Ars Magica and Open Licensing

This topic exists so that I can point to it from our blog post for follow-up discussion. The topic is pretty well self-hinting...


You are late to the party :slight_smile:


Paizo's chad power move has impressed me and earned my respect. If Atlas joins the alliance, we will be unstoppable.


One reason I'm very interested in the ORC License is that we as a community have 23 years under our belt with the OGL1.0, and that experience can be used to develop a new license that is better but still tailored to the peculiarities of RPG publication.


Obviously a lot hangs on the details of the ORC license, and on what Atlas includes and excludes from any open SRD. But I love the idea. OGL has shown that open systems build the community as a whole and means more games and continuous innovation in design (I see a lot of this in indie-gaming, which tends to use CC-BY rather than OGL, but that's just a matter of degree). And it means a community can provide support for a game they love, even when the formal product schedule is slow.


I love this idea, and hope to be working on it. I should say that this is not what my posts in 2021 were about.


All true. I would like to enable third party ArM-compatible material to be published, even commercially, without a separate license or royalties. We have been studiously hands-off about things fans have done over the years, but I want to change our stance to actively encouraging professional quality third-party support.

We will have to consider very carefully the proprietary sides of it. However, given the striking similarities between Mythic Europe and historical Europe, I think a lot of Ars Magica's world is already available in the public domain. :slight_smile:


Yup. There are other things cooking, which we hope to say a lot more about soon. But Open Magica can happen independently of that.


There is already so much released material (in PDF and websites) without an open license (and the worry that many have without that protection) that I am sure there would be a great deal more if AM had an open license that make the community feel safe.

I mean we already have things like Animals of Mythic Europe available through links in the forums which are beautiful and very useful. Just the thought of how much more could come with the open support that an open license allows makes me happy.


Ars Magica, the rules system or Mythic Europe, the setting? Or both, as a linked set?


Obviously we have always taken a very tolerant-to-encouraging view on fan material. An open license that would allow people to even sell it would I hope mean more material and better presentations, as contributors could see money for the time and effort they invest.


We have not ruled anything out at this point. An idea that @David_Chart suggested was that could even use one license for rules and a different one for setting elements, with different restrictions. Imagine for example a rules SRD under something like the OGL; setting under something like a CC-BY-SA-NC (attribution/sharealike/noncommercial). It is possible that the ORC license will be something that could do it all itself. Maybe instead of the Product Identity that OGL uses, elements within an ORC material could be designated as usable subject to sharealike for instance. E.g.: you could add to the lore of some central figure like Bonisagus, but with the condition that other people can in turn take your additions and build on them further.

We would NOT want something like the way Disney takes a public domain character and then builds a walled-off version. Rather, I'm interested in the sort of cultural commons that evolves naturally around myths, folklore, folk tales, and reimaginings of classic stories.


First off I will say that I am very impressed that you have the courage to even consider allowing others to make money off of your intellectual property at Atlas Games. Kudos. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to take such a seemingly radical step.

I personally believe that something similar to the OGL for Ars magica would be beneficial for the community and the game. I dont have the business experience to make a guess as to whether or not it is beneficial for Atlas's bottom line, which is also important. I will say that the OGL did wonders for making all sorts of great and diverse content for D&D back in the day when that was the game I played.

Personally I believe the addition of ekstra content for ars magica made by third party publishers would make me more likely to expand my collection of Ars magica books and also make it more likely that I could bring in more players to the game. In particular if there was a great amount of material published that made the game more accessible (e.g. published scenarios).

From an Ideological standpoint I believe an OGL is the right thing to do.


Excellent! I have been failing to make money off Atlas Games IP for years with permission (Grand Tribunal convention enters its 17th year this August) but I do love the idea of opening up the game. I think I'd be just as happy with a reasonable commercial licence giving Atlas a share of profits, but anything which moves the game forward again is wonderful.

It has been a rather lengthy hiatus, and if provides a renaissance that allows more msterial for 5th ed that's awesome. Ultimately though i back whatever John and Michelle want to do - their game not mine.

I am sure you have thought of it but a setting SRD might run in to issues with Tremere and a few other names that are shared IP with White Wolf or Onyx Path or whoever holds those licenses now if they do not agree to the ORC but given you have not had any issues in the last 30 years with maintaining cordial agreements i can't see it being an issue?

I actually have an Ars book I've always wanted to write and this might give me the incentive to do it, as it doesn't have to justify a commercial release. I can imagine David, Timothy Ferguson, Andrew Gronosky and many others would produce wonderful content and enrich the rpg world no end.

I am acrually very excited!
CJ x


Im not sure i have the skills to commercialise my writing, but its interesting to me that, for example, the people who keep pinching my stuff in Spanish and hoping I wont notice wouldnt need to sneak around so much, because stuff could just sit in the ORC. :grinning:

It would also make collabs easier, because we could just agree in advance it was all in the ORC. It makes writing ig things collaboratively way easier if we have a clear understanding if an author goes silent or falls out and wants to fork the project.


I would very much enjoy an SRD to clearly describe what I can and can't use in my conversion project. Right now it's kind of nebulous. For me at least.


I am sure it would be good for the community, and I strongly believe it would be good for Atlas since it is likely to maintain sales and revenues from 35 years of ArM publications that we sell in print and PDF.


This is an area we have to watch carefully, so we don't purport to exercise any rights we don't actually hold. We are pondering whether some things may be better served by name changes, which might be reflected in the upcoming ..... uh, thing we haven't really talked about in public ... as well as the SRD that is open-licensed.


Clarity is liberating! It's reassuring to get beyond "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely sue you for copyright infringement in the morning." -- however many nights in a row that has happened.


I have to ask this, even if it is getting into the weeds on things that might not happen- if there is a separate ORC for rules and for non rules material, and I wish to create material that would include both, how would that work?

Also you mentioned not wanting anyone to wall off any material in the style of Disney, what about fencing off? As in- if I were to write a 'mythic America' based on my version of what I see Mythic America to be like, and someone else wants to add to that could I have the right to decide that it either is or is not an 'official' part of the mythic America I wrote, without prohibiting someone from copywriting their own version of Mythic America (presumably with a different title than mine) or segments thereof?