Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#1
Hello all, I wanna preface this with: I'm Sorry. I can ramble.

I'm new to this site and I'm seeking advice. Here's the story. I've found my way onto a growing family friendly Dungeons & Dragons oriented Discord Server. At this time, the server itself does not have an active game session, but it does promote and encourage people to find other online sessions to get our dungeon-diving dragon-slaying on. Amongst the many different channels on the server there is a section for the Bibliophiles. There we share books we've read or are reading. There's an interactive channel where every person is adding a post to collectively write a story. Lastly, there's a channel where we can share our own writing.

Keeping with the D&D Theme of the channel, I posted the background story for one of my D&D Characters. Roughly 8pgs & 3,500 words long. 

About a day later, I was getting messages from the group. all of them encouraging me to continue the story. But I don't want to use the same Google Doc I had used for his Background. Simple enough. I'll just make a second one. But that got me thinking, that they wouldn't know when it was updated without me saying "Hey! I added to it!" So I started looking around, and I had heard of RR from other past discussions and figured I could upload the story here, where they could "Follow" the story and get notifications when it gets updated.


So. Here's my question.
  • While I am using a character designed with D&D Stats, it is taking place in a world of my own creation. The LitRPG genre is quite loose in this respect, maybe so long as I don't copy the D&D Character Sheet in it's entirety...?
  • How does one determine when something is supposed to marked as Fan-Fiction or not? Does using my D&D Characters count? What if they are based off of them? Obviously if it's all taking place in a copyrighted world... but this is a full world of my own creation.
  • Where is the line drawn so I know how much I will need to change/alter before uploading.
- Houshou

Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#2
Edit: Welcome to the site! I’m very new here too. :)

So, I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, so take all of this with that in mind, but there are some things you can definitely safely do with this sort of thing, some things you definitely want to avoid, and some that are grey areas.

Safe stuff: Anything worldwide that you yourself created. This would be kingdoms, special cultures for your version of whatever fantasy peoples are present, etc. You should also probably be safe using generic spell names like ‘Fireball’ (as it’s been used in many, many creative properties already) or ‘Firebolt’ ‘Icebolt’ ‘Acid Spray’ as these spell names are very descriptive. Many games use terminology like ‘levels’ so that should be safe.

Grey areas: Game terminology. Things that refer to how the d20 system works (if you’re going for a stronger LitRPG feel). If it’s generic enough it might be fine, but specific stuff that is unique to D&D might be more of a problem. Like, lots of games have Strength as a stat, so that might be okay, but if you use the identical six classic D&D stats that might be getting more problematic, for example?

To avoid: don’t use any trademarked D&D stuff. IIRC beholders and mindflayers are monsters that were specifically created for D&D and aren’t covered even in the Open Gaming License. Don’t refer to things as ‘Mordenkainen’s’ or ‘Evard’s’ or ‘Tasha’s’ in terms of unique spells, etc.

I personally would probably not show the character sheets, or if you do, maybe change up the names of the stats? I dunno about this one. 

Those are the things I can think of off the top of my head.

Obvs YMMV! Hopefully something there is helpful at least to think about.

Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#3

TomOBedlam Wrote: Edit: Welcome to the site! I’m very new here too. :)

Grey areas: Game terminology. Things that refer to how the d20 system works (if you’re going for a stronger LitRPG feel). If it’s generic enough it might be fine, but specific stuff that is unique to D&D might be more of a problem. Like, lots of games have Strength as a stat, so that might be okay, but if you use the identical six classic D&D stats that might be getting more problematic, for example?

To avoid: don’t use any trademarked D&D stuff. IIRC beholders and mindflayers are monsters that were specifically created for D&D and aren’t covered even in the Open Gaming License. Don’t refer to things as ‘Mordenkainen’s’ or ‘Evard’s’ or ‘Tasha’s’ in terms of unique spells, etc.


What I am more concerned about is the character playable races. The current character in question is a Tabaxi. I figured that Kobolds and Goblins have been used too much in other works, that I don't need to worry about generic monsters like those. While I do believe I have a world-setting work around for such anthropomorphic characters and would probably feel better using said work-around.

I was curious if there was some sort of "grey area" where my "work around" (rebranding the name of the race, basically) would still constitute the need to label it as as "Fanfic".

Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#4
Anthropomorphic “animal-people” are a staple of both science fiction and fantasy. I think as long as you change the name tabaxi to something else, you’re fine having cat-people as “player races”. And I don’t think I personally would need to label your project fan-fiction, as you’re using your own unique world and your own unique characters. But other people might have a very different opinion re: the fanfic label.

Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#5

TomOBedlam Wrote: Anthropomorphic “animal-people” are a staple of both science fiction and fantasy. I think as long as you change the name tabaxi to something else, you’re fine having cat-people as “player races”. And I don’t think I personally would need to label your project fan-fiction, as you’re using your own unique world and your own unique characters. But other people might have a very different opinion re: the fanfic label.
Yeah, Tabaxi are barely any different from khajiit. Just rename them. 

Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#7
D&D is basically public domain. Bar flat-out copying one of their trademark worlds(which I want to note, D&D has no 'cannon' world) there is no good reason to label a D&D-based story a fanfiction. You can steal elves and dwarves from Tolkien and nobody cares, but all you're barred from is the rights to claiming his world is yours.
You wouldn't even need to change their name, really, but do whatever you're comfortable about.
(I still don't get why people love the idea of posing their D&D stuff as stories. Just doesn't interest me, tbh.)

Re: Question on properly marking a new story.

#8
Wizards of the Coast does license a bunch of their stuff (I believe it's mostly mechanics, but there might be monsters included as well) under their so-called Open Gaming License.

I'm not a lawyer, but to my understanding, this allows use of their rules and such, for people who want to publish adventures or dungeon supplements and things like that.

It's probably easier to just file off the serial numbers, especially since you're writing fiction and not a game, but if you really want to include a lot of DnD stuff, you could look into it. It doesn't allow use of their trademarked stuff, but if you want to lay out rules for dice rolls and stuff, it would probably let you copy that sort of thing.

I believe it's share-alike, though, so there might be limitations on selling what you make with it.