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RPG into book, laws and etiquette
September 4, 2012 7:36 AM   Subscribe

What are the rules about creating a novel from a personal RPG?

So, a friend and I use to RP back in the day(10 years ago), using notes and blogs. I have turned the basic premise of this world and characters into a novel. Before writing, I contacted the friend(we don't speak much nowadays) and asked if she wanted any part of it, she said no, that she didn't have the time to co-author. There is no part of the previous material on the internet any longer, besides possibly those weird archive site-things. I continue to reach out to get their blessing and explicit approval but am ignored. What is proper in this situation? Should I give her some of the advance if it gets published? Mention them in the dedication? Not seek publication?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total)
 
Should I give her some of the advance if it gets published?

Cart/Horse. You don't even have the novel published yet! She said she wanted no part of it and all work to make the novel would be yours, so I'd proceed on your merry way until you actually have something in hand.
posted by anti social order at 7:54 AM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am an IP attorney, but I am not your IP attorney. This is not legal advice.

There are several possible copyright issues here. You should talk to a lawyer about the proper way to handle those issues. Not doing so may impact your ability to be published, should an opportunity arise.
posted by jedicus at 8:04 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


When you say you are reaching out to get "their" explicit approval, are you talking about the publishers of the original roleplaying game? If so, I can pretty much guarantee that their silence means "no."

There is a vast and thriving industry of novels spun off from roleplaying games. This industry has a whole infrastructure that you don't see. Stables of writers, marketing departments crafting storylines, editors, etc.

A publisher would be highly unlikely to just let some random person write a novel based in that world. Most of them would at least send you a form letter to that effect. My guess is that you need help sleuthing out whoever currently owns the rights to that intellectual property. So that you can ask them, and they can say "no."

Unless you are a published author with a proven track record who can approach them with a well thought-out plan. In which case they will probably turn you down because they have no interest in promoting this particular property, otherwise they wouldn't have dropped it in the first place.

All this sounds discouraging, and it should. Which leads me to my real point, which is: just change anything that needs to be changed in order to turn this into a world of your own original creation. Then write it and publish it as a straight up work of fiction.

The original roleplaying game would have given you some basic outlines, settings, and terminology. But you and your friend took it from there. That's the magic of roleplaying: it's largely built from your own imagination. 98% of what you have came out of your mind. Just convert that remaining 2%!
posted by ErikaB at 10:25 AM on September 4, 2012


The original roleplaying game would have given you some basic outlines, settings, and terminology. But you and your friend took it from there. That's the magic of roleplaying: it's largely built from your own imagination. 98% of what you have came out of your mind. Just convert that remaining 2%!


I have no thoughts on an actual answer, but the sense I got from the question was that the system/world was entirely home-brewed?
posted by juv3nal at 10:54 AM on September 4, 2012


Copyright issues here apply not just to setting but to your friend. Part of this creative work is hers. I absolutely would not proceed without her go-ahead.
posted by corb at 1:56 PM on September 4, 2012


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