I recently realized that the new Mongoose Traveller Second Edition is a closed license. On page 2 of the rulebook it states, “This game product contains no Open Game Content. No portion of this work may be reproduced in any form without written permission.” This is in stark contrast with the First Edition, which used the Open Game License (OGL). [For a good backgrounder on the OGL, see here.]
In a move that I am sure Mongoose thought would alleviate gamer concerns, and working in conjunction with DriveThruRPG, a new Traveller’s Aid Society was created. However, there is a major legal snag in the Community Content Agreement:
You are allowed to use the Traveller setting as presented in the current Traveller edition books published by Mongoose Publishing as well as any Mongoose-published book covering the official Third Imperium setting (for example, Spinward Marches). This includes the names of all characters, races, and places and all gear, equipment and vessels; the capitalized names and original names of places, countries, creatures, geographic locations, historic events, items, ships, and organizations presented in those books.
What does this do to my favorite non-Third Imperium settings, like The Clement Sector by Gypsy Knights Games or Orbital by Zozer Games? GKG is in the process of moving all their content to an OGL version before the Mongoose Traveller First Edition license sunsets (which apparently will happen very quickly).
The “Gotchas” seem to be that when you publish via TAS you give up your Intellectual Property rights to what you wrote and that DTRPG (and Mongoose) take an additional 25% of the sale price – you get 50% instead of the usual 75%.
The IP thing isn’t a big deal if you just publish an adventure or a one-off, but if you want to develop a setting, by giving up the IP others can write stuff in your setting and you can’t control it; also you are limited to only publishing via DTRPG, so if you wanted to do a print version, you can’t; except through DTRPG and their Print on Demand. So no store copies.
Also, no Crowdsourcing or giving away free copies – it is all controlled by DTRPG.
As I said, for some things, it is fine, but for SETTINGS other than the OTU, it is not such a good deal. Unfortunately, that means that settings will be using the OGL rules (1st Edition Mongoose) and don’t get to take advantage of the new rules and “balanced” weapons systems.
SO good and bad depending on what you want to publish. OTU stuff is now available to publish, so if you want to write that epic campaign where the Chamax invade the Spinward Marches and fight it out with VIRUS, you can – through DTRPG.
I don’t know how I forgot this, but this is the one that sent my wheels spinning when I first discovered it: books produced through TAS do not appear on the front page of DriveThruRPG and the publisher has no way of putting it out on the front page as a feature product. This means that it is substantially harder to just run across my book by accident and discover it. Being on the front page is a real driver of initial sales, a driver that anything in the TAS does not have access. Will that mean that those initial sale will be spread out of weeks and months as those customers go looking in Mongoose’s and/or Traveller’s categories, or are those sales simply gone? I cannot say for certain, but i am willing to bet that it is going to be somewhere between those extremes.
But one scenario leaves the publisher with a lower initial return, which is generally used to pay writers, artists, etc. The other scenario just leaves the publisher was an overall lower return. Either way, the budget I use to produce all my Traveller books has just gone down.
For a very lively (educational and entertaining) discussion see the Citizens of the Imperium forum here. Once again all I can say is that I strongly support John Watts of GKG and Dale McCoy Jr. of JBE and will continue to support them, even as they might be forced to step away from the Mongoose Traveller Second Edition rules.
From what I can see, the greatest impact of the new Traveller’s Aid Society Community Content Agreement (TAS-CCA) is that third-party publishers with non-Third Imperium settings are being shut out of the new rules. Given my personal unfavorable feelings regarding the new system (see here, here, here, and here), I will not suffer greatly.
Bottom Line: I am a strong proponent of IP rights and don’t like what I am seeing. For third-party publishers to lose control of their IP is unacceptable. I also don’t see how the CCA helps brick-and-mortar stores (digital sales only) and has no crowdfunding option. Seems like Mongoose actually wants to strangle third-party publishers.