts to my players). So that's gone, for good, never to be seen again. And without a core rules book, that's pretty much the death knell for a line. Who wants sourcebooks for a game you can't get the main rules for?

There was absolutely no chatter about a new system, and AFAIK the writers weren't working on anything to follow up Five Fingers, and were focused entirely on the upcoming new books for WM and Hordes.

NPC Dave wrote:

I have been monitoring the PP forums, and I understand that they are planning an announcement sometime this month, maybe next.

One forum poster claimed at ComicCon that the PP staff said they were going to do another RPG book, and that PP wouldn't do 4E. At this point I can't say that is any better than a rumor, but that contradicts what you are saying, or at least what I think you are saying.

Yeah, I saw that, but he didn't say who he talked to. It could have been a Press Ganger (and thus clueless) for all we know. They might do more systemless books, but they really don't sell well.

NPC Dave wrote:
I seriously doubt Privateer Press is going to go 4E...

The inability to use their own version of classes and races pretty much guarantees that won't happen.

NPC Dave wrote:
Lastly, are you sure d20 books have to be destroyed at the end of the year if the publisher still has them? I wasn't aware of that.

Yup, it's one of the conditions of the D20 license, and I believe one of the primary reason Pathfinder wasn't released under the D20 license.


That is very disappointing but I appreciate the info. I will hold out a little hope for some other book, but you have reset my expectations much lower. Sound like I better buy a backup copy of the character guide.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Gailbraithe wrote:
NPC Dave wrote:
Lastly, are you sure d20 books have to be destroyed at the end of the year if the publisher still has them? I wasn't aware of that.
Yup, it's one of the conditions of the D20 license...

Actually, I've been wondering about that. In April, before the GSL came out, Scott Rouse said in an interview on ICv2 that the d20 license would be ending when the GSL came out, and that publishers would have until the end of the year to sell off d20-branded product. But I've never actually seen that stated officially anywhere.

Admittedly, I haven't looked super hard, since it's not relevant to us (the only d20-branded products from Paizo were published under a separately negotiated D&D license, not the free d20 license, and our selloff period for those books lasts as long as we have inventory).

Can anyone point me to an *official* announcement of the end of the d20 license, and of the terms of the selloff period? (As far as I can tell, the official d20 license page doesn't say anything about it, and indeed, indicates that the license is still available.

Gailbraithe wrote:
and I believe one of the primary reason Pathfinder wasn't released under the D20 license.

Not really. At the time we chose to use the OGL instead of the d20 license, 4th Edition wasn't even on the horizon, so we had no reason to suspect that the d20 license would be ending.

We started publishing OGL products (as opposed to d20 products) for a couple of reasons. The main one was that some of our earliest non-D&D products were our Compleat Encounters, and the d20 license specifically forbids use with products that include miniatures.

Also, by then, the d20 glut had come and gone, and a lot of retailers were left holding the bag on some poorly selling products purchased during a period of overexuberance, and our sense of the industry was that retailers actually saw the d20 logo as a reason *not* to buy your product. Those two things together pretty much gave us our answer.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zootcat wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
So if Heckromancer Games decides they'd really like to use the Chelaxian Devil Music feat for their Hell On Earth setting, they can change the name to Alabama Devil Music and keep the (OGL) mechanics.
LOL! Stop it, Sean, you're killing me! LOL!

Personally I prefer Georgia Devil Music.

Dark Archive Contributor

Zaister wrote:
Zootcat wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
So if Heckromancer Games decides they'd really like to use the Chelaxian Devil Music feat for their Hell On Earth setting, they can change the name to Alabama Devil Music and keep the (OGL) mechanics.
LOL! Stop it, Sean, you're killing me! LOL!
Personally I prefer Georgia Devil Music.

Well I hear tell that the devil did go down to Georgia. He was looking for some souls to steal. You see, he was in a bind, as he was way behind, and he was willing to make a deal...


Mike McArtor wrote:
Well I hear tell that the devil did go down to Georgia. He was looking for some souls to steal. You see, he was in a bind, as he was way behind, and he was willing to make a deal...

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