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The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is available! You can read all about it in the news.

Von Mr.Owl,

Dear Community Members,

There are lots of questions about 1.2 including why it was even wanted / needed. This post is to outline some of the reasons from a high level that changes were implemented. This is not meant address the actual (granular) changes that have occurred. Rather, this is more of a global discussion of why changes were even necessary in the first place. The answer to those questions should be addressed to the individual ACS members for each army in the appropriate threads opened for those issues.

So What’s The Deal – Are We OK From a Legal Perspective or Not??

T9A has gone to incredible lengths to respect the intellectual property of every company. Clearly we all know that many of the community members of T9A previously played Warhammer (WH). Many were sad when that game ended. Some were angry. Almost everyone here wanted to continue playing WH or a game that was like WH.

There have been long and at times, very boring discussions on the forums relating to the nuances of copyright law. As a necessity, I will include a very small amount of that here. Copyright protects the creative expression of an author. When we think about Warhammer, this would most definitely include the storyline created by GW. Many loved that fluff and the epic artwork and the immersive feel that the narrative created. This is GW’s intellectual property and we have to respect that. We miss it. But it is not ours to use. So a decision was made early in the project to create our own world. Full map, factions, in a fantasy based world. Is this even possible to do? Yes. Because there is quite of bit of material that is in the public domain that is common to fantasy stories (e.g., elves, dwarfs, orcs, goblins, orges, vampires, zombies, skeletons, ghosts, ghouls, wraiths, magicians, wizards, priests, dragons, giants … well, this list goes on and on, but you get the point). All these things are ok for us to use because they are not “creative expression” in that they have been in use and in the public domain for hundreds if not thousands of years. Heck, daemons walking the land goes back to writings from the Bronze Age Likewise, idea of using historical based armies such as a Germanic empire or a French chivalric kingdom are not “creative”, or even notion of an Egyptian nation that has since fallen to dust. These things are all open for us to use.

When the project was being conceived in the summer of 2015, a group of guys from various countries got together with a plan. This plan was to bring a new and updated version of the game that was abandoned by GW. However, in the months that followed, these guys soon became introduced to the tangled world of intellectual property law. What a boring mess. They realized that there were limitations on what they could and could not do. For one, they could not distribute a new version of WH. They simply were not allowed to use GWs IP. However, they did learn that abstract game mechanics are not protected (rather, it is the creative expression that describes the game mechanics that is protectable). They couldn’t make Warhammer (couldn’t even touch the name), but they could make a game that operated in a similar fashion from a game mechanics standpoint. So they shifted their focus to doing this. They could use the information in the public domain, they could use the abstract concept of game mechanics, they could not use any of GWs creative expression. All good, let’s do it. And so, version 1.0 was born.

Was 1.0 a copyright infringement of WH? No. None of the creative aspects were used. 1.1 was very similar to 1.0 but included some updates and fixes and the community by and large was happy with, so was the staff and many of the designers (well, some of the designers). But things were good! Why change?!

The simple reason is that things in the industry have changed. It appeared to us that GW had simply allowed Warhammer to die and was moving on to AoS and focusing on other things. OK, good for us, we will quietly sit here and just do our own thing and play our community-driven game. Move along, nothing to see here. But Warhammer fantasy was not dead. Total War: Warhammer was released. Wait, what? Warhammer is alive and thriving! OK, awesome! But, wait, what does this mean for T9A? …

Are we on solid legal ground? Yes. We haven’t copied anything. We have written everything from scratch. But what about the armies you have in your world? Sixteen, and they’re all the same as the ones in WH (15 plus one discarded previously). Coincidence? No. We specifically selected them so that former WH players could play T9A with their existing collections. What about the name The NINTH Age? Coincidence that is comes after EIGHTH Edition? No. The name was selected to inform the community that this game was not a next Edition of WH, but would have similar game mechanics and a similar play style. But you might say, many of the rules are just so similar to 8Ed WH, sooo, come on, this is really just 9Ed WH right? No. We spent a ton of time to make sure we did not include any creative aspects of WH in T9A. Ugh, more legal stuff and, whatever. What about our game?

OK, well then, if we are on solid legal ground, let’s get to the point of this post: why the heck are we changing the game a la version 1.2?

The absolutely straight and simple answer is twofold: 1) to make the game better; and 2) to move us further away from WH. On the first answer, this is better taken up with the likes of rules writers such as people on the RT, the BLT, the ADT, the CDS and the ACS.

Now, on the second point which is what this post is all about.

But WAIT! I thought you said we were on solid legal ground?! We are. But that does not mean we don’t need to move. Put it to you this way. You don’t need to make money on something to be sued for copyright infringement. T9A doesn’t make a dime. This is just a bunch of gaming nerds getting together to play with our fantasy toy soldiers. We don’t make any money nor do we have much beyond what is donated to keep the website operational (yeah, that’s pretty pathetic, I know). But anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time. Remember all that discussion above, you know, army selection, rules similarity, the name “The NINTH Age”, etc.? Doesn’t that sound “similar” to WH? We are a tiny little community project with absolutely no resources. We could not fight a legal battle of any sort. Just because you may be legally “right” does not mean that you would “win” a legal fight if you can’t afford to fight. We can’t. We feel like a mouse sitting in the room with a gorilla who could squish us as easily as looking at us.

So, what does this mean? We need to move away from the gorilla. We need to get out of reach if we want this project to continue to grow and to reach new levels of success.

But why did we go through the whole testing to get to 1.0 and the modifications to 1.1 if this was a problem in the first place? The marketplace is fluid. What may not seemed to be a big issue in the summer and fall of 2015 is not necessarily the same situation as in the fall of 2016. Threat assessments change. When that occurs, we need to adjust to the changing circumstances. So the short answer on this is, the situation has materially changed from 1.0 to 1.2 and we need to move.

Now there are a few on the boards that have stated that T9A could not ever get far enough away from GW and still have a game that has the same feel as 1.1 has. They are, of course, entitled to their own opinions on this. Without getting into the myriad of technical issues that I’m sure some would be interested in discussing but most don’t have any interest in, we disagree. We believe that we can change the game (especially the visual aspects of the books) but not change the way the game is effectively played.

But the cries that we need to snuggle up close to the gorilla and stay there are not something that we can do for the long term health and wellbeing of the project. We need to go our own direction. We need to grow this game in a way that will ensure its long term survival. This is nerve wracking for many community members and they are concerned about where the project is going. Some have said that they will continue to play 1.1 and are happy with it. I respect that, I really do. But the management of T9A is trying to make responsible decisions about the future.

So What Now?

Does this mean we have to make T9A a skirmish game? How much do we have to change?

The management of T9A have been trying to assure this community that this game will remain a game that scratches the itch we all have for a mass ranked up fantasy war game. We will continue to be a turn based game that uses a d6 as a base dice system. We will always have a very tactical movement phase with ranked up units. We will have customizable characters, I hope more and more of these, especially legendary characters once our fluff is developed. We will have magic as can be seen by the new magic paths. We will have shooting and close combat. We will have stats and determine hits, wounds, saves, panic and all those things we love in the current game. But the cosmetics will change as will some of the mechanics (this is what 1.2 is but is not, by any means, a finalized version).

As a “spiritual successor” of WHFB (this means that we are trying to provide a game that has game mechanics that provide a similar game experience) we will not move this game to being something like AoS or KoW.

But what about the changes in 1.2 that I don’t like you ask? For example, there have been questions about how parry works, how cavalry works, about steadfast, about magic, changes to what weapons do, etc. As I mentioned at the outset of this post, these are areas that are beyond the scope of this post. However, this does not mean that these issues are being ignored and that 1.2 is set in stone and that other issues are not being looked at. We want to improve the game and your feedback is important. Please don’t think that no one is listening, because we are. Specific threads will be opened to talk about issues with 1.2, not just so that the community can feel like they are heard, but so that changes can specifically be considered and weighed and if workable, implemented. But please understand that 1.2 is a stepping stone and not a finalized version.

I’m Tired of Changes, Can We Please Stabilize?

Yes, this is exactly what the ExB wants. A stable game. Many, many community members want T9A to reach a stable point and stay there. We hear you. We want that too. This, along with the reasons stated above, are why we accelerated the change process. Rather than have this drag out over the course of years, we are trying to get the core rules to a point where we are safe and they are in line with what the RT believes will be a very good rule set for the coming years while all the individual army books are done to correspond to the fluff.

We want all this changes done and over. The coming revisions will be a period to adjust the rules based on feedback from the community. Keep in mind that while the army books were adjusted to make them compatible with the new core rules, they will all see a redesign. On the other hand, the core rules and magic will settle down and be in place for a long period.

Will there be more changes to the core rules? Probably. But in all likelihood they will be focused on developing a unique visual identity for the 9th Age rather than big sweeping changes. But I can’t say definitively because the rules guys are still making determinations. But they do appreciate that stability is something on the minds of the community and is desired.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this. It was long, it was tiring but it was necessary information that needed to be shared with the community. I hope you understand that this project is trying to take a professional approach and is doing the very best it can to provide a good immersive game, comply with all legal requirements and care for the longevity of the project in practical terms.

We apologize for taking you on a roller coaster ride in terms of the ups and downs of the project, but we have to adjust to changing factors when they become apparent to us. Just know that we care very much for this game and take our responsibility to the community seriously. We will continue to do our very best.

Thank you reading and for your support of this project.

If you did like to discuss what you just have read, please go here:
Version 1.2 - Why Change From Version 1.1?
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