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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    is there any way we players could legally make our OWN version of D&D? we of course wouldn't call it D&D because that name is copyrighted but I was thinking. if this was possible wouldn't it be the best solution? in this way we could make our own version that appeals to all the players. a more simplistic and balanced game(like 4th) a lot more of differences between classes than similarities.(like in 3.5) I liked 3.5s take on that wizards have a bajillion spells, paladins and clerics have divine spells, warriors have none and so on and so forth. however we need it balanced so that while wizards can hold their own in a fight a wizard versus a fighter or any class would be able to hold their own.

    if this IS illegal please delete it and don't ban me please. I was just thinking that why should we rely on a big company to make a game for us when all they're concerned about is the amount of money they make when we can rely on OURSELVES to make a game the way we all want it to be?
    Last edited by Mystic Muse; 2009-06-04 at 01:57 AM.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Many people have. Check out the following:

    d20r by Fax

    http://www.liquidmateria.info/wiki/i...timate_Classes

    Serpents and Sewers by Satyr

    All of these are versions of 3.5, although some are so far afield that they can't really be called 3.5 any more.

    On a more hybrid note, my ongoing (and currently stalled) project combining 3.5, 4e, and E6:

    G7 by Djinn_in_Tonic

    And it is all legal, provided you don't use anything not included in the SRD (I couldn't make a Soul Knife in G7, for example...although that one is actually borderline, since it's only a name. I could not, however, quote the Book of Exalted Deeds, since that is not part of the Open Gaming License).
    Last edited by Djinn_in_Tonic; 2009-06-04 at 12:47 AM.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    As a note to Djinn, as soon as I get my forum code in order, there will be a forum dedicated to projects just like this.

    Oh, and Djinn, yeah, still banging my head over it. >_< Frikkin' phpBB code.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    This is known as "making a Roleplaying Game" and is done by lots of entrepreneurs all the time. Heck, I'm making a RPG system right now - and I know some people who do it for fun.

    That said, if you tried to make a cheap (or even improved) knock-off of 4E, WotC will probably have something to say about it. I'm not entirely clear on Game IP Law, but under Copyright Law that would be called a Derivative Work and therefore a violation of WotC's copyright in all things D&D. Of course, they'd probably only act if it became popular enough to ping their Internet Sensors.

    Mechanics-wise, it looks like WotC has some sort of ownership in the base "D&D" system (displayed through the D20 books and the various licensing agreements). This means you probably couldn't just ape the base tables and dice mechanics and get away with it either; I'm not really sure how they got a "patent" on D&D mechanics but they seem pretty sure of it and their lawyers are paid a lot more than me

    Now, if you wanted to make an "open source" RPG you could probably do it under a Creative Commons license - but I have no idea how Creative Commons works in detail.

    *ahem* Note that none of the above constitutes legal advice. Hire a lawyer if you want to use Creative Commons or to subvert WotC somehow.

    Otherwise, you can just make up your own system and use it with your friends
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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by Djinn_In_Tonic View Post
    And it is all legal, provided you don't use anything not included in the SRD (I couldn't make a Soul Knife in G7, for example...although that one is actually borderline, since it's only a name.
    Do you mean 'could', or am I about to be really confused?

    Also, Burning Field, do a search of these forums for 'Open Gaming License' and 'OGL'. Then find the actual OGL and read it. Then cry.
    Last edited by Sstoopidtallkid; 2009-06-04 at 12:52 AM.
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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Yeah, a lot of people modify systems to better suit their needs; essentially the basis of homebrew. There's nothing illegal about it so long as you're not trying to publish it and make money from it using trademarked information or otherwise violating copyrights.

    I, myself, am also working on a version of 3e (called 3G ) that shamelessly steals a few aspects of 4e.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    At this point better by far to make your own system so you don't get in legal trouble. Personally, I'm of the opinion if you're going to go through the effort to make a system that works well, do something original so you can potentially do something with it.

    I am personally doing just that.


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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_warlock View Post
    Yeah, a lot of people modify systems to better suit their needs; essentially the basis of homebrew. There's nothing illegal about it so long as you're not trying to publish it and make money from it using trademarked information or otherwise violating copyrights.
    Fiddly point - simply making a Derivative Work (e.g. modifying the system outside the license granted by the copyright holder) is illegal. Later distributing it is merely a second violation. Fair Use is an Affirmative Defense against a copyright violation suit, not a loophole in the Copyright Act; and Fair Use can cover products that make money (see 2 Live Crew's "Pretty Woman") - you're just not as likely to win if you are using it for a commercial purpose.

    Of course, WotC isn't going to know about your homebrew (or, at least it won't care) but we may as well be on the same page here
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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    okay. I probably will make my own. I just need to find more people's complaints about 4th and WHY they care. if it's something that seems rather pointless then I'm going to ignore it. are there any edition that aren't all that good and should be ignored? I'm probably going to make feats and restrict certain ones to certain classes so that they're more balanced. the one problem with 3.5 is that wizards are unbalanced at later levels. I will avoid the deck of many things and wish will not be in except for in rings and monkey paw type genies

    hopefully some of you can playtest it once I work out the mechanics. should probably get my campaign for next year done first though.
    Last edited by Mystic Muse; 2009-06-04 at 01:55 AM.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Uh, that's all a matter of opinion and if you read up you'll find differing views on what works (though there's some minor consensus on what doesn't work). Decide for yourself. Steal ideas from whomever you chose or make your own.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2009-06-04 at 01:55 AM.
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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    I'm aware it's a matter of opinion. that's why I'll decide for myself which opinions are valid. for example. I agree that the classes in 4th are all pretty much the same which I dislike but they're mostly balanced which I like. if it's constructive criticism I'll definitely take it under consideration. if it's not such as "4th edition is too much like WoW" then I'll obviously be ignoring it. if you're not trying to help and are just complaining don't post.

    and I think this title needs changing.
    Last edited by Mystic Muse; 2009-06-04 at 01:59 AM.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    (I Am Not A Lawyer.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    That said, if you tried to make a cheap (or even improved) knock-off of 4E, WotC will probably have something to say about it. I'm not entirely clear on Game IP Law, but under Copyright Law that would be called a Derivative Work and therefore a violation of WotC's copyright in all things D&D.
    No. People always misuse the term "derivative work" in these threads.

    In order or a work to be "derivative" it must contatain copyrighted expresson from another work. It is not relevant here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Mechanics-wise, it looks like WotC has some sort of ownership in the base "D&D" system (displayed through the D20 books and the various licensing agreements). This means you probably couldn't just ape the base tables and dice mechanics and get away with it either; I'm not really sure how they got a "patent" on D&D mechanics but they seem pretty sure of it and their lawyers are paid a lot more than me
    Systems are not protected by copyright. The letter of the law and case law are both quite clear on this.

    From the 1976 Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 102):
    In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...a.2Fexpression

    The expression is protected, the idea is not. In fact, even the expression (word for word) may not be protected in some cases. http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Morrisse...octor_&_Gamble .

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by theburningfield View Post
    is there any way we players could legally make our OWN version of D&D?
    Ask the guys who made Castles and Crusades... or Labyrinth Lord... or OSRIC... or BRP* (the system used in CoC, Elric, Runequest, Pendragon, etc.).

    As for ripping off 4E direstly. Well, WOTC's toxic GSL squating there like a toad in your Wheaties, perpetually croaking "NO!!!! NO!!!! NO!!!!" does make things a little more complex. But you can probably either:
    1. hack up a 4E-a-like using the OGL (and praises be to Ryan Dancey for that particular gift-beyond-price), or
    2. just follow Kenzer's lead and release material described as "compatible with" 4E D&D.


    Have fun tinkering with your fantasy heartbreaker.

    * BRP was originally based on the Perrin Conventions, one guy's D&D houserules
    Last edited by bosssmiley; 2009-06-04 at 03:28 AM.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    it's not intended to be a rip-off of fourth. it's intended to use the best of fourth and the best of 3.5 and earlier editions. that's why I want to know what people liked about earlier editions and disliked about newer or disliked about earlier and LIKED about newer. for exaple.
    I like 4th because it's balanced.
    I dislike 4th because all the characters seem to be the same.
    I like 4th because it's simple.
    I like 3.5 because it has more features and better feats.
    I dislike 3.5 because it has so many skill checks and they're impossible to keep track of.
    I also dislike 3.5 because it's unbalanced.
    I like 3.5 because of the rolling system.

    things like this. if I want this to appeal to a good range of players I need constructive criticism from every side of the spectrum.

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by theburningfield View Post
    I like 4th because it's balanced.
    I dislike 4th because all the characters seem to be the same.
    I like 4th because it's simple.
    I like 3.5 because it has more features and better feats.
    I dislike 3.5 because it has so many skill checks and they're impossible to keep track of.
    I also dislike 3.5 because it's unbalanced.
    I like 3.5 because of the rolling system.
    First, there are quite a lot of gamers who get fed up with D&D and make their own version or make their own game. As long as you don't sell it, WotC won't give a flying kobold about it. The real problem is, it's hard for two people to agree on what exactly the ideal rpg game is, so we often end up right back at old D&D just because everyone knows it. I guess the trick is to have a gaming group who are willing to play your rendition of D&D or homebrew game just because you're the DM. (Or to have a DM willing to run your rendition because you're a genius or something. Don't hold your breath though.)

    Second, answering these questions might help you gain some focus.

    Third, there is a homebrew forum on Giant in the Playground which will probably provide you with more constructive responses than the general forum. The Forge is a site just for gamers making their own games, so it might be a useful resource.

    Fourth, goodnight and good wishes.
    Last edited by Tequila Sunrise; 2009-06-04 at 06:00 AM.

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Lots of people do
    I'm progressively working on a role play systems and use my campaigns to test bits out - the current revision of the 3.5 Skill set is proving to work quite well.

    I found out recently that some friends have been working on a role play system for some time and they may get us to help try it out, it has things that are noted as being exact copies of already printed material so that if they decide to advance it to a greater level they can remove the section and work on something new to replace it but for the private test plays it will stay

    Another friend is a Indie game designer and is always trying new games and tinkering with a set of rules, he's successfully created a couple so far.
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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    There is also Pathfinder, which is basically Paizo's homebrew of 3.5 and is actually be published into a book in a few months.
    The OmegaDex, the complete index to just about everything related to Star Wars Saga Edition.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Fiddly point - simply making a Derivative Work (e.g. modifying the system outside the license granted by the copyright holder) is illegal.
    I find this difficult to swallow, considering the 4e DMG explicitly states: "If you disagree with how the rules handle something, changing them is within your rights" (page 189). The book then proceeds to give suggestions and guidelines for doing so. In this instance, it seems to me that WotC has willingly signed away any right they would've otherwise had to legal action against "modifying the system."

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    The best advice I can give you is to sit down and study some game theory first. Do not try to be all things to all people or your game will be strong with fail.

    Read and understand at least two theories such as GEN or The Big Model. Then feel free to decide that what they say is crap and come up with your own ideas.

    Players and game designers will always have a spoken or unspoken agenda that they bring to the game, and an inner idea of what a "real" RPG is. Once you know what sort of game you want to write... communicate it!

    If a player or gamemaster is able to pick up a rulebook and understand that the game is built to enable and promote a plot heavy style of play with unfair and story driven conflict rules to promote literary tropes, they are much more likely to avoid feeling cheated when they do not get a gritty detailed setting with universal and learnable rules that apply equally to PCs, NPCs and offscreen action.

    So, make the Donjons and Dragoons game that drives your passion... but make sure to be clear in telling other people what it is, and what it is not. That way, when a group sits down to play it, they are more likely to appreciate the hard work and criticize it constructively, rather than for failing to meet goals it was never reaching for.

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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_warlock View Post
    I find this difficult to swallow, considering the 4e DMG explicitly states: "If you disagree with how the rules handle something, changing them is within your rights" (page 189). The book then proceeds to give suggestions and guidelines for doing so. In this instance, it seems to me that WotC has willingly signed away any right they would've otherwise had to legal action against "modifying the system."
    Then that is the license that WotC gives you to alter the rules within the course of a game. But by default, you can't.

    I mean, you can alter the rules as much as you want and use them so long as you don't put it in a "tangible medium of expression."

    In any case, I doubt that WotC signed away all their IP rights in the rules with that simple statement; at most it provides a narrow safe harbor for consumers to use the system as they desire.

    Or it may just acknowledge the fact that WotC cannot actually police how a system is used

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    Actually, a Derivative Work need only be "based on" a copyrighted work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Copyright Act, Section 101
    A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
    It is a very broad term and most certainly applies to anything "based on" whatever copyrighted material WotC controls in regards to D&D.

    While I agree with you that WotC should not be able to copyright a game system, they claim some manner of IP right in it; otherwise they couldn't "license" it to anyone. It is certainly not a patent and if it exists under trademark law then it must be a wholly common-law construct; yet it would make sense for game designers to have some sort of ownership in their game systems.

    I asked an IP professor once about it and he didn't know the law either.

    @theburningfield
    I think you're looking at this the wrong way.

    You shouldn't be trying to make some sort of synthesis of 4E and 3E - you should be aiming to produce a system that does what you want it to do. If you largely prefer 3E, then any of the homebrew systems on our forum that try to fix 3E would do you better; if there are aspects of 4E that you don't like, you should alter them.

    Looking at your personal preferences, I'd say you should just take 3E and import whatever features you like from 4E into it; when you say you prefer one system's "rolling system" over another, then that system has to be the base of your modified one.

    That said, check out the other links in this thread (particularly Tequila Sunrise's).
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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by theburningfield View Post
    I like 3.5 because of the rolling system.
    WHAT!?

    3.5 and 4e use the same rolling system...

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    I meant STAT rolling system. I'm aware they use the same rolling system. I'm not nearly that stupid.

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Out of curiosity, would it be a violation of copyright to publish an extensive set of errata for an existing system? Every single aspect of the publication (besides pages and line numbers, which seem unlikely to be copyrightable) would be your own original work, assuming that you didn't directly quote the passages that you are modifying.

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jothki View Post
    Out of curiosity, would it be a violation of copyright to publish an extensive set of errata for an existing system? Every single aspect of the publication (besides pages and line numbers, which seem unlikely to be copyrightable) would be your own original work, assuming that you didn't directly quote the passages that you are modifying.
    Derivative Work, so yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copyright Act, Section 101
    A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
    The last clause is exactly what you're talking about. Funny thing? A later section grants the original copyright holder a copyright in whatever you just made. Good times
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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Actually, a Derivative Work need only be "based on" a copyrighted work.

    It is a very broad term and most certainly applies to anything "based on" whatever copyrighted material WotC controls in regards to D&D.
    However, the game's rules cannot be copyrighted. Therefore, another game using those rules is not a Derivative Work in this legal sense, because it is not based on a copyrighted work.

    However... you need to be careful, for at least three reasons:

    1) The rules themselves cannot be copyrighted, but the specific expression of them can. That means no copying text paragraphs out of the Player's Handbook or Monster Manual. No powers or spells or items or fluff taken from the books, period. I would even avoid using statblocks of the same format -- I'm not entirely sure that would be a violation of IP law, but it opens the possibility, whereas a redesigned statblock would not.

    2) Trademarks are still an issue. Your knockoff game can't be called Dungeons & Dragons (although it could be said to be "compatible with Dungeons & Dragons Xth edition" -- that's nominative use, which is allowed), and it can't contain beholders, or illithid, or numerous other trademarked D&D monsters. (There's at least a partial list of these in the GSD, IIRC.)

    3) Even if you're in the right, Hasbro could still potentially file a lawsuit, if they think the issue appears murky enough. Even if you're absolutely sure you'd win, do you want to spend the time and money it'd take to fight it? Can you afford to, even if you do want to?

    If you were planning on such an approach, I think you'd want to consult a lawyer right away, first, to make sure you're covering yourself. Then consult another lawyer after you're done, but before you publish or distribute it in any way.

    (ObDiscaimer: IANAL, and this should not be taken as legal advice.)
    Last edited by Ninetail; 2009-06-05 at 01:59 AM.
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    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninetail View Post
    However, the game's rules cannot be copyrighted. Therefore, another game using those rules is not a Derivative Work in this legal sense, because it is not based on a copyrighted work.
    I am not at all sure this is the law.

    WotC did, after all, act as though they owned the D20 system enough to grant licensing on it. Yes, I know that you can't copyright systems but a "game" may not count as one; the systems the Act refer to were things like accounting methods and software architecture - is a game really the same as those?

    I don't know any law either way, but WotC sure acts like they have a copyright on their respective systems - and not a Trademark either.

    Maybe there isn't much case law on this matter... I smell a law review article

    EDIT: IANAL is the most amusing legal-esque acronym I've seen so far. Nice
    Last edited by Oracle_Hunter; 2009-06-05 at 04:21 AM.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Jun 2007

    Default Re: D&D 4.5 (player made)

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    WotC did, after all, act as though they owned the D20 system enough to grant licensing on it.
    I'm reasonably sure that's an attempted Fait Accompli, combined with the fact that the legal system strongly favors the side with the most money.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
    Crystal Shard Studios - Freeware games designed by Kurald and others!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    J.Gellert's Avatar

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    I don't know much about the laws, but doesn't the existence of Pathfinder prove that it can be done?

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jothki View Post
    Out of curiosity, would it be a violation of copyright to publish an extensive set of errata for an existing system? Every single aspect of the publication (besides pages and line numbers, which seem unlikely to be copyrightable) would be your own original work, assuming that you didn't directly quote the passages that you are modifying.
    That's basically what I did. Several times. I have yet to receive any communication from WotC.

    Seriously folks, even if there is some legal jargon about using D&D terminology, WotC has zero incentive to take legal action against you. Unless you try to sell it. As long as you give it away for free, life is good.

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    NPCMook's Avatar

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    Default Re: help me with my new version of D&D. (not to be widely distributed.)

    Quote Originally Posted by theburningfield View Post
    I meant STAT rolling system. I'm aware they use the same rolling system. I'm not nearly that stupid.
    Those are ALSO the same >.>

    The only difference is Point-Buy
    Last edited by NPCMook; 2009-06-05 at 06:51 AM.

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