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Calling all D.net Legal Eagles -- Advice Wanted 
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Killed by Khorne
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Dear Chaps and Chapesses,

I know some (many :P) of you are of a Reasonable Daemonette calling:

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I wish your expert advice on the topic of fanmade Oldhammer cloning.

Specifically, for a fan made supplement, what are the copyright hurdles to look out for when creating:

"Square-Base Wargame" (working title)

- Essentially, how different would the game mechanics have to be to avoid lawsuits?
- Is there any leeway with fanmade open source vs commercial?

Thanks for your time,

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Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:29 pm
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Corsair
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Understanding where you're going.
One issue is that the further you go from 8th ed, the lesser the fan base you'll get.

In this regards, what would be best would be just to freeze WH at some stage, with pdf copies of WH8 BRB and all AB provided to be downloaded for free.
This would not be a clone, all acknowledgements would be made that this game was created by a company formerly named GW (known at present as WH).
This could be done only from a website based in a country for which it would be legal to provide products that companies don't provide anymore, if it exists, and from a website which wound not care about possibility of being sued.
A difficulty would be that the game would be frozen forever and could not evolve at all, like good old Monopoly.

A second possibility is to "create" a "new" game named Oldhammer, where all rules would be copy/pasted with just slight changes in names (Power of Darkness becomes Power of Darkitude and so on). That would be blatant plagiarism.

The third possibility is to create a really different game, openly based on WH with deliberate significant differences.
That would be named "OldHammer Fantasy Battle, the squared base wargame". Oh, by the way, mke sure that there is a company making those square bases otherwise we're screwed up - but 3D printing is your friend.
In order to avoid plagiarism, first of all, that game must acknowledge that it is inspired from no-longer-supported WH8thed by GW, but has so much differences that it is essentially a different game. Add that playing with GW models is welcome.
Then you'd need a team of dedicated gamers to review all the rules of the BRB and all AB, to simplify them and rephrase them, and to change significantly some of them. That last part will be tricky as you would need to reach consensus on that...

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Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:17 pm
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Killed by Khorne
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Thanks Calisson.

Great feedback.

With every new edition, there are people who hate the idea, and say they will always "play the old edition". But eventually the newness, the shiny toys, and the game/tournament scene moving on draws them along...

I'm under no illusions that people will (a) choose to play the new edition of Warhammer, (b) switch to one of the many quality games systems currently on the market and soon upcoming (c) play an older edition of their choice with their friends/club or (d) switch to another hobby/interest. Mostly in that order of likeliness.

Without the backing of dedicated creative, legal, marketing and financial teams, competing rulesets are unlikely to make so much as a drop in the ocean.

That all said.

There are going to be an awful lot of people out there with square based models who will want to play on with square based models. So an open source system that lets them play on in an enjoyable way may just catch on.

It more than likely wont. But I'm only doing this for fun ...if other people like it then good. If not, then fine!


Quote:
A second possibility is to "create" a "new" game named Oldhammer, where all rules would be copy/pasted with just slight changes in names (Power of Darkness becomes Power of Darkitude and so on). That would be blatant plagiarism.

The third possibility is to create a really different game, openly based on WH with deliberate significant differences.
That would be named "OldHammer Fantasy Battle, the squared base wargame".


Yes, that's what I'm mulling over at the moment.

With my WH based experience, I can think of a few minor tweaks to 8th edition that would (in my mind) add significant tactical depth and playability while remaining reasonably paced.

- But how legal would this be to publish as a free open source amendment to 8th?

The alternative is to design a completely new system. I have my ideas but this would be much more difficult.

Quote:
Then you'd need a team of dedicated gamers to review all the rules of the BRB and all AB, to simplify them and rephrase them, and to change significantly some of them. That last part will be tricky as you would need to reach consensus on that...


Indeed. Playtesting and community.

Without players there is no game. And most will choose an existing wargame with all the support and professionalism that entails (god knows its a competitive market) over a free indie ruleset.

***********************

Addendum:

I'd also like to say that I sincerely hope Warhammer 9th is a big success. As it is, the player base is shrinking -- so something needs to be done to prevent extinction.

If the fluff turns to "Bubbles" -- I'll hate the idea of it, but I'll be happy if it interests a new generation.

If the game turns to "40k/Skirmish" -- I'll hate the idea of it, but I'll be happy if it interests a new generation.


Lotr was a well regarded tactical skirmish style wargame. So GW may well pull something great out of the bag despite this rumoured direction.

I'll play 9th, I'll give it a chance & I sincerely hope it succeeds (both for myself and the majority of gamers out there).

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Sat Jan 10, 2015 7:21 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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There are other free/open source made additions to WHFB, such as this:
http://warhammerarmiesproject.blogspot.co.uk/

If you intend it as an addition to WHFB without commercial purpose, it shouldn't be an issue. The main question being:
- Does it devaluate their product? In the case of these alternative armies, they rarely do, because it's unlikely someone will stop buying a specific AB because of it. Making up a new unit, as an enrichment of a specific army, shouldn't be a problem either. But making a "Dark Elves version 2" probably would be an issue.
- Does the work reproduce copyrighted content? Imagine making a new army, then copy-pasting half the GW units. Then you are attacking their IP.


If you're going to build a new game system from scratch, beware the tons of work it's going to take. But if it is focused on 20mm square base models, for which any model range can be used, then that is fine copyright wise. As for a "math" engine, don't worry tooo much about that. It tends to get fairly self evident once you list the right questions, in proper order.
IE: ask yourself what it is you wish to see and happen on the table. How much time do you feel should be spent per game. Should it work for small and larger games? How will you balance games?
Do you wish to see a lot of minis, a lot of units or a very realistic and precise simulation? Do you want to use D6 only, or are you going to include other types of dice? D6 being user friendly, but more limited in options.

Let's say you want a game that fields more troops, then it needs a quicker pace for the battles and perhaps shorter turns. Right now WHFB offers multiple rolls for attacks per modeltype (to hit, to wound, armour, ward and then rerolls on these). If you want a quicker paced game, you could simplify this to two rolls or three. Look at RISK for example, or at HeroQuest. For example, you could make a comparison between two units and simply affect the number of dice rolled to reflect the difference in attack/defense power. So unit1 will get 10 rolls against a weak opponent but only 5 against a defensive unit. That should speed up the game considerably.

I'd focus on those kinds of questions first. Balancing can easily be done with resource pointers (points/mana/etc). I'd start with some simple scenarios and build it from the ground up.
You can add special rules as you go, but usually it would be a better test for your basic game if you can get it up and running in a fun way without needing to reinvent (rename) 50-ish special rules first. Get started with two armies or something, like Humans and CrazyHordesAmongstOtherStuff. Make it a campaign specific setting. Once those two armies work, expand.

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Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:12 pm
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Killed by Khorne
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Thanks for the comments Daeron.

I've already (1) tweaked the Warhammer Engine as well as (2) designed a completely new game.

The time consuming element is mainly in the writing for the first, and in the testing, background development and great mass of writing required for the second.

Regarding attacking their IP; I figure as a fanmade free update to a non-supported version, sharing it is online is no different than sharing it with personal friends. And all Comp systems are doing basically the same thing -- but with the live edition.

In the outcome that they issue me a cease and desist, then I will.

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Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:29 pm
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Unfortunately, I'm of little use on the IP side of things, having never studied or worked in that area.

A lot of international copyright law (loosely) follows a number of conventions, but there are subtle differences from country to country. A claim for infringement of copyright might be more or less likely to succeed in one country than in another. I realise that this would likely only be an issue once everything was up and running, but it's something to be aware of if you're going to invest the time and energy in developing a game system.

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Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:51 pm
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Killed by Khorne
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Thanks, Haagrum :)

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Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:54 pm
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