Thursday, July 10, 2008

Playing Without a (GSL) Net

James Edward Raggi IV, he of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, has some thoughts on the 4e version of Kingdoms of Kalamar. This latest version of Kenzer & Company's campaign setting is, as always, compatible with the world's most popular RPG. But they don't even bother with that fig leaf:

A 4e product for sale right now. Saying "For Use with Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons" right on the cover...

Not using the GSL.

This was a predictable outcome of the GSL. However, I doubt we'll be seeing a lot of this sort of stuff. Mr. Raggi ponders whether this example makes the who simulacra thing redundant. Possibly, but only if you've got a copyright lawyer handy and you're fairly certain Hasbro won't sue you. Keep in mind that Hasbro doesn't have to win the lawsuit. They just have to inflict enough financial hurt that you decide never to be crosswise with them again.

But Kenzer can probably get away with it, and we may see a few other companies poke their toes in this water as well. But I don't expect to see many, forget most, 4e material released in this manner. And I don't expect we'll see any simulacra follow this example.


Anonymous said...

Now that's some great news! It just takes someone with enough gumption to challenge them (Wizards); once Kenzer shows that companies can exert their legal rights without fear of Hasbro others will follow.

trollsmyth said...

Maybe. Keep in mind that Kenzer is in a unique position, having both a copyright lawyer on tap and once before victoriously tangling with WotC over such issues in the past. I'd be surprised if too many follow suit.

- Brian

Anonymous said...

Maybe, but if they win there'll be a pretty clear "safe place" where other companies can follow. A lot of Wizards' FUD surrounds what you can do in terms of compatibility - if that gets precedent set on it, then at worst you're dealing with "nuisance suits" - a problem, but very much mitigated if you know you're in the legal right. Remember, people without deep pockets have bested them before (RADGames, etc.). The law still works right 90% of the time.

Oddysey said...

I'm sure WotC has a reason to care, but I haven't been able to puzzle it out. Maybe it's just me, but everything I got from 3rd party publishers for 3e was stuff that Wizards just wasn't making -- Iron Heroes, Darwin's World, Chaositech, that kind of thing. Taking that away isn't going to get me to buy more class/race splats, just give me a reason to play more GURPS, or whatever.