What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan material.

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Shadowslayer
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What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan material.

Post by Shadowslayer »

Howdy all. Been on a bit of a creative streak lately and was curious about some of the finer points of offering fan created material online, with regards to C&C. My bent lately has been on dungeon encounters, adventures and such, and had just thought about maybe posting some of this stuff up somewhere once its presentable. (no timelines though)

If I'm looking to stay out of Dutch with the Trolls, what can I NOT include in an encounter writeup?

C&C statblock for an Orc...yes or no?
C&C statblock for monsters of my own creation...yes or no?
C&C statblock for a monster of my own, based on a published monster...like an Orc BattleDruid or some such...yes or no?

For the record, my stuff is generic...not based in Airhde or anywhere else, and doesn't use any placenames, NPCs or material from other published materials like Blacktooth Ridge or whatever.

Just looking to get a handle on whats ok as far as the Trolls, and the community, are concerned.

I found an old thread regarding some Crusader Companion....but it didn't actually answer my questions. If there IS a guide somewhere, please feel free to point me towards it.

Thanks all.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Treebore »

The Crusaders Companion is here, and the answer to all your questions is in the OGL license in the back of every TLG book, the short answer is you can probably do everything you want, as long as you do it with the OGL included.


http://www.trolllord.com/downloads/index.html
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Breakdaddy »

I think what you want to do sounds fine but only Steve or Tim can give you the real skinny on what they feel would be suitable for these forums. As far as legality goes, what Treebore says seems right to me but Im no lawyer nor an expert on the OGL. From what I can tell the only time there was any sort of contention was when someone had done (what by some was considered) a quasi-legal mashup game that included the SIEGE mechanic and other C&C stuff with AD&D and other non-OGL content but that recollection is vague as well at this point and I cant argue the finer points of that incident.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Shadowslayer »

Yeah the OGL is largely like reading Chinese to me. I'm a gamer not a lawyer. But I'll see what I can make out on it.

I mean, I don't think putting together a group of encounters and statblocks to go along with them is gonna irk anyone...but I don't wanna step on any toes either.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Arduin »

Shadowslayer wrote:Yeah the OGL is largely like reading Chinese to me. I'm a gamer not a lawyer. But I'll see what I can make out on it.

I mean, I don't think putting together a group of encounters and statblocks to go along with them is gonna irk anyone...but I don't wanna step on any toes either.
Statblocks are cool for encounters you want to create. No one is going to pound you over that. Most material in the M&T is OGL anyway. Only the TERM Siege Engine & the exact description of it, as written in the books, is copyrighted. NOT the mechanics of the rule itself.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Treebore »

Arduin wrote:
Shadowslayer wrote:Yeah the OGL is largely like reading Chinese to me. I'm a gamer not a lawyer. But I'll see what I can make out on it.

I mean, I don't think putting together a group of encounters and statblocks to go along with them is gonna irk anyone...but I don't wanna step on any toes either.
Statblocks are cool for encounters you want to create. No one is going to pound you over that. Most material in the M&T is OGL anyway. Only the TERM Siege Engine & the exact description of it, as written in the books, is copyrighted. NOT the mechanics of the rule itself.
Yep. I am no lawyer myself, which is why I said "probably", but most of what is in the books, except what is specifically listed in the OGL, is "open" content, as long as you also include the OGL in your own work. Plus "copyright" only protects presentation of rules mechanics, not the actual rules themselves, something that is explicitly spelled out in US copyright law itself, so you can verify that yourself as well.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Arduin »

Treebore wrote: Plus "copyright" only protects presentation of rules mechanics, not the actual rules themselves, something that is explicitly spelled out in US copyright law itself, so you can verify that yourself as well.
Indeed. And that was the statutory hook that OSRIC's hat was hung on.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Treebore »

Arduin wrote:
Treebore wrote: Plus "copyright" only protects presentation of rules mechanics, not the actual rules themselves, something that is explicitly spelled out in US copyright law itself, so you can verify that yourself as well.
Indeed. And that was the statutory hook that OSRIC's hat was hung on.

Yep, and a good lawyer friend of mine had a HUGE hang up about it as well, even after I showed him the section in Copyright Law that explicitly spells out that fact. I think he's finally let it sink in now, but I'm still not sure...
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Arduin »

Treebore wrote:
Arduin wrote:
Treebore wrote: Plus "copyright" only protects presentation of rules mechanics, not the actual rules themselves, something that is explicitly spelled out in US copyright law itself, so you can verify that yourself as well.
Indeed. And that was the statutory hook that OSRIC's hat was hung on.

Yep, and a good lawyer friend of mine had a HUGE hang up about it as well, even after I showed him the section in Copyright Law that explicitly spells out that fact. I think he's finally let it sink in now, but I'm still not sure...
As far as copyright law, it is probably a somewhat esoteric clause. Don't know what else it would apply to other than the examples (gaming) we are talking about.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Shadowslayer »

Well see, thinking about it, I'm not really worried about the legalities of it. I wouldn't be selling anything, and if requested to cease and desist, I would. Easy peasy.

I'm more interested in whether or not fans are encouraged to do this stuff by the guys who own C&C. It seems they are, but I just want to be a little more certain before I translate my chickenscratched and dog eared bits of 3 ring binder paper into a format usable by anyone else.

So, I'm looking at an example. Exhibit A :D The Beacon at Enan Tor

Assuming I wrote something like Beacon, but assuming for the moment that it was original to me, it could be posted online using the same statblock format, as long as the OGL is attached....and be basically cool with everyone and the Trolls?

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Arduin »

Shadowslayer wrote:Alright. Well I'm looking at an example. The Beacon at Enan Tor

Assuming I wrote something like this module, (and assuming it was original to me rather than a conversion of an older work) it could be posted online using the same statblock format, as long as the OGL is attached, and not be in violation of anything?

As long as the monsters were OGL, yes. Remember, Castles & Crusades
and the term Castle Keeper are trademarks of Troll Lord Games, Inc.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Treebore »

Shadowslayer wrote:Well see, thinking about it, I'm not really worried about the legalities of it. I wouldn't be selling anything, and if requested to cease and desist, I would. Easy peasy.

I'm more interested in whether or not fans are encouraged to do this stuff by the guys who own C&C. It seems they are, but I just want to be a little more certain before I translate my chickenscratched and dog eared bits of 3 ring binder paper into a format usable by anyone else.

So, I'm looking at an example. Exhibit A :D The Beacon at Enan Tor

Assuming I wrote something like Beacon, but assuming for the moment that it was original to me, it could be posted online using the same statblock format, as long as the OGL is attached....and be basically cool with everyone and the Trolls?
Join the Crusade and submit it as free material to share with the Society... Plus earn "money" towards paying for a higher "title", if you desire one.

http://www.trolllord.com/knightsofthecr ... nights.php
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Shadowslayer »

Ill look into that when I get to a proper computer. My smartphone no likey that website for some reason. Can't see a "join" button.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Treebore »

Shadowslayer wrote:Ill look into that when I get to a proper computer. My smartphone no likey that website for some reason. Can't see a "join" button.

Yeah, you will need to "Log In", or do the create an account thing.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by shadow »

Actually, on a related note this thread got me wondering if I can make and publish fan material with non-SRD monsters (i.e. Mind Flayer', Beholder's etc.) .

Could I include very statistically similar monsters if they are not a wholesale copy of WotC's intellectual property? For example, could I include a 'brain eater' that is very similar to a D&D mind flayer in terms of statistics and description? It seams like the indie OSR rpg Adventures Dark and Deep has done such a thing in their monster manual. Are only the names and artwork copyrighted?

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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shadow wrote: Could I include very statistically similar monsters if they are not a wholesale copy of WotC's intellectual property? For example, could I include a 'brain eater' that is very similar to a D&D mind flayer in terms of statistics and description? It seams like the indie OSR rpg Adventures Dark and Deep has done such a thing in their monster manual. Are only the names and artwork copyrighted?
Yes, as long as you don't use copyrighted art or wording.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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shadow wrote:Actually, on a related note this thread got me wondering if I can make and publish fan material with non-SRD monsters (i.e. Mind Flayer', Beholder's etc.) .

Could I include very statistically similar monsters if they are not a wholesale copy of WotC's intellectual property? For example, could I include a 'brain eater' that is very similar to a D&D mind flayer in terms of statistics and description? It seams like the indie OSR rpg Adventures Dark and Deep has done such a thing in their monster manual. Are only the names and artwork copyrighted?
Fan material conversions of the Iconic monsters have been done for quite some time now. However those conversions cannot be used in official products as they violate the Product Identity clause of the OGL. Renaming the monster doesn't eliminate the PI restriction: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's almost certainly a duck.

Creating a monster that reminds players of an Iconic monster while having different appearance, background, even powers, should be enough to bypass the PI clause of the OGL. Creating a "brain eater" is a bit problematic, since part of the descriptive text of a mind flayer is the fact it eats brains. Now, if you were to keep the things that make a mind flayer a mind flayer, change up its appearance, its background, its powers, and especially change its brain sucking ability to something similar but without physically destroying the brain, then you have a whole new creature and should be good to go. For a good example of this, take a look at the Prysmal Eye in Monsters & Treasure.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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Traveller wrote:Creating a "brain eater" is a bit problematic, since part of the descriptive text of a mind flayer is the fact it eats brains.
No, it isn't. No one could legally sue over that. Not per the OGL nor by statute. You WOULD have a nice counter suit for harassment if someone did though.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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As long as you coat the fan material in a thick layer of pure salt, it should be kosher.
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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Relaxo wrote:As long as you coat the fan material in a thick layer of pure salt, it should be kosher.
Hmm. Mine tend to be coated in more cheese than salt. ;)

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Traveller »

Arduin wrote:
Traveller wrote:Creating a "brain eater" is a bit problematic, since part of the descriptive text of a mind flayer is the fact it eats brains.
No, it isn't. No one could legally sue over that. Not per the OGL nor by statute. You WOULD have a nice counter suit for harassment if someone did though.
By using the OGL you put yourself under its restrictions. One of those restrictions is that you cannot use product identity. You also give up some rights you normally would be entitled to by using the OGL.

The brain eating thing may skate by if the monster is different, but if not sufficiently different Hasbro can send a C&D, in which case you would have to comply.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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Traveller wrote:
The brain eating thing may skate by if the monster is different,
Yes, JUST a brain eating monster isn't covered under the OGL restrictions. That was my only point. Product ID cannot be a common item/trope, etc. Brain eating monsters have MUCH prior art and cannot be protected thus.

"Brain eating" is considered a mechanic. Doing that WITH the same descriptive (coloring, tentacles around mouth, et al) would be a breach of the OGL. Now, if you WEREN'T publishing under the OGL, you can go further...
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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by Pat Payne »

Relaxo wrote:As long as you coat the fan material in a thick layer of pure salt, it should be kosher.
What happens, though if one of the NPCs is a large ham? :lol:

(From the 1942 "To Be or Not to Be" : "Mr. Ravitsch, what you are, I couldn't eat.")

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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On a related note, I've been looking at the 1st ed. Monster Manual and noticing how many variations of brain / mind eater / destroyers there are: brain mole, cerebral parasite, ear seeker, intellect devourerer, mind flayer, thought eater. Someone really liked the concept ...

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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kreider204 wrote:On a related note, I've been looking at the 1st ed. Monster Manual and noticing how many variations of brain / mind eater / destroyers there are: brain mole, cerebral parasite, ear seeker, intellect devourerer, mind flayer, thought eater. Someone really liked the concept ...
Well, at the time DnD was known to rot your mind. Just going with a theme maybe? ;)

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

Post by serleran »

The SIEGE Engine is trademarked. You can use OGC material. Furthermore, I believe the stat block for monsters is considered Product Identity...not the words, but the order, so you would need your own.

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Re: What is kosher and what is not with regards to fan mater

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Shadowslayer wrote:
kreider204 wrote:On a related note, I've been looking at the 1st ed. Monster Manual and noticing how many variations of brain / mind eater / destroyers there are: brain mole, cerebral parasite, ear seeker, intellect devourerer, mind flayer, thought eater. Someone really liked the concept ...
Well, at the time DnD was known to rot your mind. Just going with a theme maybe? ;)
Oh yeah - thus the rot grub, not to mention all the corrosive oozes and slimes ... :D

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