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Thursday, 10 February 2005
In favor of broad licensing of C&C
Thanks for the comments, everyone! Sometimes you wonder if you're just talking into cyberspace... I'm glad to hear that people are interested in reading a C&C blog like this one.

There's good news out there - the Trolls have signed some sort of agreement with Goodman Games, allowing Goodman to publish C&C material. It's probably a dual-statted product, or a pdf conversion of an older Goodman product. We won't know for sure until the official announcement.

This brings us to an interesting question. Troll Lords have stated that they aren't interested in working with many other publishers - GG is one of the ones they like. How permissive should TLG be in allowing other people to publish C&C material?

Basically, the entire C&C game mechanism is Open Game Content; you couldn't reprint the actual book (because lots of flavor text is not OGC), but you can write and publish anything you want using the rules. TLG's control over the material lies in the fact that you can't SAY that it's for Castles & Crusades without their permission. Any mention of compatibility with C&C in a third party product is illegal without permission. The result? TLG has complete control over any commercial publication using C&C rules - if you can't say it's for C&C, you can't connect with potential buyers.

This is why Goodman Games needs to sign an agreement with TLG. TLG could demand whatever it wants from another publisher - a share of profits, a flat fee, or nothing at all.

In my mind, it is to TLG's benefit to require nothing at all - at least for the forseeable future (and making sure not to grant blanket rights - don't say that a particular publisher has the right to say that products are for C&C, just that they can do it for particular, named products).

The Castles & Crusades game will grow more quickly the more products (especially free ones) are out in the market. The more the game grows, the more products TLG will sell, in the long term.

We'll never see the details of the Goodman/TLG agreement - terms will stay confidential. If it were me, I'd have given Goodman the right to use the C&C name on conversions of all GG's existing d20 modules (listed by name). In return, I'd have asked something like the following: (1) they must be converted and posted as pdf by a certain date. (2) Goodman must advertise these products in places like ENworld or Dragon Magazine (with content approval by TLG), spending a particuar amount of money on the ads. (3) Goodman must prepare a NEW dual-statted module for d20/C&C, or for C&C alone, with guidelines on how it's promoted.

This is a win/win for both companies: Goodman gets to sell converted modules at no licensing cost, except a dollar commitment to advertise its own product. TLG gets a free ride on the advertising, and can point new players to a raft of ready-made modules for C&C.

Of course, depending on TLG's cash flow situation, it might be more important to bring in some cash up front, since TLG needs to make sure that it's able to print enough copies of the core books to ride this wave - that takes money. Goodman might be willing to pay some cash up front (or a share of revenue) in order to avoid promising exact advertising dollars.

Whatever the exact terms of the agreement, it is positive for C&C that the capital costs required to hit this market with lots of support product is being divided up among more than one company. The more support product, the better the game will ultimately sell. Let's see more such deals!

(Time to get Necromancer Games on the phone...)

Posted by mythmere at 12:26 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (7) | Permalink

Thursday, 10 February 2005 - 12:53 PM CST

Name: Peter
Home Page:

Hrm. I think the board ate my last comment.

Just an fyi on the open content of C&C. The Seige Engine, you'll find, is not open game content.

Just to clarify. :)

Thursday, 10 February 2005 - 1:38 PM CST

Name: mythmere

Good point, although most OGC/PI disputes are won by whomever has the best lawyer. Trademark and compatibility statements, on the other hand, don't leave much wiggle room for the bad guy.

Thursday, 10 February 2005 - 2:17 PM CST

Name: Mike c

I agree that TLG should have an OGL/d20 like attitude towards the seige engine mechanics. they just should require people to say on the front or back cover that it requires the C&C PHB. This type of liscense keeps your game visible in the rpg market. We all know that the top selling games are the ones that have frequent releases and not always the best quality. Third party supliments if nothing else keep you on the radar.

Friday, 11 February 2005 - 12:53 PM CST

Name: Fiffergrund

I agree that this would keep the game visible, but I think that a glut of shoddy and unimaginative products is one of the negatives that came from the OGL. I think it's in the Trolls' best interests to keep a lid on the use of the trademark as much as possible, to ensure that those using it are truly going to produce products that gel with the game's approach and philosophy.

Friday, 18 February 2005 - 9:35 PM CST

Name: Prime_Evil

Although I agree that the OGL has resulted in numerous shoddy products, it is has also given us a few real gems -- including C&C itself. And it has allowed the emergence of a new generation of RPG companies that produce cool stuff -- I'm thinking of Troll Lord, Necromancer, and Green Ronin in particular. Not to mention an explosion of amateur PDF publishers. Even though the 3e ruleset is not to my personal taste, I believe that the OGL has transformed the hobby in a positive way. Market forces tend to ensure that companies pumping out crap will go under eventually...hence the current shrinkage of the d20 marketplace. I have faith that ultimately the poor products will be forgotten and the good ones will endure. I respect the decision of TLG to try and keep the quality of C&C releases high by developing them in-house as much as possible, but I fear that this may doom the game to irrelevance in the long term.

Saturday, 19 February 2005 - 10:23 AM CST

Name: Mythmere

To clarify, Ian, I don't think the Trolls have been restrictive - the game hasn't been out long enough for anyone but Goodman Games to even ask, yet, and some sort of agreement seems to have been signed. So, as far as I know, the Trolls don't actually have a general policy in place yet. I was lobbying for a liberal policy to be initiated, not arguing against anything - there isn't anything to argue against.

Wednesday, 23 February 2005 - 11:11 AM CST

Name: dcs

RE: the SIEGE Engine (could someone please tell me how this is spelled? LOL). I don't see why third-party products would even have to reference it. If you look at third-party products produced for D&D and AD&D, there are few or no references to the games' actual mechanics included. Look at the stuff from JG, Mayfair Games, Kenzer & Co. (the early edition of Kalamar), and Troll Lord Games (they produced AD&D modules under a "Swords & Sorcery" moniker). There are just statistics with little or not information on how to actually run and play a game. Heck, most (A)D&D modules make no reference to mechanics (the one exception I can remember off the top of my head is B2).

I think that, legally, a company might say that their module is "compatible" with C&C (but I'm not sure because if they use the OGL they will have to avoid using TLG's "Product Identity" -- it's massively confusing). Mayfair Games actually won the right to say that their stuff was "compatible with AD&D" even though they had no license to produce it. So, unless there is something in the OGL that prevents it, a company could produce supplements for C&C, and even say that they are "compatible" without being specially licensed by TLG. Please don't construe this as legal advice, I'm not a lawyer (and I don't even play one on TV!).

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