Discussion: An OGL-style version of GURPS

June 1, 2009 at 7:55 AM (GURPS, Roleplaying, RPG) (, , , , , , , , )

Normally one starts with D&D in the roleplaying world. You roll up a character, fight off some goblins, and collect loot for your next adventure. It’s the trial by fire most of us have become used to, and are probably fairly fond of. I still remember my first bard (which I based off of Edward from FF2us/4jp), and how I cursed not having the Bard Sourcebook.

Fast forward a bit and most players move on to another system. Either the AD&D system finally angers you, or you simply want to play another setting. Perhaps you pickup Shadowrun or something from White Wolf. You learn about the new system, you play in its setting(s), and feel satisfied for the time being.

After a time however, many of us attempt to cobble a system together for a unique setting we wish to run. Either you complete it or you move on. Likely that’s how you end up using GURPS or D20.

D20 isn’t perfect. However, the OGL has lead to its proliferation as the defacto standard in community based settings. You can dream up a setting, use the D20 rule system, and never need to pay a dime. Hell, you can even *sell* it when it’s done (see the DragonMech series).

I understand that SJGames is quite liberal in allowing for fan-made sourcebooks. A look on e23 shows “GURPS Casey & Andy” as an example. However, this isn’t truly “open”. SJGames has butted heads in the past over use of the GURPS system, most notibly over the PC game Fallout.

Fallout was intended to be the 1st PC game to use the GURPS rule system commercially. However during the development, Steve Jackson yanked out the right to use GURPS. Why? SJGames disagreed with the level of violence in the game.

With D20, I can write whatever I chose. I slap the D20 logo on it and bam, I could be making a dollar or two. I can’t do the same with GURPS. Sure, I can write my own setting and say it’s GURPS compatible. But I couldn’t sell it without SJGames approval.

Yes, the D20 System can be yanked out from under me as well. But should WotC decide to do such a thing, I can still fall back on the standard OGL.

I think it would be brilliant for SJGames to offer an open source license to allow for 3rd party sourcebooks to be produced AND sold without the express approval of SJGames. Imagine if the GURPS system was the backbone of the Star Wars games instead of D20; maybe people would actually play it…

CptClyde and Moegreeb, what do you think?




  1. Greg Christopher said,

    I couldnt agree more. I am currently developing a GURPS campaign setting that I cannot publish without SJGames approval. I may end up using all the source material by just converting it to D20 after I use it for its intended purpose; my next GURPS campaign.

    • criticalfailuregame said,

      Which I find incredibly disappointing. Heck, I even believe I have seen a notice on the SJGames website that they will not license the system for a computer game now (Don’t quote me though).

      I honestly think something like the OGL would seriously help the systems exposure. It’d save alot of space on the forms if people didnt need to always make Stargate/Star Wars conversions all the time 😉

  2. Greg Christopher said,

    Steve Jackson must be looking to George Lucas for tips on managing IP.

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