The Science Fiction Old School Renaissance Infestation

The 2d6 Science Fiction System Reference Document community continues to go from strength to strength as SF RPG publishers use the 2d6 SF SRD as the basis for their game products.

The extremely popular Cepheus Engine (CE) by Jason Flynn’s Samardan Press gives 2d6 SF RPGs a retro edge, taking players and Referees back in time to when gaming was simpler and we were all younger. CE has the blessing of Marc Miller, the creator of the original Traveller SF RPG.

Gypsy Knights Games are the CE market leader and have converted their core range of Clement Sector products to CE, and regularly publish new Clement Sector products for CE.

Moon Toad Publishing have produced the print edition of the CE core rulebook and their Spacecraft Design Guide is available as a PDF, with the print edition to be available soon.

Universal Machine (UM) continues to work hard on the 2d6 Science Fiction System Reference Document, enhanced second edition (2d6 SF SRD 2e+). The 2d6 SF SRD 2e+ will be the core of the Universal Machine core rulebook, which will be competitively priced compared to its main market rival.

This enlightening post  in the G+ Traveller Roleplaying Game Community by “Christy (Dont’ call me Christy)” (since deleted) really does emphasise the need for the 2d6 SF SRD, CE and UM:

But wait! There’s more grognard goodness from Chrusty er Christy (must stop calling her that, she hates it) from her Farcebook page:

I don’t know that anyone will see this or really care, but just in case. You might have seen me losing my cool on some Traveller rpg groups about the sudden tsunami of spam from Cepheus Engine rpg publishers. Why? It’s approved by Marc Miller, right? Yeah, for now.

If you also follow the Star Frontiers rpg community, you saw over the last half a year how WotC all the sudden cancelled the fansite, fanzine, scanned books, etc agreement they had made with fans. All that stuff is gone now. No new fanzines. No new fansites. 20 years of PDFs suddenly made retroactively illegal. All of it gone. Why? Oh, because some greedy jerkoff OSR publisher tried to trademark squat the Star Frontiers name, that’s all. That’s when Wotc had to move to protect their property. Even though they had “approved” it for 20+ years.

What happens when Mongoose gets fed up and pressures Mr Miller to crack down? What happens when Mongoose sends their lawyers to stop you from blatantly, and illegally, under the terms of the CE license, declaring in the traveller groups and communities that your CE products ARE traveller? Does Marc do what Wizards did? Does the Traveller fan community die? Are you willing to take that risk?

I’m not.

And by the way. It’s rare these days, but I post CT rules stuff once in a great while. That stuff is NOT open content. You may NOT use it for your CE project. No, I won’t give you permission, don’t ask. And don’t steal, I will sue you.

I give what I give to the community freely and openly, and expect nothing in return but a little feedback. I don’t have any “right” to get paid for my fan material, neither do you.

Let’s dissect that stream of subconsciousness.

I don’t know that anyone will see this or really care, but just in case.

If you don’t know if anyone will see your post or care about it, why bother posting on Facebook in the first place? Why not just not post it?

It’s approved by Marc Miller, right? Yeah, for now.

Yes, it has Marc’s support. CE will still exist even if Marc withdraw his support for it because CE is released under the Open Game License (OGL) from Wizards of the Coast. Marc can’t change that even if he wanted to. He can say he doesn’t support CE anymore, and that is his right to do so, but he can’t then stop material being published just because he doesn’t support the system anymore.

If you also follow the Star Frontiers rpg community, you saw over the last half a year how WotC all the sudden cancelled the fansite, fanzine, scanned books, etc agreement they had made with fans. All that stuff is gone now. No new fanzines. No new fansites. 20 years of PDFs suddenly made retroactively illegal. All of it gone. Why? Oh, because some greedy jerkoff OSR publisher tried to trademark squat the Star Frontiers name, that’s all. That’s when Wotc had to move to protect their property. Even though they had “approved” it for 20+ years.

Star Frontiers was never released under the OGL and there was no Open Game Content (OGC) in any of its products; it was all Wizard’s IP and always had been. They had a perfect right to pull all the fan material, as nothing was ever produced under a paid-for licence with Wizards. All the Star Frontiers  fan materials were using the name and logo/fonts, background etc. etc. CE materials don’t do any of that.

What happens when Mongoose gets fed up and pressures Mr Miller to crack down?

Mongoose can get as fed up as they like – there’s nothing they can do, as CE is not Traveller and does not claim to be.

What happens when Mongoose sends their lawyers to stop you from blatantly, and illegally, under the terms of the CE license, declaring in the traveller groups and communities that your CE products ARE traveller?

The CE licence doesn’t allow anyone to claim that a CE product is a Traveller product or a Traveller-compatible product. Everyone who uses CE to publish products already knows they can’t do that. It would be a foolish publisher indeed who said “Come one, come all! Buyeth mine newe CE booke! ‘Tis a product for the Traveller SF RPG and, yea verily yea, ’tis fully compatible with Traveller! Oh yay! Oh yay!”, for then they could expect the Mongoose Inquisition (“No-one expects the Mongoose Inquisition!”).

Does Marc do what Wizards did? Does the Traveller fan community die? Are you willing to take that risk?

If a publisher produces a CE product that has written on it somewhere that it is Traveller compatible or that it is a Traveller product then he would be able to make a legitimate legal claim against that publisher if they do not hold a Traveller licence from him. And no, the Traveller fan community would not die, not over one product being released then closed off like that. The risk is always there, the minute anyone begins typing a new product but publishers are sensible and don’t make claims that their products are Traveller compatible or are Traveller products – unless they have a licence from Marc, of course.

I’m not.

And by the way. It’s rare these days, but I post CT rules stuff once in a great while. That stuff is NOT open content. You may NOT use it for your CE project. No, I won’t give you permission, don’t ask. And don’t steal, I will sue you.

I give what I give to the community freely and openly, and expect nothing in return but a little feedback. I don’t have any “right” to get paid for my fan material, neither do you.

How often you post your material is entirely up to you, Christy, and no-one should dictate to you how or when or where you can or should publish your CT material. And you are right that fans should not be paid for producing fan material; however, publishing a product under the OGL and selling it is a completely different thing and moves the person writing the material from fandom into the realm of publishing.

Different ball, different ball game.

So, to summarise: Cepheus Engine is supported by Marc Miller and he is not able to prevent anyone from using CE or publishing materials for CE, as long as publishers don’t label their products “Traveller” products or “Traveller compatible” without a licence from him. Also, publishers need to stay out of his Traveller IP outside of the Travellers Aid Society on DriveThruRPG, which gives publishers the right to publish actual Traveller materials without getting into trouble with Marc, but which also causes you to lose your IP rights over your material. Universal Machine is a stand-alone system that is not endorsed by anyone in particular, as is the 2d6 SF SRD, and therefore neither can be prevented from being used by anyone who wishes to do so.

So, despite Christy’s (bah! I called her Christy again!) loss of plot over CE, nothing has changed, and nothing will change: CE, UM and 2d6 SF SRD will continue, whether the grognards – including Christy – like it or not.