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On not using licensed stuff

I’ve been asked if PFd4-II is going use any rulesets. The answer is no. Up until today, that was because I don’t really want to make it specific to any ruleset, because it means storing specific information about specific characters – INT, STR, DEX etc – and their equipment and what’s being worn and everything, and all of this has to be rewritten completely for every different ruleset.

Sod that for a game of tactical warfare.

My other stated reason for this was that I doubted that the various producers of rulesets would be terribly happy about an application that allowed you to play without the core rules books. I was then reminded that the D20 system is released under the OGL which might allow me to do this.

I checked the FAQs – it’s too early in the decade to wade though legal documents – and discovered:

Q: So what kinds of programs can I make with the OGL?
A: Anything. Character generators are popular, as are programs that help GMs keep track of their adventure. Random treasure generators are also fun.

Q: So I could make a game?
A: Sure. Remember though, you cannot use any Product Identity with the OGL or claim compatibility with anything. So you can’t say your game is a d20 System game or uses D&D rules or call it ‘Elminster’s Undermountain Crawl’.

Yay cool, I can use the rules to make a game. Except, hang on a second:

Q: Why can’t I use those things in my program?
A: No d20 System Product can include rules for character creation or applying experience. In exchange for using the d20 logo you are prohibited from making a product that replaces the core rulebooks. Covered Products supplement the core rulebooks; they may not replace them. That is why all Covered Products must state that they require the use of the core rules.

So, I can make a game with the D20 ruleset, but I can’t actually use the phrase “D20” to describe it. Therefore I’m not allowed to say “PFd4-II supports D20!” even if it does.

In fact, on top of this:

Q: What is different if I use the d20 System License?
A: […] This includes the obvious examples of attacking in combat, saving throws, and skill checks, but also includes dice rolling for character ability scores and hit points and rolling for damage. Why? Because in the d20 System a higher number is almost always better. Rolling an 18 for strength is obviously a preferable outcome to rolling a 3. In any circumstance where one outcome is quantifiably better than another is considered by Wizards to be an indication of success or failure; the software cannot perform these kinds of operations without breaching the license.

This means if I want to use the D20 name, I can’t actually say “You: 19, Enemy: 5, You hit” unless I pay the license fee because that’s how D20 works, but if I didn’t say it was D20, I could show the working.

So that’s the other reason I’m staying clear of labeled rulesets, they make my brane hurtz.

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