Friday, 1 January 2021

Community Content Publishing (OneBookShelf)

What, a post so soon?

It's Day 1 of 2021 but I'm not using that naming convention for these blog posts anymore.

I mentioned in my end of year post about potentially publishing content for games other than D&D.

Whilst doing some reading of the other Community Content Programmes on DriveThruRPG I thought it may be of interest to others how this works.

Before we dive in though.

I am NOT an expert on this subject but I have spent a fair bit of time reading the info on DriveThruRPGs website and doing some digging around the interwebs.  If any of this is wrong, please let me know!

If you're creating something that is not tied to an existing RPG and you want to publish it on DriveThru then you have two options:

  1. Exclusive
  2. Non-Exclusive

What's the difference?  This page explains and here's the table for speed.

Download Exclusive

Download Non-Exclusive

Earnings on digital sales

70% of customer price you set

65% of customer price you set

Digital sales channels

Only resold through

Sold anywhere

Earnings on printed sales

70% of print margin*

65% of print margin*

Printed sales channels

Sold anywhere

Sold anywhere

Enhanced title rotation



Bonus on-site promotion



If you want to create something that IS tied to an existing RPG then worth looking at the Community Content Programmes on DriveThru.

Three things to consider.

1. If you're planning to create products for one of the Community Content Programmes on DriveThruRPG then first you need to decide which one. This page lists all of them -

All of them give you access to their IP and in many cases provide artwork, templates for InDesign, Word and Affinity Publisher to create content and a variety of other resources.

This is really important to consider when creating something.  If you're wanting to write for a specific RPG then it's an easier decision to make because you are actually writing for that RPG.  If you don't want to lose that 15% or 20% then you have to ensure that what you produce doesn't infringe on copyrights or at the very least uses Open Gaming content.

2. The trade off is in the Earnings %.

In the main the Royalty % is 50% although there is one exception I could find (Savage Worlds) and a few where I couldn't find the %  on the DriveThru website (those in italics).  I'd err on the side of those being 50% too though.

Community Content Programmes


Canis Minor (Pugmire)

50% Royalty

Chronicle System Guild (Green Ronin)

??% Royalty

Cypher System Creator Program

50% Royalty

Disciples of the Demon Lord

??% Royalty


50% Royalty

Free League Workshop

50% Royalty

Genesys Foundry

50% Royalty

Gumshoe Community

50% Royalty


50% Royalty

Hero Kids Creator's Guild

50% Royalty

Infiniverse (Torg)

??% Royalty

Jonstown Compendium (Runequest)

50% Royalty

Miskatonic Repository

50% Royalty

Pip Worlds ???

50% Royalty

Savage Worlds Adventurer's Guild

60% Royalty

Scriptorium Aventuris (The Dark Eye)

??% Royalty

Slarecian Vault (Scarred Lands)

50% Royalty

Storypath Nexus

50% Royalty

Storytellers Vault

50% Royalty

Stratosphere (Unknown Armies)

??% Royalty

TinyTrove (Tinyd6)

??% Royalty

Travellers' Aid Society

50% Royalty

WOIN (What's Old Is New)

50% Royalty

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous

50% Royalty

Stuff not listed would include games / systems like Pathfinder, Powered by the Apocalypse and FATE mostly because they either don't share their IP or have no specific IP to share.  If you're using these then you're not using a Community Content Programme and if you publish for these on DriveThruRPG then you're able to take advantage of the Exclusive / Non-Exclusive options above.

3.  If you're publishing D&D 5e compatible material you have 2 options.
  1. DMsGuild
  2. 5e OGL / SRD on DriveThruRPG
The former gives you access to the D&D IP and the dedicated D&D platform for customers that is DMsGuild. Although that's with a 50% royalty.
The latter gives you access to (most of) the core of D&D 5e as a game and gives you 65%-70% royalty. Although that's with being in a marketplace (DriveThruRPG) that isn't targeted at the D&D community.

That said it is worth noting that if the OGL / SRD approach means you can publish stuff wherever you like whether that's or Kickstarter or frankly anywhere.  DMsGuild produced stuff can only be sold via DMsGuild.

Beyond that we get into the area of ownership of what is created.
It's here that I need to clearly state that I am not a lawyer.

Below is a summary from Travis Legge comparing three such offerings.  Travis also isn’t a lawyer, but he’s been involved in self-publishing for many years so certainly a good guide.


The FAQ states, “Wizards does not own any of the unique IP that you create in your publications. Wizards does own the IP that they contribute, plus the DMs Guild agreement will grant Wizards and other DMs Guild authors a license to use your IP.

That said, if your work merits incorporation into canon, Wizards will contact you about purchasing your IP outright.”

What this means is that if you create a Wizard named Blinky McScuzzlefort and in an adventure you create for the Dungeon Masters Guild, you have Blinky McScuzzlefort get kidnapped by Mind Flayers (A Wizards of the Coast IP property) that you own Blinky McScuzzlefort and Wizards keeps ownership of Mind Flayers.

If Wizards wants to later use Blinky McScuzzlefort in a book they create called “Blinky McScuzzlefort’s Guide to Stuff” they have to purchase that intellectual property from you in order to do so. This seems to confuse a lot of people, but it is really that simple.


This is the part of the OGL that new creators seem to find the most challenging. When you publish under the OGL, you effectively split your content into two types, which you must clearly designate in the title or legal page of your text.

The first type of content is Open Game Content, which is game systems, rules, numbers, stat blocks, etc. This is effectively added to the SRD in terms of ability for people to draw from and use in their own publications. It becomes open source. Anyone can use it, so long as they follow the guidelines laid out in the Open Game License.

The second type of content is Product Identity. Product identity is generally Proper Nouns, setting elements, trade dress, storylines, and other non-system items, which you retain ownership and copyright over. Others using the Open Game License can reuse your Open Game Content, but they cannot use your Product Identity.

Slarecian Vault / Canis Minor

These community content programs each list specifics regarding the Product Identity you are allowed to use and the ramifications of publishing under these programs. The Slarecian Vault FAQ, available here, explicitly states that Onyx Path owns the content you create under the Slarecian Vault. This is not the place to publish ideas that you wish to retain ownership of. You won’t.

The Canis Minor FAQ, available here, makes the same stipulation. In effect, you are using their Product Identity to contribute to their Product Identity. This is something to be aware of and create accordingly.

If protecting ownership of any Community Content you create is important to you, worth reviewing the wording of these FAQs etc very carefully.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Day 366 of Year 2020...

It has been 31 days since my last post and it also happens to be the last day of 2020.

As far as leap years go, it has been a year full of challenge and no doubt many people will be keen for it to be over with as soon as possible.

While looking forward to 2021, I have some hesitation about how quickly things will improve with respect to the pandemic, politics, and ongoing aspects of other things 2020 will be remembered for.

But this blog is not about those things and I am not planning to change that any time soon.

Let us talk about tabletop games.

I usually start one of these with a reflection on the year gone but I think my most recent posts do that for me.

Some brief highlights?

AlbaCon was a success and raised over £3,000 for an amazing charity.

I published Unsettled Ground. An adventure for Dungeons & Dragons on DMsGuild after taking part in the RPG Writer Workshop.

The Dungeons & Dragons Scotland Facebook Group has grown from 0 to 725 members and the associated D&D Scotland Discord Server now has multiple games running on it every week. Not bad. Naturally there was a big upturn of members after March...

I’ve DM’d more sessions of RPGs than I have since my teens including continuing to DM two ongoing D&D campaigns and running several intro sessions of D&D at work and for friends looking to explore RPGs. My two campaigns are made up of:

  • Homebrew set in Forgotten Realms with some flavourings of my own. We hit two years of running this in October and successfully migrated to playing online back in March.

  • The other is a run through of Season 9 of Adventurers League – Avernus Rising.

I’ve also played more RPGs than ever including playing in games of the Eberron - Oracle Of War storyline with Shane, Pete, Iain and Ian run by Rich.  Fabulous people I would usually only get to see at events like UK Games Expo but thanks to the wonders of online gaming I have the pleasure of spending time with them semi-regularly.

Probably worth a few hobby related lowlights too? Although in the grand scheme of things these really are not that important…

Lots of conventions were cancelled, including Tabletop Scotland 2020.

I haven’t played a board game since March, largely due to East Neuk Tabletop being on hiatus.

So with 2021 on the horizon, what plans do I have?


If (and it's a BIG if) in-person events are actually possible in 2021 then my plan is to go to the following: AireCon, Conpulsion, UK Games Expo, GenCon, Glasgow Games Festival and I plan to finally go to Dragonmeet.  That’s with organising Tabletop Scotland 2021 and AlbaCon 2021.

If in-person events are not possible then I’ll look at attending an equal number of online conventions, although most likely to play RPGs.

Other stuff?

After completing the RPG Writer Workshop I intend to write & publish at least 3 more DMsGuild products & maybe some other non-D&D stuff too.  I’d like that number to be nearer 6 but that’s going to be dependent on available time which will be driven by whether Tabletop Scotland goes ahead or not.  I fully expect to take part in the RPG Writer Workshop events in July and November 2021 either way.

Alongside continuing to run my alternating D&D Tuesday campaigns I want to run at least 6 games other than D&D for more than a one-shot.  Now that’s not with the intention of starting up another campaign but more a case of running short (2 to 4 sessions maybe) arcs.  What games?  Damn good question…

Night’s Black Agents – Unlikely to be the Dracula Dossier (given the session constraint above) but want to run a short arc, likely one of the published ones.

The Expanse or Ashen Stars or maybe both.  They can offer similar play experiences but are different both in setting and play style.

Mutant City Blues or something else that’s police procedural. Maybe 2021 is the year I run Cthulhu?

I’d like to run some Savage Worlds although unsure what setting I’d use.  I could use this as an opportunity to write some Savage Worlds stuff as I have run games of it at cons "back in the day".

Plus it’s about time I tried out 2d20 (maybe Star Trek?), Cypher, Cortex and a couple of other systems to see if they work for me.

Typing that up highlights the challenge I’m setting but I think it’s doable.  Especially if my roleplaying remains online exclusively.  52 weeks in the year. If I run 3 sessions on average for 6 games that is 18 sessions.

Something tells me I’ll be reflecting on failure with this challenge but that’s why it’s a challenge!

Before I wrap up it’s probably worth reflecting on my Objectives & Principles...

Objectives :

  1. Balanced gaming – This is very RPG centric now.  Nothing wrong with that and a complete u-turn on previous times I’ve checked it.
  2. More gaming overall – So, I think I’m still doing this.  Between the campaigns and running one-shot demos of D&D I think I’m “up” on previous years albeit RPG only.  Board gaming has stopped and likely will remain thus until ENT can return.
  3. More involved – Interesting one this. Conventions help with this a lot and now with a plan to publish more RPG material I think this will develop further.
  4. Event Attendance – Technically I attended 5 conventions this year.  All of them were online.
  5. Organise Events – AlbaCon is the shining light for this.  I may revisit other ideas in 2021 depending on how things pan out.

Principles :

  1. Only buy it if you're going to use it – Well this took a nosedive in March / April. When the first lockdown came, I started to buy more board games. Partly because I wanted to support Scotland's FLGS’ but also because I wanted some retail therapy. I stopped buying board games shortly thereafter and instead bought a lot of RPG books. Mostly D&D books but also other RPGs and lots of PDFs…
  2. Is everyone having fun? Including you? – Continues to be key and is a regular topic when people ask me for advice on running RPGs.
  3. Accept that you're going to be the GM – I called this an eternal principle a few years back. It still is and something I’m still very comfortable with. Getting to play is nice though 😉.
  4. Change is a good thing and is necessary – This one has never been more evident than now. I’ve historically been resistant to playing RPGs online but when it became the only option, I embraced it.
  5. Opinions aren't as important as knowledge and experience – This remains to be a truth for me. I continue to value input from lots of people, moreso when it comes to feedback on conventions I organise and of course with the release of Unsettled Ground. That said, I continue to reserve the right to ignore opinions in favour of relying on knowledge and experience!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Day 335 of Year 2020...

So it's been 3 days since I last posted here. That's got to be the shortest time between posts for a LONG time!

So what's happened?

My adventure, Unsettled Ground, has been published on DMsGuild! Exciting!

Not only that, but people are buying it!