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View Full Version : Legal question about using familiar terms in a new system



Ken Murikumo
2019-01-04, 09:27 AM
In the scheming stages of writing a new system and i had a question:

Would using phrases and the base idea of game mechanics (but not the mechanic ripped straight from the system) be kosher?

Prime example would be Attack of Opportunity. It exists in 3.5 & pathfinder and the associated OGL. In my system it would be called "Attack of Opportunity" and function how you would expect, but the actual game mechanics would differ from 3.5/PF.

Now, my understanding of OGL is murky at best but if i understand it correctly the content is NOT free to use in a way we would expect.

And let's be honest, i could rename it and call it something cute, but everyone i know would just call Attack of Opportunity anyways.

Particle_Man
2019-01-04, 10:11 AM
My advice would be to consult a lawyer. I asked some people on the internet and they said it was ok is likely not a good legal defense.

Comissar
2019-01-04, 10:13 AM
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Relevant part in bold.

For what it's worth, though, the term 'Attack of Opportunity' itself is used by multiple companies for multiple distinct games. As a result, I don't think it's copyrighted (but haven't looked to check, and as the poster above me commented, I'd recommend speaking to an actual professional or doing full research yourself).

Ken Murikumo
2019-01-04, 10:42 AM
My advice would be to consult a lawyer. I asked some people on the internet and they said it was ok is likely not a good legal defense.

We won't know until we try

Fair enough, i just figured i'd get some insight to avoid a find-and-replace later on down the line, and end up with a potential iwizard situation. Like i said very early on; just the core idea and some class ideas. Not like im gonna be done in a week or two.


Relevant part in bold.

In my head, the question seemed innocent enough. Now that you display this it seems im clearly out of line. My bad.


For what it's worth, though, the term 'Attack of Opportunity' itself is used by multiple companies for multiple distinct games. As a result, I don't think it's copyrighted (but haven't looked to check, and as the poster above me commented, I'd recommend speaking to an actual professional or doing full research yourself).

True, but that was only one example (off the top of my head). I was hoping that someone here would have some advice based on experience.

Comissar
2019-01-04, 11:04 AM
If you're wanting advice on the non-legal side of things (i.e. mechanical design/setting design), you can ask around the homebrew section of the forum?

Anonymouswizard
2019-01-04, 11:16 AM
Yeah, we can't give legal advice.

Things I've seen crop up in many games include Hit Points, Attack of Opportunity, Action, Round, and similar terms, so using those while drafting the system should be fine, especially as they will make discussion easier (assuming everybody knows those terms). Just make sure to find and replace any nonkosher terms before publishing. However I can say nothing about the legalities of publishing a game with those terms in, and nobody on this board should even if they are a lawyer.

RazorChain
2019-01-04, 11:27 AM
Game rules or mechanics are not subject to copyright law. Just ask the Internet

Mark Hall
2019-01-04, 11:41 AM
The Mod Wonder: Do not ask for legal advice on these forums.