D&D 4E What to do with 4th Edition


I've taken a look but can't easily wrap my head around it. It doesn't look like a "reproduce 4e exactly 1-1 but change the names when needed" retroclone but I could be wrong? But maybe the work has been done in terms of creating entirely new games based on 4e but not as good for tweaking original 4e or creating new content for original 4e that is OGL compatible?

Can anyone verify or correct me if I'm wrong with this take?
The aim is 100% compatibility, within the constraints of using what has come before in Open Game Content.

The classes I've designed work differently to 4e classes (they can always use use primary and secondary abilities, so MAD is never a problem, and they get access to lists of powers instead of having class-based lists) but these are built into the classes, so a 4e class can be dropped in with no changes. Similarly there's some sample extended challenges that break the skill challenge format, but a 4e skill challenge would still fit.

But you're right that the actual game material from 4e - the fighter class, the come and get it power, the needle fang drake swarm, etc - isn't reproduced. I don't have any plans to do so, both because of the work involved and the copyright infringement risk.

But (1) that shouldn't affect most of the third party supplements that might use Orcus as a base and (2) I think this is less important for a d20 System game than an OSR one. An OSR game not having the fighter is, I think, closer to a 4e-inspired game missing a martial defender. After all, an Essentials only game would be missing "the fighter" too (though it would have two reimaginings of it).

That said, I'm certainly not opposed to someone else reproducing this stuff!

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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I don't know about anyone else, but I have learned a lot from this discussion today. My thanks to everyone who participated so far, and a special thanks to @kenada for the informative links. I have a much better idea about how these licenses work than when I woke up today. I hope that others who read this gain a better understanding as well.

Also, thanks to @Sanglorian for sharing his experience with the OGL. Regardless of personal opinions, no one can deny your passion or your effort for what you've already accomplished. If your path works, then we all stand to benefit. I wish you continued luck and success in your endeavors.


I didn't get it at first either. I was like, who cares if it's 1, 3 or 10 pages it's at the back of the book and nobody reads it anyway. But I guess, the more works and companies that are referenced the more likely it is that somebody at sometime might have an issue down the line, despite how clear the OGL is on stuff like this.

I don't really know that I'd call that a eminent concern. I don't even know that is bears mentioning as a risk.
If nothing else, it'll probably cost more in lawyers consultation fees.


It works out to be three pages, in 8 point font. Without it, I wouldn't have most of the 300 pages of content.

But you're not the only person to raise concerns about the length of Section 15. At some point I might go back and separate out the sources for the Orcus core rules, so people who are making their own content for Orcus can use a much shorter Section 15.
I think this would definitely help regarding facilitating adopting Orcus as a 'baseline'... almost like an 'Orcus SRD' if you will... 🤔 😉

Going to the source of inspiration... OSRIC also has a license that effectively 'doubles-down' on NOT violating WOTC trademarks if you wish to indicate compatibility with OSRIC... perhaps lessons on methodology could be garnered...

But you're right that the actual game material from 4e - the fighter class, the come and get it power, the needle fang drake swarm, etc - isn't reproduced. I don't have any plans to do so, both because of the work involved and the copyright infringement risk.

Thanks. Yeah, that's what I thought. It seems like you have done a lot of the heavy lifting for someone that wanted to do this in terms of figuring out what terms need to be changed, coming up with new words for elements that do need to be changed, etc.

There just seem to be 2 desires from 4e fans that sometimes get intertwined in the conversations:

1) people that want a new game based on 4e principles. An alternative universe 5e, where all the good 4e stuff gets kept and built on. ORCUS seems like a version of this and a perfect base to build others as well.

2) people that want a pure 4e retro clone that basically has all 4e content recreated in OGL so that they can publish adventures and content for it, load everthing up on VTTs, and/or publish a 4.5e that has some tweaks like pared down feat lists, etc. but mostly using base 4e as is.

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I slightly fantasise that I create a faithful retrocolone of 4e, with some monstermaths spruced up to MM3 standards and cool new artwork throughout. Then I wake up, pick up my 4e books and run the game as is. More than a year on, the game is still running in Nentir Vale, so for me 4e is very much alive.
Oh, how I wish I could wake up and not be this obsessive, useless person who wants to fix, polish, and improve everything that is so critically unimportant to everyone else. 😔

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