Rolemaster Unified Character Law Cover

Community Created Content

Following on from Brian’s post about the 80/20 rule I have been thinking about Rolemaster’s attitude to community created content.

Right now, community created content is the ‘big thing’ in games publishing. The big names are shown below but OneBookShelf hosts 18 community content schemes.

 

The way they work is this…

The rights owner, the publisher, makes available some or all of their intellectual property and with it a set of guidelines about what can and cannot be done with it. In return anyone can take that IP and their own ideas and publish their own adventures, addons and supplements. The whole thing is managed through a single portal so the publisher has the final say over what is published and what isn’t and they control the revenue split between themselves and the content creators.

The granddaddy of them all in this is WotC. They have made available the core rules of D&D 5e, a selection of the most common monsters and the Forgotten Realms setting. Furthermore if you create something amazing then there is an option for WotC to adopt it as official and put their resources behind it and your content can end up in the WotC licensed games.

So now WotC have an army of content creators working purely on commission so it costs them nothing. They can cherry pick the best to include in future books and the gaming community gets a regular free flow of new content. On average there are 7 new products released for D&D 5e each day. Many of them are free or Pay What You Want. In the past week 20 of the 49 new releases had prices ranging from $0.50 to $14.95.

For Traveller, the TAS programme, there have been 20 community releases this year so this is not just a WotC and the OGL phenomena.

ICE maintain two avenues for community created content. The forum and the Guild Companion. You can publish your ideas on either but with different restrictions applying to both. On the forum you cannot lists spells, but list names are OK. You cannot quote substantial parts of the rules and the like. What ICE do not want to happen is for people to be able to play RM by collecting the rules piecemeal from posts on the forum.

The Guild Companion on the other hand will allow you to post entire spell lists of your own creation and most recently Nicholas has been posting excerpts of forthcoming books presumably to whet your appetite.

You can publish adventures, new professions, monsters and so on but everything has to go through Peter Mork and his team of editors.

None of these options give the creator an opportunity to get any compensation for their efforts. The Guild Companion has been limping along for a couple of years now with no or just a single community created article per month.

There is a misconception amongst many people that see things like the OGL (open game license) as taking revenue away from publishers. Community Created Content Programmes do not require games to be published under the OGL or anything similar. There is just a simple agreement between the rights holder and the community about what can and cannot be released. The publisher in return is earning probably 30%-40% of the revenue from all the sales for virtually no effort. The community gets a steady stream of new content and as the prices can be so low that they can buy things for less than a Dollar just to use it for ideas.

ICE struggle to put a single new book out each year, mainly because of the bottle neck created by RMU. A new system is a massive undertaking for a small company of part timers. That is one of the reasons why community content should, in my opinion, be embraced. Just how long will it take for Kevin to update all the Shadow World books to RMU? Years? A decade?

I think most of us think that there should be a ‘lite’ or ‘quick start’ edition of RMU to encourage people to give it a try.

I think Shadow World should be made open to a Rolemaster Community Created Content programme along with a core RMU reference. Let the gamers contribute and get something in return.

7 thoughts on “Community Created Content”

  1. It probably won’t come as a surprise for me to say that I think this is a good idea.

    I doubt that Terry will update the Shadow World books to RMU. I don’t think he really has much interest in learning a new system. He’ll probably write for RM2 and someone else will convert it. A Master Atlas for RMU seems likely, but that sole publication could still be many years off.

    Even if Shadow World is not outright opened up for Community Created Content, just the game system, there are ways around that as Legendary Games and others have shown with Paizo’s Golarion. You could set an adventure or location in The Floating City for example, and those familiar with Shadow World would know where it is.

  2. I think that there are a few ways to go about this. The first is to go the full OGL route. I can’t see that one happening.

    Next, there are some types of license that are limited, and which may or may not use the OGL. Pathfinder content can only be published as Pathfinder-compatible if the relevant compatibility license is applied for and followed. A Mutant Future license is similar, but I don’t think it needs applying for. Some of these license require the user to send copies of any material published under it.

    Then there are things like Hero Kids. This license doesn’t need applying for and supplements don’t need to be sent to the creator. This license can still be revoked though.

    Then there’s licensing the IP as well, as is seen in the Community Content Programmes. All of the CCPs also give the publisher much greater control over what is published.

    Perhaps ICE will look more into this when RMU is completed. Although I reckon that’s still some time off. It would certainly give them an advantage by having compatible material available after the system is complete. More material always looks good.

  3. Sorry for bringing an old post back but have a read of this interview. The really interesting part is just over half way down just after the image of three figures on a blue/grey/black scene.

    That is a 21st Century gaming company doing it right in my opinion.

    What was interesting was the parallel of companies going bust and reviving older games and new versions. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

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