Patent Trolls in the RPG industry

There is a patent application (by Universal Horizons) on how to move one RPG entity (Character) from one setting or game to another. The claims are quite general and can be applied to almost any existing conversion of RPG entities. This needs to be stopped, or we cannot use cross-genres or make RPGs from/to computer games (without paying fees) anymore.

More information and a link to the patent on the Bedroom Wall Press blog.

Since we have all moved characters, ships and weapons between different rules and settings we know of lots of examples of prior art (that may be used to stop such a patent).

Some examples of prior art include cross-genre games like GURPS or Lords of Creation. Another example is a conversion between Marvel Superheroes RPG and Marvel SAGA.  Another example is conversion from AD&D to D20 3.0. Another is the new Elite RPG based on the Elite computer game.

Examples for Traveller is rules for converting characters, ships, weapons, planets etc. for different rules. A simple example is that a type-A Starport in CT is called a type-V starport in GT. In GURPS Traveller, Chapter-6 is about converting Characters from other Traveller versions (have a look in the preview-PDF if you don’t have that book). Another Traveller example is the CounterStrike rules that converts Traveller Ships to another format usable for large-scale operations.

So this is important for Traveller and other RPGs and there are prior art examples for both Traveller and other RPGs.

When people started complaining and discussing the subject on Universal Horizons facebook page they started removing critical comments. Just like any other evil or malicious company would have.

Trying to patent something like this isn’t a good idea. The RPG community gets quite upset since we have been converting between different systems for ages. We will not let Universal Horizons stop us. Universal Horizons still have a lot of explaining to do… Then they must remove their claims!

Universal Horizons

5 thoughts on “Patent Trolls in the RPG industry”

  1. The first edition AD&D GM Guide had an appendix for conversion of Gamma World and Boot Hill characters.

  2. Don’t forget examples for prior art in computer games, such as character conversionf rom Ultima to Bard’s Tale, as they could still attempt to claim it as an invention to cover electronic games. Bigger markets there anyway.

    Write to SJG, WotC or someone who has at least some money, tell them they might want to get a lawyer involved in an attempt to squash this before it gets approved, in the hopes it’ll save lots of money later on, maybe?

    Steve in particular is a good guy judging by my admittedly limited contact with him, and this would go against much of his core business.

  3. You should look up FLAILSNAILS for prior art.

    It covers transfers from any system to any system

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