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The GSL is Here

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And at first glance, the GSL is absolutely terrible for Kobold Quarterly. I'm not sure it will matter much for Open Design, as the Wrath of the River King will be in a separate product line.

I was hoping for better. Bah.

Comments

( 93 comments — Leave a comment )
iamnikchick
Jun. 18th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, doesn't look so good for Freeport either.
terraleon
Jun. 18th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Wow. So they can change it at anytime, they don't have to tell you it's been changed, you give up the desire to be notified, you can't modify the base system, you couldn't put out a 4E KQ until after GenCon, and ... if I'm reading that right, not make KQ a magazine? Or convert over and never make OGL material available in KQ again.

Yeah, that looks pretty grim for KQ if you wanted to provide material for each edition. Fold it over, and I guess it might be "ok," but that whole "we can change what we want when we want and you're ok with it because you said so here" bit is kind of tough. And chances are they've got a lot more lawyers around than most 3PP have handy, so they've got people over the proverbial barrel. Hmph. I think I'll have the legal counsel, errr, wife, look over it, just for fun.

-Ben.
open_design
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)
I would love to hear a professional legal opinion on it. Even one that amounted to "You must be kidding me."
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nerdmonkey
Jun. 18th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
I think we all kind of expected this. WotC lowered the standard for what they're willing to do so much that they're finally hitting the mark.
innercaine
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Things to make you go hmmmmm
6.1 OGL Product Conversion. If Licensee has entered into the “Open Gaming License version 1.0” with Wizards (“OGL”), and Licensee has previously published a product under the OGL (each an “OGL Product”), Licensee may publish a Licensed Product subject to this License that features the same or similar title, product line trademark, or contents as such OGL Product (each such OGL Product, a “Converted OGL Product”, and each such Licensed Product, a “Conversion”). Upon the first publication date of a Conversion, Licensee will cease all manufacturing and publication of the corresponding Converted OGL Product and all other OGL Products which are part of the same product line as the Converted OGL Product, as reasonably determined by Wizards (“Converted OGL Product Line”). Licensee explicitly agrees that it will not thereafter manufacture or publish any portion of the Converted OGL Product Line, or any products that would be considered part of a Converted OGL Product Line (as reasonably determined by Wizards) pursuant to the OGL. Licensee may continue to distribute and sell-off all remaining physical inventory of a Converted OGL Product Line after the corresponding Conversion is published, but will, as of such date, cease all publication, distribution and sale (and ensure that third party affiliates of Licensee cease their publication, distribution and sale) of any element of a Converted OGL Product Line in any electronic downloadable format. For the avoidance of doubt, (a) any OGL Product that is not part of a Converted OGL Product Line may continue to be manufactured, published, sold and distributed pursuant to the OGL; and (b) this Section 6.1 will survive termination of this Agreement.

Bold emphasis is mine.

This last sentence I am intrepreting as meaning that once something is written for the GSL, or is converted to the GSL, it can not be ever republished under the OGL... even if the GSL (or your use of it) is terminated.

You will essentially have lost rights to it should the GSL be terminated.. It might still be yours technically, but you can't publish it.
halo_ov_fire
Jun. 19th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Things to make you go hmmmmm
Which means Wizards could grab it, define, and publish it. Because, legally, you can't.


philreed
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:21 am (UTC)
My first response is to say no. It's a lot more restrictive than I expected.
open_design
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's my first impression as well.

I was expected worse than the OGL. But this seems to provide very little benefit to gamers or publishers. It reads a bit like "You can use the IP, but not the game".

Which is weird, given that game rules are freely available under US copyright law. Or maybe that's the point.
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innercaine
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
HeroForge
I know those kids at HeroForge had high hopes of making another character manager.

They just got hit with a tactical nuke. That's a no, no, now. DD Insider or DD Insider. That's all you got, Baby.
open_design
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
Re: HeroForge
Well, if you're going to charge $120/year, you better nuke the competition first.
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nerdmonkey
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
This thread is cathartic. I'm not sure what to make of the GSL, but my heart goes out to the amazing writers out there who just wanted to write fun D&D adventures.
joverath
Jun. 18th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
After reading the 4E rules, I'm fine with staying with the old system myself.
innercaine
Jun. 18th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
Wrath of the River King
The implications for Wrath are being discussed over at Paizo.

http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/community/gaming/4thEdition/gSLPosted

I admit to wondering how you feel about the fact that if the GSL was yanked, you couldn't publish it ever again. Not a loss if it was a patron exclusive like a traditional O.D. Project, but my understanding was that it wasn't intended to be exclusive in that way.

Viv Wertz points out that the definition of a different product line is left up to Hasbro to interpret.
wyrm1234
Jun. 18th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Well, this'll set off a new round of "edition wars" over at Paizo. Certainly these particular threads are going to be quite interesting as more folks have an opportunity to consider the implications if what Wizards wrought. I'm not one to ascribe malice to companies. In my experience, most have pretty good people working for them. The GSL clearly is intended to "protect" 4e, in ways that the OGL did not with 3e. Whether it went too far remains to be seen.

I'm still looking forward to seeing what folks like Wolfgang and Nicholas Logue and the really nice people like Harley Stroh at Goodman Games and Necromancer Games do with 4e.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 18th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)
GSL reaction at Paizo
Even amongst the most ardent 4E enthusiasts over on the Paizo boards there appears to me to be some early concern that this GSL may have gone too far.
Charles Evans ('Charles Evans 25' on the Paizo boards)
Re: GSL reaction at Paizo - open_design - Jun. 18th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: GSL reaction at Paizo - neutronjockey - Jun. 18th, 2008 08:36 am (UTC) - Expand
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ampherion
Jun. 18th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
Just the intent and position of the "license" alone would make me stay the hell (DAMN YOU ASMODEUS!) away from this thing. I see a few things being behind this...but at this point I am so damn upset about the elm trees in my garden I don't know if I am unbiased enough to be civil.

We WotC, Hasbro Et al.

1) Do hereby demand that all RPG freelancers who plan to make $0.01 from 4E do so through us, and damned to you all who take it upon yourself to try to reap the benefits of your own creativity;

2) Do hereby implement the game of Paranoia (TM, but not of WotC) using legal reality because we were not creative enough to create it in RPG form; (ok, I'm just pissed here)

3) Must defend our copyright (nothing wrong with that) using any and all means possible, including those means that are considered unfriendly, unholy, and purely weaselly;

4) Do hereby intend to change the rules on a whim, but damnit you better not ask us about it!;

5) Hold you legally accountable, regardless of statute 4 above;

I can't do it anymore. I'm too pissed.

None the less, I have to say what kind of absurd insanity does it take for a business to make it so damn hard to do business with them?

Maybe they are just doing this to clear a path for GenCon and then they will revoke some of this chuckle headed stuff afterward? Does any business ever do that?

I have half of a mind to wget the damn GSL from their site every second from 3000 different sources, and have a big alarm on a webpage say "THE TIME IS %TIME% IN THE LAST BASTION OF HOPE THE GSL HAS BEEN MODIFIED! ALL BE FOREWARNED! (DONG!)".

Lets hope work keeps me engaged so I don't put my energies in evil efforts over the next few days.
open_design
Jun. 18th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
Hey, I was willing to pay them for a 4E license. I think that road would have been a lot easier than what I'm seeing ahead for "Wrath".

If it's any consolation, I think they've made a fair number of new enemies today, including a few who used to be their strongest supporters.
(no subject) - ampherion - Jun. 18th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - philreed - Jun. 18th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC) - Expand
poperon
Jun. 18th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
Well if nothing else, the next couple of days are going to be filled with all kinds of interesting conversation (and bile).
jonmichaels
Jun. 18th, 2008 04:09 am (UTC)
The GSL/SRD makes me very sad. I have been getting burned out on the bloat of rules in 3.x. I was so ready for something new. I have had a lot of fun running 4e demo games here in Los Angeles. The new edition seemed like the chance to get in on the ground floor so to speak and try my hand with some of my own creations. I have a day job. I am not facing the big problems that third party publishers will likely face with this license. It all seems kind of futile now though.
amykouai
Jun. 18th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
I have to admit that my opinion on the GSL is that it is at once both A) incredibly lame and 2) standard. I've looked at a lot of licenses in my time as a software developer and this is actually less restrictive than some of the ones I've read.

Admittedly this is game rules, not software, but I think as a community we gamers have been hoping for something that's less, well, corporate than what we've got, so I think there's a lot of disappointment. But I have some sympathy for the non-suits in WotC, who I get the feeling have been fighting tooth and nail for even this much.

In any event, on EN World I have tried to translate the rules into Common here for the interested.
nerdmonkey
Jun. 18th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
I had actually noticed that this license is MORE restrictive that what I've seen as a software developer. I've dug through a lot of licenses when making purchasing decisions for the companies I've worked for and the GSL makes even Microsoft look good.
savageplanet
Jun. 18th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
What's got me worried is section 11.4. For whatever reason, and whether or not it holds up in court, WotC can sue you and you have to pay their costs, which are determined solely by them.

You do a product and piss WotC off? You might get sued, and who cares if it has any merit, you still have to pay for it.

Wow.
amykouai
Jun. 18th, 2008 08:09 am (UTC)
The way I read it, 11.4 only applies in the case of noncompliance with the license.
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coffeesucker
Jun. 18th, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
What about gaming forums and online roleplaying?
All of this legal speak is coming at me too early in the morning (and I'm only on my first cup of coffee). So, I'm glad I got in on this discussion AFTER everyone else posted and "translated" the GSL for me. :)

I am very concerned about KQ and OD but I am also concerned about online roleplaying. How does the GSL affect these communities...if any? Will we have to get permission before we crop artwork and post it in our games as visual aids? Will we not be able to use the term "Core Rulebooks" any more?
There's a lot of this I just don't understand, never having worked in the gaming business. So any help is appreciated.
-g-
rentagurkha
Jun. 18th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
Re: What about gaming forums and online roleplaying?
Will we have to get permission before we crop artwork and post it in our games as visual aids?

That's a violation of copyright, and technically not legal even now.
technoir
Jun. 18th, 2008 12:35 pm (UTC)
My .02 cents.

It is not as bad as we at one time feared but it is not good. I had been coming up with a setting for fourth edition which I had entertained notions of turning it into something publishable. I was considering doing it as a self publish or something like that. Given these terms though I don't think that will happen. Hell I locked down the Wiki for it after reading this on the off chance Hasbro might sue me for using terms from the PHB.

oh well.

Maybe I could do it in True 20 or Pathfinder.
trevorstamper
Jun. 18th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
That is one rough license!

Wolfgang, just remember that you have a loyal (and growing) group of people who love what you are doing RIGHT NOW with KQ and OD. If you can stomach the GSL license and create a 4e publishing line, then I wish you all the best, but hopefully you won't be cutting off the much more favorable OGL line of products (and it now sounds like you won't).

Regardless, good luck with growing your business in the near future! I hope you are still considering the USB thumbdrive option for GenCon--I know several people who will be interested in it!
sigtrent
Jun. 18th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
For me, 6.1 is the only seriouse sticking point, but I don't run a buisness on my 3.5 endevors so I have a lot less on the line than other folks do. None the less I'd like to see lots of 4E products running around so I'd be disapointed if the lincens kills off the community for it.

I read the license mostly with an eye for WOTS intent, since that is probably how these things get written to some extent.

#1. WOTC wants to retain control over their IP and copyright (nothing unusual about that)

#2. WOTC wants to cover thier legal backside six ways till sunday. (also pretty much expected, I would assume unless you piss them off, its not going to be a big issue)

#3. WOTC doesn't want you to make an alternate rule book and compet with the core rules. (I think this is where all the "dont change definitions" stuff comes in, and you can see it in other parts of the license. They want supliments and settings, not re-workings of the core rules. I think the system itslef is so modular that you can hang just about anything you want on it without changing much of anything.)

#4. WOTC doesn't want 3.5 materials competing with 4E materials because they really really want thier new game to fly. (Understandable but it puts most publishers in a very tricky and unpleasant spot depending on how WOTC sees the idea of a product line. It also is really unplesant for a magazine unless it wants to spin off two editions. Personaly I think 6.1 is a mistake on their part. They are setting up a clear competition between 4E and 3.5 instead of simply subsuming it.)

I'm not sure what others expereinces have been under OGL/d20. Personaly I've never heard a peep from WOTC about my work to date. I don't personaly expect that to change.

I do need to come up wtih a strategy for keeping out 3.5 version available while making a 4E version available. It's strictly againt the licens but since I'm an individual I can easily shift control of the older version to another person and give it a different pitch. One thing it does, since it doesn't cover websites, is encourage that you brand 3.5 and 4.0 products differently so they are not part of the same "line".
terraleon
Jun. 18th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
This solution on stat blocks is rather funny:

***paraphrased From Chattydm.net comments, Graham***

New Template: Wrathful Riverking
- Add ability: “This ability does nothing”
No action, at will. Close Burst 0.
Effect: nothing, but dang, he's angry.

New monster: Wrathful Riverking Kobold Slinger
***all normal stats***
***”This ability does nothing” ability***

Hey look! Derived content!

***end paraphrased text***

hehehehe, I don't know if that's something to consider but "Wrathful Riverking" monsters would allow use of whatever statblocks we wanted.

-Ben.
jdigital
Jun. 19th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
Ha, I noticed this. In theory, you can reprint any monster provided you scale it up or down a level.
jdigital
Jun. 19th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Ouch, I just realised how bad this license is for Kobold Quarterly. If I'm reading this right you can't print any 4E material without also swearing off 3E material and cancelling the PDF back issues. As a competitor to Dragon, it would be difficult to negotiate a separate license.
halo_ov_fire
Jun. 19th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
I've read the license a few times over since it came out stateside.

This is NOT good for anyone BUT WoTC. Under the OGL, the mechanics were free and the IP was copyrighted. Under the GSL, the mechanics are considered IP, as I read it, and they've nailed the proverbial competitors to the floor, donkey-punched them, and then told them to just smile and take it.

Okay, maybe that's a bit much.

I've got a lawyer in the family, and I'm going to have him take a look at it. But I'm thinking he's going to say the same thing I'm thinking ..."stay with the OGL and modify away..."

Jaye

PS ...I'm pretty sure WoTC just handed the crew over at Paizo a HUGE chunk of their sales.
99bullets
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
Lament
I just want to add a level of sympathy for those who were moving towards 4E.

Having pretty much made it clear that 3.5E is my line in the sand I am pretty unaffected by GSL. However the "pain" is clearly oozing off the screen for some and I find that sad.

Gamers, on the whole have endured a lot over the last three decades but have always been a community, where if you wanted to amend a rule - fine, House Rules go for it. Want to print a fanzine - Rock on!.

It seems that now its WOTC way or the highway.

Sad.
felonius
Jun. 23rd, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC)
Magazines Forbidden?
Could someone explain section 3 to me?

"3. Licensed Products. The license granted in Section 4 is for use solely in connection with
Licensee’s publication, distribution, and sale of roleplaying games and roleplaying game supplements that
contain the Licensed Materials and are published in a hardcover or soft-cover printed book format or in a
single-download electronic book format (such as .pdf), and accessory products to the foregoing roleplaying
games and roleplaying game supplements that are not otherwise listed as excluded in Section 5.5
(“Licensed Products”). "

Does this mean that someone can't do a magazine with 4e content in it? Or does that count as a "game supplement"? I understand that the last sentence added to 5.5 (and the last segment of that section) indicates that you can't have "mixed" content (All GSL, whatever the product), but I'm a little shaky on whether you can do a print magazine supporting 4e...
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