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Broadening PD's Appeal

 
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Groknard
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:36 pm    Post subject: Broadening PD's Appeal Reply with quote

I'm posting this here because I'm not sure the discus BBS will handle the format (and longer message) well, but I hope it is seen by a wide enough audience and TPTB. I'll try to keep it short because I see how busy everyone is. As a result, it might seem terse but it's not intended to be confrontational at all.

I've been re-evaluating PD for the first time since PD1. I'm very impressed by how well it captures the spirit of TOS. I think ADB has a great deal of potential to capture a new audience that may be hungry for a game like this when a certain movie comes out in May. There is a lot to recommend to those who have previously been very engaged with other similar efforts.

But I have concerns about what ADB's (and the existing customer base's) reaction to a revived interest might be. BTW, although I'm new to these forums, I'm not new to SFU games and I'm well-acquainted with the history and policies. I've spent the past few weeks reading a lot of the BBS, this forum, ADB's web policy and the view of others outside this community. I just point this out so that no one feels they have to explain the basics to me like SFU vs Trek, TFG, Franz Joseph, etc.

Here's the short question: what would your reaction be to new customer efforts to "Trek-ize" PD, to extend it to make it more like the entire history of that Franchise, and to share those efforts over the internet as most things in RPGs are these days. To be clear, I'm not talking about piracy or overt copyright violation. Those are concerns to be sure, but I'm simply talking about what's commonly done in net-based RPG communities today. Yes, there is this:

Quote:
"We are here to stay. Our license never expires and we will not be shut down in two years like other RPGs of this genre. Yes, we have a contract with Paramount and all of this is 100% legal."


...but that doesn't necessarily mean that ADB wants this to be an RPG based on The Series.

For instance, I can do anything I want at home: I can stat out a PD Kirk; I can create a PD Dominion Wars campaign; I can mashup the SFU with the Trek history and even the Babylon 5 universe; I can create an Excel spreadsheet for PD character generation; I can fill in the blanks on Tholians until an ADB supplement comes out; I can stat the PD Borg race; I can adapt the "cinematic, roleplaying-focused" approach to Starship Combat approach of FASA to PD... I can do lots of things at the dinner table.

But what happens when I start talking about it here? Or on RPGnet? Or if I want to create my own forum under the guidelines of ADB web policy? What if I want to run a PD:TNG game on VTT software like RPtools? What if I want to do a PD version of the Klingon BOP Brel class with SFU stats? What if I create updates that to reflect the

In other words, what would ADB's reaction be to fans applying external Trek elements to PD as they've done with most other Trek RPGs? Would they object to this? For copyright reasons? Or reasons of principal (in that it is an SFU game, not a Trek game)? Or concerns about Paramount and guilt by association? Would they embrace it and want it here, or embrace it at a distance? And what would those of you who are currently SFU and PD fans/customers make of a sudden influx of traditional Trek fans who may "twist" the game?

This is just a discussion. I am not taking any responses that may be made as official policy statement and I'm interested only in the discussion itself (i.e., I'm not doing any of the things above). I have no agenda. As you might know, I write columns on Trek tabletop games and RPGs, and have started to expand my coverage to the SFU. I'm simply curious as to how the company and current customer base views these questions. I'd love to talk to my readers about the possibilities of taking PD and extending it to make it their own, but I'd like to understand the limits as well. Thanks for your time reading this!
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Jean
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Robert,

You are very correct in that what the fans do around the kitchen table is their business.

However, due to our license restrictions, we cannot support anything that brings in elements of Paramount's Star Trek, beyond what we have already used. So we don't have Cardassians or Bajorans or the Borg, but we do have Hydrans and Lyrans and Zoolies.

We more than make up that with our own species and ships, I think. In addition, we try very hard not to "reboot" our history every time we release a new product.

On this website, we could not support a campaign that breaks our agreement with Paramount. It would not be in the best interest of the company.

Legally, a person would be on shaky grounds were he to to use a website tp put up something like GURPS stats for Cardassians. Theoretically, an RPG game based on an engine such as GURPS could be very lucrative for Paramount and were they to accuse the person of copyright/trademark violations, then they have going for them that the "fair use" adversely affects their potential profits from licensing Steve Jackson Games to produce a Next Generation GURPS module. That severely undercuts any "fair use" legal argument.

Smile I want Star Trek fans to find our RPGs. I think the RPGs are grand and have many amazing possibilities to explore. I like the aliens such as the Hydrans with their three sexes and the Gorns with their stingy legislature. I'd personally love to play an atypical Orion Slave Girl who is really the Mata Hari of her time.

PD Feds will have more species and more worlds to explore. I hope to get back on editing that book very shortly.

Let the discussions commence!

Jean
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Groknard
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the quick and complete reply, Jean. Let me just say that you should be very proud of the work you've done and are doing. I wouldn't ask the questions if I didn't feel the game had legs.

Quote:
You are very correct in that what the fans do around the kitchen table is their business. However, due to our license restrictions, we cannot support anything that brings in elements of Paramount's Star Trek, beyond what we have already used...

Totally understood.

Quote:
...So we don't have Cardassians or Bajorans or the Borg, but we do have Hydrans and Lyrans and Zoolies.

And Gorn and Klingons and Tholians, etc. Lots of TOS-based goodness to mine, and I think the SFU itself is a rich history that documents well what is largely undocumented (pre-, during and post-TOS).

Quote:
We more than make up that with our own species and ships, I think. In addition, we try very hard not to "reboot" our history every time we release a new product.

I get that, but I think a good part of the Trek RPG community feels as bound to "official canon" -- for good or for bad -- as the writers of the various series did. Having said that, ADB could never be expected to satisfy the cries of "Give me a book on the Borg!!" Nevertheless, get enough enthusiastic Decipher refugees into a room with PD, and someone is going to do it sooner or later.

Quote:
On this website, we could not support a campaign that breaks our agreement with Paramount. It would not be in the best interest of the company.

Agreed and totally understood. So I'm going to guess that means that if someone were to post PD d20Modern stats and background in this section for the Ferengi, that's a thread you're going to have to close, correct? And any external site that did so falls under Unauthorized Site per the OLP?

Quote:
Legally, a person would be on shaky grounds were he to to use a website tp put up something like GURPS stats for Cardassians. Theoretically, an RPG game based on an engine such as GURPS could be very lucrative for Paramount and were they to accuse the person of copyright/trademark violations, then they have going for them that the "fair use" adversely affects their potential profits from licensing Steve Jackson Games to produce a Next Generation GURPS module. That severely undercuts any "fair use" legal argument.

I could point you to where to find stats for GURPS Cardassians. Wink And D&D Frodos. And Unisystem Daleks. Again, I'm not trying to be confrontational, I'm just sayin'... it happens. And if it happens with PD, how would that affect the relationship with this new (still theoretical) customer base? Something to think about.

Quote:
Smile I want Star Trek fans to find our RPGs.

And I intend to help (series of reviews coming in the next few weeks). And I intend to play. BTW, I don't intend to try to TNG-ize or Enterpr-ize PD myself. Personally, I think PD's potential is best fulfilled within the TOS/TAS era, much like FASA's strength was TOS and bumpy-headed movie-era Klingon roleplaying. And if and when I drift into the broader SFU as part of my TOS games, so much the better for us both.

Some Trek RPG players won't be so open-minded. Some will want to tinker. Some will avoid it in the same way they're going to avoid the new movie. Some are happy with the game they have. It's a shame that Trek fans are factionalized, and Trek RPG fans can be factions within those factions. 40 years of fandom and canon will do that.

But I'd say most of them still seek a living, breathing game. At a time when The Franchise is about to "reboot" itself and enter an alternate quantum-generated multiversethingy in 2266 (Y156?), who's to say that the SFU is not a possible path? I'd like some to "unofficially" consider that possibility and realize that maybe they do have a living game with support and fresh publications.

Quote:
I think the RPGs are grand and have many amazing possibilities to explore. I like the aliens such as the Hydrans with their three sexes and the Gorns with their stingy legislature. I'd personally love to play an atypical Orion Slave Girl who is really the Mata Hari of her time.

I have a miniature for that character, by the way. I should post a picture!

Quote:
PD Feds will have more species and more worlds to explore. I hope to get back on editing that book very shortly.

/whipcrack/

And I really do appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts on this. Please keep up the good work.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Grok: Now that Webmom has spoken, I can chime in with my two Quatloos worth:

I know several people in multiple groups that have played nearly every ST game to come through the pipes. Regardless of the system, they always "create" racial templates for the races they feel should be in their melieu. [Don't let it get out, but I've even been guilty of that myself... Rolling Eyes ]
Some of these groups play GURPS, some PD, and some have simply converted DND or Rolemaster to a ST type universe. As previously said, around your kitchen table - you are the boss, so have at it.

I have read many postings from SVC regarding this issue though, and he [meaning ADB] cannot support or promote the distribution of any derivative works w/o chancing ADB's license.

While there are significant divergences between what is currently "canon" in the ST universe and the SFU - the SFU has remained internally consistent since it's inception 30 years ago (except for that nagging psuedo-fighter thing Wink ). With the additions made by ADB (and I'm sure there will be more made as time goes on), the SFU is plenty big enough to please even the most die-hard ST:tNG fan.

We've used the cinematic approach from time-to-time in our campaigns... we've filled in the blanks for the missing species (sometimes with laughable results when the official version comes out!), we've even visited our favorite AD&D world as an away team.

It's a big universe and anything is possible so have fun.

Quote:
In other words, what would ADB's reaction be to fans applying external Trek elements to PD as they've done with most other Trek RPGs? Would they object to this? For copyright reasons? Or reasons of principal (in that it is an SFU game, not a Trek game)? Or concerns about Paramount and guilt by association? Would they embrace it and want it here, or embrace it at a distance? And what would those of you who are currently SFU and PD fans/customers make of a sudden influx of traditional Trek fans who may "twist" the game?

I would think they would do as they have done in the past and "urge" the offender to kindly remove the material from the web to prevent any possibility of issues arisng with Paramount.
As far as those of us who are current fans of the SFU and PD - I'm torn. While I'd enjoy seeing some of the fan based materal out there - I'm afraid that waaaay tooo many people would head straight for the taboo zone of Paramount's IP.

Quote:
This is just a discussion. I am not taking any responses that may be made as official policy statement and I'm interested only in the discussion itself (i.e., I'm not doing any of the things above). I have no agenda. As you might know, I write columns on Trek tabletop games and RPGs, and have started to expand my coverage to the SFU. I'm simply curious as to how the company and current customer base views these questions. I'd love to talk to my readers about the possibilities of taking PD and extending it to make it their own, but I'd like to understand the limits as well. Thanks for your time reading this!

I've seen a few other forums that have had PD threads and the same things also come up. Someone stats out the ST-7, then someone does the ST:tNG-7, then someone argues that their version is better... then someone elses is better... and so on ad nauseum.
No one ever wants to upload a layout of the 5 man prospecting craft sold by the PanaDyne Company and marketed as "the 24th century mule train"...
or the isocahedral map of planet Yttria-IV with it's arboreal forests and it's vast tundras full of trophy sized m'glhak... or the highly inquisitive - but utterly annoying aboriginal marsupals - the Roolahk!
That's the type of sharing I'd rather see go on on a forum. Not the endless bickering of "K" vs "P"!!! Mad

If you can get a beneficial discourse ofthe type I mentioned above going, count me in. If it degenerates - I'm outta there faster than a Hydran at a Lyran BBQ! Shocked
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see if I can burn down to the crux of the issue here.

The short answer to your question is this:
- On sites that are directly ADB sanctioned (e.g. this Forum and the legacy BBS) ADB will strictly adhere to their contract and agreements with Paramount. That means no FC-BSG, no PD-Borg, etc. If such a topic or discussion starts, I will have to remove it (if Jean or Eric don't find it first). ADB's contract requires it.
- On sites that wish to adhere to the ADB on-line policy, you may not post such things either. Again, no FC-BSG or PD-Borg. Since that violates the on-line policy, it isn't allowed.
- Anywhere else, you take your chances. If you violate ADB's copyright or intellectual property, they will (eventually) find you and ask you to "cease and desist". If you don't violate ADB's copyright or intellectual property, you are on your own. ADB will not cooperate, publicize or condone such activity. (That includes posting references or talking about it on the Forum or BBS.) But it is the responsibility of those owners to protect their own copyright and intellectual property, not ADB.

I am sorry if the first point sounds harsh, but it is what is necessary. Note that this discussion is perfectly valid. But, say, a discussion on how to model Cardassians in PD or FC isn't.
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Groknard
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Mike. Precise, complete and helpful, not at all harsh. As I said, I am not going to do any of those thing, no interest in doing it or time to do so! But having those boundaries spelled out for those new to PD is helpful. If PD gets a spike of interest in the wake of a certain summer film, you'll be glad you already had a policy in place.

Scoutdad, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Scoutdad wrote:
As far as those of us who are current fans of the SFU and PD - I'm torn. While I'd enjoy seeing some of the fan based materal out there - I'm afraid that waaaay tooo many people would head straight for the taboo zone of Paramount's IP.

My thoughts as well. Which is why it was nagging at me this week.

This is gold, btw...

Quote:
I've seen a few other forums that have had PD threads and the same things also come up. Someone stats out the ST-7, then someone does the ST:tNG-7, then someone argues that their version is better... then someone elses is better... and so on ad nauseum.

No one ever wants to upload a layout of the 5 man prospecting craft sold by the PanaDyne Company and marketed as "the 24th century mule train"... or the isocahedral map of planet Yttria-IV with it's arboreal forests and it's vast tundras full of trophy sized m'glhak... or the highly inquisitive - but utterly annoying aboriginal marsupals - the Roolahk!

...not because it's so funny -- and true -- but because it highlights an advantage to PD I hadn't considered. If you can't argue about K vs P and other issues of non-SFU canon, it frees GMs and players to just get on with the game they want to play. I'm sure there will be SFU canon to wrestle with at times, but it can't be anywhere as bad as "It is James T. or is it James R.?" or "Bumps on heads: recon!"

And if it's at all encouraging, I'm the kind of guy who does PanaDyne's mule train and stats Roolahk. I'd sooner design settings and missions from scratch than be the guy who writes PD: Organians.

Quote:
If you can get a beneficial discourse of the type I mentioned above going, count me in.

I look forward to it, and thank you all for being so welcoming.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike, you have it exactly right.


To answer Robert's questions:

Quote:
Agreed and totally understood. So I'm going to guess that means that if someone were to post PD d20Modern stats and background in this section for the Ferengi, that's a thread you're going to have to close, correct? And any external site that did so falls under Unauthorized Site per the OLP?


You have it. And if someone reports them to ADB, they can be requested to remove anything that is ADB, Inc.'s intellectual property. We must do that; it is not an option.

Quote:
I could point you to where to find stats for GURPS Cardassians. And D&D Frodos. And Unisystem Daleks. Again, I'm not trying to be confrontational, I'm just sayin'... it happens. And if it happens with PD, how would that affect the relationship with this new (still theoretical) customer base? Something to think about.


We have enough to do with keeping our own intellectual property protected! We are not about to become the RPG IP Police. Smile Still, the answer given above still holds. If the GURPS Cardassian site suddenly put up "Hey and these will be cool with that GURPS: Prime Directive RPG!", then it becomes (at least in part) ADB, Inc.'s problem.

Part of my issue is that (at heart) I'm somewhat of a paladin and you don't get to pick which laws you want to break. Is it okay to steal from a really big business like Paramount or Wal-Mart? How about a smaller business like ADB or the Mom-and Pop store around the corner? What if it is only a single writer or some guy on the street? It's a slippery slope and one I don't wish to start down.

As for the editing, if it weren't for the 12-to-15-hour days at the Real Life job, I'd be a bit faster! And I am further behind due to a very nasty fall in January--it is hard to edit accurately (or at all) when the pain medicine is encouraging my nose to have a close encounter of the keyboard kind. Embarassed
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Jean and Mike and Tony and others covered it.

We cannot, legally, allow you to post Cardassian stuff (for RPGs or FC or SFB or F&E or any of our games) and if you do so on another site, we cannot legally allow you to use this forum to tell people where it is.

I get people all the time sending me Cardassian ships or stats and asking me to approve them for their sites, and I cannot do that (not to mention that I simply don't know enough about the Cardassians to tell you if you did them right or not). Worst of all, I get people saying "Bill did Ferengi ships that I think are too powerful, so tell him that he has to change them" (same thing would apply to Ferengi RPG stats). Sorry, I don't do that. Not my job. Your mileage may vary, and my response would be "Who needs the Ferengi when you already have the Hydrans, Lyrans, WYNs, Peladine, Jumokians, Worb, Paravians, and 37 other SFU races?"

We all know, without anybody telling you, that if you google a combination of "federation commander" and "ferengi" you'll find their ships (somebody's version of them anyway) on sixteen (or six hundred) different websites, all of them technically illegal and in violation of Paramount's copyrights and our own. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about that but if it comes to my attention I have a legal duty to send a "delete that" note to the site and to notify Paramount (and I cannot speak of what they would or would not do). In the case of somebody discussing or passing around "illegal" stuff on a major website like RPG.NET they'd tell me where to go if I told them what to delete (and I need to maintain good relations with them, and they set their own policies on what laws and rights they will and will not enforce), so I notify Paramount and move on. (Obviously, if somebody on RPG net was passing around PDFs of my copyrighted products, I'd have a talk with RPG net and they'd almost certainly tell me that they had already deleted the stuff since it violates their policies.)

I cannot really say "Do whatever you want, just don't do it here" as that would (technically) be "supporting" an illegal activity. Officially (and unofficially) my answer is "Isn't what we give you enough to keep you busy" and "If you invent your own stuff, you don't get to complain to me if the game isn't balanced."
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally think paramount and the late Mr Roddenberry should have hired SVC and company to throw Lyrans, Kzinti and Hydrans in the ST:TNG! I find the SFU races more entertaining. (I know I'm a suck up) Thats not saying I didnt find ST:TNG or DS9 entertaining, I just like SFU's concept a little better. I do disagree with RPGs being more "important" than board games however!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jean wrote:
However, due to our license restrictions, we cannot support anything that brings in elements of Paramount's Star Trek, beyond what we have already used. So we don't have Cardassians or Bajorans or the Borg, but we do have Hydrans and Lyrans and Zoolies.

I can understand the Borg or Cardassians, but is ADB allowed to make reference to other, long forgotten, aliens from TOS or TAS? I was thinking things like the Aquans (or aqua-shuttle) from TAS or the Medusans from TOS. Or planets like the one from Miri, etc.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hedgehobbit wrote:
Jean wrote:
However, due to our license restrictions, we cannot support anything that brings in elements of Paramount's Star Trek, beyond what we have already used. So we don't have Cardassians or Bajorans or the Borg, but we do have Hydrans and Lyrans and Zoolies.

I can understand the Borg or Cardassians, but is ADB allowed to make reference to other, long forgotten, aliens from TOS or TAS? I was thinking things like the Aquans (or aqua-shuttle) from TAS or the Medusans from TOS. Or planets like the one from Miri, etc.

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: The agreement between Paramount and ADB that allows Federation Commander (and SFB and PD and F&E) to be published limits ADB to the Star Trek elements already in the game at the time of the agreement. Therefore, since the SFG (a cartoon-tech element) and Kzinti were already in the game, they stayed. Aquans and whatever the cat people (Uhuru's backup) were called are not.

So, if you saw it in Star Trek and it is in the game, it is permitted. If you saw it in Star Trek and it is not already in the game, it is not allowed to be in the game, regardless of what version of Star Trek it came from.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aaron: IIRC - ADB can only use Paramount's IP that is already in the game.

They can also add new material of their own creation, but they cannot go back and add in any of the TOS or TAS items that aren't already included in the game.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, that's it. If it is in SFU, it's ok for it to be in SFU. If something from trek is not in SFU, it cannot be added.
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