Licensing PnP RPGs was RE: [MUD-Dev] "sweeping change"?

Brian Hook brianhook at
Thu Nov 22 09:35:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

At 06:48 PM 11/21/2001 -0600, Mike Sellers wrote:

> Oh, one reason I didn't pick up the Traveller rights is because
> the audience was about 10,000 to 15,000 people, and that was being
> generous.

There are two distinct reasons to pick up a license.  The first is
the obvious one -- immediate appeal to a group of fans.  The second
is that the cost and time necessary to reproduce the huge amount of
source material that some of the classic RPGs possess would be more
than offset by the license cost.  Sure, you lose a little bit of
freedom in the process, but by and large most people that come up
with "new and innovative" settings...aren't.

Some PnP/fictional settings that are niche but would still be
worthwhile to license simply for the background material include:

  - Agone
  - Talislanta
  - Earthdawn
  - Deadlands
  - Tekumel (Empire of the Petal Throne)
  - Harn
  - Traveller (any edition)
  - Skyrealms of Jorune
  - Glorantha (Hero Wars/RQ)
  - Star Frontiers
  - Gamma World
  - the second-tier White Wolf stuff, such as Wraith, Hunter, or Mage

  - Vance's Dying Earth or Planet of Adventure
  - Aldiss' Helliconia
  - Wolf's Executioner series
  - Moorcock's Elric

None of the above is anywhere near the class of Forgotten Realms, at
least in terms of potential audience, but nonetheless all possess a
reasonable amount of source material that you can then avoid having
to do yourself.

If you're doing a small scale MUD, then it makes even more sense.
If your total goal for subscribership is 1000 players, then the
difference between a Traveller license and a Star Wars license is
moot, since either (or neither) should be able to satisfy that goal
assuming you've developed something that doesn't suck.  And the
access to content seriously speeds up the development process.

Obviously, if you're aiming for something much larger, then you HAVE
to pursue one of the big licenses such as Forgotten Realms, LoTR,
Star Wars, Star Trek or maybe some of the medium sized RPG licenses
like Shadowrun (presumably owned by Microsoft) or Vampire (I think
Activision has this one).

I would gladly pick up the Traveller computer game rights (for a
reasonable price) even if it was only 2000 potential customers,
simply because the source material is so expansive.


MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list