Own Your Game System


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In a prior post I linked to an unpublished version of this blogpost. I since updated both this post and that prior post

As I start thinking about what next, I look towards systems. I’m more and more interested in running from an open system. My father in-law purchased a Windows computer, and found that he didn’t have administrator rights to his machine. In essence, he didn’t own the right to the computer he bought. He would be forever behold to the owners of the operating system.

I find this anethema to my senses. The computer revolution put affordable machines of mass production into the hands of the general populus. As operating system providers tighten their grasp, they begin to quash the capability of the public to produce. Software developers are approaching the point of leasing the tools used to create software.
A system that has clear rules for legally sharing and extending the game.

Paizo invested heavily in 3rd Edition. When Wizards of the Coast announced 4th Edition, Paizo blazed a trail and created Pathfinder, leveraging 3rd Edition’s open content. Through this effort, Paizo seemingly floated the larger role-playing community as Wizards of the Coast floundered with their Game System License (GSL) and an edition oft reviled as a deviation from D&D.

Goodman Games, a company that cut its teeth creating 3rd Edition adventures saw the writing on the wall, and abandoned 4th Edition to create Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I’m not saying that I’m looking to create more published and sellable material, but in choosing an open system, I have the option to more easily develop, release, and sell content for that system. By choosing an open system, I am also assured that future players will have continued legal access to the base rules.

Look to Powered by the Apocalypse games. Apocalypse World unleashed a massive ground swell of games. The success of Dungeon World likely demonstrated a feasibility and path for many other aspiring game developers to build from a common chassis and release their vision.

And then we have the explosion of clones based on the prior D&D editions.

Conclusion

I may pine to engage with the robust design of Burning Wheel, but it is a closed system. Copyright protects the specific language used to describe rules and systems, however you I may describe a set of rules in my own words without referencing the system and not infringe on another’s copyright. But for my hobby, that I have on occassion monetized, I’d prefer to operate within a safe harbor. I’m looking to own the operating system of the table top RPGs that I choose to play.

I also want to make sure that the system I’m choosing is one that my current game group supports; And is something accessible to new comers.

Simple rules that meets the desired play style of the table.