Pinned Important: Background & IP

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    • Important: Background & IP

      Dear Background & Art Team!

      Please re-read the following announcement - this will give you an idea what is possible to take from other fantasy settings. We have an IP layer who will support our Background & Art staff - please don't argue with them if they claim something is not possible because of a potential IP infringement. This project don't want to get any legal troubles or unwanted attention from legal departments. Keep it civilised - we all want to create the best setting possible.


      Sir_Joker wrote:

      Dear 9th Age Enthusiasts!

      In today's sneak peak we would like to talk about a topic which is often surrounded by myths and dangerous superficial knowledge which leads to unnecessarily heated debates on forums - Intellectual Property.

      What is actually protected?
      Keep in mind that GW owns the copyrights to Warhammer and to all the material surrounding the Warhammer world. This would include the Warhammer storyline and fluff. GW does not own the concept of elves, dwarves, undead, etc.; however the particular expression in the works created by GW are protected.

      Derivative Work
      A derivative work is a work that is based on a previous work. A new "version" of a book is a classic example of a derivative work. As the owner of the copyright of the 8th edition rules book and the various army books, GW has the exclusive right to authorize derivative works. Even giving a work away for free is still considered copyright infringement.

      GW has put out a policy which includes: "Please do not contact us asking for specific permissions. We do not give express permissions except in respect of licences"

      Are the rules themselves protected?
      The rules themselves are not protected; however the "expression" of the material is. This means that the concept of the rules governing the game can be freely used. The 8th edition rule book, however, includes a lot of "expression" in describing the rules. You cannot copy GW's expression (e.g., you cannot copy word-for-word their description of the rules) without GW's authorization.

      Due to the fact that we did not want to be tied to GW's blessing we had to (re-)create everything from the scratch by ourselves. This included no copy & paste whatsoever - every word written and every diagram included is completely new.

      Naming of rules and units
      Obviously there are some units that GW cannot possibly claim copyright protection to such as: state troops, knights errant, harpies, orcs, giants, stone thrower, bolt thrower, cannon, etc.; however, there are some troop descriptions are semi-unique such as: demigryph knights, savage orcs, storm vermin, witch elves, etc.; and then there are the very unique named characters for the various armies or the unique war machines or unique units: Karl Franz, Screaming Bell, Hell Pit Abomination, etc.

      We wanted to be on rock solid legal ground. This is why we concluded (after long debates) to only use the first group of generic names and rename all semi-unique and unique units/rules. You have to understand that this choice was not an easy one for us. We didn't want to change names but the unpredictable legal risk would threaten the 9th Age's future. This project is set up to support generations of new player's with rules for their beloved hobby. Furthermore this is a non-commercial community hobby project - we don't want to take any unnecessary risk.

      It is true that we are very cautious. It is true that this risk could never have been realised. It is true that a court would probably dismiss a lawsuit. BUT neither of us is going to take a personal risk like that if it is avoidable. This is a hobby after all and nobody wants to get his existence threatened by a company which is known to protect their IP fiercely.

      How to proceed?
      The expressions and names we created mainly affect the army books (and certain spell names) - currently compiled in a ravaging hordes file as a short term interim solution. We are certain that some names will sound unfamiliar and that there are probably better expressions out there. This is why we want to hear how you would name those units which we were forced to re-name. Our goal is to discuss with 9th Age players from all around the globe what they think is best. Names are iconic corner stones of a project like this and provide a certain "feeling" for the game - we want to create books that you like to read and play with after all.

      After the official 9th Age beta release everybody will have the chance to apply for a spot in the army book committees. These committees will consist out of approx. 5 community members (depending on the workload) with vast race specific knowledge who have proven their dedication to this project and will (under the supervision and guidance of the 9th Age rules team) create the "proper" army books. During this process the gathered community feedback will be implemented - this specifically includes names for troops too.

      We want to create the best product possible, a ruleset which will get regular updates and new content for years to come even if this forces us to make an unpopular choice - we are certain that the combined creativity of our supporters will lead to a product which is iconic by itself, because you readers are our greatest asset.

      So, how would you re-name a Terrorgheist?

      With best regards,
      The 9th Age Rules Team

      ps.: We want to thank our legal advisers for providing us all the necessary information needed to make an informed decision. Without your engagement this project would not be fit for the future - you have our deepest gratitude.
      Fantasy Battles: The 9th Age Founding Member

      ETC 2012 2nd Place
      ETC 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 & 2018 Participant

      Rules Questions?
      Moderator Requests
    • Thanks for the update and information. I think this is very useful.

      First of all I'd like to point out that there are some great things going on over in the individual army boards with coming up with better names. I would ask that the IP team look over these as many much better than the placeholder names in the TAC and I would like to see the updates dropped in the rules as soon as possible to get the maximum feedback. I realize you guys are busy as all get out though.

      On the note of IP protection. I feel that this project has a lot of similarities with Pathfinder in relation to DnD. You have a large number of players who are not happy with the direction of their game and so basically make their own project. Pathfinder has some advantages on this project however. Like being published by Piazo, but also because it is protected under the Open Gaming License. I imagine that this has likely already been discussed with the legal advisors, but I would think that the rules and presentation of the rules and the Fluff/Lore that is used here should be protected especially if you plan to release the rules and army books in book form instead of bare rules and stats. I'm not sure if a copy-left license or something similar would be best for this, but if it is not protected in some way, any group or company can use it and claim copy right and then the project is sunk afterward.
      A couple potential licenses I found online:
      If this has already been decided and discussed please ignore this note. :)

      Once again. Love this project. You guys ROCK!
      Some say our identity was stolen in the cataclysm. I say we now can find one not given to us by some ancient dwarf, haughty elf, or warlord feigning godhood. Our future is our own. Take it!
      -Populia "heretic" of Gothima
    • Thank you for your feedback - in fact we discussed pathfinder and see the similarities. We will have some sort of IP protection once we have a finished product (which contains art / background) - now there is nothing really to steal because the rule system is not protect-able.

      Fantasy Battles: The 9th Age Founding Member

      ETC 2012 2nd Place
      ETC 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 & 2018 Participant

      Rules Questions?
      Moderator Requests
    • I have noticed the same similarities between Pathfinder and DnD, and I was really curious about what's going on...Furthermore, what about this guy?

      Doesn't seem to care much about copyright issues, and his project's been running for almost 3 years now, IIRC.
      Apart from the copyright, he has done a fantastic job, I think it's a good place to take some ideas.

      Army Design Team

      Rules Clarification

      Lexicon Team


    • You can't steal copyright by copying and claiming it - copyright exists on creation and open source just means you are giving permission to use your copyright. So there's no problem using open source/creative commons if that's the route chosen.

      Executive Board

      Head of Background Team

      Team Scotland ETC 2019 Captain

      "I think of the Abyss as being a pretty good catch all term."
    • Does this mean that we are going to be keeping as many generic unit names which gw used as possible? Eg, keeping state troops and knights etc?

      I think this may help some players transition to T9A, or encourage them to try it out in the first place.

      Former Rules-Team Support,
      Former Infernal Dwarfs Army Support
      Former Empire of Sonnstahl Army Support
      Current High School Teacher
    • Please send it to your Army Support - he will put in the appropriate topic for discussion between the B&A team and Dwarf Holds Team.


      Background Team

      Rules Team

      Conceptual Design

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- :BH: :DL: :DE: :DH: :EoS: :HE: :ID: :KoE: :OK: :O&G: :SA: :SE_bw: :VS: :UD_bw: :VC: :WDG:
    • Do we have any background framework yet?

      We need the framework to start to hang the rest of the stories on that will make the world come to life.

      I was watching the world of Warcraft trailer and I really liked the idea of the Orcs entry into the world of the humans being an exodus from another realm. Couldn't help but think of the setting for 9th being Earth but where the other races had entered our world during the late medieval times. It would explain why so many of the races exhibit such earthen trains . Also nicely works out GW ip issues as nearly everything they have in there background is stolen from history or legends of our world.

      Anyway love his project and would love to help in anyway I can
    • KeyserSoze wrote:

      I have noticed the same similarities between Pathfinder and DnD, and I was really curious about what's going on
      D&D 3rd edition was released with the OGL....Open Gaming License. This was a contract that allowed third parties to create freely derivative works using the D&D 3rd edition system, basically opening the rules systems to the public domain, while WoTC (which had at that time just bought out TSR, and would a while later themselves be bought by Hasbro) retained Copyright on specific setting elements unique to the game (settings like Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, Planescape, etc and specific monsters originally under copyright by TSR such as Beholders). This led to the explosion of "D20" products in the early aughts.

      When WoTC released 4th edition some time later, the completely reworked the system (and did not release an OGL, something the bigwigs at Hasbro would never have gone for). 4th edition was such a dramatic alteration to the game that it essentially was an entirely new game that simply used the D&D brand name. There were two specific responses among the fanbase: those who wanted to continue playing some form of third edition, and those who wanted to go back to something closer to the original TSR system. Pathfinder was an appeal to the former: a cleaned up version of D&D 3rd edition that utilized the OGL and created its own background IP. It was incredibly successful, outselling 4th edition D&D. Those who were more attracted to the latter started what's now known as the OSR or "Old School Renaissance" in RPGs. This largely came from OSRIC, a project that took the OGL and used it to derive a game that was much closer to the TSR-era system. Since then, hundreds of retro-clones have been developed, many targeting specific early editions of D&D.

      Once it became apparent that 4th edition was a failure, WoTC backtracked with the 5th edition, bringing on many OSR content creators as advisors to create a game closer to the original system. At this point Pathfinder lost its lead in the industry, and while it maintains a strong fanbase, its numbers are dwindling.

      The OSR movement, largely focused around a blog-based community, has a lot in common with The Oldhammer Movement.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Tristram ().

    • The OGL exists in perpetuam, and was created so that no company could buy D&D (as WoTC and Hasbro did in succession), and then set on it so that it went out of print, essentially putting the system in the hands of the hobbyists, protecting them from legal disputes if they released their own version of the rules.

      However,the OSR movement came out of an earlier unnamed movement that largely involved the creation of "retroclones" of OOP RPG systems. This was possible because copyright law does not allow a copyright any any game mechanics, only the specific expression of those mechanics and associated trademarks.

      In other words, its perfectly possible to legally create a clone of the Warhammer system, even for profit, as long as the expression of its rules are wholly original.

      Essentially, besides the obvious things, like the fluff and any images, logos, etc which would be trademarked by GW, what any clone of Warhammer needs to do is:

      1. Rewrite all the rules with original explanations.
      2. Create a completely new statline.
      3. No charts created by GW may be used. In other words, things like the ToHit and To Wound charts need to be altered completely. They can still offer the same results, but the presentation must be new.

      Does this mean GW will never send a C&D? OF course not. GW is known for sending frivilous C&Ds and even claiming copyrights on things they have no claim to (such as the term "Space Marine", extant in SciFi literature decades before it appeared in Rogue Trader). But these are largely fear tactics. A C&D does not imply they have any legal ground to stand on.
    • GW and their IP, I think it might be worth listing the armies and where they were really created;
      Bear in mind that this does not in any way detract from the work they have put into the development of these armies, but merely the origin. The purpose was/is to determine how many of the army races are actually the creation of GW, and how much of it was appropriated from other sources.

      Elves - Tolkein (though the Dark Elves are pretty much D&D Drow with some of Michael Moorcock's Elric thrown in). GW Originality Score: 1/5

      Dwarves - Tolkein (GW says "Dwarfs" - if we say "Dwarves" we're OK). GW have done a nice job with Dwarfs but none of it is really their own work, other than a few named characters and a couple of minor fluff tweaks. GW Originality Score: 1/5

      Orcs & Goblins - Tolkein again, though Goblins had existed in fantasy and fairytales long before Tolkein. As did Trolls. GW Originality Score: 1/5

      Vampires - Bram Stoker (though the WFB Vampire Counts draws from broader Eastern European traditions, but none of it was created by GW). GW Originality Score: 2/5

      Chaos - Michael Moorcock. To be fair to GW, they did a HUGE amount of work expanding on the ideas of Chaos as developed in the D&D system which was itself heavily based on Moorcock's work. Credit where it's due - Chaos in one thing (of not many) that GW really can claim some IP over. Having said that, most of the Chaos Gods are derivative of "real" mythology - Nergal (Nurgle ?) is the name of an ancient Mesopotamian god of Pestilence, for example - a quick read through Mesopotamian myths will uncover all the others in various guises and names too - Shaalesh is basically Ishtar and so on). GW Originality Score: 4/5

      Skaven are basically the Nezumi - a race of evil rat-men that lived underground in Japanese mythology. GW have done a nice job in fluffing these guys out though and giving them a wide range of fun rules and equipment. (Personally I think we should call them Nezumi (or even just Ratmen) rather than Vermin Swarm, which, as a name, seems a bit too generic). GW Originality Score: 3/5

      Tomb Kings - A pretty much shamess raid upon Egyptian mythology as interpreded in the Mummy movies. GW admitted as much in a White Dwarf artcle long ago, saying that the 6th edition TK were based on the Mummy movies. GW have invented some characters and settings but beyond that, there's very little here they actually own IP for. GW Originality Score: 1/5

      Beastmen - An extension of the whole Chaos thing, so some credit to GW but frankly, human/animal hybrids have been a staple of myths and legends since the dawn of Man. (I have a partly completed Slaaneshi Beastmen army, but that's another tale for another post...). GW Originality Score: 2/5

      Chaos Daemons - A relatively recent addition to the WFB army book canon (I think they started in 7th edition as a way for players to field an all-daemon army - which is a cool thing IMO - the more different armies we have, the more fun we can have - I'm forever inventing new armies, canonical and otherwise. (Drow, Illithids, Sahuagin anyone?). Pretty much the same comments I gave for Chaos apply here, so I'm obliged to award GW the same score. GW Originality Score: 4/5

      Empire - This is an interesting one, as GW can be credited for most of the work here. However, having a human army based on late medieval / early renaissance Europe isn't exactly an IP coup. Having said that, there is a huge canon of GW-created names and places here that we will need to sidestep with care and dilligence. Fortunately for me, I don't play Empire so it doesn't directly affect me. Empire is basically a collection of armies with different abilities and rules (much like the Eldar in WH40K). On the whole, GW has done a good job here though. GW Originality Score: 3/5

      Brettonia - Personally I think Equitaine sounds WAY better. Nothing here for GW to crow about, as it's pretty much the straight Arthurian myths according to Monty Python (they even had the "it's just a flesh wound" special rule. No complaints though - I'm a huge fan of the movie :) Perhaps in 9th Age the developers will make it a bit more of a serious army, but I do hope we don't lose the Pythonesque fun element altogether. GW Originality Score: 1/5

      Ogre Kingdoms - Have GW really come up with an idea of their own here? Well, not entirely. Ogres that like to eat smaller races have been a feature of fairytales for centuries Jack & the Beanstalk, anyone? - not to mention Shrek. I do like some of the things they've done with the Ogres though but I still think they'd be better as a rare unit to add a bit of hitty power to other armies. While on the subject of Ogres, I think Gnoblars should be available to any O&G army as a special unit - if only for the fun element - they are goblins after all... GW Originality Score: 3/5

      Lizardmen - I love the name Saurians in 9th Age - good choice guys. I'll wager GW wishes they'd thought of that! A lot of this seems based on a mix of Mayan / Aztec and other South/Central American mythology. Some wonderful ideas in this list (Hey is anyone else here old enough to remember when they were just called Slann? (I mean the whole army now, not just their leaders). No? Oh dear I feel old now :( Lizard folk have existed in fantasy forever, but I admire the way that GW has developed these guys. OK the whole Old Ones thing is ripped off from Lovecraft but hey, I'm a huge Lovecraft fan so I think that's very cool. GW Originality Score: 3/5

      Have I missed any out? I hope not (bearing in mind that I'm considering the root race here, so all kinds of Elves (High, Dark, Wood and whatever other ones you care to invent lists for) count as one and likewise I'll group Dwarfs and Chaos Dwarfs together etc.

      Please note the scores awarded to GW for their originality (or lack thereof) are purely arbitary based on my own opinions and I don't expect everybody else to agree with them :)

      None of this will make any difference to GW or the bullying tactics of their lawyers of course (we all know what the world thinks of lawyers), but it's just something to mull over while we invent ways of avoiding any pitfalls - of course if GW continue to waste money on getting lawyers to chase after non-profit groups rather than investing in the longevity of the company, then they may find that they get caught up in their own End Times ;)
      Give yourself over to Absolute Pleasure
      Swim the warm waters of Sins of the Flesh
      Erotic nightmares beyond any measure
      And sensual daydreams to treasure forever...
    • Hey!!! Beastmen are greek! :P
      The theme is largely based on greek mythology, along with Hydra, Chimera, Pegasi, Medusa, Kharybdis amd some other creatures. Some of them are surely common in other mythologies too, but Beastmen units are found in almost every ancient greek myth ;)
      Even Sphynx is mentioned in Homer's books, but the fact that the great statue is in Egypt, has conected the creature to Egyptian mythology.

      Army Design Team

      Rules Clarification

      Lexicon Team


    • Darkprincess wrote:

      Skaven are basically the Nezumi - a race of evil rat-men that lived underground in Japanese mythology. GW have done a nice job in fluffing these guys out though and giving them a wide range of fun rules and equipment. (Personally I think we should call them Nezumi (or even just Ratmen) rather than Vermin Swarm, which, as a name, seems a bit too generic). GW Originality Score: 3/5
      Just to be pedantic. There was no race of underground ratmen in traditional Japanese mythology. The term "nezumi" literally just means "rodent" and the concept of a Japenese ratmen race actually postdates the Skaven, coming from MAgic ; The Gathering and Legend of the Five Rings CCGs. In Japanese myth there is one example of an anthropomorphic ratman, the Yokai "Tesso", also known as the Iron Rat, a rat demon the size of a grown man, with iron teeth and claws. The story of Tesso comes from the Heike Monogatari, (referred to as ‘Japan’s Odyssey’), an epic poem from the Heian period that mythologises the Heike/Taira wars that split Japan as two factions struggled for the throne. The Emperor Shirakawa, desperate for an heir to his throne, enlists the aid of the Abbot of Miidera temple, a powerful Buddhist monk named Raigo. The Emperor promises to grant Raigo any favour he wishes if he will use his spiritual powers to give the Emperor a son. Accepting the offer, Raigo threw himself into meditation and prayer and magic, and soon enough the Prince Taruhitoa was born.

      Raigo went to the Emperor for his promised reward, asking only for the funds to build an ordainment platform at his temple. Initially, The Emperor is only too happy to oblige. However, Miidera had a rival temple, the powerful Enraku-ji in Mt. Hiei in Kyoto, whose warrior monks were feared across all Japan and weilded considerable political clout. It was said the Emperor could influence all on Earth except three things; the blowing of the wind, the rolling of dice in a cup, and the monks of Enraku-ji. Though they were both of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, Miidera and Enraku-ji split into different factions after the death of their founder, and Enraku-ji was not about to allow new Tendai monks to be ordained at Miidera, a privilege they reserved for themselves.

      The Emperor asked if there was any other favour he could grant, but Raigo was adamant. So reluctantly the Emperor broke his promise. Outraged, Raigo went on a hunger strike and died after 100 days, cursing the Emperor with his final breath. At the time of his death, a figure in white appeared beside the cradle of the 4-year old Prince Taruhito, who died of unexplained illness soon afterward.

      What happened next is unique in Japanese myth. Up to this point the tale follows the pattern of an archetypal Japanese ghost story, with Raigo returning as a yurei to enact his revenge. But the story does not end there. Raigo used black magic to ensure he was reborn after death as a yokai. He twisted his body into the form of a giant rat as large as a man, with a body as strong as stone and with claws and teeth of iron. Invading Enraku-ji with an army of rats, he devoured their Buddhist scriptures, and even ate statues of the of the Buddha himself. Raigo’s reign of rat-terror continued until a shrine was built to appease him, transforming him from a deadly emissary of vengeance into a protecting kami spirit.

      The Skaven were primarily derived from two sources. Firstly, the Fritz Leiber novel The Swords of Lankhmar, published in 1968 (though technically an expansion of the novella "Scylla's Daughter" , originally appearing in the May 1961 issue of Fantastic Stories of Imagination), from which one finds the concept of an underground race of rats of human intelligence plotting mankind's destruction, the council of 13, and the idea of weeping blades. Secondarily was Don Bluth's The Secret of NIMH, from which is derived the Warlock Engineers/association with steampunk technology; the prototype for the Grey Seers, and Warpstones.

      Its worth noting as well that D&D had introduced the concept of "Wererats" only a few years previous as well, and Ral Partha's first Wererat miniature came out shortly before Jes Goodwin's Alpha 22.
    • Thats cool stuff to Know. I grew up on The Secret of NIMH but never associated them with skaven until now. I can see it very well though. :)
      Some say our identity was stolen in the cataclysm. I say we now can find one not given to us by some ancient dwarf, haughty elf, or warlord feigning godhood. Our future is our own. Take it!
      -Populia "heretic" of Gothima

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Strivos ().

    • Many thanks to Tristram for filling in the gaps in my knowledge here. I stand corrected on all the points he mentions. I still think that the name Nezumi (or maybe just "Nezu") sounds better than the more generic "vermin swarm" though :)

      Regardless of the name though, I would hope that they will retain the Steampunk-inspired look & feel - otherwise an uncle of mine will be extremely upset (to the point of sticking to 6th or 7th edition rules and fluff)


      What about simply calling them "Ratmen"?

      Just a thought
      Give yourself over to Absolute Pleasure
      Swim the warm waters of Sins of the Flesh
      Erotic nightmares beyond any measure
      And sensual daydreams to treasure forever...

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Darkprincess ().