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Author Topic: Legal ramifications of releasing a system based on a pre-existing setting  (Read 164 times)

Alea Iacta Est

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So I've started making an rpg system based around the Tokyo Ghoul setting, and I'm confident in the rules to stand on their own legally since I'm not copy pasting rules from other systems, but I'm not so sure about what I can and can't do when posting the finished product.  What exactly should I know when posting the game?


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Tokyo Ghoul IP is nowhere invaded right?

Being indie, small, careful as you say, you could likely publish and all goes fine. A cease and desist would come if you had some blatant infringement, but being small I doubt anything would come of it.

Well, you have no space marines so GW won’t hit you with C&D too (sarcasm mode).

Alea Iacta Est

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I did include clear names of concepts directly from the setting, such as the kagune types, organizations, and other things, but not any characters as of now, which is why I'm tentative with where I can share the finished product, which will undoubtedly include more names from the setting.  Not sure if that makes it invaded, but definitely used.


  • Toxic SocioCat
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Unless you own an IP, you can NOT use that IP.

Exceptions exist when you are given permission, such as the 3PP projects on DriveThruRPG where authors are allowed to make and sell adventures and supplements for certain IPs.

However...depending where you live...the laws MAY allow you to "file off the serial numbers" and effectively copy an IP.

Many indie RPGs do that, but you have to be smart and careful.

My suggestions?
1) Read up on copyright laws that will affect your situation.
2) Contact the IP holders and ask how much the rights to a RPG would cost and how you could work with them.
3) If #2 is too costly and #1 allows you to do a clone dance, then go for it.


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In some copyright jurisdictions such as the USA, a setting/world may itself be a copyright protected work, so as said above you basically can't use it, at least not commercially. Ideas & themes from the work are not copyright protected.  You also cannot use trade marks (badges of origin) commercially. So a Tokyo Ghoul fan work will not (should not) violate the IP holder's trade mark, but a commercial/for profit work will.

The safe advice is: do not publish a work based on someone else's setting.


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Are you posting it for free or selling it? Most copyright holders are not going to spend a lot of money pounding a fan-made freebie into dust. They'll just ask you to take it down. Selling it is a different story. In that case, you should change the names of things.