View Full Version : Open Source Content Question

2007-02-17, 09:12 PM
Alright, here's the deal, as a programmer, I created a tiny program for my own personal use that will automatically generate character stats using the standard system, in a both automatically assigned and list-selection form. Or a point-buy, just because I thought it would be cool.

The form says nothing about D&D, mentions no other copyrighted material, just makes some scores and some modifiers.

My question is, if I were to publish such a thing on a website/P2P/whatever, would I be in violation of the Open Source Content agreement?

2007-02-17, 10:03 PM
IANAL, but I think it would be a violation. The OGL/d20 license (they're different, but I can never remember which one is which and which one covers what) only covers what's in the SRD, which notably excludes stat generation.

PCGen, the open-source character-creator, does not have automatic stat generation built-in. Rather, it has tools to allow the user to set up automatic stat generation. So, for example, it lets you set up a point buy system, but you have to already know how much each stat costs: those numbers aren't built-in. I'm pretty sure this is because of the OGL/d20 license.

2007-02-17, 10:28 PM
I'm pretty sure its safe, Just look at Invisible castle. They haven't been sued. I think.

Shhalahr Windrider
2007-02-17, 10:38 PM
There is a FAQ related to how the Open Gaming License applies to software on the wizards website here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/oglfaq/20040123i.

Detailed questions should really be directed to WotC, as they would be the experts on what constitutes a violation of their property. Especially when it comes to property linked to the liscense they developed. :smallwink:

2007-02-17, 10:56 PM
Q: If I can't describe character creation and applying experience how can I still make a character generator?

A: You provide the users with the building blocks of the character, you don't tell them what to do with those blocks. A user familiar with the core rules will be able to use the program, while one who isn't will have difficulty. Any documentation you provide has to walk a fine line between explaining how to use the program and avoiding explaining how to create a character.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but would supplying a individual score for each stat qualify for just supplying the building blocks, because I'm not really saying what you do with a STR mod or a DEX score?

2007-02-17, 11:11 PM
You should probably ask WotC directly if you think what you're doing walks the line of permissability.

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 ņElminster's Undermountain Crawl.î

Q: What is different if I use the d20 System License?

A: In addition to following all the rules of the OGL for any Open Content you use, the d20 System Guide doesn't let you describe the process for creating a character, describe the process for applying experience to a character, and cannot be an interactive game.

IANAL, but it looks to me like the portion I just quoted indicates that you can make a dice rolling character generator as long as you never actually claim it's compatibel with d20 or D&D. I'd check w/ WotC anyway if you planned to distribute it beyond friends and family, though.

2007-02-17, 11:36 PM
I think Adam has it in one. There are plenty of OGL games (NOT d20) out there that have character generation rules, including ability score generation.

I am NOT a lawyer (edit: Which is apparently what IANAL stands for :smallwink: ), and this doesn't constitute legal advice, which I am utterly incompetent to give. I'm just sayin' that other people seem to do it legally.

- Clark

2007-02-18, 01:34 AM
The primary reason that stat generation, character creation, and level up proceedure are not part of the OGL is that WotC wants people to have to buy their books in order to make full use of their system.

While making such as program for personal use is more or less just fine (It's really no different then using a mindflayer in one of your groups adventures), publishing it on the web would most likely be a violating of OGL, as that program could be used to gain information that people are supposed to have to have the books to get. I highly doubt anything would ever come of such action, as it's really not hard to find that information on the web as-is, but it should be noted that publushing such a program could potentionall cause conflict legal in nature.

The Prince of Cats
2007-02-18, 08:19 AM
My understanding (and IANAL) would be that you can create a system that allows the person to roll some dice. You can even let them rolls some dice and then throw away all but the best three.

As long as your system does not tell them what dice to roll, as long as they must tell your program which dice to roll and then they copy the number from one place to another, I think it is fine.

It would be my opinion that the point beyond which you are in breach of the licence is when you tell the player to roll a set number of dice and drop some or (even more so) if you did the rolling for them

Contact WotC and ask them.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-02-18, 12:21 PM
It's fine. IANAL, but a friend who works in labor law is, and he's gone over the d20 system trademark license and the OGL.

You can do whatever you want with the OGL content in the SRD. I could produce a book called "One Hundred and One Methods of Character Generation" and Wizards couldn't do a darn thing. So your character generator is fine.

You just can't claim compatability with the d20 system, because that's a trademark with a seperate license. In fact, Wizards was very sly in naming the OGL content the d20 system and then trademarking the term... So you can't really advertise compatability without being very careful.

You can claim compatability with the SRD, though, and 99% of the people who might use your program will know what the SRD is.

2007-02-18, 12:40 PM
IANAL, but I infer that we have some sort of contractual obligation to say IANAL in this thread.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but would supplying a individual score for each stat qualify for just supplying the building blocks, because I'm not really saying what you do with a STR mod or a DEX score?

The SRD does tell players what to do with a Str mod or a Dex score, though. What you apparently can't do is explain character creation - "roll 4d6, drop the lowest." You can make a program that creates a character, but not one that tells the user what's going on, apparently. I'm not sure whether including different rolling methods (3d6, 4d6 drop lowest, etc.) as choices for the user would count as a violation.

Whether the fact that someone could reverse engineer your code and see how the scores are created counts as a violation is beyond me, too.

You're best off making some specs and consulting with WotC about the program - what can and can't be included.

2007-02-18, 01:10 PM
Eh, it's real easy to de-compile a Visual Basic Program with the right software.

But the code is just the process for rolling with variables and numbers, it doesn't actually specify how you roll. I would liken it to someone rolling a character right in front of you. Assuming of course that you can read VB code, but then again, you probably would be de-compiling it if you didn't, huh?

2007-02-18, 01:13 PM
You can do whatever you want with the OGL content in the SRD. I could produce a book called "One Hundred and One Methods of Character Generation" and Wizards couldn't do a darn thing. So your character generator is fine.

This is true. Referring to the SRD under the OGL is not the same as d20. To use the d20 license, you can't include attribute generation rules and you must say "requires the D&D player's handbook".

My understanding is that as long as you include the text of the OGL, you can do whatever you want with the System Reference Document, including tacking on attribute generation rules and publishing it on the web.

Of course, IANAL. Because it needs to be in the post. :smallwink: