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Re: (TFT) Open Source TFT

----- Original Message ----- From: <dwtulloh61@cox.net>
To: <tft@brainiac.com>


 I've been thinking about how to bring TFT back

<snip of TFT critiques>

I agree that TFT has room for improvement. But I'd like to see the original rules (with obvious inconsistencies and ambiguities cleaned up) made available. Then, just like with the OGL, additional mechanics can be added or modified.

However, I am becoming increasingly convinced that we
could re-write TFT and not infringe anyone's copyright.

I would agree - but lets do more than just a blanket re-
write - lets do things to bring in things like Rick's
Giant Weapons and the like.

This is the kind of expansion material that I think *should* be included, though clearly marked as such. Seems to me that we should get the canon core rules out first. Then, we can produce a "pseudo-official" set of expansions, adventures, etc.

1. The game would be produced under our own version of
the open gaming license. In other words, it's free to

Can you summarize the OGL?  I sometimes get lost in the
legal mumbo jumbo.

Yeah, but it's been awhile. The OGL is a legal "safe harbor" for folks who want to use d20 mechanics in their products without infringeing WOTC's copyrights. WOTC, I think, knows full well that they cannot copyright their mechanics, but only their text and artwork. However, in an effort to clear up any uncertainty, the OGL allows you to use the d20 system even if such use *did* somehow violate their copyright. Basically, anyone may use the d20 system and mechanics (though not WOTC copyrighted material or trademarks such as the name "Greyhawk") and include the text in their products.

In addition, you may qualify your product to use the "d20 system" trademark if you meet certain other requirements (you don't replicate WOTC's character generation rules, etc.). But you can use the OGL without being a "d20 System" product -- see the Everquest RPG for an example.

I'd suggest something very similar to the first part of the OGL.

Personally, I don't currently see any point in messing around with a "TFT System" trademark. After all, much of the purportedly d20 system stuff is so radically changed that it might as well be a different game. However, there might be some benefit in creating a TFT System trademark <shrug>.

2. We could probably call it The Fantasy Trip

I think a different name would work best here.

Yeah, me too. It would also avoid product confusion.

3. We would have to re-write the entire rules set. That
means that every single sentence would need to be re-
stated. Of course, since most of us scanned the original
text long ago, that would not be as difficult as it sounds.
Obviously, the more folks we have, the faster it would go.

Again, I would want to incorporate new ideas and techno-
logies.  For example, something like my H3 system on skill
rolls and the like. (The idea that there's a 5% chance an
alchemist is going to have his lab burned to the ground
everytime he names a simple sleeping potion is insane)

I agree, but it seems to me that we should first make freely available a core rules set containing the canon rules (with cleanups of the rules that are incomplete, flatly ambiguous or contradictory). Then, anyone can use these rules to create whatever variant game they want. But we'd at least have a baseline system to start with, much like the d20 system that WOTC makes available in RTF format on the net.

The model I have in mind is the varous Model Codes created by various groups. These propose a model set of statutes for a given field of the law -- such as the Uniform Commercial Code. Each state then theoretically enacts the model statues, assuring that the law of (for instance) contracts is the same in all 50 states. In many areas of business law, this is what happens. However, states will occasionally modify their version of the model code. Even so, the result is that extremely similar rules apply across the country.

Where there is a significant difference of opinion on a rule, the minority version can be included as a footnote or optional rule.

And why would EVERY sentence have to be restated?  Is that
to avoid the possibility of it being a derivative work?

'Fraid so. While the idea or mechanics cannot be copyrighted, the sentences expressing those mechanics are copyrighted. Of course, there may be a few cases where it is simply impossible to restate a particular sentence and we'd have to leave it the way it is. But the safest approach is a complete re-write.

And given the somewhat loose, imprecise and "chatty" style of the TFT rules, I'd see this as an opportunity to improve on the game's clarity and (of course) organization.

4. Someone has to own the intellectual property

Why is this the case?  I'm not trying to be difficult -
just ignorant of the ramifications of the property being
in the public domain.

It's a basic common law legal concept that all property is owned by someone. The default is that whoever creates a written work owns it. Even if that person allows it to be used by anyone, he still "owns" the work (though this may have little real world significance).

My suggestion is that a corporation -- maybe a Texas nonprofit corporation -- own the work, but only if the work is made available via an OGL. If the company fails to abide by that, the work will revert to those who created it. Centralized ownership would also prevent a disgruntled person from causing trouble by demanding that his work not be used -- always a risk with a collaboration.

Also -- and this isn't a huge deal to me, but we should be aware of it -- if we don't establish a clear owner of the property, then all of us could be held personally liable for any purported harm it might do. Corporate ownership would help shield us individually from such stuff.

5. A proposed structure:

I would propose the creation of a "Configuration Control
Board" which would be entity which releases "official"
works.  Any changes that other parties make would then
be based off of some official document but would be their
own house rules.  This avoids the possibility of the game
bifurcating down the road into Dan's TFT, Ty's TFT, Rick's
TFT or whatever.  It also makes it easier as we can all
refer to a known ruleset.

Some kind of centralized structure would be best in my opinion. And we all need to agree to abide by the decisions of whatever body we decide will resolve disputes. There *will* be reasonable (and unreasonable) disagreements. We need to be prepared to resolve them and move on.

The CCB's first job would be to divy up the work in what-
ever manner they deem fit - but it seems logical that the
Chairman of the CCB could do the "outlining" job you de-

There would have to be some kind of rules as to who is on
the CCB and how people could leave and join the CCB.  For
example, some kind of base knowledge of the rules would
seem to be desirable for those on the CCB.

Or if we choose too, we could adopt some kind of business
model with a Board ( and a Chairman ) and treat all of the
list members as "stockholders" - the Board could solicit
their votes for changes, etc.

We could. However, we'll need to ponder these things because this would be an online collaboration. Many of the normal rules for running companies are designed with face to face meetings in mind. My own preference is to elect a relatively small, trustworthy number of people (an odd number, say 3) and give them substantial authority to make final decisions on the game systems, writing style, etc. After all, if they piss everyone else off, then the project will collapse anyway. As far as I am concerned, these folks could be elected by majority vote from the members of this email list.

We'll have a significant advantage in that anyone who gets disgruntled can simply take the base rules and re-write them to his heart's content. Therefore, hurt feelings should be minimized.

--Ty =====
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