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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DMs Guild Programs for ALL the RPG Systems! - DriveThruRPG’s Community Content Program adds Cortex Plus

As I surmised when Monte Cook Games announced their creator program in the image of WotC's DMs Guild, Margaret Weis Productions has just announced their program in conjunction with DriveThruRPG.

Before I share the press release, I'd like to make my own observations.

RPG publishers are looking to make a steady cash flow from their creations with little to no effort on their part. If it follows the DMs Guild set up, the writer of the content that is added to the "Community Content Program" get's 50 cents on the dollar (instead of the usual 65 or 70 cents depending on exclusivity) and you won't have control over the content you actually write.

Where does that other 20% go to? The publisher running the Community Content Program. They get 20% for doing nothing.

If you think it was hard to be a freelancer working for an RPG publisher before, wait until the year is out. Community Content Programs are going to be the wave of the future for any publisher with a halfway successful RPG system and a fairly active fan base and the future is now.

That is all.

Announcing Cortex Plus Creator Studio™ 
 Published: Saturday, 02 April 2016 08:16 
Margaret Weis Productions Jumps into DriveThruRPG’s Community Content Program with the announcement of the Cortex Plus Creator Studio™ 
Margaret Weis Productions (MWP) and DriveThruRPG are thrilled to announce a partnership that will offer third party game designers the opportunity to publish Cortex Plus RPG supplements through the Cortex Plus Creator Studio. 
This program will take the place of MWP’s existing Cortex Plus Fan Product and Cortex Plus Official Licensed Product once it launches. The Cortex Plus Creator Studio, which is planned for this Spring, will give creators a chance to share their hacks, settings, and vision using the system outlined in the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, as well as the upcoming Cortex Plus Heroic and Cortex Plus Action core rulebooks. 
Standing alongside Wizards of the Coast’s DMsGuild (which is run by DriveThruRPG) and Monte Cook Games’ just announced Cypher System Creator program, Margaret Weis Productions will allow publishers of any size to offer Cortex Plus RPG supplements for sale on DriveThruRPG.com. Creators will set the price for their work, or may offer their release for free. Individual, small, or large publishers are all welcome under the Cortex Plus Creator Studio parameters. Details of the terms and conditions including royalties, commissions, and revenue shares will be released prior to the formal launch of the program. 
Margaret Weis has this to say - “I believe role-playing game companies are stronger when standing together. We’re thrilled to be joining DriveThruRPG in this program that’s all about those who play our games. We have always listened to our fans, and their feedback and ideas have been incorporated into what we produce. We can’t wait to see what the community creates and how they expand on the characters, adventures, settings and rules through the Cortex Plus Creator Studio.” 
Matt McElroy, Director of Publishing for DriveThruRPG, stated,”The Cortex Plus fanbase have created their own worlds and system hacks for years. This new program will offer opportunities for creators to share their work with other Cortex Plus fans around the world, and help support this beloved system.”

About Margaret Weis Productions: Margaret Weis Productions (MWP) is an award-winning publisher of tabletop roleplaying games. We are perhaps best known for our licensed games created from the worlds of Dragonlance, Serenity, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, Leverage, Marvel and Firefly RPGs. Based in Wisconsin, MWP has been bringing games to fans since 2005. 
The Cortex Plus Creator Studio will launch in Spring 2016.
Notice it allows the use of the system, not any of the licensed settings.


  1. Actually I disagree that the publisher did nothing. They put the work into developing and marketing the system it is their property to do as they see fit.

    Until the introduction of the DM's Guild we had three basic alternatives to RPG IP. 1) Nobody but the original company got to use it. 2) The original company setup a specific license to a third party and treated as a standard business relationship. 3) The company released some or all of their IP under a open content license.

    Now we have a fourth, you can publish what you want as long as it means some loose community guidelines, that is appears in this specific store, and that we get a specific royalty in return. So far it both programs (Cortex, 5e) the writer not the original publisher owns any original IP in the contributed work. But in both programs the writer agree to share his work to anybody else in the program. But anybody using the writer's material won't have permission to use it OUTSIDE of the publishing program.

    My feeling about the general idea is this. For all my works (Majestic Wilderlands, Hexcrawl formatted setting). None of this does anything for me. The fact that the 5e got a SRD under the OGL was a far more interest than the DM's Guild.

    But... I do have some ideas specific to Greyhawk a setting I have some personal attachment as it was the first published setting I ever used. I have some material that I could publish 'as is' if and when that ever get added to the DM's GUild. So it would be of benefit to me and I would get some cash. And in this specific instance, so what they charge 20%. The alternative is what? Yup there is no alternative as Wizards is never going to enter in to a business relationship with me for a license.

    Another reason would be to take advantage of the visibility of the DM's Guild as a form of advertising. I am considering taking a section of the Forgotten Realms and make a hexcrawl formatted setting for it. Of course the product would have in the back an ad for Blackmarsh and the other stuff I write which would continued be published independently. In that case again so what the publisher is charging me 20% on top of OBS' royalty?

  2. The biggest downside here, I think, is that the availability of these marketplaces is going to flood the market with cheaply-produced, poorly-thought-out, untested product. I have near-zero artistic sensibilities, and even I can tell my own stuff (made for the consumption of my players only) looks better than some stuff people are charging for.

    How do you find the good stuff among the dross? Reviews. But most of the products, even those with hundreds of downloads, stand unreviewed. It was bad enough in the 3E days with the glut of poor product; I think it's going to be worse in the days to come.

    1. Very much agreed -- maybe the license holders should kick back some of the money they are earning to hire reviewers who can separate the wheat from the chaff? That could be something they contribute to earn their profit share going forward.

  3. The bigger the surface becomes, the more vast and intricate the underground will be. Grow on top dwellers, grow on.