What a rip off!

On Tuesday I came across a game called A Slight Mistake. It is a Pay What You Want game on RPGnow but do not pay anything to the author! When I say author what I really mean is thieving scum bag.

A Slight Mistake is, in the ‘authors’ own words…

For a few years now, I’ve been writing a series of novels set on a Dyson Sphere.

Then the opportunity arose for me to run a game based upon them. I created a beespoke set of rules, based upon my own preferences and so I decided to put it out there and see if anyone else would like to play it.

I’ve broken the rules into two books, the GM’s guide and the Player’s guide. Hopefully someone out there might find this useful.

I’ve set it to ‘pay what you like’ as I know this won’t be everybody’s preferences.

You see the bit where is tries to say “I created a bespoke set of rules” what he actually meant was “I ripped off Rolemaster or HARP and try to pass it off as my own.”

The only bit that is ‘his’ is that he turned the individual combat tables into something that looks like this.

He had the amazing thought of grouping spells like this

And that weapons could have their own fumble charts like this.

The combat system seems oddly familiar, lets look at shields and parrying.

I guess you get the picture?

Isn’t it amazing that half the time we agonise about how we can share playable adventures or NPCs without violating ICE’s intellectual property while someone else will happily rip off the entire game system.

I did vainly try to see if there was a mention of Rolemaster/HARP anywhere, any sort of acknowledgement or word of gratitude but nothing. The only kind of introductory preamble is a push to get you to buy his book on Amazon and a reference to Star Trek TNG. I won’t be buying his book.

I am not entirely sure if ICE can do anything about this either. You cannot copyright game mechanics and he has not used any of their logos or trademarks. It is just a wholesale plundering of ideas and presenting them as his own.

It wouldn’t surprise me if his next book was about a sea captain that builds a submarine and sails around under the ocean. He could call it “69046.767miles under the sea”. That is unique after all.

10 Replies to “What a rip off!”

  1. If he had in some way acknowledged that the game was a derivative I would have forgiven him. As it is this is just out and out plagiarism.

  2. This is a tough subject for me. I want to create my own system which is a blending of GURPs/RM and I will use mechanics that I like from other systems as well.

    I think all systems build off of others. Does D&D own the STR stat because it came first? Is using it like Rolemaster does a violation of WotC’s IP? No, because as you mentioned, these ideas were not patented. So again, it’s a tough call and a very difficult line to test.

    Using the plagiarism standard here I dont think is appropriate as that is meant for more academic works. And if you do think he did plagiarize, then we need to use that standard of, to what degree did Ironcrown plagiarize from TSR/WotC? Again these are difficult discussions with no clearly correct answers.

    1. I agree that all games borrow but the difference is that most games borrow from multiple sources, they like the combat from here, the magic from there, take the stats from a third place. Most games these days are to some extent “Frankengames” bits of other games reused and stitched together. There is a lot of Runequest in my RMC house rules.

      If credit was given then I would probably be more charitable to the writer but this is presenting others ideas as his own.

  3. This one does push the envelope of being forgivable for sure.

    You are supposed to stand on the shoulder’s of Giants, not their chests! haha

    1. In another game that I wrote (3deep) I borrowed from two other games for the solo engine. This is how I dealt with it. Solo engine credit That I think is fair credit. I also contacted both SpaceJacker and Kwickham, the respective creators, and asked permission.

  4. Thanks for giving me credit.

    I gave credit to my inspirational sources, who have their own inspirational sources: my inspirations for mine are roryb bracebuckle’s epic d6 and CRGE by the late Zack Best (RIP)

    On another note, current ICE has to abide by differentiating intellectual property of RMU from the prior versions of RM and games as well. RMU will be considered a new system, even though it is derived from various sources and has some similar mechanics. The prior versions will not be compatible. I do think they own some of the mechanic artistic presentation, terminology, logos, and compatibility of those games. I don’t know if their own other inspired sources will be cited.

    1. I believe they [ICE] paid quite a bit of money for the IP rights of the previous versions, up in the tens of thousands of dollars.

  5. Blending rules is one thing…lifting tables more or less intact from other rules is another thing entirely. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting tired of the term “bespoke.” It’s like the author is trying to put gold plating on a lump of coal.

    I agree with Peter that these days most games are combinations of things that have come before. This is especially true with the “old school” movement, but that’s to be expected. But the expectation is also that you’re going to be somehow improving existing rules or adding substantial content to them. This author seems to have done neither.

    1. Bespoke and passionate are two words that irritate me when used commercially. I have yet to visit a business where all the staff were passionate about their products or the service, most of the staff just seem to want to get through the day.

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