Contacting Legal

API Discussion
Hi,

I'm working on an addon to implement D&D d20-style RP rules inside of WoW. This is going to involve use of intellectual property owned by Blizzard: lore, spell names, race names, NPC names, etc. I'd like to contact legal, describe the project in greater detail, and request permission to do so. How might I go about doing this?

Thanks,
Kris
Hi again,

Since I haven't received a reply, I decided to write back with more detail. I'm sure that you guys are busy, so I'll be as helpful to you in answering my question as I can be.

Proposed Product Name
"Warcraft Standard Reference Document", or the "WSRD". This is based on the name of the property owned by the Wizards of the Coast, the "Standard Reference Document" or SRD. The SRD is distinct from their proprietary D&D property, and is licensed under the Open Gaming License ("OGL"), which provides for the ability to make changes and "homebrews". Essentially, from the perspective of Wizards, this is a "homebrew". While I believe that I have the rights to use the SRD as I intend under the terms of their OGL license, I have a similar request pending to Wizards to use the SRD in this way just to make sure.

Additionally, an addon will be created to ease the accessibility of these more complex RP rules while playing inside of WoW. The name of the addon is "TRP3: Legends", and it is intended to extend the functionality of the existing addon "Total RP 3" or "TRP3" by Ellypse, et al. Ellypse has already agreed to allow me to write my addon as a plugin for her own.

Blizzard's Property
Names of playable races, names of playable classes, names and roles of class specializations, ability icons, names of spells and other abilities, names of monster types and their spells/abilities, possibly names of specific NPCs as well as their spells and abilities. The goal here is only to allow the rules of the WSRD to exist within the universe created by Blizzard by using names. The function of these items, as they work within the WSRD, will necessarily be quite different in order to scale with SRD rules: eg. a "good" strength in SRD play is 20+, while a "good" strength in Warcraft play might be over 5000. Due to the extent of functional changes that will need to be made in order to retain WoW flavor, but remain compatible with SRD rules, it is my position that my proposed work is "transformative" within the meaning of Fair Use copyright law.

Website
Legends addon: https://github.com/kkerwin1/trp3-legends
WSRD document: https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/HJZTJomFTX

Please note that neither of the links above represent a completed product, and that this is very much a work in progress. Please also note that due to limitations in the editing capability of the Homebrewery website that I am moving my work there to a Word document on my computer.

Description
The WSRD document will implement a d20 ruleset that is very similar to the SRD rules. It will enable Warcraft players to roleplay according to these rules while playing inside the Warcraft game. While the ruleset will be very similar to the SRD, it will have a distinct set of features that more-closely reflect the flavor and naming conventions of the Warcraft game itself. Still, the existing SRD ruleset is approached with great respect and deference as a table-top RP game that is already well-established, well-tested, well-balanced, and therefore fun.

The process of creating the WSRD ruleset will be part art, and part science. The challenge is to create a table-top game that both respects Warcraft flavor, conventions, and functions but also to adapt that function in a way that will yield a balanced and fun game. To take spellcasting as an example: the SRD includes a much broader array of spells than does Warcraft. Spells in Warcraft are generally either offensive or defensive in nature, and are grossly directed toward combat. They have clearly defined functions. On the other hand, spells in the SRD may be used for combat or for non-combat RP. Their functions are less-clearly defined, and are inherently more flexible. This affords a much wider degree of creativity for players to use as they play their characters. The result is improved entertainment: trickery, illusions, mind control, influence, and other shenanigans add humor, complexity, and depth to role play.

To take another example, Warcraft boasts class specializations including tanks, damage, and healers, but the SRD lacks this degree of definition. Most Warcraft role players closely identify with these roles, and the WSRD will aim to respect this connection by mimicking certain Warcraft character functions, such as the taunt, in WSRD play. Thus, conventions in use both in the SRD and in Warcraft will influence the final WSRD product.

Motivation
Blizzard hosts multiple Warcraft servers for various player interests, including RP. There are many well-established guilds on these servers of players interested in doing d20-style RP. Unfortunately, the systems used by these guilds are generally immature, and are not as fully-featured as the SRD. The lack the flexibility in imagination and creativity that is possible within the SRD's rules. Therefore, I believe that there is great untapped demand from Warcraft players for a more-formalized roleplay system.

Reasons why Blizzard may be interested in this: This project, which is aimed at improving my own game experience as well as the game experience of other players in Warcraft, could have the effect of encouraging table-top gamers to try Warcraft, if properly marketed by Blizzard. Additionally, Blizzard may wish to partner with Wizards to produce and sell d20-style content for play in this system. In short, the framework will naturally increase subscriptions, as well as open a new market for sale of new media.

I am aware of the Warcraft RPG, and have taken a look at it. The classes listed do not match those playable in WoW. It is also based on the 3.5e rules, which are more complicated than 5e.

Where product will be marketed
The project will be hosted at the website above, and will also be listed for free download at Curseforge.com and Wowinterface.com. I do not intend to make any profit from this.

Thank you in advance for your help.
Update: I just got a response from Wizards. Generally, the text of the response says that they are OK with what I want to do. They directed me to their "Fan Content Policy":

https://company.wizards.com/fancontentpolicy

After closely reading it, I'm concerned about one thing: this point under #4, "Don’t use Wizards’ IP in other games", under the heading, "Don’t hurt Wizards". I'm assuming that Wizards basically just wants to be told, "Blizzard won't sue you", but I sent a reply asking for clarification.
kkerwin1...

Did you ever get a reply about contacting legal? I too have some ideas on some things like integrated themes for Wordpress, Joomla, etc and I am curious on how some of the TOS applies as with all the time I am spending writing the custom themes, I would like to market them. So I have been hunting around the forums for a legal contact to run my ideas buy, but no luck so far.
Hi EvilE,

No, I have not received a response.

Kris
Update:

I heard back from Wizards on my previous post. Using their open IP inside of WoW is not going to work, unfortunately.

Still, I'm interested in pursuing this project using a system that I create. My question regarding using spell names and other names owned by Blizzard still stands.
See, and my questions come more into the sale of layouts and themes. I am currently building a quite complex Wordpress/Buddypress system for my guild. I eventually would like to package the theme and have it for sale.

If I read everything right I could do it and make the end user create their own API key to use with the theme., as basically I am not charging for the use of the API, or any of the Blizzard content, I am just providing a nice simple way for guilds to use it all either through a theme or a plugin.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum