After months of waiting, D&D 4th edition’s Game System License and System Reference Document are out. But what does this mean for us?
The GSL gives all publishers a royalty-free license to print material compatible with D&D Fourth Edition, despite previous concerns that Wizards would charge as much as $5,000 for the privilege. Releases can begin in October 2008.
However, there are concerns. If you release a 4E version of a 3E product or product line, the license requires you to cease publication of the 3E product line. You can continue to sell remaining print stock, but must cease PDF sales. Wizards reserves the right to judge whether your new product is in an existing product line, which can include “similar title” and “similar content”.
There are also other restrictions. You can’t reprint game rules, such as monster statblocks or feat descriptions. You can’t refer to a page number, only to an individual book. However, you can create your own monsters from scratch or print modified statblocks, such as a templated or enhanced kobold.
While 3E’s System Reference Document let players get away without owning the core rulebooks, this won’t be possible in D&D4. The 4E SRDs are now only a list of what content is available under license. The official D&D Compendium will allow players to look up rules content online, but this will incur a monthly fee.
You can’t use the GSL for a website or software product. However, Wizards of the Coast has traditionally been lenient when it comes to “fan websites”. There’s also “fair use”, but that’s a more complex legal issue than most people think. It seems that they’re working on an official fan-website policy, which we should see fairly soon.
Other Reactions to the GSL
- So the GSL is now public, Sean K Reynolds
- The GSL is Here, Wolfgang Baur
- Updating is a Mugg’s Game, Monte Cook
- Is this wrong?, Eric Haddock
- GSL, Jason Bulmahn
- A Portent of the Apocalypse, NiTessine
- The Game System License and SRD are Out, Chatty DM
- Morrus’ GSL FAQ, ENWorld
- GSL For Dummies, ENWorld