Tag Archives: OGL

Other Open Gaming Thoughts

Besides the buzz about D&D Next possibly being OGL, there’s other news in game licensing land.

First of all, the GUMSHOE system used by Pelgrane Publishing in many of their games is released under both OGL and Creative Commons! You can download the SRD in Word format there. Very cool.

Second, Numenera has a license and it’s not quite open. One product has been released so far though, Celestial Wisdom. But here’s why this concerns me.

Numenera is an innovative game in a very weird setting. A setting that could benefit a LOT from third party material. It’s going to be intimidating to some people to actually run, because of the weird nature of the setting and adventures.  The more the better, and any bars there limit it somewhat.

In conjunction with that, the Monte Cook brigade are now off on their second Kickstarter for a similary ambitious game called The Strange.  This does not give me a lot of confidence that Numenera is going to see lots of support from Monte Cook Games itself.  Given the worry that they’re just going to be happily Kickstarting one neat new idea after another and then moving to the next without focusing their effort on sustaining each one, does it make sense from any perspective to put limitations on people that do want to?

13th Age has, on the other hand, released under the OGL with their SRD located here on the Pelgrane site. That makes me a little more hopeful about ongoing support.

D&D Next Might Be OGL?

In an ENWorld thread about their Amethyst Kickstarter, Chris Dias of DiasExMachina claims to have it “on good authority” that D&D Next/5e will be released under an open license, possibly the OGL.

If true this would be huge, and possibly bring D&D back into the living mainstream of gaming from the weird blind alley it’s been coursing down.  I’ve been reading the next playtest docs and it’s OK – but not OK enough for me to bother with if it’s not open with a SRD and third party support (especially for adventures). If it is actually open, and distinguishes itself enough from Pathfinder (ideally by being way more simple and D&D Basic like), then it might just have a place at my gaming table after all.

When I got my copy of Third Edition at Gen Con 2000, it was the Green Ronin Freeport module that was the first thing we ran, and their (and other 3pp’s) rapid adventure support after that was what kept us in avid 3e gaming goodness for quite a while. If Next can pull off the same thing, then it could light WotC’s D&D back up!

 

Skull and Shackles – Why Community and Open Licensing Are So Important

Paizo Publishing has started in on their next adventure path, the pirate-themed “Skull & Shackles.” They are supporting it well, with six books of adventure and rules material, the Isles of the Shackles campaign setting book, a Player’s Guide, and the Pirates of the Inner Sea player’s book.

But where it really begins to shine is the support that their rich ecosystem provides – third party publishers and fans, empowered by the OGL specifically and Paizo’s pro-community policies in general.

So from third party publishers, you can get paper minis for the AP from Pathfinder Paper Minis, which has done them for a number of APs. Or expanded ships and ship rules from LPJ which expand on the rules in the Player’s Guide. Hero Lab has the rules content from S&S going into their tool.

But that pales compared to the community support.  Just on the Paizo forums, we have people statting up all the NPCs in Hero Lab. And putting together tools to help track all the pirate jobs and NPC attitudes, and generally helpful things like calculating how far away you can see a ship or creating ambient noise files tuned to the AP.

And that’s why open licensing and promoting instead of shutting down fan sites is good business, and why Paizo is beating the pants off WotC right now.

The OGL: It’s Not Just d20

Hey, so I keep seeing people confused about the Open Game License. My Open Gaming for Dummies article helps dispel some of that but let’s come out and get one thing clear – it’s not “just for D&D” or just d20-derived games. Open gaming is strong and diverse.

The OGL is just a license.  It’s like the open source Apache, GPL, or MIT licenses in that it can be applied by anyone – though it was written by WotC originally, it’s not owned by them and has no relation to what games can be released under it.

Guess what all game systems are open under the OGL license?

  • The Action! system (from Gold Rush Games)
  • Traveller (Mongoose’s version)
  • Runequest (Mongoose’s version)
  • The d6 system (from West End Games’ Star Wars and Ghostbusters)
  • Fudge and its newer more popular variant FATE and derivatives thereof, like ICONS

And many more, including many many d20 variants from Anime d20 to Mutants & Masterminds.  I’m not sure there’s a comprehensive list – here’s a couple that are old and out of date. But that’s like, a big share of the systems people have played over the decades.

And of course this doesn’t mention other open games published under other licenses, like Eclipse Phase is published under Creative Commons.

Really, publishers, is there a reason NOT to open license your system?  Because face it, your system kinda sucks.  They all do. Your best bet is to get it in the hands of as many people as possible so they’ll get interested and buy your products. If GURPS got open licensed, for example, maybe someone under 30 would play it.

Open Gaming Triumphs In The End

Back in 2008, Mike Mearls wrote about whether open gaming had been a success… Right before Wizards pulled the plug on it.  Death to open gaming was their clear intent, especially when they added a clause to the new very non-open GSL forbidding use of the OGL by people looking to use the GSL.

And now, by Wizards’ own  numbers, the people playing D&D has gone from 6 million in 2007 to 1.5 million now.  So is D&D dying?

Grognardia brought to my attention this post by Ryan Dancey (archtiect of the OGL) on the Paizo forums about his view of how the OGL succeeded.

In the end, D&D isn’t dying – it’s free.  Hasbro can jack with it now all they want, but it was freed once and for all by Dancey, and so Paizo and the OSR and everyone else can play D&D and spread it far and wide, regardless of what kid film licensed property some suit wants to push this year.

Let Hasbro make all the soda and tennis shoes they want, and we get to play D&D and safely disregard whatever flavor of the month they are peddling.  Power to the people!

The Past Of Modern d20 Gaming – And The Future?

Conversation among our gaming group recently turned to “Hey, was there ever another edition of d20 Modern?”  It got me thinking about  modern gaming and d20 modern-type gaming, especially as there may be some new breakthroughs coming on that front soon.  (Teaser!  I’ll spill the beans later in the article!)

Generic Modern d20 Games

I thought d20 Modern was just okay.  It was serviceable.  I didn’t like the stat-based classes, I think that’s lame.  And I didn’t like the way they halfheartedly supported it – it’s like it wasn’t a real product, just a spoiler product to steal sales from Shadowrun, etc.  In my mind it didn’t compare well; they proposed d20 Modern Dark Matter and Star*Drive, for example, which pretty much were better using the Alternity system. d20 Past and Future were just insulting in how light they were.  “You could use this to replace a number of other existing games!  We won’t provide enough content for you to do it out of the box, but look, you clearly could do it!”   Not sure what they were thinking.

Two other major d20-based games tried to fill the gap – True20 and Modern20.  True20 is Green Ronin’s generic, somewhat simplified d20 system; they use variants of it in Mutants & Masterminds and Blue Rose.  I like it better than d20 Modern, but am not wildly enthusiastic about it.  I don’t like the wound system, particularly.  And there’s not a lot of direct support for modern gaming; it’s meant to not be purely fantasy-tied so you *can* do it but it seems spread thin.  Every support book feels like it has to cover fantasy/modern/future/etc. which means you only get a little of each in the Companion, class books, etc.  That’s a poor marketing strategy because it means if I want material for a modern warrior, I have to buy a book with fantasy stuff in it.  I’m sure there are 10 or so people out there so in love with True20 they want to buy everything, but normal people would like books focused around information useful in a specific game they’re gonna run.

Modern20, from RPGObjects, is more specifically modern focused, which is nice.  It still goes with a largely stat-tied set of core classes, though it tries to add a little more “zazz” to them.  They have supplements for horror, martial arts, etc.  Seems serviceable.

Specific Genre Modern d20 Games

Mutants & Masterminds, from Green Ronin, is a great superheroes game.  I love it – well, the first edition.  I felt like the second edition overcomplicated things and decided the book should read more like a dictionary than a gamebook.  I understand some people like that kind of “definition centric” format but I say bah.   Anyway, I really like M&M 1e.  Beautiful books, you can build beautiful Marvelesque characters, and fun gameplay.  Criticisms – the way damage works can be a little problematic sometimes and I’ve learned over time that games that give the DM action points to use for villains suck.  Anyway, it’s the best d20 supers game hands down and IMO one of the best supers games in any system.  But it’s pretty much just for supers, which is great for that genre and not relevant for others.

Spycraft was another excellent game – in its first edition.  It’s weird that I also don’t like its second edition; it’s super overcomplicated and also goes for that descriptor stuff, must have been a fad at the time.  It was an espionage game, but because of that could work perfectly well for modern action, crime, investigation, military, etc.  If you’re looking to play a “subtle” genre, d20 probably isn’t the right thing to use anyway.  But if you want to be a faceman, soldier, wheelman, or fixer, it’s the game to use!  For most traditional modern genres, though, in my opinion Spycraft 1.0 is the shizznit.  (I didn’t like their uber gonzo “G.I. Joe on meth” setting,  Shadowforce Archer, but all the class guides are nice.)  They went the ‘real class’ direction instead of the ‘stat class’ – heck, Spycraft 2.0 minimized stats to the degree where they did away with ability checks!   You can find all the Spycraft 1.0 stuff easily at Half Price Books etc.  I don’t know what the heck Crafty is doing with the game line now that they have 2.0 – their supplements are bizarre (convert to d20 Modern!  Add fantasy!  Book after book of new guns!).

Haven: City of Violence, from LPJ Designs, also seems like a good bet.  I haven’t played it, but it seems to stay squarely in the modern action/crime/etc and not try to add in psychic mutant magic-using bugbears or other crap like that.  Seems to be Grand Theft Auto in Sin City directed by John Woo.  I’d like to give it a shot sometime.

What’s New?

Well, there may be a Pathfinder version of Modern in the works!  People asked Paizo to do it from time to time but they said “we’re busy with the core stuff.”  Recently, however, on the Paizo boards, some names you may recognize – Stan!, Owen K.C. Stephens, and Hyrum Savage, who have formed Super Genius Gamesare seriously talking about doing a Pathfinder Modern, possibly as a patronage project.  Although I’m leery of patronage projects, as the RPGverse is full of long promised and never delivered products (Nick Logue and Razor Coast, I’m looking at you), it’d be interesting to get a new version of d20 Modern with the learnin’ of the last 10 years baked in.

Here’s what such a game should look like IMO.

  • Real classes, not “stat based” classes.
  • Vitality and wound points, not pure hit points or a True20 weird DC thing.
  • A general modern corebook, but supplements organized along specific genre lines.

Some Bonus RPG.net Reviews

Open Gaming FTW! Pathfinder SRD Already Up

In all the release hullabaloo it’s easy to miss, but Paizo shows how committed they are to open gaming by putting the Pathfinder RPG System Reference Document (or PRD) up the very same day the game released!

Be warned, it’s really slooooooow right now ass hordes of people are paying their $10 to download the whole 500+ page PDF from the Paizo site.  But if you’re just dying to see how Combat Maneuver Bonus is calculated in the final, it’s there in the Combat section!

To prioritize the extra work required to get this out “the day of” the RPG and PDF release (and Gen Con) is an amazing statement about their dedication to open gaming.   Heck, many OGL games leave it to the fans to create the SRD, or do it months-to-years after they release the game.  It’s great to see that Paizo doesn’t hold any archaic notions of how that will “inhibit their sales.”  They are releasing a free SRD, a $10 PDF, and a $50 book on the same day; the first print run of the book is already sold out and a mob of people at Gen Con are surrounding a huge stack of books trying to get theirs.  Congratulations to Paizo for understanding at a deep level that the open model is not “charity” or a detriment to sales, but in fact is a force multiplier that will bring you even more success!

Somebody give me a “Hell yeah!”