d20 System Trademark FAQ
Q: What is meant by the term "d20 System"?
A: The term refers to the game engine used in Wizards of the Coast's hobby gaming roleplaying game. It is the basis for Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and other products currently released or in development. The "d20 System" trademark consists of the words "d20 System" and the "d20 System" logo. Additional information about the trademark can be viewed at: www.uspto.gov, by searching for "d20 system".
Q: How is the d20 System connected to Open Gaming?
A: The d20 System was used as the root of the System Reference Document (SRD), an abstract version of the rules and non-rule content of the various d20 roleplaying games from Wizards of the Coast. The SRD is being released as an Open Game compliant with the terms of the Open Gaming License v1.0a. See the System Reference Document FAQ for more information about the SRD.
Q: How do I get more information about Open Gaming?
A: The current version of the Open Gaming License can be found here. (12k RTF)
See the Open Gaming License FAQ for more information.
Q: Who owns the d20 System?
A: The "d20 System" trademark is owned by Wizards of the Coast. The System Reference Document is also copyright by Wizards of the Coast.
Q: Can I use the "d20 System" trademark without a license from Wizards of the Coast?
A: You should consult your legal counsel before attempting to do so. Wizards of the Coast has created the d20 System Trademark License to allow you to use the d20 System Trademark in an officially sanctioned way. Any other use potentially exposes you to litigation.
Q: What is the d20 System Trademark License?
A: The License is a simple system for allowing third parties to use the d20 System Trademarks and substantial other intellectual property owned by Wizards of the Coast with the company's permission.
Q: What is the d20 System Trademark Guide?
A: The d20 System Trademark Guide is an expanded set of instructions, permissions and prohibitions incorporated by reference into the d20 System Trademark License itself.
Q: What is the d20 System Trademark logo?
A: It is the square graphic indicia with the words "d20 System" that appears on the covers of all Wizards of the Coast d20-compatible roleplaying game products.
Q: What is the System Reference Document (the "SRD")?
A: The System Reference Document is a comprehensive toolbox consisting of rules, races, classes, feats, skills, various systems, spells, magic items and monsters compatible with the d20 System version of Dungeons & Dragons and various other roleplaying games from Wizards of the Coast.
Q: What parts of Dungeons & Dragons are Open Game Content?
A: None of the Dungeons & Dragons product line is Open Game Content. Currently the only Open Game Content released by Wizards of the Coast is the System Reference Document.
Q: What parts of d20 Modern are Open Game Content?
A: None of the d20 Modern product line is Open Game Content. Open Game Content from d20 Modern can be found in the Modern System Reference Document (ñMSRDî).
Q: What parts of Star Wars are Open Game Content?
A: None of the Star Wars roleplaying game is Open Game Content.
Q: What parts of Call of Cthulhu and Wheel of Time are Open Game Content?
A: No part of these games is Open Game Content.
Q: What about earlier editions of D&D?
A: No earlier editions of D&D are, or will be, released as Open Game Content.
Q: How do I get a copy of the Open Gaming License, the d20 System Trademark License, the, d20 System Trademark Guide, or the System Reference Document?
A: You can find copies of each here at this website using the links above. The versions on the official d20 website are the current, "official" versions of these documents and should be used as the reference for version numbers, updates, errata, etc.
The questions and answers below refer to sections of the d20 System Trademark License.
Q: What's the "confirmation card"?
A: It's a simple form you can use to tell Wizards of the Coast that you're using the d20 System Trademark License and let us know how to get in touch with you if we need to.
Q: What happens if I don't send it in?
A: Nothing. Until the day comes when we have a problem with something you've published, and we can't reach you. Under that circumstance, your ability to react to our complaint will be pretty limited.
Q: What if I don't agree that Wizards of the Coast is the owner of the various trademarks and copyrights enumerated in Section 1 of the trademark license?
A: Don't use the d20 System Trademark License. By doing so, you're relinquishing your right to protest the company's ownership of those marks.
Q: Why is there a separate "Guide"?
A: We anticipate making changes in the Guide much more often than we do the License itself. By separating the two documents, it should make it easier to update the Guide without triggering all the provisions of the License that might be onerous to various third-party publishers.
Q: What are the "Licensed Articles"?
A: They are the trademarks and the copyrights enumerated in the Guide.
Q: What if I decide later to contest the list of copyrights and trademarks Wizards of the Coast is claiming in Section 1 of the trademark license?
A: You will be breaching your agreement to abide by the Trademark License. As a result, you may find yourself being sued for breach of contract by Wizards of the Coast, in addition to any other legal matters that might arise.
You should carefully consider your obligations under the terms of the Trademark License and consult your legal counsel before taking any such action.
Q: What does "cure period" mean?
A: It's the period of time the License sets aside to give you a chance to fix a problem we bring to your attention. For most situations, that period is 30 days, but some violations, such as a breach of the Quality Standards clause, result in immediate termination with no cure period.
Note: If we don't know how to reach you (because you didn't send in a confirmation card), the 30 days will pass without notice to you, and if and when we do contact you, you'll have to take steps to remedy your breach immediately.
Q: What if I disagree with Wizards of the Coast when the company claims that I am in breach of the Agreement?
A: You and your legal counsel should immediately contact Wizards of the Coast and attempt to address the matter.
The company is under no obligation to negotiate. If, at its sole discretion, it decides you're in breach of the contract, you'll have to fix the problem within the cure period (or immediately, in the case of some types of violations) or you will be fully in breach of the License and at risk for litigation.
Q: What if I've never sent in a confirmation card, or Wizards of the Coast doesn't have a valid address on file for me?
A: Depending on the severity of the problem, the company may or may not make an effort to locate you and notify you that it considers you to be in breach of the License. It is under no obligation to do so.
Q What does "Termination" mean?
A: It means that you are no longer allowed to use the d20 System Trademark License.
Q: Does the requirement to stop using the d20 System Trademark Logos in Section 6 extend to all the materials I publish using the trademark?
A: Yes. Being in breach of the License for one item forfeits your right to use the License for anything else. At our sole discretion, we may allow you to continue to use the License for other products, but that's our choice and if it ever comes up we'll make the decision on a case-by-case basis.
Q: The license seems to be telling me that I have to call my distributors and tell them to destroy the inventory they have on hand in their warehouse. True?
A: You have to request the destruction of any materials bearing the d20 System Trademark once your license to use that trademark terminates. That would include anyone you sold product to that you reasonably suspect might still have some unsold inventory.
Q: And I have to pay any costs incurred in following the termination requirements?
A: That is correct. You will bear the burden for failing to comply with the terms of the License.
Q: What happens to me if I ignore the termination of the license?
A: You should consult your legal counsel before considering such an action. You will be at risk for litigation.
Q: How long do I really have to update any materials in my possession if the Logo Guide changes?
A: You should do so on the next printing or the next version you release. If your work is an electronic file (such as a website or a PDF document) you should make the change immediately.
Q: What kind of changes are likely to be incorporated in future versions of the Guide?
A: Additional terms might be added as "defined terms," content from other sources might be made available for you to indicate compatibility with, etc.
Q: Section 9 seems to contradict the terms of Section 8 that allow me to continue to distribute material using a previous version of the License. Why is that?
A: Section 9 focuses on a change to the License itself. Section 8 focuses on changes to the Guide. We expect to make material changes to the License rarely, but when we do, we want everyone to comply with that change as fast as possible.
Q: How will I know if a new version of the Trademark License is released?
A: There will be no formal notification process. You should periodically check the official d20 website for notice of any changes.
The questions and answers below refer to sections of the d20 System Trademark Logo Usage Guide.
Note: This section assumes that you are planning to use the d20 System Trademark License. Some of the restrictions discussed below do not apply if you are not using the d20 System Trademark License.
Q: Is the introduction section redundant?
A: It's just a way of making sure that it's clear that the Guide is a part of a larger document; the combination of the Trademark License and the Guide, plus information from the Open Gaming License too.
Q: How will I know if a new version of the Guide is released?
A: You will need to regularly check the official d20 website for updates.
Q: How do I refer to Star Wars d20 products?
A: You don't. At this time, there is no good way to do so. Lucasfilm, Ltd., which controls the Star Wars trademarks, is unlikely to release a "Lucasfilm Trademark License" like the d20 System Trademark License.
Q: How do I refer to Call of Chuthlu or Wheel of Time?
A: You don't. Wizards licensed the rights to use the trademarks and copyrights involved, they are not covered by the d20 System Trademark License.
Q: Does the definition of an "Interactive Game" preclude me from creating a character generator?
A: Provided you do not include aspects that are not Open Content and the Open Content is easily identifiable, no, it does not.
Note that the definition of ñInteractive Gameî in the Guide prohibits any program that reports the success or failure of an action. This includes character generators that ñroll diceî for ability scores because in a d20 game a higher number is always better. Rolling an 18 for strength is a preferable outcome to rolling a 3. In any circumstance where one outcome is quantifiably better than another, the software cannot perform the randomization.
See the Software FAQ for more information.
Q: Does the definition of an "Interactive Game" preclude me from creating a piece of software that helps DMs adjudicate combat?
A: Yes, combat clearly involves the determination of success (a hit) and failure (a miss).
Q: Does the definition of an "Interactive Game" preclude me from creating an online RPG, MUD, MUSH, MOO, etc.?
A: Yes. Please do not contact us requesting exceptions be made for your game or to inquire about getting a license to make a game. Wizards has an exclusive licensee for all electronic games based on our products and cannot enter into games licenses with any additional parties.
Q: Do I have to use the Defined Terms in my product?
A: No. You are not required to use them.
Q: Can I add new terms?
A: As long as those terms aren't used as synonyms for existing terms, yes.
Q: Can I extend the definition of a term, adding more meaning to one?
A: No. You don't have to use the exact written definition, but you can't change the substance or the meaning of the definition.
Q: Why are the Defined Terms so tied to D&D?
A: Because Wizards of the Coast wants to get the maximum benefit of leveraging the D&D rules as an Open Game. Over time, there will be terms added to reflect the needs of other genres beyond medieval fantasy.
Q: Can I define a new ability?
Q: Can I use a different method of determining ability scores?
A: No, because you can't explain character creation.
Q: Can I define a new class?
Q: Could my new class use a different experience point chart?
A: You could publish a new chart. And you could say that characters of a given class use that chart. But you couldn't actually explain what to do with the chart.
Q: Could I create a character system that didn't use classes and/or levels at all?
Q: Can I reference the Player's Handbook or any other published d20 product?
A: The d20 System Guide sets guidelines for what products you may refer to and how this should be done. You can reference the Player's Handbook by title or as the PHB. Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual can't be referenced by name, only abbreviation (DMG and MM, respectively). The Psionics Handbook and the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game must be referenced by their full title. The d20 System Guide will be updated with details on how to refer to new books as their content enters the SRD.
Q: Can I use page numbers?
A: Nope. Future versions of the books may be repaginated, so material won't reliably appear on the same page in various printings of the books.
Q: Can I create a brand new kind of character attribute and include rules for determining its values at character creation?
A: You can create a new attribute, define what it is for, and define the ranges of values it might have. You can't explain what to do with it at character creation. Figuring out how to convey that information to the reader seems impossible to me, but I've been surprised before. Good luck!
Q: Are there any other restrictions beyond those listed in the "Mandatory Restrictions" section I need to be aware of?
A: Just the various restrictions in the OGL itself and the guidelines for trademark use and product references.
Q: Why were Quality Standards added to the License?
A: To improve the value of the trademark by ensuring that it isn't used irresponsibly.As a licensor, it's our right to limit the nature of material other publishers create under license. We reserve for ourselves the right to test the boundaries of what's appropriate material for a roleplaying game. We choose not to allow others to test that limit, because, frankly, with an open license we can't otherwise be sure that a licensee won't go way beyond what everyone else would agree is reasonable.
Putting that limit on the license prevents one publisher's bad taste from damaging the value of the d20 trademark for everyone else. Publishers are still welcome to create products with mature themes, of course-either by avoiding excessive or gratuitous imagery (as detailed in the d20 System Trademark Guide), or by publishing under the OGL and not using the d20 trademark.
We already use these standards (and have for a long time) for many of our other products such as novels and electronic games, but we didn't have corresponding standards for d20 products. These changes mean that every licensee using our trademarks is held to similar standards.
Q: What if I'm not sure my product complies with the Quality Standards listed in the Guide?
A: Contact Charles Ryan (Charles.Ryan@Wizards.com) if you have any questions about the Quality Standards portion of the license.
Q: What does "5% of the text of a Covered Product" mean?
A: It means that 5% of the text, either word count or letter count, must be Open Game Content. It doesn't refer to physical size.
Q: Why do I need to include the English version of the trademark notice?
A: Because the English version is the only legally binding text you can use. Wizards of the Coast isn't interesting in validating the translations into dozens of languages by hundreds of publishers.
Q: Do I have to tell people to use the D&D Player's Handbook?
A: No, though you must include one of the Mandatory Trademark Use notices listed in the Guide.
Q: Can I say that my product requires the Dungeon Master's Guide or other D&D books?
A: Only if those titles listed in the Mandatory Trademark Use section of the Guide. Dungeon Master's Guide is not listed in this section.
Q: Can I say that my product requires the Star Wars Roleplaying Game?
Q: Can you explain in more detail what the section titled "d20 System Trademark Logo Usage Requirements" means?
A: It specifies the physical appearance of the logo itself. That section gives you the rules to follow when you're printing the logo on the cover of your book, or using it in your advertising. Basically the logo must be at least a certain size and it cannot be altered or distorted in any way.
Q: How do I use the Licenses to create a d20 System-compatible work?
A: First, you have to understand how to use the Open Gaming License. There is a comprehensive FAQ regarding the OGL.
Second, you need to figure out what you want to use directly or derive from the SRD (meaning, use the SRD as the basis of, or use as a reference, or use as a template for an extension, addition, or change). All that material is automatically Open Game Content.
Third, you need to decide what, if any, of your own content that you have independently created to license as brand new Open Game Content.
Fourth, you need to decide, what, if anything, you want to assert a claim as Product Identity for, as that term is defined in the OGL.
Fifth, you need to decide how you want to "clearly identify" the Open Game Content in your work. See the Software FAQ for additional information if you intend to use the licenses within software.
Sixth, you need to decide how you want to "clearly identify" the Product Identity in your work.
Seventh, you have to decide if you want to use the d20 System Trademark License, and if you do, you have to make sure that you follow all the restrictions described in the d20 System Trademark License and the d20 System Trademark Guide.
When you've done all that work (whew!), you're ready to create a work that uses the OGL, has Open Game Content, might have Product Identity, and may comply with the d20 System Trademark License.
At a minimum, your work will:
1: Include the complete text of the Open Gaming License.
2: Clearly indicate how to identify the Open Game Content in your work.
3: Clearly indicate how to identify the Product Identity (if any exists) in your work.
4: Indicate that the Open Game Content is licensed and distributed using the Open Game License.
5: Add an updated COPYRIGHT NOTICE section of the Open Gaming License to indicate any content you have added or derivative work you've included.
6: If you used the d20 System Trademark License, you'll be able to use the d20 System logo, and if you want to, you can claim compatibility with the d20 System, Dungeons & Dragons, and/or d20 Modern Roleplaying Game as described in the Trademark Logo Usage Guide.
When you're ready, all you have to do is distribute your work. You can email it, post it on a website, print it out and make copies, or have it professionally printed. It's a good idea to send a copy of the "card.pdf" file in the d20 System Trademark archive file to Wizards of the Coast, just in case any problems crop up later.
You don't have to ask anyone for permission.
You don't have to submit any content for approval.
You don't have to pay anyone a royalty.
Go to the d20 System main page for information about the d20 system
or check out the d20 System message boards for lively discussion.