Goodman Games Kickstarts Two New 5E Adventures

Goodman Games is Kickstarting "New adventures for the 5th edition of the world’s first fantasy RPG". The Kickstarter is for two adventures The Pillars of Pelagia (by Chris Doyle) and War-lock (by Michael Curtis) under its Fifth Edition Fantasy banner, of which two adventures have already been released.

Goodman Games is Kickstarting "New adventures for the 5th edition of the world’s first fantasy RPG". The Kickstarter is for two adventures The Pillars of Pelagia (by Chris Doyle) and War-lock (by Michael Curtis) under its Fifth Edition Fantasy banner, of which two adventures have already been released.

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As a side-note, although Goodman Games isn't quite, as it says, "the only third party publisher to continuously support Dungeons & Dragons in every edition since 3E" , it's certainly one of the only ones. I have Goodman adventures from 3.x, 4E, and 5E.

You're looking at $20 for two softcover adventures (plus shipping), which seems a good deal to me.

Find the Kickstarter right here (or click on one of the pretty pictures).

Each adventure is between 16-42 pages, and is a standalone story designed to fit into any existing campaign or setting. Goodman Games has a repuation these days for old-school roleplaying (especially with its Dungeon Crawl Classics line), and these products often have an old-school aesthetic which can be very appealing.

Stretch goals for this particular campaign include expansions for both adventures, and a third adventure called The Dragon's Maw for Free RPG Day.


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Evenglare

Adventurer
So they have the rights to put 5e and World's First Fantasy RPG while using the 5e rules? That does seem incredibly similar to the "game" children play when they stick their finger a millimeter infront of their sibling's face saying "Im not touching you, I'm not touching you". Very interesting skirting along those borders while not technically linking with wizards directly.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So they have the rights to put 5e and World's First Fantasy RPG while using the 5e rules?

I'm not sure what you mean by "have the rights" but yes, everybody has the right to do anything not prohibited by law; and there's no legal impediment - at least that I'm aware of - to prevent anybody using the phrase "world's first fantasy RPG".
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
I'm not sure what you mean by "have the rights" but yes, everybody has the right to do anything not prohibited by law; and there's no legal impediment - at least that I'm aware of - to prevent anybody using the phrase "world's first fantasy RPG".

Right im not saying they DON'T have the right (which is why I wrote the "im not touching you" mentality) I know it's legal but really really skirting the line, you cant deny that "Worlds first RPG" comes awfully close to the "Worlds Greatest RPG" which the OGL required people to use, if I remember right. Also, if all of this is legal then why aren't there large amounts of projects in the work for 5e? It seemed that people were holding back for a license, but if you don't even need one (as this project seems to be) why isn't there being more developed by other companies for it? Surely, since it's taken back the top space for most popular RPG, more people would want to start making lots of stuff for the game.
 

pemerton

Legend
So they have the rights to put 5e and World's First Fantasy RPG while using the 5e rules?
In the law of copyright and trademarks, there is no general entitlement to monopolise the production of things defined simply by loose function. For instance, WotC has no entitlement to monopolise the production of things that have the function of being useful for playing D&D.

So, for instance, nothing stops me from writing a short book or pamphlet that describes a pseudo-mediaeval fantasy city, including its inhabitants, and that talks about how they might interact with player characters in various sorts of ways, leading to adventurous hijinks, and then selling that book with a blurb on it saying "Buy this book to get a fun setting for use with fantasy roleplaying games."

Suppose I add in stats to my book - for NPCs, for various mechanically-defined objects, etc. There is the potential for that extra bit of writing to violate WotC's copyrights in respect of various text in its various rulebooks, but there are two complications. First, rules cannot be copyrighted, and if a given text is the only way of expressing a rule then that text can't be copyrighted. It's not clear how this legal principle applies to RPGs, but it's not necessarily in WotC's interests to litigate and find out!

Second, WotC has licensed the use of various bits and pieces of its text (as published in the SRD) via the OGL, and GG may be intending to publish taking the benefit of that license, and hence replicating only licensed mechanical text. This is not free of uncertainty either, but again it's not necessarily in WotC's interests to litigate.

Anyway, let's suppose for the sake of argument that GG will not be infringing any copyright that WotC has in respect of its text. (I'm not suggesting that GG is infringing; I'm just saying that the text isn't known to me, and so I can only assume that it is non-infringing.)

Then the question is mostly one of trademarks: is GG trying to pass its works off as having been produced by WotC? I don't see any evidence on those covers that they are doing so. They aren't using "Dungeons & Dragons". They don't seem to be using any WotC-style logos, fonts, etc. To the best of my knowledge, WotC has not used the phrase "Fifth Edition Fantasy" on any of its products, and only uses the phrase "fifth edition" to describe other books (eg the back cover of the PHB recommends buying the "fifth edition" MM and DMG).

Hence the conclusion that GG probably isn't infringing any of WotC's IP rights.
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
Again, I get that I really do. The logical next step in the question is "Why aren't more companies and independent publishers writing for 5e and producing stuff?" It seems like any sort of license via OGL or GSL is completely worthless. There are only 2 real check points on making products it seems.

1. Can I create my own fictional stories/worlds? Check (Wizards has no claim to the IP.)
2. Can I use the mechanics from 5e? Check (because mechanics can't be copywritten)

Seems pointless to wait for a possible license or new OGL, or even use the existing one honestly.
 

Icon_Charlie

First Post
In the law of copyright and trademarks, there is no general entitlement to monopolise the production of things defined simply by loose function. For instance, WotC has no entitlement to monopolise the production of things that have the function of being useful for playing D&D.

So, for instance, nothing stops me from writing a short book or pamphlet that describes a pseudo-mediaeval fantasy city, including its inhabitants, and that talks about how they might interact with player characters in various sorts of ways, leading to adventurous hijinks, and then selling that book with a blurb on it saying "Buy this book to get a fun setting for use with fantasy roleplaying games."

Suppose I add in stats to my book - for NPCs, for various mechanically-defined objects, etc. There is the potential for that extra bit of writing to violate WotC's copyrights in respect of various text in its various rulebooks, but there are two complications. First, rules cannot be copyrighted, and if a given text is the only way of expressing a rule then that text can't be copyrighted. It's not clear how this legal principle applies to RPGs, but it's not necessarily in WotC's interests to litigate and find out!

Second, WotC has licensed the use of various bits and pieces of its text (as published in the SRD) via the OGL, and GG may be intending to publish taking the benefit of that license, and hence replicating only licensed mechanical text. This is not free of uncertainty either, but again it's not necessarily in WotC's interests to litigate.

Anyway, let's suppose for the sake of argument that GG will not be infringing any copyright that WotC has in respect of its text. (I'm not suggesting that GG is infringing; I'm just saying that the text isn't known to me, and so I can only assume that it is non-infringing.)

Then the question is mostly one of trademarks: is GG trying to pass its works off as having been produced by WotC? I don't see any evidence on those covers that they are doing so. They aren't using "Dungeons & Dragons". They don't seem to be using any WotC-style logos, fonts, etc. To the best of my knowledge, WotC has not used the phrase "Fifth Edition Fantasy" on any of its products, and only uses the phrase "fifth edition" to describe other books (eg the back cover of the PHB recommends buying the "fifth edition" MM and DMG).

Hence the conclusion that GG probably isn't infringing any of WotC's IP rights.

The Big phrase in all of this is "Probably isn't".

You need to see this URL to get a better explanation on how one way is possible:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenzer_&_Company

And look under Unlicensed supplements and trademark issues

Then look at this url for the term Nominative use:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_use

Hope this helps.
 

Ashran

Explorer
Again, I get that I really do. The logical next step in the question is "Why aren't more companies and independent publishers writing for 5e and producing stuff?" It seems like any sort of license via OGL or GSL is completely worthless. There are only 2 real check points on making products it seems.

1. Can I create my own fictional stories/worlds? Check (Wizards has no claim to the IP.)
2. Can I use the mechanics from 5e? Check (because mechanics can't be copywritten)

Seems pointless to wait for a possible license or new OGL, or even use the existing one honestly.

It seems that more and more companies have reached the same conclusion... I saw yesterday that Rites publishing is also making a module for 5th edition, and there were a few kickstarter for 5th edition products (I remember a settings akin to ravenloft in spirit but with a more steampunk approach being kickstarted, successfully, for instance, and En5dier is another exemple of that.)

I think as time goes by and the commercial succes of 5th edition is really proven once and for all (for me, it is, but apparently some are in doubts, especially seing the release schedule and seeing it failling because it's empty) we will see more and more companies going 5th edition.
 

pemerton

Legend
It seems like any sort of license via OGL or GSL is completely worthless.

<snip>

Seems pointless to wait for a possible license or new OGL, or even use the existing one honestly.
The GSL permitted publishers to use various material in respect of which WotC enjoyed IP rights: various table formats that might amount to trade dress, or in respect of which WotC might have copyright claims; various words and phrases in respect of which WotC might want to assert copyright (eg feat names); and various compatibility logos and phrases.

That's not pointless, for a publisher who wants to use that material.

The release of the SRD under the OGL permits publishers who become party to the OGL to use various material in respect of which WotC enjoys copyright (a whole lot of rules text, and some flavour text).

Without having seen the text of an GG "Fifth Edition Fantasy" product, I am going to guess that they do not reproduce any text in respect of which WotC has a plausible copyright claim (eg no reproduction of whole chunks of rules text or flavour text). I also doubt that they format any new monsters using the same fonts and colours as the Monster Manual. And they won't use any compatibility language or logos that might trade on WotC's trademarks.

A publisher who does want to do one or more of these things might be waiting for some sort of licence. (Eg look at Fantasy Grounds, which is using the D&D logo.)

"Why aren't more companies and independent publishers writing for 5e and producing stuff?"
Perhaps because they aren't confident enough as to where the boundaries of permissibility lie?

Not very much of this is exact science.

Intellectual property isn't really my field, which is why I'm confining myself to generalities. (And am definitely not giving legal advice!) But for what it's worth, my gut feeling is that adventures are easier than rules supplements.

An adventure is mostly fiction (characters, events, maps, etc) that the publisher has authored. (You probably wouldn't want to publish an adventure that draws heavily on monster backgrounds spelled out in the MM, though - that could potentially infringe on WotC's copyright.)

The mechanical information that appears in an adventure is likely to be pretty simple (eg hp totals, perhaps spell lists - in which case maybe stick to spell names that are very generic and/or appear in the SRD, and in the latter case use the OGL).

Rules supplements, on the other hand, are likely to make more reference to and use of text that is published in WotC's rulebooks, at which point the boundaries of permissibility seem to me to become more fraught.

The Big phrase in all of this is "Probably isn't".

You need to see this URL to get a better explanation on how one way is possible
All those URLs tell us is that some uses of trademarks are permitted to refer to the trademark owner's products. They aren't relevant to this issue, given that (as far as I am aware) GG is not using any of WotC's trademarks (whether nominatively or otherwise).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
you cant deny that "Worlds first RPG" comes awfully close to the "Worlds Greatest RPG" which the OGL required people to use, if I remember right.

I certainly can deny it. The OGL requires no such thing.

Also, if all of this is legal then why aren't there large amounts of projects in the work for 5e?

You'd have to ask them. :)
 
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