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Thread: Trek RPG rights / "publisher wannabe

  1. #1
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    Trek RPG rights / "publisher wannabe

    Hello all,

    Just out of the blue from someone not very often around the forum...

    Let's say, someone would be quite happy with how he shaped a little campaign and would like to push the whole thing far enough to become a proper Star Trek Campaign book.

    What are the possibilities? Who should that person get in touch with? Who owns the right for Star Trek as a tabletop RPG?

    By proper book I mean something actually published somehow.

    Not "just" a digital book than can be downloaded freely.

    By the way, I have a big respect for those working on digital free supplements.

    I just find netbooks are not as visible as lines supported by a publisher. It is quite sad that Star Trek as a game is so discreet among all the RPGs available.

    Anything coming up on that front?

  2. #2
    I'm sure that there's been inquiries by publishers to Paramount since the 2009 movie, but the fact that nobody's announced anything means that the numbers probably aren't working out for them.
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

  3. #3
    Firstly. I am not a laywer so none of the following has ANY legal bearing outside of my own fevered imagination.

    As TDK points out you would need to get in touch with Paramount and set up a licencing agreement FIRST. Remember Trek is their property as are the profits, so if you wanted to publish a Campaign book then they would need to approve first.

    Second which syatem as those too are owned proprietary; Coda, ICON,and FASA might all be dead product lines but someone would own the IP for the games and they too would be entitled to a say.

    I suspect that in this day and age this would prove rather costly and not particularly cost effective, especially as campaign books are (IMO) secondary to setting and rulebooks. I personally would rather write my own.

    Publishing this too would cost to put a print run out.

    If you want to make money. My advise would be to strip out the setting and rules specific details and self publish as an ebook. (you could make it chargable, but if you dont have a hook or a reputation then it might not be too profitable either).

    TBH I cannot really see this being a good news scenario, I write the free ebooks as a hobby and a labour of love, so thats why I dont charge for them...
    DanG/Darth Gurden
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  4. #4
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    Thank you both for your answers.

    Would BOTH the agreement of Paramount AND whatever company owning the IP for RPG be needed?

    I would have assumed that when you have the IP you can publish anything provided it does not impair the brand/licence.

    In any case the situation seems to be that it is a mystery who owns Star Trek RPG IP.

    Any idea if there’s a way to find out.

    Dan, I don't feel it is bad news. Well... what I mean is that I did not expected anything fundamentally different. Also I did not expect such venture to be profitable.

    I guess what would motivate me, not to go to down the "create own alternate setting and rules" path, is that it would feel more "legitimate/official".

    I realise how difficult that probably is to be officially related in some form. However I feel it is worth checking out before considering it to just be impossible.

    I guess what would be really cool, could be a Star Trek RPG designed à la D&D Next with an involvement from the Trek and/or RPG community (although the RPG trek community is more limited than for D&D)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gurden View Post
    I suspect that in this day and age this would prove rather costly and not particularly cost effective, especially as campaign books are (IMO) secondary to setting and rulebooks.
    I actually couldn't disagree more on that point.

    I really see a limited interest of setting book or rulebooks for Star Trek.

    Rulebooks:
    At least three dedicated systems are already available and there are plenty of generic systems available. More importantly there is quite a trend for more narrative gameplay and RPG and I feel it matches quite well Star Trek which could be very narrative and rules light.

    Setting books:
    Do we really need any more setting books for the Trek Universe? There are already plenty of them.
    Anyway do you actually need any when you have Memory Alpha and Memory Beta? I barely touched my ICON collection since I have started my campaign. A quick look at the Way of Kolinhar and recently another to Price of Freedom to sort out how the Federation Government is working.

    Ok, I will counter argue my own point. Setting books can be interesting when they develop history details and concept which cannot be found out there. For instance, I have read for instance very interesting ideas on Klingon Sourcebook section of this forum.

    Otherwise in the age of the internet and for such a popular setting as Star Trek I don’t see much interest for setting books.

    Campaign book:
    Now that is something I have not found out there. The closest thing to it was “A Fragile Peace” and I did not find it very impressive.

    Please tell me if I have missed a proper trek campaign available to play somewhere.

    I didn’t find many and the official Adventures were not of a very quality either.

    Last edited by Kalum666; 12-14-2013 at 06:18 AM. Reason: Was not satisfied with a couple sentences.

  5. #5
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    Looking around the internet I have read that either Mongoose or Wizkid might hold the rights.

    the New Star Trek RPG

  6. #6
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    Mongoose is doing a Traveller variant for Prime Directive, which is a different license, not using the Star Trek name. Prime Directive is set in the Satrfleet Battles universe, and is licemsedthrough the Franz Joseph Designs TM, and cannot do anything beyong TOS/TAS.

    Wizkida owns Decipher, and that bird has flown.

    There is no current Star Trek RPG license out there - period.

    If someone were to get the Star Trek RPG license and wanted to reprint the LUG materials, they would have to buy the LUG materials from Wizards of the Coast, and I don't think Wizards woul be amenable.

    I think you're just pissing into the wind... Sorry, but I don't think there;s a snowball's chance in hell of reviving LUG's ICON system.

  7. #7
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    Well I did not say anything about reviving ICON.

    Also sorry if what I wrote sounds somewhat pretentious or delusional.

    My hope was that someone would have the rights to Star Trek RPG.

    I would have been curious to try to get in touch with them.

    Anyway thank you very much Owen for this update

  8. #8
    I think its one of those oddities where the licence remains a valuable commodity even though the owner has no intention of doing anything with it.

    I am sorry but I think the real trick here is that you want to publish and sell the product. And in the world of licenced materials thats the big no-no.

    The real problem (as I recall) is that they HAVE to sue over any IP rights, if they dont they loose their protection. So even if this is not profitable, and even if the legal action costs more than they recopup if they see someone selling unlicenced product they have to take legal action.

    As for system. There are indded 4 systems , FASA, ICON, Coda, and Prime Directive, along with Paramount as the Trek Licence holder too. All of which would be protected. If you made a multi system product you risk hitting all 5, if its a non system specific trek setting that'kll be Paramount.

    If you want to get in touch with an active product line in the hopes of joining the team or selling a freelance product that would be Prime Directive only as all the other lines are out of production.

    Good God this is all so negative and depressing that there is no more official product for this game.

    I am sorry if the frustration over these business decisions seems to be oh so negative.
    DanG/Darth Gurden
    The Voice of Reason and Sith Lord

    “Putting the FUNK! back into Dysfunctional!”

    Coming soon. The USS Ganymede NCC-80107
    "Ad astrae per scientia" (To the stars through knowledge)

  9. #9
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    First the IANAL disclamer: I am not a lawyer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gurden View Post
    The real problem (as I recall) is that they HAVE to sue over any IP rights, if they dont they loose their protection. So even if this is not profitable, and even if the legal action costs more than they recopup if they see someone selling unlicenced product they have to take legal action.
    They have to sue over any infringement that might dilute a trademarks, as a diluted trademark are lost. If the ownership of the trademark is acknowledged, they don't have to sue to keep it. They may however sue because it is used in a way they don't approve of.

    Copyright is not lost if not defended. But not taking action might reduce the odds of getting any money out of a later court case against someone else. Fanfiction, as an example, is not legal because it is distributed for free; it is not usually taken action against because quite a few copyright holders think it is cute and flattering, and good marketing as it creates a buzz.

    The actual game mechanics would fall under patent law. But I would be surprised if anyone would have put in the effort and funds required (even under U.S. patent law...) to file for a patent.

    I don't know if having a "compatible with..." on the back of the cover would require a license/permission from the trademark holder. So it might be possible to legally make a module compatible with several systems without their permissions. But then would would have to get the license from Paramount. If something in the module is based on something a RPG company added to "the expanded universe", then it might fall under their copyright as well.

    What might be possible is to see if it could be done as a Prime Directive module. Then releasing a free document with the stats needed for the other systems.

  10. #10
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    I know this is all starting to sound like a line from Kelly's Heroes - "What's wit' all dem negative waves?", but doing a fannish series of netbooks is the only way open to you these days. Definitely put in a disclaimer stating that Star Trek is owned by Paramount et al, and so forth, and a notice that each system you give stats for is owned by FASA/LUG/Decipher/ADB/whatever.

    Some of the bfannish netbooks out there are quite decent, if not always up to professional standards. Some, like Spacedock, are actually done by professionals (Spacedock was originally going to be released by LUG until they went under, and Steve Long graciously allowed it to be released in .PDF format since he still owned the text, even going so far as to keep expanding it with 5 SRMs and the DWS - Thank you Steve!). You can't sell them as that WILL bring the wrath of Paramount down on you, but they're usually fairly tolerant of fannish netbooks.

  11. #11
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    Not to muddy the waters any more, but I thought the Viacom/CBS split included a fracturing of the Star Trek franchise. The TV rights for Star Trek rest with CBS, if I remember the mess correctly, and I heard that included the licensing rights for products not directly associated with the movies. If true, it wouldn't be Paramount, but CBS, with whom you would inquire.
    Davy Jones

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  12. #12
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    Well thank you all again for your answers

    I don't find them discouraging as I did not expect a brighter picture.

    What a troubled IP Star Trek seems to be...

  13. #13
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    As was pointed out the licensing is a bit if a mess with a split between Paramount and CBS.

    More importantly I would not at all be surprised to see Fantasy Flight Games put out a RPG in the near future. They already are involved with WizKids in the production of a new combat board game. Given the success they are having with the Star Wars license I could easily see them make that leap using the existing game engine from Edge of the Empire.

    Heck I've been debating coming up with a Star Trek hack myself.


    Yancy
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