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Level Up (A5E) OGL Question

Faolyn

Hero
So you're going to be providing "Open Gaming License and free compatibility logo." But would I need to also include the D&D OGL as a separate thing as well, or does your OGL cover both LU and o5e? I've never tried to publish any gaming books before and aren't sure what to do.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
There’s only one Open Gaming License. There isn’t a D&D OGL and a LU OGL. Many games use the OGL, some not even related to D&D.

My best advice is to download and read the OGL. It’s fairly short, and fairly clear. After that, if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. I can’t offer legal advice, but I’m happy to help where I can.
 


My first advice: listen to Morrus. He's been doing this for a while so he knows what he's doing.

My second advice: The relevant part here is, I think, section 15 of the OGL. This is where you list both your own book, as well as any source you're incorporating OGC from. Note that you need to include the full section 15 of any source you use. For example, let's say I want to publish a book that includes the Beer domain from Midgard Heroes Handbook. If I do, I have to include all of this in section 15 in my own book:
1630197781042.png

And then I add my own product, something like: Staffan's Big Adventure © 2021 something something.

And the Beer domain doesn't really have anything to do with "Deep Magic: Elven High Magic", but I still need to include that in my section 15, because it's listed in the source I took the Beer domain from.

Also, did you notice what isn't on the list above? D&D. D&D is not open content. Wizards of the Coast has released a System Reference Document which is open content, and which mirrors much of what is in the core books, but they are not the same. If you want to publish stuff, you would do well to leave your books somewhere out of reach and rely on what's in the SRD. You don't want to accidentally include a wizard who can cast Bigby's hand and get a nastygram from Hasbro's lawyers.
 

Faolyn

Hero
My first advice: listen to Morrus. He's been doing this for a while so he knows what he's doing.

My second advice: The relevant part here is, I think, section 15 of the OGL. This is where you list both your own book, as well as any source you're incorporating OGC from. Note that you need to include the full section 15 of any source you use. For example, let's say I want to publish a book that includes the Beer domain from Midgard Heroes Handbook. If I do, I have to include all of this in section 15 in my own book:

And then I add my own product, something like: Staffan's Big Adventure © 2021 something something.

And the Beer domain doesn't really have anything to do with "Deep Magic: Elven High Magic", but I still need to include that in my section 15, because it's listed in the source I took the Beer domain from.

Also, did you notice what isn't on the list above? D&D. D&D is not open content. Wizards of the Coast has released a System Reference Document which is open content, and which mirrors much of what is in the core books, but they are not the same. If you want to publish stuff, you would do well to leave your books somewhere out of reach and rely on what's in the SRD. You don't want to accidentally include a wizard who can cast Bigby's hand and get a nastygram from Hasbro's lawyers.
Thanks!

My book is going to be a collection of new heritages and cultures (let's face it: 8 heritages simply isn't enough). While several of them are based on "official" races, they all have very much had their serial numbers filed off, with different names and somewhat different abilities, and nothing that's been copied from anything specific from D&D. I did check the OGL and made sure I didn't include anything on their no-fly list.

Edit: I will say it's weird that, as far as I can tell, both Feywild and Shadowfell are open for use but Underdark is protected.
 

jdrakeh

Adventurer
The best advice I can offer is this: If you plan to publish, consult an IP attorney who can walk you through the license.
 

rules.mechanic

Craft homebrewer
Not sure if the other two ways to publish D&D material are relevant and would be really interested to know:
  1. Via the WotC Fan Content Policy, if you're publishing for free (I see some donation/ads allowed). Game mechanics are a confusing issue since game rules are by definition not copyright/IP.
  2. Or via DMs Guild (not recommended: policy not available for link but needs a close read as it doesn't let you distribute your copyright anywhere else even for free; also would need to be very careful not to include any A5E copyright).
It looks like the Fan Content Policy can be used for works that also include material from the OGL, so Option 1 may be possible? If so, would be great. I currently make use of it for the Tome of Variance project - the next edition is coming out September and I was then hoping to align it with A5E (not least as my own groups will change over!).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Not sure if the other two ways to publish D&D material are relevant and would be really interested to know:
  1. Via the WotC Fan Content Policy, if you're publishing for free (I see some donation/ads allowed). Game mechanics are a confusing issue since game rules are by definition not copyright/IP.
  2. Or via DMs Guild (not recommended: policy not available for link but needs a close read as it doesn't let you distribute your copyright anywhere else even for free; also would need to be very careful not to include any A5E copyright).
It looks like the Fan Content Policy can be used for works that also include material from the OGL, so Option 1 may be possible? If so, would be great. I currently make use of it for the Tome of Variance project - the next edition is coming out September and I was then hoping to align it with A5E (not least as my own groups will change over!).
Neither of those apply to publishing for Level Up. The OGL is the correct route to take for this particular topic.
 



Faolyn

Hero
The best advice I can offer is this: If you plan to publish, consult an IP attorney who can walk you through the license.
Yeah, I'm basically broke. There's no way I can afford to do that for this.

Neither of those apply to publishing for Level Up. The OGL is the correct route to take for this particular topic.
Good. I've bought several 5e-related books on drivethrurpg and none of them have had anything more than the OGL stuck in the back.
 

rules.mechanic

Craft homebrewer
Neither of those apply to publishing for Level Up. The OGL is the correct route to take for this particular topic.
Thanks, really useful to know. So OGL's the only real way to go. It'll be a big undertaking, as I'll lose the freedom to use WotC images and non-SRD references, but it would be nice to have that OGL freedom. Might have to do an intermediary step of updating the WotC-Fan-Policy-compliant version to be A5E compatible first, without referring to any A5E content - like a meta-game of ttrpg-charades. Until I can make that shift to a OGL-compliant version.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Thanks, really useful to know. So OGL's the only real way to go. It'll be a big undertaking, as I'll lose the freedom to use WotC images and non-SRD references, but it would be nice to have that OGL freedom. Might have to do an intermediary step of updating the WotC-Fan-Policy-compliant version to be A5E compatible first, without referring to any A5E content - like a meta-game of ttrpg-charades. Until I can make that shift to a OGL-compliant version.
In looking over the OGL, really most things from D&D are allowed. The list of prohibited things is actually really small, and most of it are proper nouns and the full names of the outer planes and twelve monsters. Strangely, AFAICT rust monsters are allowable even though carrion crawlers are protected.

I can see where art might be a problem, though. I'm (very slowly) making all my own illustrations so that doesn't affect me personally.
 

rules.mechanic

Craft homebrewer
In looking over the OGL, really most things from D&D are allowed. The list of prohibited things is actually really small, and most of it are proper nouns and the full names of the outer planes and twelve monsters. Strangely, AFAICT rust monsters are allowable even though carrion crawlers are protected.

I can see where art might be a problem, though. I'm (very slowly) making all my own illustrations so that doesn't affect me personally.
Thanks, yeah, I guess it's mainly on rules that the SRD/OGL lets you down (esp classes, archetypes, etc) but that's thankfully not an issue here with A5E being complete as a standalone. Art, however, would appear to be one of my dump stats - definitely not talented enough to make my own!
 

timespike

Adventurer
I will also say as someone with some recent self-publishing experience: DTRPG's staff vets first-time stuff and lets you know if there's an issue. I know this because I left a few things out of section 15 of the OGL at the back of my product and they caught it. I wouldn't rely on them catching your mistakes, and I certainly wouldn't try to transfer the responsibility to them, but that was appreciated, even if it was a (minor) headache to fix.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I will also say as someone with some recent self-publishing experience: DTRPG's staff vets first-time stuff and lets you know if there's an issue. I know this because I left a few things out of section 15 of the OGL at the back of my product and they caught it. I wouldn't rely on them catching your mistakes, and I certainly wouldn't try to transfer the responsibility to them, but that was appreciated, even if it was a (minor) headache to fix.
Thanks; this is helpful.
 

Faolyn

Hero
So I've developed another question. I was looking over your "Powered By" page for publishers and came across this line: "You may refer to Level Up in your document, as long as you do not state or imply any ownership of the name or system, and agree to refer to Level Up as “Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition”."

Now, in my compilation of new heritages, I'm including goblins and kobolds. (When I wrote them, you hadn't yet announced you were including them in A5e Zeitgeist, and anyway, this is my own interpretation.) I have a little section for each heritage on including them in the game, and for these two heritages I'm including lines like "they're somewhat different than how they're presented in the Monstrous Menagerie for Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition" with some thoughts on reconciling the differences, because I overthink things.

Now, is that phrasing (the Monstrous Menagerie for Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition) OK? Do I need to write it differently? Could I simply write Monstrous Menagerie? Can I write Monstrous Menagerie? There's nothing on the publishing page that takes about your MM.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That phrasing is fine. You can just write Monstrous Menagerie if you wish.

(Also we're removing the "agree to refer to Level Up as “Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition" condition).
 
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