Writing for 5e (non-DMs Guild)

Ashtagon

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#1
I want to write an original campaign setting. This specifically means I can't do it using the DM's Guild terms, which allows one to reference essentially the entirety of the 1pp content.

However, the big conundrum I am facing is... my campaign setting has a god of storms. There is a Tempest cleric domain in the 5e PHB. I can't use that domain in such a product, as it is not in the SRD. However, my understanding is that I also can't even mention it (similar to how I can't mention beholders, which aren't in any WotC SRD). This seems, at best, slightly awkward, since the two would go together intuitively, but I can't even address the connection. About 2/3 of the PHB subclasses are likewise off-limits. At best, the subclasses are obviously not relevant to teh setting, but many of them are, and creates the obvious issue in a player's mind of "why aren't you addressing this?" Technically, I could create a "severe weather" cleric domain, but it feels like a lot of extra work for very little gain (and would doubtless feel players are wasting money on content that is effectively duplicated in terms of range of potential character concepts).

Is there a sensible solution to this that allows me to at least mention that the Tempest domain can be used by clerics of the storm god? Preferably with clear citations.
 

baakyocalder

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#2
Sounds like you are asking for specific advice on legal matters when asking whether someone can use a setting's materials in their game and what references are required. Specific legal and professional advice is not allowed on RPG.net

Can you remove the god of storms from your campaign and avoid creating their new domain and still make the campaign viable? Is the campaign for your personal edification and not for commercial purposes?
 

Ashtagon

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#3
Ideally, it would ultimately be a commercial product.

Seeing how this god of storms is one of the chief adversarial foes in the campaign setting (yeah, I could change that, but then it wouldn't be true to teh source material), and that a god of storms is a fairly common concept in human mythology generally, I can't see how to get around having a storm god and not mentioning that domain (short of simply not writing for 5e).

What I was hoping for ideally was something where WotC has said something to the effect of "You can mention class archetypes from the PHB as part of your 3pp OGL campaign setting, as long as you do not enter into any discussion of the rules content".
 

Armin

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#4
What I was hoping for ideally was something where WotC has said something to the effect of "You can mention class archetypes from the PHB as part of your 3pp OGL campaign setting, as long as you do not enter into any discussion of the rules content".
That's contrary to the Product Identity protections of the OGL, so you're out of luck there.
 

Terry Herc

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#5
You should work on inventing your own version of the thing you like. How do you want your storm god to act or behave, and how do they inspire their followers? What classical, real-world sources inspire you? How do those come to life in other game or story elements like temples, ceremonies, or spiritual beliefs? Bring those things alive in your own creation and you may find a similar starting point gets to a much different destination.
 

monsmord

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#6
You should work on inventing your own version of the thing you like. How do you want your storm god to act or behave, and how do they inspire their followers? What classical, real-world sources inspire you? How do those come to life in other game or story elements like temples, ceremonies, or spiritual beliefs? Bring those things alive in your own creation and you may find a similar starting point gets to a much different destination.
+1 this. As a potential consumer of a new campaign setting, I'm looking for differences, for unique identity and flavor, not a renamed rehash or, at its most reductive, "see the Tempest Cleric entry..." If you can find ways to tweak your cleric, create your own domain/spells/etc., I'd find it a lot more compelling. Note that I don't know what the indie developer options are for 5E/SRD; I'm speaking only as a gamer looking for something new.
 

baakyocalder

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#7
Also, figure that if the book is mostly compatible with another game's rules, that players using that game could ask for advice before purchasing or figure it out.

If I find story elements and flavor text from any game, I've been playing since the mid-1980s so I have no problem taking what I want from a game with different mechanics if I know the relative power of the entry item I am converting. If the storm god is a wuss in your game's statistics, then I know how to make the storm god a wuss in mine.

So, instead of pure levels, you could use a description with a guide or a scale from 1 to 100 or something people know.
 

barrataria

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#8
That's contrary to the Product Identity protections of the OGL, so you're out of luck there.
Yes; this is a thread full of good advice. However, 5E has been around for quite a few years now, and I think writers using its SRD can probably assume people savvy enough to find your product at all (since it won't be in the DM's Guild) will figure out what you mean if you list a cleric that uses the "Storm" domain without explaining further.

You should work on inventing your own version of the thing you like. How do you want your storm god to act or behave, and how do they inspire their followers? What classical, real-world sources inspire you? How do those come to life in other game or story elements like temples, ceremonies, or spiritual beliefs? Bring those things alive in your own creation and you may find a similar starting point gets to a much different destination.
Right, this is the whole idea behind SRDs, and frankly I find it liberating and motivating. I also find it tedious, but as I worked with domains I realized I don't like most of theirs. I reskinned the more-differentiated 3E domains for my world (remember, you can use the 3E SRD, or the Pathfinder SRD, or any other "Open Game Content").

Also, figure that if the book is mostly compatible with another game's rules, that players using that game could ask for advice before purchasing or figure it out.
No, the terms of the Open Game License expressly prohibit the author from expressing compatibility with any other product absent a separate license to do so. They don't and can't limit OTHERS from doing so, so oftentimes reviewers/bloggers/posters will do it for you. As noted above, people finding stuff here or on DriveThru usually are bright enough to figure it out. This is not legal advice and I suggest any serious parties consult the terms of the OGL and seek counsel to help them understand their specific situation.
 
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