So it turns out there’s something kind of interesting in the appendices of the Godlike book. (To say nothing, for the moment, of the harrowing hazards in the Talent section, the phenomenal detail of the Background section that takes up the middle 151 pages of a 351-page hardcover, and the refreshing and commendable lack of a thick opening section of game fiction – what fiction there is is better written than usual, too.) A section called “Open Source Superhero Rules” has an introductory blurb that begins, “The following rules are designed using the same basic task resolution used by the world’s most popular fantasy role-playing game.” It goes on to give you the rules over again – hyperstats, Talents and all – this time using standard D20 System Reference Document stats and terminology, including character creation and level advancement rules. This is perfectly legal; it’s just the D20 license, not the OGL, that forbids it. The D20 System name and logo appears nowhere in or on the Godlike book.
I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen. Maybe publishers couldn’t get their heads around open source, or couldn’t see the advantage to having the rules but not being able to announce it with the D20 logo. Pagan and Hobgoblynn seem to be providing it as insurance – against those players who hate learning new systems. They certainly aren’t making a lot of noise about it. However, when I jumped up and down and raved about this to the boys at the store, they told me White Wolf is doing the same thing with EverQuest, announced two weeks ago. (*sigh* I can’t do anything original.) And they don’t seem to be using it as a backup, either. By my reading of the licenses, WotC has no grounds to file suit here, but we’ll see what happens. Part of me hopes this starts a dogpile.