Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2003


To the fifty-sixth issue of The Guild Companion.

Editorial Staff Changes

In conjunction with our ongoing site revision, we are also embarking on a modest personnel reorganization at the editorial staff level.

Firstly, Peter Mork, author of The School of Hard Knocks : The Skills Companion and currently our Editor for RMSS and RMFRP, becomes our Editor for Rolemaster (all editions). This brings our support for RM2 into a single unified Rolemaster portfolio, which should simplify article editing in that area.

Secondly, Aaron Smalley, author of City of Archendurn, becomes our Editor for Spacemaster (all editions). He is keen to rectify the sparse frequency of Spacemaster articles in this magazine and welcomes contributions for both 2nd edition and Privateers editions of Spacemaster. So no excuses not to write an article for us!

Thirdly, Mario Butter, long-time maintainer of the various ICE-related mailing lists hosted at silent-tower.org, steps up to become our Editor for High Adventure Role Playing (HARP). Playtesters for HARP are welcome to submit material immediately - we'll hold the polished articles in safe keeping until ICE releases HARP to prevent any problems with the non-disclosure and mutual confidentiality agreements.

d20 License Changes

Some of you may already be aware that Wizards has changed the terms of its d20 license and style guide recently. Unhappily for them and everybody else, they have added a series of "Quality Standards" to the terms of both and have granted themselves the right to review and inspect all material using the d20 logo at any time to assure those standards are met. If the material does not meet the standards as decided by Wizards, the company or individual's license to use d20 terminates and all products with the d20 logo have to be destroyed, which could involve a company bearing the cost for distributors destroying their inventory.

The quality standards include prohibitions against graphic violence, sexual situations, and prejudice. The last is probably the most difficult to handle. "Covered Products can not depict existing real-world minorities, nationalities, social castes, religious groups, genders, lifestyle preferences, or people with disabilities as a group inferior to any other group. Current, real-world religions and religious groups and/or practices will not be portrayed in any way that promotes disrespect for these religions or their participants. A Covered Product can not endorse or promote any specific religion or religious practice."

Anyone considering writing a d20 historical or a d20 modern-day product now has to worry about whether mere descriptions of a religion or a religious attitude are disrespectful or an endorsement/promotion of a faith. Likewise on other subjects, an author must be concerned about whether the text could be misconstrued as being "politically incorrect" in some sense. (I'm sure it's politically incorrect to use that term as well. Tough.)

Previously Wizards could deny all knowledge of offensive products as they had completely removed themselves from any sort of review process on d20 items. On certain industry forums, it has been noted that the new license has the potential to leave Wizards open to liability for third-party d20 products, if they "fail" in their policing duties of the quality standards.

So unhappy for Wizards, and unhappy for everybody else who has to deal with the latest changes (including but not limited to the quality standards). It should be noted that each revision of the d20 license is retroactive so every existing product (if it is to retain the d20 logo) has to be brought into compliance.

I am reminded of the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Lando Calrissian protests to Darth Vader "That wasn't part of the bargain" and receives the reply "I'm altering the bargain. Pray I don't alter it any further."

While the current raft of changes don't significantly affect any of our existing articles or products (such as City of Archendurn or the upcoming d20 Edition Shadow World Master Atlas), they represent another set of hoops to jump through, and there is no guarantee that the next set of changes won't be more damaging. Some speculation suggests that the next version might prohibit settings using the d20 logo in order to give Wizards' new Eberron world a clear run and that would hurt us. I hope this does not happen, but we don't have any say in the matter.

So while The Guild Companion will continue to publish open gaming articles and commercial modules using the System Reference Document (d20 3.0), the Revised System Reference Document) (that's d20 3.5), and the Modern System Reference Document (that's d20 Modern), we reserve the right to drop the d20 logo at any point where its disadvantages outweigh its marketing benefits.

Farewell (for now ...)

I have to return to my part in the site revamp, which we hope to have completed by November, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun!
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion