5ive on Friday: Essential macOS Software

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations. 95% of these will be inspired by the week’s social media conversations.

Essential macOS Software

I just got a new iMac; my 2009 Mac Pro was very long in the tooth and although it was still great in some respects, it wasn’t keeping up with the latest Creative Cloud releases. I’d done a few hardware upgrades this year, but nothing really brought it to the point where I needed it.

So, enter the new iMac.

Usually after reinstalling my OS or getting a new computer, I try to not install much new software on it, installing only things I really need right away, and going without “kinda nice to have” stuff for as long as possible. Here’s five things I installed right away that may not be totally obvious:

  1. Default Folder X extends the functionality of Open and Save windows, giving you access to recently used folders, favorite folders, and a lot more.
  2. Divvy is a simple app that lets you quickly resize windows with keyboard shortcuts. You can set up shortcuts to easily make a window a vertical half of your screen, a horizontal half, etc. I use most of my apps full screen, but I like having precise control when using multiple Finder windows, web browsers, etc.
  3. TextWrangler or BBEdit are by the same company, with BBEdint being the traditional powerhouse text editor and TextWrangler a cut down but still mighty text editor. For years I’ve used TextWrangler, but it’s been sunsetted (and BBEdit dropped in price + made available free with the same feature set as TextWrangler) so I’ve been trying to transition. I use a text editor throughout the day to take notes, write drafts, make TODO lists, and other such things. Both TextWrangler and BBEdit have a very nice interface that lets you easily keep dozen of files open and navigable.
  4. HoudahSpot gives you much better control over Spotlight searches: letting you save searches, easily exclude folders, include only certain folders, search more easily based on file type or content.
  5. Dropbox as the best solution for file syncing and backups.

5ive on Friday: Just My Type Excerpts

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations. 95% of these will be inspired by the week’s social media conversations.

Just My Type Excerpts

There’s an independent bookstore about a block from my new office space. Danger danger! I’ve managed to only buy one book there so far, and I think I had good justification: I needed something small to read on the bus. I grabbed Just My Type by Simon Garfield, which is a relatively breezy journey through the history of typefaces and fonts, with digressions about specific faces, designers, and events. There’s some very interesting stuff about the design of typefaces for road signs, and the competitions between them!

Here’s five little fun excerpts:

  1. “In Manhattan, we can stroll into the reassuring chaos of the Strand Bookstore on Twelfth Street and Broadway, and find that their popular T-shirts and mugs (
    ’18 Miles of Books’) are in Helvetica. But you will find no better example of the diversity of type than by touring the tables and stacks. The text choices favour the digitized traditionals, the Bembos and Baskervilles and Times New Romas, but the jackets display the full roster, the fluid scripts for those intimate heartrending memoirs, the all-lower-case for the comic novels, the no-nonsense bold capitals for the business books, the wimpy scrawls for the kids stuff. Of course you can judge a book by its cover; moreover, we are obligated to.” (Hell yes. If you don’t judge a book by the cover, why the hell do you think a publisher puts a cover on a book? To attract people! To be judged! To indicate what it contains and the style of the book! To be judged! A cover shows a publisher’s priorities and intentions! Judge it!)
  2. [Vincent] Connare can sometimes be elliptical about his fame. ‘If you love Comic Sans, you don’t know much about typography. If you hate it, you really don’t much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby.”
  3. “This is one difference between legibility and readability: at small sizes, Cooper Black is legible but not very readable. But some type is meant to be seen rather than read (a type designer once compared this attribute to a dress designed to look great on the catwalk but provide no protection against the elements). Font-as-couture is a common analogy. Adrian Frutiger, designer of one of the most popular modern fonts, Univers, had another: ‘The work of a type designer is just like that of a dressmaker,’ he noted. ‘Clothing the constant, human form.’ Or as the graphic designer Alan Fletcher put it. ‘a typeface is an alphabet in a straitjacket.'”
  4. “Much of what one needs to know about the history and beauty of a font may be found in its ampersand. Done well, an & is not so much a character as a creature, an animal from the deep. Or it is a character in the other sense of the word, usually a tirelessly entertaining one, perhaps an uncle with too many magic tricks.”
  5. “The alphabet as a free-for-all is an appealing concept, not least for lawmakers who fear the restriction of free speech (and the complex possibilities of distinguishing one lowercase ‘g’ from another). Zapf argued his case at a time when he believed there were 7,000 to 8,000 different typefaces, and he claimed, ‘I hold the world record for the most type designs copied without permission.’ In 2010, with the number of faces rather greater, and Zapf into his nineties and no longer designing, the title may still be his.” (Hermann Zapf has since passed, in 2015.)

Just My Type is worth checking out as a light summary of the history of type, or just a fun read that will give you a bunch of jumping-off points to research in depth later, such as a the delicious Adobe Systems, Inc. v. Southern Software, Inc. lawsuit.

5ive on Friday: Hair Products

I get stopped multiple times a week to ask what I use to turn my hair bright blue/purple. This is the list of stuff we use!

  • Radical Bleach Kit — we’ve tried a few different bleach kits, but we keep going back to this one, which always does a great job on my hair. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s the best we’ve used.
  • Toner: Manic Panic Amplified Virgin Snow — my hair ends up a little yellow/brassy after bleaching, so some Toner helps strip it right out.
  • Pravana Chromasilk Vivids Blue and Violet — sometimes I use one, sometimes I mix them up a bit. A full head of blue with some wisps of violet combed through a couple days later turns out very well! (Pravana, of course, has a billion other colors.
  • Hats and gloves — high fashion, multiple uses.
  • Joico Shampoo and Conditioner — truth is, with much less hair than I used to have, and dyed hair, I don’t wash my hair more than a couple times a week now. A bottle of each of these lasts for about a year.

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5ive on Friday: Things I Did This Week

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations.

Things I Did This Week

It’s been a busy week!

  1. Moved into my new office space: This has been a weeklong process, a few things each day, culminating with my new monitor arriving on Friday, so I can finally boot up my Mac Pro for the first time in three months, which leads to …
  2. … currently downloading 7,000+ dropbox files from the last three months to my Mac Pro.
  3. Posthuman Studios released Infinite & Indivisible, the Scott Fox ambient soundtrack for Eclipse Phase. It’s so fucking great, I’ve been listening to it a ton since Scott turned the files over to us and I’m more in love with it than ever.
  4. Worked on the schedule and other resources for the Posthuman Summit, our yearly gathering to go over our schedule, brainstorm new ideas, reflect on the last year, and eat some good food. I leave next Thursday for it, and I’m excited to see the gang and the autumn Chicago weather.
  5. Kickstarter/BackerKit tech/customer support. It never ends!

What did you do?

5ive on Friday: Kickstarter Warning Signs

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations. 95% of these will be inspired by the week’s social media conversations.

Kickstarter Warning Signs

None of these warning signs may be a dealbreaker by themselves, but if a project ticks off more than a couple, I’d consider not pledging even if I was otherwise interested. Some of these are a little specific to publishing, but could easily be transferred to other types of projects.

In no particular order:

  1. The creator is an individual and has not backed other Kickstarters. There are exceptions to this—perhaps they created a new account to simplify running the campaign—but in general, I think actively backing other Kickstarter campaigns is one of the best ways to research how other Kickstarter projects work, and I think creators should be active consumers within the ecosystem they want to work in. If you’ve created a new profile for some reason, you may want to link to your older profile to show the projects you’ve backed.
  2. The creator is an individual, has never published anything before, and is trying to publish a large or “dream” project. I always recommend that someone new to publishing create a few small books, non-crowdfunded, to learn the publishing ropes with a little less pressure. Even if it’s as simple as having released a couple of $0.99 3-page supplements.
  3. Project details are sketchy: they do not include estimated page counts, binding type, paper/trim size, or whether the book is in color or not. The second half of the “elevator” pitch for a Kickstarter should include this information.
  4. Backer level prices are too low, especially for printed projects. This shows that there’s usually some misunderstanding about how much it costs to produce and ship a book. I saw a recent project that claimed that DriveThruRPG doesn’t charge upfront money to print books, but that they take it out of royalties. This is true in the sense that you can pay for printing projects with royalties you accrued from previous sales, but DriveThruRPG won’t front you the money. In a similar vein, if the backer levels and add-ons are weighed down by tons of options—t-shirts, buttons, pins, and other tchotchke—that can indicate a campaign that will sag under the weight of many minor fulfillment items.
  5. The sell text / back cover copy / project updates indicates that the creator is not in touch with the current marketplace. They may not be aware of other similar products, believe that their project fills a niche that has already been filled, engage in awkward smack-talk about other products or creators, or make grandiose claims. A little bit of bravado is expected in sales text, and there is room for a Kickstarter project to approach the market differently—but usually, for such an approach to work, you have to know “the rules” and how the market works in order to successfully subvert it.

InDesign PDF Export Preset for Digital Publishing

A million years ago, I cooked up an InDesign PDF Export Preset to handle exporting PDFs that worked well on the then-brand-new iPad while maintaining relatively small file sizes.

I still use that preset basically every day, having published dozens of books with it. You can download it here.

Adobe has instructions for loading PDF presets.

A few notes:

  • This preset turns all the Layers in your InDesign document into Acrobat layers; so users can hide backgrounds, art boxes, etc. (depending on how you use Layers in InDesign, of course.) You can untick this if you don’t want layered documents.
  • “Embed Page Thumbnails” is disabled because the thumbnails that InDesign creates are lower quality than the ones than Acrobat creates on the fly the first time it loads a PDF.
  • You can safely change the PPI and Image Quality in the Compression tab.
  • If your document includes spot colors, you probably should go to Output -> Ink Manager and tick “All Spots to Process.” (I almost never use spots, so this advice may be inadequate for your needs.)
  • There are no security settings set, because I want my customers to be able to hack the documents they buy, and PDF security is trivially cracked.

If you have any comments or questions, drop me a line!

Richard Jury: 1945-2016

Richard Jury

Our dearly loved husband and beloved father, Richard Frederick Jury, died in Taber on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at the age of 71 years.

At Richard’s request, there will be no public service.

Besides Helen, his loving wife of fifty one years, he is survived by their children Lesley Whalen (Rob) of Innisfail, Pauline Meisinger (Frank) of Edmonton and Adam Jury (Nora) of Lethbridge; grandchildren Dustin, Joel, McKenzie, Patrick, Noah and great grandson Bentley, He is also survived by his sisters Elizabeth (John) Shannon and Susan (Len) Whalley and their families in England.

Richard was born in Huddersfield, England on May 10, 1945. He met his future wife Helen in 1957, before he first visited Canada in 1960. After his return to England, they married in 1966, raising Lesley and Pauline in Huddersfield until 1977 when the family of four moved to Canada, where he farmed near Taber. In 1980, they welcomed Adam and in 1984 they moved into town.

Richard’s pride and joy were his family, home and garden, which he tended to after retirement. He enjoyed vintage farm machinery, playing cards, a wide range of music and collecting metal sculptures.

In lieu of gifts of any type, if friends so desire, memorial tributes in Richard’s name may be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society, 200, 325 Manning Road NE, Calgary, Alberta T2E 2P5 www.cancer.ca. Condolences can be left at Southland Funeral Chapel.

Executing at Gen Con and Other Conventions

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As we are only a week away from Gen Con as I write this, I want to touch on one aspect of convention planning that made a big difference in stress levels and accuracy: the Execution Document.

“Damn Adam, what happened to calling something a ‘Plan’? That’s harsh!”

And that’s the point. The execution document is blunt, because it’s vital stuff that needs to get done, and it needs to get done in a timely manner. Forgetting or delaying items on it may inconvenience other people (your staff, your volunteers, etc.) and they may have adverse effects on your business (having to spend more money because you missed an early re-booking deadline, for example.)

In brief, I’m going to cover the important parts of the Execution Document, and then provide you a sample one, which is a mishmash of our Execution Document from 2014 and 2015 Gen Con.

Start Early and End Late

The document must include necessary items that occur before the convention “” such as taking money out of the bank and depositing it afterwards. By including those items, you create logical starting and stopping steps, and each item should prompt further questions that are answered in the document (such a question might be “At the end of each day, who takes the money?” By knowing who deposits it in the bank at the end of the convention, we can work backwards to the answers and make sure they are included in the document.

However, I do not include things like ordering convention displays, business cards, etc “” you can choose to do this if you like, but as I’m the only person at our business that does that kind of thing currently, it would just bog down the document for everyone else.

Location, Time, and Person

Every event in the Execution Document must have a specific location tagged to it, a specific time for it to happen, and have a person assigned to it. It’s possible to do this by creating a list of things that must happen in a certain location, but that list also must be broken down by time frames.

I am less strict about locations/times that pre-convention activities must be carried out (it doesn’t matter where we print the booth schedule, for example), but even those items should have two out of three fulfilled.

One person is The Show Manager: the boss.

Names and Numbers

The phone numbers or other contact info for anyone mentioned in the document should be included in it.

The Binder

The binder contains all sorts of documentation you may need at the show: receipts, booth maps, planograms, as well as sheets to record books that are given out as comp copies, inventory reports, all that sort of stuff.

Explicitness

The more people that will be referring to the document and the less familiar they are with your inner workings, the more explicit your instructions need to be. Remember that some things aren’t always obvious (for example, it’s usually the convention center that handles electricity-related requests, but a different outlet often deals with furniture rentals!).

Include contact numbers and the location of vendors you may need to deal with in the document.

Explicit instructions and information also help prevent mistakes: if the booth guide says that you’re expecting three packages to be shipped to your hotel, it means that someone probably won’t walk away with only two packages after being assigned “collect all our shipments from the hotel.”

Bonus true story: We had a pallet of books shipped to our hotel one year. In their haste to pick up their books, another publisher managed to snag our pallet and the hotel let them sign off with it! Thankfully it was a publisher who knew us and recognized the problem as soon as they got to their booth and started inventory. So they delivered the boxes to our booth, even before we arrived! But if they had known exactly how many pallets to pick up this would have not happened.

Include Travel Plans

Including travel plans keeps you aware of how many people you have around to do specific tasks, and how to organize those tasks.

Print the Document and Mark It Up

The show manager should have a printed copy of the document with them at all times, and they should physically mark off each item as it is completed. People assigned tasks on-the-fly should report back to the show manager when they have done so, and get another task.

Sample Execution Document

Here is a sample execution document: Sample Execution Document

Good luck with your convention setups, and I’ll see you at Gen Con!

The History, Current State of OGL Publishing, Pathfinder, and “d20”

March 2016 Update: Some notable things have changed since this article was first published, and an updated version is forthcoming!

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The History, Current State of OGL Publishing, Pathfinder, and “d20”

The Open Gaming License and d20 System Trademark License were first released in 2000. Since then, other trademark/compatibility licenses for other systems and games have been created, and the use of other open licenses has proliferated.

The Open Gaming License still remains popular (while the d20 System Trademark License was retired in 2008), however most OGL material published in recent years (2010-) is geared towards being support material for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game under the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License.

This article explains the history behind these various licenses, along with some guideline for how they can be used in publishing.

Definitions

Open Game Content: Material that is specifically licensed under the Open Game License, created by Wizards of the Coast.

Product Identity: Material included in a book that includes Open Game Content that is specifically defined by the publisher as not being OGC.

Third Party Publisher: A publisher creating material that is designed to be compatible with another publisher’s game; most commonly used to refer to d20 System- or Pathfinder-compatible product.

Which was the First d20-licensed book?

Freeport Trilogy

(The Freeport Trilogy, a later compilation of the Freeport Adventures)

Green Ronin’s Death in Freeport,  Atlas Games’ Three Days to Kill and Necromancer’s Games’ PDF The Wizard’s Amulet hit the ground on the same Gen Con weekend as Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook did in 2000.

Three Days to Kill was locally available at The Source Comic and Games in the Twin Cities, Minnesota in the week before Gen Con.

What’s an SRD?

SRD refers to System Reference Document: often a Rich Text or HTML document that only includes Open Game Licensed material, designed to be used by a publisher as a starting point of reference or a manuscript. By using vetted System Reference Documents, publishers could help ensure that they were only OGL material.

Wizards of the Coast released multiple System Reference Documents (For 3.0 and 3.5, and d20 Modern), as did Guardians of Order (Anime d20). 

Paizo maintains a SRD for Pathfinder called the Pathfinder Reference Document, and there is a SRD maintained by the public at at http://www.d20pfsrd.com/ which also contains some material from 3rd Party Pathfinder publishers.

It has always been recommended that if you wish to produce material based on Open Game Licensed material, that you only refer to SRDs whenever possible, as opposed to mining material from printed books.

The Open Gaming License

The first thing to understand about the Open Gaming License is it is not designed specifically for any one gaming system. Anyone can write material and place it under the Open Gaming License. However, most commonly the OGL has been used to re-use material placed under it by Wizards of the Coast: the 3.0 and 3.5 SRD, and the d20 Modern SRD.

As far as content licenses go, the Open Gaming License is incredibly simple (it’s shorter than this article!). It allows you to re-use and modify material that has been placed under it, and also allows you to intermingle that Open Game Content (OGC) with closed content, which is described as Product Identity. This allows you to, for example, use monsters from the SRD in an adventure, with you declaring that the “flavour text” descriptions of the other characters, events, and locations in the adventure are your Product Identity.

One of the conditions in the OGL (Section 7) does not allow you to use anyone else’s Product Identity. Be aware that simply using the name of a Wizards of the Coast-published spell or monster that is not included in the System Reference Document may cause you to run afoul of this clause. This includes using that Product Identity “as an indication as to compatibility”—which means you cannot (without obtaining permission otherwise) indicate that your product is compatible with Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or any other game title, trademark, etc. The full list of what is considered by default to be Product Identity is listed under section 1 of the OGL.

Beyond not including material that you cannot include under the OGL in your product, the most important legal aspect of publishing something that includes OGC is Section 6 and Section 10, which stipulates that you must include a copy of the Open Game License in your product, and you must correctly add to and update the Copyright Notice portion of the license to include the Copyright Notice from any Open Game Content that you used in your product, and also append your own Copyright Notice to it. This section is numbered as Section 15 and often referred to as such.

In order to prevent problems, you should keep careful track of when you sourced OGC, and where you sourced it from, and save their Copyright Notice / Section 15 verbiage so you can include them in your own product.

Of course, the OGL has further clauses to it: you need to read and understand the entire thing before using it. If you find portions of it difficult to understand, I suggest you look for similar projects and see how they handled things, and if you need clarification after that, try to speak to the creators of those projects.

If you are attempting to re-use something that you believe may be Open Game Content but aren’t sure if it is, or if it’s Product Identity, ask the publisher of that project. Assuming that something is Product Identity is always safest.

The Open Gaming License is irrevocable: if you place content under that license, it is perpetually under it.

The full text of the Open Gaming License: http://www.wizards.com/d20/files/OGLv1.0a.rtf

The d20 System Trademark License

The d20 STL allowed publishers, if they adhered to more stringent rules, to place a d20 System logo on their book, and also to advertise compatibility with Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition, d20 Modern, and a few other Wizards of the Coast titles.

As the d20 System Trademark License is no longer available for use, the details of those restrictions and benefits are essentially irrelevant at this point.

D20 logo1

d20 STL Revocation

In June 2008, Wizards ceased allowing publishers to use the d20 System Trademark License. Publishers with print books were granted a six-month period to sell off remaining physical stock, and six months to remove any electronic books from the marketplace, or modify them to be OGL-compatible.

Some publishers re-branded their books, creating a handful of new logos/brands to identify them as OGL and former d20 titles—but none of those new brands obtained widespread traction. As of early 2015, many d20-licensed books still exist in PDF form with minimal or no modifications to their branding or content.

Game System License (D&D Fourth Edition)

The GSL was announced in August 2007, launched in June 2008 and revised in February 2009. It was not widely adopted  by third party publishers with many—including d20 stalwart Green Ronin Publishing rejecting it for being too limiting and too focused on serving Wizard’s of the Coasts needs.

With D&D Fourth Edition’s relatively short lifespan and lack of third party products, the GSL’s legacy isn’t in what it created directly, but what it created indirectly: Pathfinder.

Pathfinder

If you are interested in the history of Pathfinder and Paizo, I recommend reading Paizo’s 10th Anniversary Retrospective, available here: http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/tags/paizo/auntieLisasStoryHour—it goes into great detail on the company’s history.

Pathfinder RPG cover

For those who want to publish material that is compatible with Pathfinder, you can do so in two ways:

Use the OGL

Pathfinder material is published under the Open Gaming License, as it is derived from the 3.0/3.5 SRD (amongst a few other sources). You can use the Pathfinder SRD to create derived and compatible works as long as you follow the Open Gaming License. However, this does not give you the right to use the Pathfinder name or any other trademarks (as they are Product Identity).

Paizo Inc. Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Compatibility License

PZOCOMPATIBILITYE 500

This license allows you to use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility Logo on your product, and to indicate compatibility with Pathfinder and  refer to specific Pathfinder books. You are still required to use the OGL if you include any OGL content, and obey all of its clauses regarding Product Identity, Section 15, etc.

Paizo requires you to submit an application for the Compatability license, including a description of the products you intend to make.

Beyond that, the following page outlines the major facets of the license: how you can refer to Pathfinder and different Pathfinder titles, how you may and may not display the logo, etc: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/compatibility

Paizo also maintains a Frequently Asked Questions list: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/compatibility/faq

Old School Movement / Retroclones

An unexpected result of the Open Gaming License was the resurgence in availability of material that was compatible with prior versions of D&D. Multiple publications used the Open Game Content in the SRD to essentially recreate older editions of D&D and several of those rules sets have been further supported with original adventures and other content—essentially creating one (or more?) ecosystems that harken back to the style of rules and source material of the late 70s and early 80s!

Other OGL Material

Cover 500px1

(13th Age, from Pelgrane Publishing and Fire Opal Media, by Rob Heinsoo & Jonathan Tweet)

Notable fantasy material licensed under the OGL, beyond Pathfinder, includes 13th Age from Pelgrane Publishing and Fire Opal Media. It has a Compatibility License: http://pelgranepress.com/site/?p=14447

Mutants and Masterminds from Green Ronin publishing is one of the longest running complete OGL games, having spanned three editions. It has a compatibility license, Super Powered by M&M: http://mutantsandmasterminds.com/licensing-mutants-masterminds/


1185854 469878409786551 1400406744 n

(Mutants & Masterminds from Green Ronin Publishing, by Steve Kenson. One of the true survivors of the OGL era.)

Spycraft from Crafty Games has a compatibility license, Powered by Spycraft: http://www.crafty-games.com/licensing/spycraft

The Open Gaming License has been applied to other games and gaming material beyond the “d20-derived” style of gaming born from Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition. This includes Traveller from Mongoose Publishing, the GUMSHOE System by Pelgrane Press, Fate from Evil Hat Productions (which is also available under a Creative Commons license), and Fudge from Grey Ghost Games. Fudge is notable in that it was first published under a license of the author/publisher’s own devising, and years later was placed under the Open Gaming License—which allowed Evil Hat Productions to truly move forward with the Fate gaming system which was originally derived from Fudge.

Of further note is the Open D6 system, from West End Games. The D6 system first appeared in the Ghostbusters RPG and was later used in the first licensed Star Wars RPG. Decades later the system was released under the Open Gaming License as OpenD6, after a second incarnation of West End Games failed to capture the market with their revamped series of D6-based books.


Fatecoresystem

(Fate Core, from Evil Hat Productions, is available under both OGL and Creative Commons licenses.)

Licenses other than the OGL

Roleplaying games and sourcebooks have also been published under various Creative Commons licenses, but not all of them allow commercial re-use.

A few other licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation License, have been used on occasion, and some games—such as Fudge, before it was licensed under the Opening Game License—had their own licenses designed to be used by one game only.

Trademark licenses without Open Licenses

There are also a number of games that allow you to publish compatible material with a compatibility logo, but that do not have any open licensed content for you to re-use, or any requirements that your material be open-licensed. This includes Pinnacle’s Savage Worlds: https://www.peginc.com/licensing/

and the Hero System from Hero Games.

Creating Open Content in 2015 and Beyond

If you have the freedom to choose a license for all-new material, I suggest that the following considerations are the most important:

  • Is the license appropriate for the type of material you are going to publish? The Open Gaming License was specifically designed for the text of a gaming book. Creative Commons licensed are aimed at mixed-media works: text + art + design, but you can use a CC license to only license part of a work—such as all the text or all the art or “all of chapters 15, 16, and 17” while not touching the remainder of the work.
  • Does using the license grow the audience for your material—does it give you access to a community of fans?
  • Does the license make your material available to use to others in ways that you find acceptable?
  • If you have bought or licensed work from others to appear in your material (artwork, writing, etc), does the contract you bought/licensed it under allow you to republish the material under an open license? Most publishers buy material from authors and artists under Work For Hire contracts, and thus the publisher owns the copyright and get choose to re-license the work under any open license they choose. Ethically, people creating work that you publish should be aware that you plan on open-licensing it, too!
  • The following are my personal suggestions for how to license material. Please read and consider the licenses carefully; what is right for one person/organization may not be right for others. What is right for one project may not be right for your next project, either!

    —If you want to create material for a game or setting that uses a specific license, use it.

    —If you want to create a new game, not dependant on material already under one of the existing open licenses, use one of the Creative Commons Licenses. These licenses don’t have the d20/fantasy/D&D implications that the OGL tends to have, and can allow for no commercial re-use, no derivatives, etc.

    —If you want to create a new game, not dependant on material already under one of the existing open licenses, but with plenty of open-licensed material available to be used with it or converted to be used with it, use the OGL.

    —If you want to create fantasy material with the widest possible commercial audience, produce material under the Pathfinder Compatibility License.

    —If you want to create fantasy material with some degree of built in audience, but want the least restrictive license possible, use the OGL.

    Publishing your own SRD

    If you are releasing a lot of open licensed content, you should consider releasing it in a System Reference Document style. While originally publishers such as Wizards of the Coast and Guardians of Order released SRDs in the universal Rich Text Format, most are now released as web pages—usually using wiki software so they can be edited and amended by the community. Some SRDs are created and maintained entirely by the fan community.

    Releasing a SRD will encourage people to use your material for their own works, as it will make it even more clear which material is available to be re-used.


    Special Thanks

    Thanks to the backers of my Patreon project for helping fund this article, including, but not limited to: Brian Allred, Tara Brannigan, Jeff Eaton, Eleanor Holmes, Andrew Kenrick, Adam Tinworth, Lester Ward, Evil Hat Productions, and Melior Via.

    In particular, thanks to John Dunn, Ryan Macklin, Craig Maloney, and Lester Ward for feedback on the initial draft of this article.

    Special thanks to Jason Jensen for editing and access to his extensive collection of d20 titles.

Recent & Future Releases

I’ve been buried under a log jam of production work for the past several months, and my lumberjack class skill of +4 (+2 when I wear that sweet lumberjacky shirt) has finally worked parts of the jam loose!

First off is The Devotees, a new adventure for Eclipse Phase. It’s available in both print and PDF.

PS21810 The Devotees 400px

We also just reprinted Gatecrashing, the Eclipse Phase core rulebook is at the printers for a fourth(!) printing, and our first card game, Shinobi Clans, is also at the printers. Our next release, Zone Stalkers, is imminent.

Outside of Posthuman Studios is the Atomic Robo Roleplaying Game, from Evil Hat Productions. It’s an action-science romp, powered by the Fate rules. I worked with an awesome team including Mike Olson and Jeremy Keller for this title, and it’s a great game and a gorgeous book. Pre-ordering the print book gets you the PDF copy immediately.

Robo Cover 400px

Beyond Atomic Robo, I’m working on the Designers & Dragons book series for Evil Hat. An extensive preview of the Designers & Dragons: The ’70s has been released, going over TSR’s history in detail.

And I’ve been diving into Accursed by Melior Via, as I have a one-sheet adventure to write for them!

As this logjam continues to get unjammed, please stay clear of rolling and falling logs. And by logs, I mean games!