I thought about emailing the relevant Paizo section with these questions, but I figured they may be helpful for other first time 3PP creators. Anyway, I'm thinking of creating various ancestries based on bestiary monsters and there were a few things I wanted to check to make sure it is all ok.
1. Can I use monster names that are common in mythology, such as the medusa?
I figure this is an easy yes, but best to check these things.
2. When creating ancestry feats, can I use the same style as existing Paizo ones?
For this, things like the lore ancestry feats that say you get 2 skills and a lore about that ancestry. I figure yes, but can I use exactly the same wording, or do I have to change this around?
3. Can I base ancestry feats off of existing monster abilities?
ie using the medusa example, could I take the petrifying gaze ability, with modifications? Again, can I use the same wording changed as needed to modify the ability, or does it need to be completely reworded?
4. Can I make ancestry feats that are exact copies of monster abilities?
ie, could I take the medusa's biting snakes ability and use it as is to an ancestry feat? Or would I have to modify the wording? Or would it have to be a reference such as 'see Medusa, PF2 bestiary' or similar?
5. Can I make ancestries out of monsters that are Paizo unique?
ie could I make an Axiomite ancestry since as far as I can tell only Paizo has it? Would I have to change the name (ie something like Law-born, or Law-folk) or is it completely off the table?
6. If using an alternate name, could I reference the original name in the description?
ie saying something like, 'is also know as an Axiomite,...' or is any reference to such things disallowed?
7. If allowed to use such Paizo uniques, are we allowed to base them from non-core line books (ie World Guides and APs)?
Looking at the compatibility page, it would appear no as only the core rulebook and bestiary are currently listed there, but I'm not sure of the specifics in how this is handled.
8. Given that a certain amount of the above is ok, how is it referenced in the copyright notices at the end of the file?
From what I can tell, only the core rulebook as a specific copyright plate bit to add in, nothing for the bestiary. Was this a mistake, or on purpose, or irrelevant?
THank you in advance for assistance with these questions. Figured since I was working on some of this, others might appreciate it as well and I might get a little something for my effort, but sometimes trying to understand some of the subtleties of what is allowed is complicated.
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No one ever answered this? Too little too late but here are my 2 cents:
Overall: A lot of your questions have to do with the OGL (open game license) and copyright law. GENERALLY using something from a product is ok so long as it’s in a book that’s published under the OGL and the material in question (generally proper nouns) are not reserved as product identity by the Publisher. Product identity is declared in the OGL section (for example, in Starfinder Paizo reserves the phrase “The Drift”). Read the license for yourself and familiarize yourself with copyright law however- this is SUPER important for publishing ANYTHING.
That having been said:
4. Yes but the wording part of that question ends up as more of a “rules/implementation” question than a real “can I copy this”.
5. “Unique to Paizo” is probably different from “reserved as product identity” but that’s probably more what you’re asking. You can’t use something that’s reserved as product identity.
6. If it’s something that’s reserved as product identity, no. Stay away from it, don’t mention it, don’t cite it, and just don’t tread on that ground. Play it safe. They are being cool and letting us play in their sandbox a bit, don’t be a jerk. Now could you do something SIMILAR? Sure. But that’s where copyright comes in. I can’t teach you the ins and outs of copyright law in a simple post on a messageboard but one of the best “sniff tests” is “Would this create reasonable confusion for a customer looking at these two products”.
7. You can only use things Paizo wants you to use. Always err on the side of caution.
8. That’s a longer answer than I have time to do justice. Read over the OGL license and you’ll see how it works. The REALLY short answer is, you list all works cited/used/referenced in your work in a certain format in section 15 of your product’s copy of the OGL. The product you wrote is the last product on that list.
Again, those are NOT adequate answers. Those are good starting parts. Read the OGL. Read the PF Compatibility License and dive into the basics of copyright law.