I’m working on what I hope will be a booklet of monsters.

I’m working on what I hope will be a booklet of monsters.

I’m working on what I hope will be a booklet of monsters. While I anticipate releasing my work for free, I’d like to at least leave open the option of charging a buck or two in the future. I had some questions about what creatures might (or might not) be permissible to use. 

I note that the DW rulebook includes a lot of monsters that were specifically created for D&D, including some that were introduced in 3E (e.g. girallon, gray render). I also note that all D&D monsters used appear in the d20 SRD, even though DW–as far as I know–isn’t published under the OGL. 

Is the presumption that as long as a creature isn’t considered WOTC product identity (e.g. beholder) it’s fair game? Could I, for example, include the darkmantle?

Also, what’s the status of the Cthulhu Mythos monsters? While they’re not in the d20 SRD, they are in the Pathfinder SRD, which further includes some that were not derived exclusively from Lovecraft (e.g. Hound of Tindalos). I don’t see any attribution given to Arkham House or Chaosium in the Paizo legalese.

I know, I know, the easiest way to avoid any problems to make up original monsters, but just as the original D&D “borrowed” from every book, comic, movie and plastic toy available at the time, it’s fun to stat up pre-existing critters.

6 thoughts on “I’m working on what I hope will be a booklet of monsters.”

  1. Coming soon: THE BESTIARY OF FORBIDDEN MONSTERS: Mindflayers! Beholders! Slaad! Githyanki! Oh, wait, somebody already did that last one, hmmm.

  2. Yeah, I know to stay away from beholders and mind flayers. What I’m getting at here is whether we’re assuming that anything in the d20 SRD is fair game? I’d thought that to use material from the SRD, you had to slap an Open Game License agreement on the final product. Is this just a case of “we think no one’s really going to worry about it if we just go ahead and put a stirge in our book?”

    And the whole Cthulhu Mythos thing confuses me. Plenty of rules systems include references to specific Mythos entities, and I’d be willing to bet that they don’t all go through Arkham or Chaosium.

  3. Names can never be copyright, and content can never be a trademark.  So the question of whether you can convert the mind flayer to DW turns on two factors: whether ‘mind flayer’ is a valid trademark held by Wizards of the Coast, and whether you are copying Wizards’ content when you convert the mind flayer. 

    Putting a monster into the SRD under the OGL is not a guarantee that Wizards doesn’t have a trademark claim (the OGL is a pseudo-copyright licence, not a trademark licence) but it makes it a pretty good bet (for reasons I won’t go into). So that explains the use of the names ‘girallon’ and so on. 

    However, unless you’re using the OGL (and DW does not), you still can’t copy the content — whether it’s a description of a mind flayer or of a girallon or of a donkey. So in terms of copyright law, you are in no better or worse position whichever monster you convert.

    This is not legal advice. I won’t be a lawyer for another year and a half.

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