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D&D 4th Edition Game System License Announced

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the listen-to-foreplay/long-time-for-me dept.

Role Playing (Games) 131

Wizards of the Coast has announced plans for a brand-new system license for the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons . As with the d20 STL for Third Edition, this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC. The new system reference document will be made available early in June (just after the release of the new edition). That license only covers fantasy gaming, but a second license (the d20 GSL) will be released allowing for any type of gaming product to be developed. For analysis and follow-up on the announcement, the ENWorld boards have full details.

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Sharing the Wealth (1)

thewesterly (953211) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112410)

It'll be interesting to see how many third parties will release generic products free, (a la a lot of the 3.5Ed d20 stuff available online) or whether we sweaty basement-dwellers will merely have more choices as to which among several publishers we send our disposable income to.

Re:Sharing the Wealth (4, Funny)

The Relentless (901624) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112626)

We basement dwellers ARE basement dwellers because we know buying these games/modules is NOT disposable income.

Re:Sharing the Wealth (4, Informative)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23115492)

I haven't read the details of this new license, but if it's anything like the license for D20, then it's not free at all, it only looks like it's free. Let me explain.

A project I was working on some months back was game-related, and we figured we'd use the D20 system because if someone is going to know how to make a compelling game engine, it's going to be the makers of Dungeons & Dragons.

So we researched the license for D20, were really excited for a while, but eventually found a sentence or two buried deeply in the license which brought us to a screeching halt.

D20 allows you to use the game rules defined by the D20 engine for pretty much any purpose you want, royalty free; I think with some attribution clauses or the like. You never have to pay WotC a dime.

However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.

Essentially the system is open and free for as long as you don't turn into a juicy target for WotC, who reserves the right to take whatever you produced away from you and sell it themselves, and keep you from selling or even using it any longer.

When you have a litigatious-happy company like WotC offering an olive branch, you must watch out for any poison-tipped thorns contained in it, and at least for D20, there is one, and it is deadly.

Re:Sharing the Wealth (3, Informative)

alzoron (210577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23115942)

However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.
Buried? The clause is about as buried as the word "caffeine" is buried in the ingredients for Mountain Dew. The license is only two pages long, and in a 12-point font. Also, nowhere does it state that they can "sieze" anything, only that you cease marketing your product and destroy all copies if you breach the license.

Re:Sharing the Wealth (4, Informative)

starwed (735423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23115970)

However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.
  1. You seem to have confused the d20 license with the OGL. To use the d20 game mechanics, you only need to obey the OGL. The d20 license is only to use the d20 logo and TM.
  2. What clause are you talking about? There's nothing in the OGL which allows WotC to seize material that you haven't released under the OGL, even if it's in the same book as OGL stuff.

Re:Sharing the Wealth (4, Informative)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116144)

They can't seize it in the sense of use it and deny you from printing your own books - but they and every other publisher has the right under the OGL to use the game mechanics created by any other publisher under the OGL. This has rarely been capitalized on but it has happened - Mongoose publishing put out a series of collection books on spells, feats and the like regardless of who originally published them.

That is true to the give and take nature of the OGL. You get the right to use materials designated as open under the license - such as Wizard's System Reference Document (which is an open clone of the D&D core rulebooks). You give up the right to close off your unique game mechanics from all other parties to the OGL.

This really isn't any different in principle from the Gnu Public License (No accident - the GPL inspired the OGL) - you get the right to use code from any program released under the license, but you give up the right to keep your derived code closed off from everyone else.

Citation Needed (2)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117848)

However that one little clause deep in the license basically grants WotC the right to choose to seize the exclusive rights to anything you produced surrounding the D20 system. It grants them full and unrestricted access to all source materials, and it grants them the right to resell and distribute the goods produced from it. Further, it grants them the right to revoke the license from you, barring you from further use.
Can you quote the specific language which you are referring to? I see nothing in either the OGL or the d20 License that grants them the rights you speak of. The closest thing I can find is the clause that terminates your license if and only if you are in breach of the contract.

Re:Sharing the Wealth (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23118488)

Nothing to see here, this is just some guy who wishes for a BSD style license when the OGL is a GPL style license. Essentially if you use their stuff you agree that others can use your stuff. There's nothing preventing you from continuing to use your stuff, unless you breach the license.

Apparently this is unacceptable to the parent.

Game Rules (5, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112418)

One point that is often forgotten when discussing the OGL and D20 license is that game rules cannot be copyrighted. You are free to create a new game using essentially a ripoff of the d20 rules. What you are not allowed to do is use their particular expression of the rules. That means you can't copy and paste text, you can't use names, settings, unique creative elements, and so forth.

My understanding is that the WOTC gaming licenses give you some extra rights (for instance, you could use their skill and magic descriptions verbatim), but takes away others (you are given certain restrictions, such as requiring use of the D20 logo). I'm not criticizing WOTC, just saying that using their licenses are not the only way to write compatible rules and expansions.

Re:Game Rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112450)

You might want to ask an IP lawyer about that.

Re:Game Rules (4, Informative)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113006)

Could we just check with the U.S. Copyright Office [copyright.gov] instead?

Re:Game Rules (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113150)

Exactly. Just like I could go out and start a new football league and the NFL couldn't do a thing about it as long as I wrote the rules down in my own format/words and didn't use their logos. You cannot copyright the actual rules to a game.

Re:Game Rules (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23113248)

Just like I could go out and start a new football league and FIFA couldn't do a thing about it
fix'd.

Re:Game Rules (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23114098)

Go take a dive you pansy.

Re:Game Rules (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23115466)

That would be soccer. Like it or not this is a US based site.

Re:Game Rules (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113168)

Mod parent up.

Re:Game Rules (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114686)

I want an "It's the truth." mod.

Re:Game Rules (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113164)

One point that is often forgotten when discussing the OGL and D20 license is that game rules cannot be copyrighted
Neither can a story. Or a collection of facts. But if you add enough details to a story, or enough specificity to those facts, you have a fairly solid case that you have something distinct and copyrightable.

The game rules for D&D are "everyone sits around a table, and one person describes the world. The referee asks players what they want to do, has them roll dice to determine specifics, and the game continues as a collaborative drama."

Where exactly the line between the above (which anyone can, and several people have, stolen exactly) and photocopying a D&D book falls is something you need a lawyer for. Kind of like how you need a lawyer to make sure the deed you write to give to a bank is a valid deed.

Re:Game Rules (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116598)

Neither can a story. Or a collection of facts.

A story can be copyrighted. A particular collection of facts can be copyrighted (but not the facts themselves - e.g., someone is free to make a collection independently). Rules can't be copyrighted.

Re:Game Rules (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114252)

My understanding is that the WOTC gaming licenses give you some extra rights (for instance, you could use their skill and magic descriptions verbatim), but takes away others (you are given certain restrictions, such as requiring use of the D20 logo).


There were two main licenses, the Open Gaming License was a copyright license which let you use the material covered by their copyright with some restrictions; it is loosely analogous to an open-source software license.

The d20 System Trademark License, that both required and allowed the use of the D20 logo and some other "product identity" that was specifically excluded by the OGL actually restricted the rights otherwise granted by the OGL (without going back and checking, one of the big ones is that you can't publish a game with character creation or advancement rules under the d20 STL -- this was to assure that a major function of d20-logo products was to serve as support for and sell WotC's core books.)

I'm not criticizing WOTC, just saying that using their licenses are not the only way to write compatible rules and expansions.


Just the only way to do it if you aren't able to afford the legal fees (and risk of losing) to test the limits of the rather fluid boundary between merely similar game rules and material that is derivative of WotC's expression of those rules. Not a lot of companies in the gaming business can afford that uncertainty.

Will pcgen support 4th edition D&D? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23114580)

Are there plans to make pcgen support 4th edition D&D?

Re:Game Rules (2, Interesting)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116036)

Yes, you can try to produce a compatible product with someone else's game or even as you put it 'rip it off' - but can you financially withstand a court battle drug out over the course of years if you do.

The main lesson that should be taken from the whole SEO circus is you don't need any merit or evidence whatsoever to sue someone in court. Large companies can knock small competitors out of business quite easily by bankrupting them with legal fees.

Moving back from the general to the specifics of this case which I am quite familiar with as I am the technical administrator of ENWorld, which is the largest D&D fan site and the place where many if not most of the third party publishers got their start. The open gaming license allows publishers to reference game mechanics that are part of the license without fear of getting sued. A lot of RPG's owe their existence to this license.

This new Game System License for 4e has additional strings attached meant to address areas where Wizards was unhappy with the outcome of the prior license. Their expectation of the OGL was that only D&D support material would come out of it - instead whole new spin off systems like True20, Mutants and Masterminds and most recently Pathfinder have arose which don't require the D&D core rules in any way. I haven't seen the new GSL yet but I presume that this will be one of the first issues that will be addressed by it.

A final thought on copyrights and game mechanics. While it is true you can't copyright "d20 + modifier" as an example, there aren't too many ways you can express it either. Copyrights on game systems are effective for much the same reason that patents on software are stifling - that is there's only so many ways to express a given thought in a game system and so too there are only so many ways to do something in software.

Re:Game Rules (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116272)

What you are not allowed to do is use their particular expression of the rules. That means you can't copy and paste text, you can't use names, settings, unique creative elements, and so forth.

There is actually a lot of uncertainty in what is a "particular expression" of the rules. Verbatim copying is certainly out but what about a "character" called a "cleric" who casts "third-level spells" against a monster with 10 "hit dice?" Those terms are all expressions of the rules...

What you can and can't do is up for a jury to decide, and WotC can and will hire more and better lawyers than you.

Re:Game Rules (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116722)

There is actually a lot of uncertainty in what is a "particular expression" of the rules. Verbatim copying is certainly out but what about a "character" called a "cleric" who casts "third-level spells" against a monster with 10 "hit dice?" Those terms are all expressions of the rules...

Well, he said you can't use "names", and yes, it would be risky to use names like "hit dice", or names of spells.

But then words like "character" and "cleric" are words that already existed to describe the terms they are used for - they can't claim copyright over that! Just about every fantasy game and story has "characters" and "clerics" - and on that note, most mainstream commercial roleplaying systems seem to rip of the game mechanics off each other anyway, and they seem to be doing okay.

Re:Game Rules (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117714)

But then words like "character" and "cleric" are words that already existed to describe the terms they are used for - they can't claim copyright over that!

Agreed. My point was to show there's a continuum of game terms from general ("healing spell") to specific ("Cure Light Wounds"), and somewhere along that continuum falls a dividing line between what a court would call copyright infringement and what it wouldn't. If you want a game that looks like D&D and plays like D&D, but doesn't require WotC's permission, how much terminology would you have to change or reinvent? I think the answer is, more than you would want to.

The fact that the pro-copyright lobby is persistently blurring distinctions and asserting rights they don't actually have, to the point where most of the public doesn't know the difference between a copyright and a trademark, certainly doesn't help matters.

The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (5, Insightful)

creature124 (1148937) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112454)

In my humble opinion, the 'useless' skills they are taking out in D&D 4.0 aren't half as useless as people make them out to be. Of course, that all depends on the DM. Our DM runs more free-form games than the standard lead by the nose dungeon dive. And it's awesome. Decipher script isnt such a useless school when the DM regularly throws encrypted documents into the game as quest hooks and whatnot.

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112482)

o_O Your DM uses encrypted scripts? Best puzzle my DM gives is making us remember the clues from an individual from 3 quests ago!

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (5, Funny)

am 2k (217885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112558)

My DM had even harder challenges in the past... The most complicated one involved a lock controlled by four rotating discs, where I had to mathematically proof to him that there is no solution to his puzzle before he let us pass :)

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (4, Funny)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112922)

Yeah? Well my DM made me walk uphill to my games. Both ways. In the snow. So there.

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (2, Funny)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113022)

my DM made me walk uphill to my games. Both ways. In the snow. So there.
My DM did 10d6 lightning damage, no saving throws. :'(

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1)

Sparklepony (1088131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113474)

Our party once spent nearly an hour in a huddle trying to figure out a mathematical puzzle that formed the code for a vault's lock. Eventually, while we continued scribbling diagrams and filling pages with numbers, the player of one of our party's rogues slipped away and conferred briefly with the DM. A few dice were rolled and then the DM finally broke into our discussion to inform us that the door was open - the rogue had succeeded in her disable device and pick lock rolls. Sometimes a high level abstraction is your friend.

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (3, Funny)

lorelorn (869271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114622)

Wow, what classes were present in your party? Can I guess? A mathematician, a different kind of mathematician and a statistician perhaps?

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1)

freyyr890 (1019088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112702)

Yay, mods on crack.

Neither of the parent posts are offtopic.

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114176)

Decipher script would be a lot more useful if they treated it more like actual cryptography. That means being able to turn it around to make your own codes, with your skill in code-writing being counted as hard it is to crack.

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116774)

Take the character sheet. Grab a pen. Write in whatever skill you want. The spooky wizard doesn't care.

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1)

Poeir (637508) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117732)

This was always a problem with D&D: generating the right kind of character was always a matter of luck, unless you played with the DM before or were running a known published adventure. A wizard with Fireball doesn't do much good in a political high intrigue campaign, and a bard with maxed out Diplomacy doesn't do much good against a dungeon full of ochre jellies. Few DMs are good at providing very wide diversity.

It might be nice if there were two categories of skills: One with things like Perform, Diplomacy, etc, and the other with things like Jump, Tumble, etc, and then give equal number of skill points in each category so you're equally prepared for either type of campaign. But then where do you put something like Bluff, that crosses the lines?

Re:The 'improvements' of D&D 4 (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118308)

A good campaign is about character creation and developing a storyline. The player should be allowed to develop their characters in a way that is meaningful to their original vision of their characters. I used to use wish lists, where the players could write down certain things they wanted from a campaign and I could weave them in. Another often forgotten practice in being a dungeon master is that you should ALWAYS work off a copy of the character sheets when making your own adventures. Then again seeing as it's a roleplaying game, what's wrong with playing out the squeamish diplomat that screams every time a spider stoops from the dungeon ceiling.

Oh, no! No Decipher Script? D&D is ruined! (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118040)

Decipher script isnt such a useless school when the DM regularly throws encrypted documents into the game as quest hooks and whatnot.
Yeah, and Use Rope isn't useless if your whole campaign revolves around getting Tenderfoot rank in the local Boy Scouts chapter.

Your game doesn't really sound all that free-form if the lack of a skill on a formal list will determine whether or not your plots can still be played through.

Re:Oh, no! No Decipher Script? D&D is ruined! (1)

creature124 (1148937) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118250)

Decipher script isnt such a useless school when the DM regularly throws encrypted documents into the game as quest hooks and whatnot.
Yeah, and Use Rope isn't useless if your whole campaign revolves around getting Tenderfoot rank in the local Boy Scouts chapter. Your game doesn't really sound all that free-form if the lack of a skill on a formal list will determine whether or not your plots can still be played through.
I never said that our games would be unplayable under the new ruleset. Only that it would probably end with our DM making custom rules for the deciphering the codes he likes so much. And Use Rope IS a useful skill. If you use it right, that is. It is used for more then tying knots, your know.

Re:Oh, no! No Decipher Script? D&D is ruined! (3, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118604)

Use Rope doesn't merit having its own individual skill, though. It's pretty much the exemplar of wasted skill ranks after 3.5 got rid of Intuit Direction and Innuendo. You can do what with it -- secure a grappling hook, tie someone up, or splice two ropes together? Yawn.

Why isn't using a grappling hook under Climb? Why not fold tying someone up under getting out of it (i.e. Escape Artist)? Who finds drama or challenge in trying to splice rope together? (For that matter, Profession (Sailor) doesn't include any of this?)

It's a senselessly fine-grained skill definition that wastes precious resources (i.e. skill points) that could be spent on things like Survival or Move Silently or Climb -- you know, skills people would actually *use* every adventure.

4e's philosophy on skills is that skills will generally be broad and cover common adventuring challenges. Their system is designed so that party members aren't excluded from the fun when a rare type of challenge is needed, like the party that won't use horses because only one player has the Ride skill. Lastly, their system is designed with versatility in mind, encouraging players to find creative uses of their skills to defeat challenges, like using History to escape pursuers by remembering an entrance into the ancient catacombs under the city.

If deciphering documents is essential to your game, then there's no reason you couldn't let someone make an Arcane, History, or Thievery check for it, representing their experience with tomes of cryptic lore, translating dead languages, or espionage, respectively. Having a largely one-trick skill is limiting and either forces the DM to find contrived ways to make it relevant or leaves the player with wasted skill points. 4e gets rid of that.

Re:Oh, no! No Decipher Script? D&D is ruined! (1)

creature124 (1148937) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118892)

I see your point, though I still disagree. From your arguement, I would assume that your group spends more time in dank, musty caves and underground labyrinths than in more realistic settings. Our group, for contrasts sake, spends more time in towns dealing with NPCs. Trust me, a good Use Rope scores when attempting to take down and deliver alive a rogue with many ranks in Escape Artist.

Skills like Use Rope and Decipher Script may not be used every game, but when they are used they are incredibly helpful.

Our DM takes particular joy in using relatively obscure in his games, so they are good to put ranks in, so that you can do tasks yourself rather than hiring an NPC. It may be different in your games. I don't know.

Re:Oh, no! No Decipher Script? D&D is ruined! (2, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23119270)

Trust me, a good Use Rope scores when attempting to take down and deliver alive a rogue with many ranks in Escape Artist.
Only because 3e has those specific skills. In 4e this would be an opposed Dex-check or Thievery check. No need for narrow skills that provide absurd results.

What absurd result, you might ask? Look up the Escape Artist checks for getting out of chains and manacles sometime. It's a fixed DC. At high levels, it's better to bind someone with a rope than it is to put them in irons -- because apparently you can get more skilled with ropes but not with chains (which has no skill).

This is the end result of an overly focused and narrow skill system. I'm glad that 4e is instead replacing this with a broad and flexible skill system that encourages players and DMs to be creative.

Our DM takes particular joy in using relatively obscure in his games, so they are good to put ranks in, so that you can do tasks yourself rather than hiring an NPC. It may be different in your games. I don't know.
Our games are not designed around punishing the players for not having very specific skills. There's a movement in gaming that focuses on a chimerical concept of "realism" that likes that sort of thing, but our group prefers role playing to be driven by characters, story, and a sense of adventure rather than dice rolls and stats.

Memories... (5, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112504)

Fantastic, I can brush off those old wizard outfits, dust off the pointy hat, and break out into a fresh era of uber-geekiness all over - but only if I make my save roll vs RL Self-Respect

Does a 21 save? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112604)

> Fantastic, I can brush off those old wizard outfits, dust off the pointy hat, and break out into a fresh era of uber-geekiness all over - but only if I make my save roll vs RL Self-Respect

I put on my robe and wizard hat...

Re:Does a 21 save? (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112924)

This needs to be modded higher.

For mods that don't get the joke [bash.org]

Re:Does a 21 save? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113214)

Actually, that link was one of the funnier things I have seen. I just made a dumb joke in regards to how geeky I was back in the day, but that link just adds to it imo :)

Re:Does a 21 save? (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113994)

>> Fantastic, I can brush off those old wizard outfits, dust off the pointy hat, and break out into >> a fresh era of uber-geekiness all over - but only if I make my save roll vs RL Self-Respect

> I put on my robe and wizard hat...

Oh, I like to play dress up.

Re:Does a 21 save? (2, Funny)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116732)

You again?

Re:Memories... (2, Funny)

coopaq (601975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112622)

Self respect has nothing to do with it.

I put on my robe and wizard hat.

I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlords (3, Interesting)

Shadukar (102027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112532)

Having been a very long time fan (do DMs of several 2-3 year long campaigns count as fans?) of dungeons and dragons 2nd and 3rd edition there is one thing i do find missing among all the news about the new ad&d editions:

Good quality books.

While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids), Eliminster wasn't a bad series and anything with Raistlin was a lot better. In fact, most of Dragon Lance books were amazing, some greyhawk were decent, a lot of Forgotten Realms books were also quite good. There were some good authors writing these books too!

I think most of these books were done by TSR/random house, I do think it is sad that Wizards of the Coast decided that they can just cash in on the long time fans by spewing out more and new shiny books without remembering ALL the things that made dungeons and dragons great:

The inspiring, awesome, fun stories.

I don't think I am the only person who 1st read the various fantasy books and thought "hey, this is pretty cool, I wish I could play a game based on this, I'd totally be a female dwarf cleric"

While there is plenty of ad&d games to go around, I think the number of new/good ad&d books entering the market is depressingly low - sure, they are there, but it looks like the effort just isn't quite there like there used to be. Sure, someone could argue that you can read the old books and they do translate quite well into 3rd or 4th edition ruleset but ...it would only work on people who are very new to the whole thing. Most advanced users/fans/etc would be constantly jarred by "no wait, thats not how it works" and "ugh, this is soooo second edd..."

It really seems like in the good old days (doh) the holders of the license were like "hey, you can write and you know our world, why don't you write something cool for us ? no pressure, no big lawyery contracts, you write something good, we help you get it published, we'll split profit 3 ways, no worries, lets make a great world" What this means is that lots of good and/or new books would come out all the time.

I read fantasy very rarely, reading mostly sci-fi these days, but forgotten realms and dragonlance are a special place for me. I wish these two places got as much attention as shiny new rulebooks, plastic-manufactured Ebberon, etc

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112718)

While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids)... anything with Raistlin was a lot better
I believe the only possible response to this is: what?

Raistlin is 10x more emo/angsty/goth than Drizzt ever was. The dark elf novels have at least tried to insert some originality into the formula; the first several Dragonlance novels are cheap pulp fiction at its most derivative.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (5, Interesting)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112776)

While I was never a fan of Drizzit (sorry emo/angsty/goth kids)
I fail to see what being a fan of Drizzt has to do with being a moody kid. Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is.

I also find it amusing that you point out stereotypically whiny kids groups and then spend the next five paragraphs complaining about how everything used to be better "back in the day". Fourth edition D&D is all about stripping out rules that shouldn't matter, because it gets in the way of telling a good story. After playing a few of the public play tests, I have to say that I haven't been this excited about D&D since my uncle described my first dungeon, back in '85. Combat is tactically interesting and flows quickly. In all of the earlier editions of D&D encounters ate up most of the play time, because it took so damn long to get through big fights. In fourth edition, instead of spending 10 minutes on plot and 2 hours on combat, most games will be able to split their time more or less evenly between the two.

Also, the reason why Eberron got so much more love than Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in the past few years is because Eberron's new. There's an entire universe of things that people don't know about it. On the other hand, between the 100+ novels and sourcebooks, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance are pretty well defined. It's really hard to fill a sourcebook with new information. They could retread the old material, but that's boring for everyone except new players and people that are really rabid about their campaign setting.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (1)

delong (125205) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113480)

instead of spending 10 minutes on plot and 2 hours on combat

Its been my experience that combat is the most memorable part of the game. People I know recall fun and funny moments of DND combat from nearly 20 years ago, not plot points.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (4, Funny)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113666)

Indeed.

As someone who used to play a bard that ended up being the smart ass of the group, I can safely say that more people fell out of their chairs during combat than most other times while we gamed.

For example...

Standing watch by myself late at night.
DM: A lone goblin approaches.
Me: I reach into my pocket, pull out a marshmallow, and toss it to the goblin.
*everyone looks at me*
DM: The goblin pokes it with his spear then picks it up and eats it
Me: I cast Enlarge on the marshmallow.
*several players choke on their drinks*

Then there was the rather large group of monsters coming at us down the stairs while we were still on the floor below.
Me: I cast cantrip to create a banana peel in the middle of the monsters.
*saving throws. A monster fails*
DM: The monster slips, taking half of his comrades with him
Me: Okay, guys. I've done my share. The rest are yours... *grin*

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (1)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113806)

Its been my experience that combat is the most memorable part of the game. People I know recall fun and funny moments of DND combat from nearly 20 years ago, not plot points.
I don't mind having a combat-heavy game. Those can be a hell of a lot of fun. What I was trying to get at was that previously, you basically had no choice; you had to spend more time in combat than you did role-playing. With 4th edition, you can make your own choice; you can knock out a big fight in a half hour or less and have time for loads of round-table party talking, or you can throw on more combats. It's all up to how you want to play it. Which is how I think the game should be.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (1)

Stormie (708) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114240)

I fail to see what being a fan of Drizzt has to do with being a moody kid. Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is.
Actually, the fact is, the population of moody emokids is considerably larger than you think it is.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (1)

fragbait (209346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116166)

... Considering that about half of them have made the NYT bestseller list, R.A. Salvatore's fan base is likely considerably larger than you think it is. ...
Indeed. Login to WoW and check out how many night elf hunters there are with some form of Drizzt as their name. ...then there are the Legolas clones.

The propensity to name ones character after a favorite fantasy character is amazing. Recently, WoW added a black panther figurine trinket. You can bet every Dizzolas and Legolizzt out there is drooling to get it. Sheep.

-fragbait

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (2, Insightful)

HeavensBlade23 (946140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112782)

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. You seem to be under the impression that the novels are a hook to get people playing the game, when in fact I'd wager it's the other way around. There's no immediate connection to the P&P game when someone picks up a Dragonlance novel, but anyone who plays D&D likely has at least a passing familiarity with the Dragonlance setting.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113080)

Everyone has their opinion I guess. I thought that every bit of 'literature' written in the D&D realms was total crap. Then again I'm also an old timer and started playing LONG before anyone thought of making a quick buck by writing some crappy novels based on the game.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (5, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113132)

Let me paste in the words of "Bod", who this about Dragonlance in alt.peeves eleven years ago:

God. Jesus. No. For fuck's sake, no, no, no. I've read a lot of shit in
my time (I was, for a while, the copy-editor on the "New Adventures of
Doctor Who" novels), but I can say without a single unmitigated shadow
of a doubt that I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever read a pile of shit
so huge, so mouldering and steaming, so slime-encrusted and maggot-
ridden, so bereft of ideas, characterisation, characters, plot,
background, setting, tone, atmosphere, themes, motifs, sense or words
strung together in an even vaguely readable order as the first
Dragonlance book. It is awful. No, it is beyond awful. It is an affront
to literacy, history and humanity. If Gutenberg had been shown a copy of
this book, he would have placed his head in his printing press and
instructed his apprentices to squash it until the brains were running
out of his ears and they heard his skull crack. It should be taken out
and burnt. Everyone associated with its production should be fucked and
burnt. The Nazi pogroms and book-burnings should be reinstated, together
with the Spanish inquisition, purely to erase all traces and records of
this book from our planet's history.

I was once stuck on a train for six hours with nothing to read except a
copy of this book. After sixty pages I decided that spending the
remaining five and a half hours sitting very still and meditating on the
five screaming children in the seat opposite and their appallingly
stupid parents was preferable to having to read one more word of the
drivel before me.

It even has fucking SONGS in it.

The only good thing associated with Dragonlance is Margaret Weis's
daughter, who is a fox.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (0, Flamebait)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113560)

It even has fucking SONGS in it.
God, anything but songs. They ruin any decent fantasy novel. Tolkien certainly didn't bother with any of that crap... oh wait.

Isn't it just a TAD ironic to complain about a Tolkien-derivative fantasy novel having songs?

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114020)

God. Jesus. No. For fuck's sake, no, no, no. I've read a lot of shit in
my time (I was, for a while, the copy-editor on the "New Adventures of
Doctor Who" novels), but I can say without a single unmitigated shadow
of a doubt that I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever read a pile of shit
so huge, so mouldering and steaming, so slime-encrusted and maggot-
ridden, so bereft of ideas, characterisation, characters, plot,
background, setting, tone, atmosphere, themes, motifs, sense or words
strung together in an even vaguely readable order as the first
Dragonlance book.
Wow, I don't know whether to give this guy Left Behind or Battlefield Earth. I bet I'll be able to hear the crinkling of his soul withering.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (2, Funny)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114354)

Thanks, now I spent a half hour of my life searching for pictures of Lizz Weis. I don't even know if I found her or not. Jerk.

Re:I for one do not welcome the new 4th ed overlor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23115708)

"It even has fucking SONGS in it."

Heh, yeah, I read a book with songs in it once. What a piece of shit.

I think it was called "The Lord of the Rings" or something.

Open source the Magic CCG system? (3, Interesting)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112556)

I'd like to see them follow this up by "open sourcing" some of their proprietary IP regarding their card games. For instance, in order to make a Card game where cards are "tapped", you currently have to pay royalties to Wizards of the Coast. Ditto for many other mechanics that form the foundations of most CCGs. I wonder why they chose to "open" the D&D system but left their CCG systems closed? Is it that they make more money with one versus the other? Does anyone have any insight into this?

Re:Open source the Magic CCG system? (5, Insightful)

santiago (42242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112636)

It's because in Magic, the cards are the product, and selling them is where the profit lies. Additionally, Magic is a game in the competitive sense, and maintaining a balanced environment is key to overall player interest in the product. Wizards doesn't trust third parties to maintain that balance, because escalating power level is a good way to increase short-term sales while damaging the long-term viability of the product. Also, much of what drives the appeal of new Magic sets is novel mechanics. Letting other companies chew up potential design space would eat into what Wizards itself could then sell.

In RPGs, by contrast, core books outsell supplements, even from the first party publisher, by an order of magnitude, yet the amount of work to produce a book is roughly the same for both. Supplements make the core books more attractive to potential players, yet are much less profitable to produce. So, in a stroke of generosity, WotC enables other companies to tie into their product, thereby increasing the salability and appeal of the D&D brand without having to invest in supplements no one will buy.

Re:Open source the Magic CCG system? (2, Insightful)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112706)

Also, much of what drives the appeal of new Magic sets is novel mechanics.
That and banning old cards in tournament play.

Re:Open source the Magic CCG system? (0, Offtopic)

seandiggity (992657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112844)

Exactly. That's the reason I got out. It became almost impossible for me to play seriously with the decks I constructed without constantly buying new cards (I had no car so I couldn't travel). 'Course, I was better off getting out before the name "white weenie" stuck...

Re:Open source the Magic CCG system? (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113408)

Then stop playing in tournaments with rules that only allow new cards. Types 1 & 2 are both widely played, and have very liberal restrictions on what cards you can use. Granted, they're expensive to get into, but I've seen some pretty brutal decks that don't actually cost too much to build (read: no Black lotus, no Mox, no Timewalk, etc...).

Re:Open source the Magic CCG system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116978)

I call shenanigans. I hear this repeated over and over, that the supplements sell core books. But aside from early speculation by Ryan Dancy I've never seen anything to back that up.

WotC produced >100 supplements for D&D 3.x (not counting minis and other collectible crap); no one puts that much effort into selling one $30 book.

I don't doubt that in the first year, the supplements help sell the core books, because it's important for customers to see the core rules supported and the company active. But in the out years, anyone who's remotely interested in the product has it already; the revenue has to be coming from the supplements. And if you look at the publishing pattern, that's the case. WotC put out far more supplements for 3.5 than they did for 3.0. And when the supplement market is tapped out, it's time for a new edition. Not to sell core books, but to sell core books + new supplements + new minis + everything else.

Re:Open source the Magic CCG system? (5, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113180)

I wonder why they chose to "open" the D&D system but left their CCG systems closed?
1: Because D&D's patentable innovations were created twenty years before WotC bought TSR.

2: Because Ryan Dancy convinced them that it's save tabletop gaming as a whole, and D&D's bottom line in particular, to let smaller companies support D&D.

one question (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112584)

As with the d20 STL for Third Edition, this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC

Does this free license apply only to pen-and-paper games or could you build a [non-commercial] computer RPG based on the WoTC rules?

Re:one question (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112688)

As another poster mentioned, game rules are not copyrightable, only the specific expressions, language, and setting. So as long as skill checks were described as, say:

def skillCheck("skill", target):
          foo = rollD20()
          if foo >= target:
                    return true
          else return false

you'd be okay.

(Sorry if my Python isin't 100% correct tonight)

Re:one question (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112900)

def skillCheck("skill", target);

I think what I had in mind was not the mechanics of the die roll - but of striking the right balance between the different elements of a game.

Re:one question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23115956)

def skillCheck(target):
        return rollD20() >= target

Re:one question (1)

webrunner (108849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23119440)

def skillCheck(target):

        return rollD20() >= target
def skillCheck(target, modifier):
        roll = rollD20();
        return (((roll==20) || (roll+modifier) >= target) && (roll != 1))

Re:one question (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112712)

If the new license is anything like the old one, no. Well, strictly speaking, you COULD write one, but you'd have to exclude certain parts of character generation and advancement, as were excluded from the original SRD. For those missing bits, one was expected to purchase a PHB.

Re:one question (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113024)

Does this free license apply only to pen-and-paper games or could you build a [non-commercial] computer RPG based on the WoTC rules?
If the new license is anything like the old one, no. (...) For those missing bits, one was expected to purchase a PHB.
So you finally decide to make a cool hobby project that won't be ruined by the PHB at the office, and the first thing you need to do is to get a PHB? Talk about mood killer...

Re:one question (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116022)

With the old licenses you had a separate license for the D20 logo and the OGL stuff. The D20 license was what prohibited character generation and such.

Re:one question (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117326)

to elaborate: You can use the SRD's OGL material and even include your own versions of character creation and advancement in a digital game provided you can produce the game is such a way that the OGL material is clearly defined.

This can be achieved somewhat easily if the game is an engine that interprets a text/xml document that defines the rules of the game.

However, you would not be able to include the d20 logo or reference compatibility with the D&D brand.

Re:one question (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113204)

Does this free license apply only to pen-and-paper games or could you build a [non-commercial] computer RPG based on the WoTC rules?
1: Based on past behavior, no.

2: You'll have better luck trying a COMMERCIAL game than vice versa.

Re:one question (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113482)

Well, they didn't like the things people did with the license for 3rd edition, so they are planning to tighten it up for 4th. I was looking at something like this and the 3rd edition licenses had the following problems:
- The OGL would let you do it but didn't cover things like character generation and a couple of other key parts.
- The D20 license let you use the extra parts, but you couldn't 'create an interactive game.' The translation provided by WOTC was that you could build software but couldn't roll any dice for the players.

So, probably not.

Re:one question (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23115622)

I was looking into this recently, and the last D20 license explicitly forbids creating computer games using the rule set... probably because Atari/Blizzard (not sure which) has the license for D&D based games.

Re:one question (1)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116176)

There are a lot of people wanting to know the answer to that question. But my magic 8-ball says 'no' and no matter how hard I shake the thing the best I get is "Don't count on it."

Oh Joy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112742)

Less people to convert to be rockin' followers of the Clash. All because major corporations are convincing our men (and I use term loosely) to sit in a basement with loads of other men, and pretend to be Elf-Lords or some shit (NCIS reference intended).

d20srd.org (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23113216)

As long as something as useful as d20srd.org [d20srd.org] is produced under the new license, I will be happy.

Does this license... (5, Funny)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113224)

... finally allow girls to play?

I love me some D&D and I can't imagine much better than girls playing.

Perhaps my wish should be filed along with "Year of Linux on the desktop" and Duke Nukem Forever...

Re:Does this license... (2)

Zedekiah (1103333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114538)

Joke, I know, but that's one hell of a tired stereotype you've got there. Every group I've been in has been at least 50%, if not more, female, and I know others with the same story.
Hell, I've even played D&D with women on the internet, of all things ^^

Re:Does this license... (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116816)

So, I'm a giant nerd, but I managed to find a LARP group at my local all-girls college. Fun times, and theres more women than men there, quite obviously.

Also, anyone who plays pen+paper games through IRC or skype can tell you that theres actually a good ratio of women playing games in that medium. Mostly housewives, oddly enough.

Re:Does this license... (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118070)

Yeah I know it's a tired stereotype and it was certainly the easy joke on this topic. I'm glad to hear that there are plenty of girls who play D&D though. Perhaps it's just my circle and the people I've met. I've hardly met any girls who actually play pen and paper D&D (know plenty of female computer/consule RPGers). Maybe a new group is in order!

1-900-Nerd-Girl (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117324)

Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmRSuYIL1zc [youtube.com]

It will answer all your questions about D&D and girls!

Re:1-900-Nerd-Girl (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118014)

Awesome video. I love how at the end of the vid it says "this is not a real number; do not call."

Here's the most important question I have... (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114512)

Will their "DnD Online" software (the thing they are releasing with 4E) have enough breathing room to allow 3rd party stuff? Such as inserting your own class abilities, spells, feats, skills, etc...?

When dnd goes bad (or good?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23114586)

I once had an alcohol fuelled DnD experience that led to me giving my friend a black eye by accident.

Nothing beats when your evil orc friend rolls a 20 to "rape a nymph", it ended with it literally "exploding" or what not.... I miss that DM.

How nice of them... (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23115754)

I love when somebody gives me permission to do something that I already had the legal right to do anyway, but attaches caveats...

Under what made up law did they think they could stop people from creating 100% original content that works within their game rules?

Re:How nice of them... (1)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117304)

Sure you believe you have the right - do you have $100,000 lying around just to prove it? If you think the SEO litigation has lived to long then you should know there are copyright litigation cases that have been in and out of the courts for decades.

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116518)

from: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html [copyright.gov]
===
The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container, may be registrable.

To register the copyrightable portions of a game, you must send the Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20559-6000, the following elements in the same envelope or package:

A completed application form. If your game includes any written element, such as instructions or directions, we recommend using Form TX, which can be used to register all copyrightable parts of the game, including any pictorial elements. When the copyrightable elements of the game consist predominantly of pictorial matter, Form VA should be used.
A nonrefundable filing fee (Current Fees)
A deposit of the material to be registered. The deposit requirements will vary depending on whether the work has been published at the time of registration.
If the game is published, the proper deposit is one complete copy of the work. If, however, the game is published in a box larger than 12 x 24 x 6 inches (or a total of 1,728 cubic inches) then identifying material must be submitted in lieu of the entire game. (See "identifying material" below). If the game is published and contains fewer than three 3-dimensional elements, then identifying material for those parts must be submitted in lieu of those parts.

If the game is unpublished, either one copy of the game or identifying material should be deposited.

Identifying material deposited to represent the game or its 3-dimensional parts shall usually consist of photographs, photostats, slides, drawings, or other 2-dimensional representations of the work. The identifying material shall include as many pieces as necessary to show the entire copyrightable content of the work, including the copyright notice if it appears on the work. All pieces of identifying material other than transparencies must be no less than 3 x 3 inches in size, and not more than 9 x 12 inches, but preferably 8 x 10 inches. At least one piece of identifying material must, on its front, back, or mount, indicate the title of the work and an exact measurement of one or more dimensions of the work.

*NOTE: Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees, please check the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov/docs/fees.html, write the Copyright Office, or call (202) 707-3000.
====

Somthing interesting to note here is that game rules are not copyrightable... also interesting to note is All pieces of identifying material other than transparencies must be no less than 3 x 3 inches in size...

I'm not sure if that 3x3 rule applies to all game content or just the submissions to the copyright office. If it includes all game content, technically, all Magic the Gathering cards, and similar type card games are in trouble since those cards are about 2x5" x 3".

Can this be the last version, please? (1)

elodoth (1263810) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117582)

Seriously... I am getting sick of constant version updates from WoTC and White Wolf. I know it's a money grab, but it is frustrating. If you want the new content, you need to switch, which makes your old books useless in terms of rules data. So far I haven't seem much that is innovative in 4th edition, and some of the new 'basic' races and classes seem like very odd choices. Most of the changes they've made are already in our house rules. We don't tend to use skills all that much except in the case of Rogue characters, and we tend to resolve most fights verbally rather than by rolling dice. I mainly buy books for ideas and setting information, but one of my oldest D&D friends is a total power gamer and he needs his prestige classes. That said, anyone want to buy $2k worth of 3.5 Edition books?

Re:Can this be the last version, please? (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117906)

That said, anyone want to buy $2k worth of 3.5 Edition books?
Sure. I figure they are worth about $50 if you cover the shipping. On the other hand, consider donating them to the public library. You get to take the tax writeoff and they get to figure out what to do with them.

Nice try (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 6 years ago | (#23118038)

this is a royalty-free license that will allow third parties to publish products using the rules developed by WotC

Third parties are already allowed, by law, to publish products using the rules developed by WotC

From the US Copyright Law Factsheet on Games: [copyright.gov]

The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container, may be registrable.

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