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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Numenera Has a Limited License For Small Time Publishers at a Cost of 50 Bucks

Maybe at some point I should actually read the game? After I get through my review slush pile and everything else that's occupying me free time...
In an attempt to support the gaming community while still protecting our brand, Monte Cook Games offers a limited, royalty-free license for individuals and publishers interested in producing small-run game material supporting Numenera. 
This is designed to be a hassle-free way for publishers to license small-press products with expected sales of $2,000 or less. 
This Limited License is probably not for you if you’re a fan who wants to create awesome Numenera items for your website, blog or community. You probably want to check out our fan use policy instead. 
This Limited License is also probably not for you if you are large company and/or are hoping to put out a product with expected sales revenues of more than $2,000. In that case, you’ll want to apply for a full licensing partnership from Monte Cook Games.
Here are some of the features of the Limited License: 
**There is a $50 fee. 
**That fee licenses a single print or PDF product supporting Numenera (you can obtain multiple licenses for multiple products). 
**You may sell the product commercially (or release it for free, if you desire). 
**You may not crowdfund the product. 
**You do not need to pay royalties and are not required to report sales unless we request a report. 
**However, this license limits your total sales revenue to $2000. (If you anticipate sales revenue greater than $2000, or if your sales revenues exceed $2000, you’ll need to discuss a full license with us. 
The Monte Cook Games limited license is intended for small-press support products. This is not the entirety of the limited license. If you are interested in pursuing a publication under our limited license and would like additional information about what it entails, please contact Charles Ryan at charles@montecookgames.com.
Not sure what to make of this. Some products may not even make back $50 after expenses...


  1. And what happens if you get waylaid by a product you expected to make $500, but ends up making 30 grand?

    1. You go back, and retroactively negotiate a full license. At least you're covered by the good faith of having used the limited license. If you didn't have the limited license, the Numeneran legal squad can claim you have been acting in bad faith all along, and really screw you over.

      Ultimately, it's a way to allow legal licensure for small publishers without having to negotiate each and every contract. If something really takes off, you're protected up to $2,000 and some legal cover if you're so busy filling orders you forget to get back around to that full license as you make your 2,001st dollar.

      There are grumblings from some people about there being a $50 license, even if you are producing a free product. Yeah, kind of annoying. But by having a small barrier to publishing, hopefully all the poorly cribbed versions of "Fifty Shades of Numenera" will only live in the sick and twisted minds of their creators, and not dilute the accrued goodwill and name recognition that MCG has. Same reason it explicitly forbids Kickstarters. Nobody will complain about being burned by "that damned Numenera project".

    2. if you are selling PDFs, who will know your sales figures but you and OBS?

  2. Compare that to, say, the Goodman Games license for DCC RPG. Ugh.

    1. Is it worth $50 to avoid having to get your product past one busy guy? :)

      I don't know the specifics of the DCC license, but it sounds like it's just an approval process through Joe. The big thing I don't know is anything about royalties, fees, etc. for material created for sale. Maybe there's none, and Goodman expects to make money because there's a more robust (or at least larger) ecosystem around the game.

    2. The DCC license is free - no royalties or fees are attached.

  3. So even if your product is free you have to pay $50? Or am I reading it wrong?

  4. I suspect some legal beagle has no idea just what various decisions regarding games in US courts means.

  5. "Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form."

    So yeah, the written portions of the game such as the fluff and the setting are kept by MCG but the manner in which the game is played, namely the rules, are not copywritten. So one could write an adventure/supplement using the rules set in a Heavy Metal post-Earth bit of weirdness and provided they don't trounce on the setting they ought to be able to avoid any major issues.

    It's an interesting situation. I can see why MCG wants to keep their franchise theirs and keep it safe, but on the other hand given this fee (even for a free product) one could fear they'll develop along the lines of Games Workshop.

    I'm sick enough to want them to go that route, if only so they can fight the guys who made Krull over the word "glaive." Much as Games Workshop tries to claim things like "Space Marine" as their own.

  6. So you can't even post a rule variant on your blog without forking over $50 for the licence? Damn.

  7. 3rd paragraph in the statement:
    'This Limited License is probably not for you if you’re a fan who wants to create awesome Numenera items for your website, blog or community. You probably want to check out our fan use policy instead.'

  8. Rob Donoghue did an interesting article on this license model on his blog (http://walkingmind.evilhat.com/2013/10/08/numenera-licensing/). For my own mind, given that it's a $50 for _each product_, I think this will keep all but the most optimistic 3PPs away from this product.