Open Legend Community License in practice

TL;DR: I am getting excited as the rules get closer to ink. To the point that I can no longer put off some questions about the open source aspect of OL and the correct implementation of and philosophy behind the Open Legend Community License (OLCL).

Warmup Question

On the home page of, under Share the Legnd > Open Source rules, there is a reference to a commercial license. The link to that license ( is broken. Am I correct in assuming it a legacy reference to a document that has since been replaced by the Open Legend Community License?

The Main Event

The Open Legend Community License (OLCL) clearly provides the ability to access, use, and share the Open Legend Standard Reference Document (SRD) rules royalty-free. This is Good and Exciting Stuff! I predict it will contribute to the growth of the OL community significantly.

Also: based on my reading, the OLCL is unclear about the distribution of modified content from the SRD. Or, equally likely, the OLCL is quite clear on the matter and simply differs from my conventional understanding of open source licensing with respect to modification of content. To wit:

A Cut-and-Dried Scenario

I am creating a campaign setting in which all of the rules, feats, banes, boons, perks, and flaws in the SRD are apply verbatim. My contribution is exclusively narrative and worldbuilding (e.g worldbuilding, maps, NPC and beast stats, etc.) Amaurea’s Dawn is the archetypical example of this type of content.

This is the scenario that the OLCL addresses most clearly. I can include the content in the SRD (and, of course, only the SRD) with my material provided I meet the content stipulations listed in the license, make the OLCL license notice clearly visible in my content, and prominently display the Open Legend Licensed Content logo on the lead of my material.

A Wild-and-Wooly Scenario

I am creating a campaign setting that uses half of the rules and descriptions in SRD verbatim. However, the setting excludes some feats in the SRD and adds some new ones. Two extraordinary attributes are removed altogether. Some banes and boons are reassigned to different attributes, some boons are converted into feats. Three SRD mechanics are augmented; two are replaced entirely. A dozen other other briliant, crazy, foolish, or ill-advised-yet-steadfastly-true-to-vision tweaks apply. The final setting document has about 40% verbatim SRD content and 60% new or tweaked material.

How does one apply the OLCL in this aspect? Would Seventh Sphere Entertainment consider the resulting material an Open Legend Licensed product? Would they want to back away slowly and watch from afar? Is there a point where SSE would say “that diverges too far from OL Proper to be a licensed product–don’t worry about branding it so.” Is the license necessary at that point? Or to get to the crux of the matter: Is this sort of modification even “allowed” by the OLCL in the first place?

Why do I ask?

I ask because I am very excited about OL and I am elbows-deep in several OL-related projects and it is occurring to me that OL may not be “open source” in key ways that I am accustomed to thinking of the term.

I don’t want to step on any toes! Nor do I want to gird my loins for a semantic debate if none is necessary–I could make and sympathize with arguments for at least three contrasting positions Seventh Sphere Entertainment may have on this. But from the materials at hand, I am unclear what its actual position is. And of course, some make OL more interesting to me than others.

Note: In this thread I am trying to get some insight regarding “canya”, not “shouldya”. I have complex positions on the wisdom and folly of messing with SRD rules–some of them are even internally consistent! I’d enjoy discussing them in another thread. But they ultimately are not relevant here.

Another note: The scenarios noted above are illustrative examples, not the actual projects I am working on. More to come soonish on some of the actual projects (depending on how this thread goes.)

Hi @GartLarissa!

I can answer your warm up question, and in doing so I hope I can provide at least some explanation as to why I can’t answer your main question.

Your assumption is correct, the document that the link led to was out of date, I assume Brian just hasn’t gotten around to cleaning up the link (he has a lot of other stuff on his plate right now :wink:).

That leads me to why I can’t answer your other questions, Brian is the only one who can really make decisions on things like that and he is extraordinarily busy as OL and Amaurea’s Dawn draw close to print. Someone who understands a little more about licensing laws might be able to jump in and give you a better interpretation of what has already been written, and it’s likely that an updated Community License will come out after the print lock when the SRD gets updated to reflect the rules in their current state.

Sorry that I can’t give you a definite answer, for now I’d advise you to keep working away at those OL projects you mentioned and let us know how they go. I can’t legally tell you that they’re fine without knowing what they are or getting some feedback from the big man, but personally I consider it unlikely that there would be any problems.

@SamWilby hey thanks for so quickly weighing in with what you can. Your context is helpful!

I appreciate your advice and will take it with the obligatory healthy pinch of salt–I’m not sure what I will do in the meantime. One of the things I am working on is a SDK of sorts (in this case a Setting Development Kit) for facilitating and automating some parts of developing and compiling campaign settings and rule permutations–from stripped-down one-shots to hulking franchise monstrosities. That project would depend on distribution of modified content being allowed; I am of course reluctant to invest time in it if it may turn out to be contrary to the intent of the OLCL. Two other projects are actual campaign settings–and of course the Grand Plan is to dogfood the first through development of the second and third.

(To be clear, I am just musing aloud here because my fingers are nimble from all the typing in the thread already. I don’t expect any more bandwidth on this until after Crunch and Recuperation.)

So, I"m not sure where you got a link to “commercial-terms” from. I don’t see any reference to that in the community License webpage. All the links on that page just refer right back to that page.

As far as the Community License is concerned, it is right there on the page, just towards the bottom when you scroll down, right underneath the Gold and Silver Logos.

An yes, everything Sam said, so you’ll have to wait for @brianfeister to jump in and give some more detail.

From what I understand, there will be a writing style guide, or something similar to that, and depending on how closely you follow it will determine whether you can get the Gold or Silver logo (the OL seal of approval) for what you create.

If you could be more clear on “Modified”, but, again from what I understand, the point of the Open part is so you can add and create your own feats, boons, and banes potentially for the various settings, or say things like “the flight boon doesn’t apply in this setting”.

Once Brain is a bit more free, he’ll be able to be far more clear on it than myself or Sam though.

As noted in the OT:

  • Go to the home page (
  • Scroll to the sub-section “Share the Legend”
  • In the paragraph under “Open Source Rules” you will see the sentence “If you want to publish and sell your content, just have a look at our commercial license.”

Ah, that is sounding like something along the lines of Pinnacle Entertainment’s licensing options for Savage Worlds.

By “modify” I mean…er…change, refashion, transmogrify! :slight_smile: In the parlance of open source: “create derivative works.”

In your example, the implication is that my materials reference the SRD and provide notes on specific sections of the SRD that do not apply (or perhaps are altered.) In my “Wild-and-Wooly” example, the SRD rules are integrated in my content–or from an open source view, the SRD content is modified by my content. There would not be a note saying “Flight boon does not apply”; the flight boon just would not be in the content. Perhaps the Aura boon would be re-written entirely. Perhaps Prescience would be a feat with a high Influence as a Prescience–the setting rule being stated in the material straightforwardly rather than as a list of differences from a SRD. Does that help clarify the difference?

Again, I suspect that what I am going to learn is that the OLCL will provide royalty-free access to the SRD rules and encourage the creation of content referencing those rules. This makes sense in the context of many goals and concerns. This is also different than actually open sourcing the SRD rules content, wherein e.g. the actual rules content provided in the SRD could be rewritten arbitrarily, thoroughly, perhaps to the point of unrecognizability per the whim of the foolish content creator.

No sense borrowing trouble, though. I’ll wait until we hear from Brian before hanging my head or clicking my heels.

Original post edited for clarity (heh, likely) and to fix sloppy quoting.

opinion below
Creating something new and applying it to OL in a published, for-profit way as part of a campaign or adventure is well within your rights to do so. Period.
That being said, I believe that Brian’s intention is to provide the most succinct core system for people to use. Let’s face it, you can see on this site how new feats/banes/boons seem good at first glance, but really create quite a bit of havoc on actual gameplay. He wants to prevent people from creating content that breaks (or reflects poorly) on core OL by stating that it is core or part of the SRD.

A simple solution is to simply mark the content that you create in your campaign with an asterisk, and make it clear in your intro that these are not SRD material and were specifically created for usage in your campaign/adventure (and may have consequences of usage outside of that scope).

Oh look, 2 cents… :money_mouth:

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Ooh I have some pocket change as well!

Creating something new and applying it to OL in a published, for-profit way as part of a campaign or adventure is well within your rights to do so. Period.

Yah that’s quite clear in the OLCL. I expect that to be exciting for many folks. I personally have no interest in the ability to create commercial content. It’s the ability to create derivative versions of the SRD content that I am focused on.

As alluded above, I am sympathetic to a number of positions and goals SSE could take regarding use of the SRD rules. This includes the one you offer, @ucffool. As also noted, I am not going to take this thread into the “shouldya” weeds.

Even if I have a more sanguine view toward experimentation, I can see the arguments for providing royalty-free permission to use the SRD rules while declining permission to make derivative works of the SRD itself. Given a certain set of goals, I would earnestly support those arguments. But even if I were a Beknighted Champion of the OLCL as written, I would still be pointing out here that the rules are not (explicitly) open source per the current wording of the OLCL and would avidly advocate advertising the rules as royalty-free rather than open source.

A simple solution is to simply mark the content that you create in your campaign with an asterisk, and make it clear in your intro that these are not SRD material and were specifically created for usage in your campaign/adventure (and may have consequences of usage outside of that scope).

Folks interested in this approach can also take a look at the conventions that have coalesced in the Savage Worlds community. The drawback is the simple solution is only effective for simple tweaks–it quickly becomes user-unfriendly (some of my players would say “user-hostile”) and can slow down gameplay as folks hop around cross-referencing between sources. (Keen readers can draw a direct line between this paragraph and my Setting Development Kit project.)

Why does it matter whether the rules are open source?

In the broad sense, it doesn’t matter whether the rules are open source–in certain scenarios it’s better that they aren’t open source. But in those cases the rules should not be advertised as open source. Why?

  • As an eyewitness to the Open Game License/Open Game Foundation debacle back in the day I say it would be a shame not to take notes from missteps made by Hasbro/WotC, who generated a lot of noisy controversy and a bit of bad blood in some communities by being cavalier with their definition of “open source.”
  • As an open source advocate I am sensitive to inaccurate or wrongful use of the term–there’s enough confusion on the matter due to deliberate FUD campaigns already!
  • As someone who has lived a while I have learned that some folks take an insouciant approach to intellectual property and look for any rationalization to grab-n-dash. These folks may read the words “open source” as “license to lift” without taking a careful look at the actual terms of the OLCL itself, thus setting up tedious legal wrestling down the line.

From a personal side, I will be bummed if the rules are not open source. I think there is a world of untapped creative (and commercial) potential in a thoughtful, well-designed, tested, open sourced foundational TTRPG rule system. I came to the the Open Legend Kickstarter by following a link that said “Open source RPG” and, in all honesty, the open source aspect is what prompted me to contribute.

I have several ideas on how OL meet both it’s advertised goals of having open source rules while nurturing and primarily promoting the core rules, but I feel woe for Brian having to wade through the amount of text already amassed here. :slight_smile:

Same thing inspired my interest and as you well know, a large time investment in the tools available on HeroMuster. I made myself a D&D bestiary web app when I was GMing 5e but couldn’t share it due to the rules around WotC’s content, but I still made it to help me be faster before and at the table. OL unlocked the ability to contribute to things that make it easier for myself and others.

Also a big supporter of openness (I’m credited in the recent Creative Commons book). On the other hand, I’m also an entrepreneur and understand the balance that has to be played so that OL doesn’t become a money pit for Brian, because that doesn’t bode well for the longterm health of a wonderful system. It’s a fine line, but I think he’s walking it well and if everyone (including myself) focused first on doing no intentional harm to his well-being when creating and using OL it would go a long way to staying on that line.

No argument there! I also believe that having an open source RPG and making a profit are not incompatible. And I also believe that having a royalty-free RPG is an even more reliable way of making a profit!

I will say it one more time as I am not sure whether it is coming through: I celebrate the efforts of Brian, SSE, and the OL community and support every aspect of the OL enterprise if I ignore the words “Open Source RPG”.

I don’t think OL needs to have open source rules. I think the OLCL as written provides a fertile ground for a verdant garden of creative content and a rich community–perhaps even some coin for those interested in such. I don’t think OL needs to claim it has open source rules to be successful. And I don’t think OL should claim it has open source rules if the OLCL (or another optional license) does not allow distribution of derivative versions of the rules.

I also think there is a bounty of interesting somethings waiting to bloom from a bona fide open source ruleset. That white whale may wade in other seas waiting for fools of my ilk.

Absolutely. Solid advice and, really, a good approach for interaction with others in general!

And in a way it brings the thread full-circle, as I realize that my understanding of where the line is based on one set of terms may be seen as (quite unintentionally) disruptive based on where the line is based on another set of terms.

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