The Cephus Engine verses Traveller

David Johansen

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I don't know, it would certainly be a boon to GURPS fans, especially those who want to put out their own work but I don't think it benefits SJG or at least I don't think they'd see it that way. I like SJG. I don't think I could ever work with them, I'm too flakey and they're too professional. I've given them enough grief for a life time so I don't want to do something that they'd take badly.
 

Simlasa

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I don't know, it would certainly be a boon to GURPS fans, especially those who want to put out their own work but I don't think it benefits SJG or at least I don't think they'd see it that way.
I wasn't so much thinking of existing GURPS fans as I was people who might otherwise be averse to GURPS because of its 'crunchy' reputation. But a clone, under another name, with different approach to presentation... and using a more introductory take on the system, might better serve as a gateway to GURPS than what SJG has tried so far.
 

Trippy

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In the case of Mythras, I'd add that there are entirely different circumstances.

Firstly, the design of the Mythras game (in all its guises, from Mongoose RuneQuest II onwards) is original to Lawrence Whittaker and Pete Nash, even if it was heavily inspired by the original RuneQuest. Secondly, most of the licencing issues surrounding RuneQuest, in truth, largely stem from Greg Stafford's, Chaosium's and latterly Moon Design's slowness in actually taking ownership of the RuneQuest IP, that they were clearly passionate about, rather than licensing it out to third parties.
 

ffilz

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Some clones are better than the originals. I like AS&SoH 2e better than AD&D 1e.
I still want to see a good list of all the clones, and a summary of significant rule changes, and a summary of why one would want to purchase them. I have so far sprung money for one, Old School Essentials for which the Kickstarter happened to be kicking off at a time I was starting a BX campaign and so they sold me on the intention of it being a true clone of BX but better organized. That was an easy sell. LotFP is interesting to me, but hasn't grabbed my dollars yet because it sounds like Raggi has made some interesting design decisions with the game that I could be convinced to try out (I do have the free version).
 

Endless Flight

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I still want to see a good list of all the clones, and a summary of significant rule changes, and a summary of why one would want to purchase them. I have so far sprung money for one, Old School Essentials for which the Kickstarter happened to be kicking off at a time I was starting a BX campaign and so they sold me on the intention of it being a true clone of BX but better organized. That was an easy sell. LotFP is interesting to me, but hasn't grabbed my dollars yet because it sounds like Raggi has made some interesting design decisions with the game that I could be convinced to try out (I do have the free version).
The reason I like AS&SoH is because there no are no demi-humans and the actual world and setting is very cool. The game reminds me Robert E. Howard more than any other.
 

ffilz

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The reason I like AS&SoH is because there no are no demi-humans and the actual world and setting is very cool. The game reminds me Robert E. Howard more than any other.
Are there any actual mechanical differences? Cutting out demi-humans is just a setting change that suggests ignoring part of the Players Handbook and not necessarily something that needs a clone for. Could it have been published just as a setting book usable with your favorite 1st edition game?
 

robertsconley

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So, is the concensus that outside of the actual text, art, and name recognition of the trademark, nothing in a game design is of sufficient value to deserve protection.?
If it not math but an arbitrary arrangement of ideas ... maybe. However keep in mind there is whole other area of IP called trade dress. The point of which is to allow people to protect their products from imitators.

Prior to the release of Basic Fantasy and OSRIC this is was the biggest source of fear over making a D&D clone even with the D20 SRD providing some cover.
 

robertsconley

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At this point, a well-done GURPS clone might be beneficial to actual GURPS.
Shrug it is virtually impossible due to the fact much of GURPS is comprised of lists of items each uniquely written. Avoiding that will result in a system that as much related to GURPS as Palladium Fantasy was to AD&D.
 

TristramEvans

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Nah, I just added Raleel's example to the list to include it. I'm not sure any of them have anything underhanded in their creation. As robertsconley noted, you can't copyright an idea.

So, is the concensus that outside of the actual text, art, and name recognition of the trademark, nothing in a game design is of sufficient value to deserve protection.?
Well trademark is quite different from copyright. You trademark a logo, you copyright the art and text. If it were possible to do so, you would patent mechanics. But you cannot patent actual game mechanics in the same way you cannot patent mathematical formulas.

Except when you can, apparently, as Magic:the Gathering was somehow able to get a patent on "tapping".

This was a bad precedence that we perhaps have not seen the legal ramifications of yet. It depends if a game could suceesfully defend in court a mechanism that is essentially the same as "tapping" that does not call it such.

That said, D&D, and no other RPG, has ever recieved a patent for any game mechanic, and it cannot be granted retroactivelly, as the most important part of IP law is activelly defending it. That's why Disney sues orphanages.
 

chuckdee

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At this point, a well-done GURPS clone might be beneficial to actual GURPS.
As much as I like SJG, they have become a bit hidebound with the system, so there are few new developments to improve it.
 

David Johansen

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The problem is that by the time you rename all the advantages and disadvantages you're virtually incompatible even if none of the other mechanics change.
 

Loz

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To me, it comes down to how a retroclone or OGL/SRD based game acknowledges its source (indeed, if it even bothers to do so). With Mythras, we've always openly, freely, honestly, and fondly acknowledged the immense work of RQ and BRP to lay the foundation we've built on. Plenty of other games do the same thing (including Cepheus Engine), and as long as trademarks are not being infringed, and copyright not being breached, such retroclones absolutely deserve their chance. Whether you support them or not is largely a matter of preference and taste.

I'm most irked where the source goes unacknowledged, or an acknowledgement is either disingenuous or misrepresents the source. I see this most where the OGL is used as a convenient coathanger for a game that in reality takes its cues from everywhere but the OGL being cited. This is what irked us most over Raiders of R'lyeh and Sabre. Both clearly used Mythras as their template, but both cited the Legend OGL and did not acknowledge the part Mythras played in their development. Indeed, the first edition of Sabre breached our copyright by reproducing large sections of the Mythras text word for word. When tackled over it, the designers thought it was okay to do that (and thought they could get away with it), because they were using the Legend OGL and, hey, hadn't we written Legend? To its credit, Sabre quickly put things right, and their second edition actually takes the game in several new and original directions that I think are good for the hobby and BRP line.

So my contribution to this is...

  • Understand the difference between trademarks and copyright
  • Don't infringe either of them
  • Acknowledge the source openly, fairly and respectfully
  • Don't assume the OGL gives you carte-blanche to ignore the above.
 

David Johansen

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on the other hand, if you make DURPS a fantastic 3d6 roleplaying game with loads of great supplements, we'll be all over that!
Even if it's not compatible with GURPS in any way? Because I'm far more likely to neo-clone and tighten up GURPs than duplicate it. At which point I'm not really concerned about how it impacts Steve Jackson one way or another. I'd move more towards Twilight 2000 2.5 and away from open points buy character creation. I've got a game that would transition from 1d20 to 3d6 quite easily, I'd mostly need to reduce some modifiers. If there was enough interest, I might move it up the que a bit. I've actually got magic rules and a fair bit of other materials that could be repurposed. But it won't look much like GURPS.
 

Raleel

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Even if it's not compatible with GURPS in any way? Because I'm far more likely to neo-clone and tighten up GURPs than duplicate it. At which point I'm not really concerned about how it impacts Steve Jackson one way or another. I'd move more towards Twilight 2000 2.5 and away from open points buy character creation. I've got a game that would transition from 1d20 to 3d6 quite easily, I'd mostly need to reduce some modifiers. If there was enough interest, I might move it up the que a bit. I've actually got magic rules and a fair bit of other materials that could be repurposed. But it won't look much like GURPS.
I am a minor player in the ludicrous DTRPG library game and I have north of 800. I’m sure I’m on that ;)
 

David Johansen

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I generally haven't even tried to sell my games. Partially because they're all unfinished to some degree and partially because I think they're just too obscure a niche. But, also because I think that a well supported free game might get more traction than one that costs money.
 

robertsconley

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I generally haven't even tried to sell my games. Partially because they're all unfinished to some degree and partially because I think they're just too obscure a niche. But, also because I think that a well supported free game might get more traction than one that costs money.
You are providing people with entertainment and saving them time. Don't undervalue your work. What I asked myself and to say to those who ask is that if you can sell to 100 people, then making a work and selling via PDF and print on demand will be rewarding. One can make enough profit on a 100 sales to buy something small but nice. For example the premium hardback for your favorite system. Or a night on the town for you and your significant other.

But it does take extra effort make something useful to others. And if one doesn't want to spend their hobby time doing that, it understandable.

Also keep in mind that in the past you had to sell to the mass hobby in order to make the publisher-distributor-game store chain work. While still true it is not the only option especially for modest sales numbers.
 

robertsconley

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I don't know, it would certainly be a boon to GURPS fans,
While all of my publishing has been for OD&D in the form of Swords & Wizardry. My passion is for GURPS. After the Majestic Wilderlands and Scourge of the Demon Wolf, I began to look to see what I can do with something like GURPS. My first through was "Hey Fudge." The system echoes much of the ethos of GURPS and it author and early fans sprung from the late 90s GURPS community.

At first it was promising but then the players and I started noticing that +1 and +2 bonuses with 4dF had a huge benefit. I crunched some numbers and I found out it was because of the high peak of the 4dF bell curve. So I abandoned it. Then later I figured out that d6-d6 would do the trick. But launching and supporting a new system was work I didn't want to do since I was far along my classic edition based Majestic Fantasy RPG.

Also I found another alternative in Fantasy Age which does use 3d6. It doesn't have open content but it central ideas are easily made unique.

If anybody interested in the Fudge work I did you can download it from here. If the playtests had worked out, the next step was to expand on how I was using Aspects, a concept borrowed from Fate. Basically Aspects are packages derived from the setting of the campaign. They would have a list of abilities including magical powers along with flavor text. They don't "cost" anything beyond the willingness of the player to roleplay the flavor and the referee having the aspect as part of their setting. I had two basic ones, the mage which gave the ability to cast arcane spells, and the cleric which gave the ability to cast divine spells and turn undead.
 

Gringnr

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That's the same system that Feng Shui uses and I love it. It's not my favorite system, but I love systems that can just use 2d6 in one manner or another and create magic.
Isn't d6-d6 also used in some iteration of Icons?

I'd really like to see a comparison of probabilities for 4df and d6-d6. Anyone know where I can find such a thing?
 

robertsconley

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Isn't d6-d6 also used in some iteration of Icons?

I'd really like to see a comparison of probabilities for 4df and d6-d6. Anyone know where I can find such a thing?

just add +1 ocv and watch how the odds shift. This is noticeable in actual play as well.
 

under_score

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Ok, still sounds like it could have just been a setting supplement...
AS&SH has a lot of unique rules. Its 2 phase initiative system is kind of complex but allows for very chaotic, flexible battles. There are a dozen or so "advanced combat options". It has its own unarmed combat system. Almost every weapon has some trait to make it an interesting choice depending on situation. It uses a d12 skill resolution.
The game captures a feel somewhere between B/X and AD&D but is different enough from either (mechanically as well as setting) to be very much its own thing.
 

robertsconley

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Yeah, this change is intentional in Fate/FUDGE.
For resolving an actions sure. But it also messes up the feel of character progression for most hobbyists. A +1 is a major leap in ability.

It can be accounted for but in my experience players in general like frequent small increases in capability over infrequent larger leaps.
 

Nobby-W

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Isn't d6-d6 also used in some iteration of Icons?

I'd really like to see a comparison of probabilities for 4df and d6-d6. Anyone know where I can find such a thing?
Here's one I made earlier -

Die Roll4DFD5-D5D6-D6
-52.7%
-41.2%4%5.5%
-35%8%8.3%
-212%12%11.1%
-119.8%16%13.8%
023.5%20%16.7%
+119.8%16%13.8%
+212%12%11.1%
+35%8%8.3%
+41.2%4%5.5%
+52.7%

D6-D6 has much more weight in the tails than 4DF; with 4DF there is about a 6.2% chance of getting more than +2, but with D6-D6 the chance is around 16.7%. This means that with 4DF you're much more dependent on getting boosts, making the FATE point economy quite a big deal. It's less important with a D6-D6 or even D5-D5 mechanic.
 
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chuckdee

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For resolving an actions sure. But it also messes up the feel of character progression for most hobbyists. A +1 is a major leap in ability.

It can be accounted for but in my experience players in general like frequent small increases in capability over infrequent larger leaps.
A lot of that is a shift in the paradigm of the way that Fate and FUDGE approach advances. It is designed that there are not frequent small increases in character abilities. You start competent, and increase in competency at certain milestones, though most of the milestones are character development- not character abilities.

It's again, as designed, and yes, some games won't fit in that paradigm.
 

AsenRG

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Or are unlicensed retro-clones a valid form of artistic expression?
IMO, yes, as long as they're legal.

And the question whether I would leave my favourite system behind "if someone lightly rubbed off the serial numbers and made a free or cheaper or better clone" is actually two questions.
Would I leave my favourite system for a cheaper clone? Obviously not. Legend by Mongoose is being sold at $1, I'm still choosing Mythras (though I also have Legend:thumbsup:).

Would I switch for a better system...well, probably yes. Though if it's not better in every respect it's more likely I'd just have then both and mix and match.
Which is exactly what I'm doing with Mythras and Legend, and with Cepheus and MgT1&2e+CT+MT:shade:.
 

Toadmaster

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I'm sure there are retro-clones that simply take the original game and rewrite the text, but most I've seen alter game rules significantly, beyond simply changing the setting. D&D based clones have offered, different takes on hit points, skills / talents, magic systems, armor etc. Mythras is obviously based on Runequest, but is very much its own game, the combat system in particular (the heart of most RPGs) has major changes adding in a (in my opinion) rather unique system of combat maneuvers that is in no way related to RQ1-3.

Renaissance is based on RQ, but pulls back on the complexity and has some substantial changes giving it, an identity of its own.

Rolemaster began as an add on to D&D. You can clearly see the D&D heritage in it, but in my mind it is an entirely distinct game.
 

Gringnr

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Codename: Spandex, which I mentioned earlier, and Classified, are very tight and faithful retro-clones. Mwchanics-wise, they are near-indistinguishable from the original games.
 

Savage Schemer

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Mythras is obviously based on Runequest
I'm sure this point has been made elsewhere in thread (I haven't looked), but point of order here is that Mythras wasn't "based on" Runequest, Mythras was Runquest. The name was changed from Runequest 6 due to some licensing shenanigans with Chaosium. You might already know that, but in a thread about open source derivatives, the distinction is important. Mythras isn't in the same category by a long shot.
 

Toadmaster

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I'm sure this point has been made elsewhere in thread (I haven't looked), but point of order here is that Mythras wasn't "based on" Runequest, Mythras was Runquest. The name was changed from Runequest 6 due to some licensing shenanigans with Chaosium. You might already know that, but in a thread about open source derivatives, the distinction is important. Mythras isn't in the same category by a long shot.
I'm well aware of the history of RQ, I started with RQ2, went through RQ3, I've got MRQ2, and my copy of Mythras is actually RQ6.

My post was not in any way a dig at Mythras, rather my point was that despite it being based on Chaosium's earlier editions, it added significantly to what came before and is legitimately very much its own game, distinct from the source.

Many of the games the OP has identified are in a similar situation to Mythras, so I think it is fair game to discuss. I do not share the opinion that there is an issue with games born of other games, as very few have been created entirely from scratch.
 

CRKrueger

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I don't know why this site always has such a difficult time with the very simple concepts of copyright and trademark. Suffice to say Cepheus is to Traveller as Far Out Fruities is to Froot Loops.
As long as they aren't mimicking the trademarked name and trade dress and aren't using any copyrightable material (expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves), there's no issue.
Except with No High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors or Certified Synthetic Colors, Far Out Fruities isn’t anything remotely close to Froot Loops. :devil:
 

David Johansen

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Warning, contents may be slightly radioactive or cause atomic energy bursts in children.
 

CRKrueger

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The key for me is, is it compatible? I can’t jump ship from MERP, because it is a dead game. However, if it was a living game and Against the Darkmaster was both compatible and superior, I’d use the superior parts. I’d still buy all the MERP modules and supplements, because Against the Darkmaster isn’t going to give me Pete Fenlon maps of Middle Earth.

RQ6/Mythras has always been an authorized game, but now there is Mythras and RQ:G. I’m not running anything in Glorantha, but since the systems are compatible, I’ll add RQ:G stuff to Mythras if something strikes me as useful.

For Traveller I’m sure I’d run a Frankenmix of MgT, CT, and Cepheus with whatever supplements and adventures I felt like.
 

David Johansen

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So, I threw together a bit of a 3d6 system. It isn't a life path system. It's more of a small pool points system. I called them picks because you're picking stuff but that seems like a better term for a game where you get 2 - 5 things not one where you get 10 - 20 things.


Edit* I've given it a second pass and moved the subsets into traits that act as modifiers. That cleans it up a lot though I may have to cull and rethink a couple of them. Without them its basically the D&D stat set. I might just move Constitution to the traits entirely so it can modify hit points.
 
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As a side note, I think several companies turn a blind eye to unofficial sourcs of the core books knowing that a pdf that gets players generates hard sales laer. Plus once people like the core they will buy supplements. Who protects what is interesting. Does the company protect the earlier editions? Or do they allow cloned earlier versions in the hope of selling the current version?
 
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Then there is the issue of discontinued licences. Pelgrane press has lost the licence for Dying Earth - it is no longer in their interest to expend money and time defending products they can no longer make money from. Paranoia has several versions and (except the current licence) the owners of a version has zero interest in stopping people handing round copies. Personally I like paranoia XP - I cannot buy legit copies but can easily take a pdf.
 
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