At long last, Issaries Inc have brought out their Fan Material Policy. This has been talked about since before Continuum, 2004, and has been making the rounds in one form or another for quite a while. It has just been released. You can find the Fan Material Policy at www.glorantha.com/inc/FanMaterialPolicy.pdf In the course of this article, I will be quoting from the Fan Policy. The policy may change and the quotes may become invalid. These quotes were taken from the policy as it was in March 2005. If the policy has changed and I have not updated the article, please treat this as comment on the evolution of the fan policy as well as the policy in its current form.
At first glance, this seemed innoccous enough, but as I read more and more, I realised that this was a very disturbing document indeed. In fact, there were some things here that I thought would stop people writing things for Glorantha and HeroQuest.
Limited Use of Proprietary Material
This section basically lays down rules for using material from published Issaries supplements. It seems to me that it specifically outlaws paraphrasing of the material. So if I wanted to use, say, a HeroBand from the Masters of Luck and Death, perhaps Berinda's Daughters, I could not give a quick and dirty summary of the HeroBand, I would have to make quotes of less than 250 words. I couldn't include the Functions in a character sheet or the HeroBand Keyword as these are classed as Proprietary Material.
In the past, most articles have relied on using information from published sources. I first thought thast this included parts of keywords, but these are specifically excluded later on.
"any use or reuse of proprietary maps, diagrams, illustrations, or
similar graphic elements is outside the scope of “limited use,” and requires
separate evaluation by
ISSARIES. Any redrawing or modifications of proprietary maps, diagrams, illustrations, or similar elements is outside the scope of “limited use,” and requires separate evaluation by ISSARIES. (See Section 2C. “Incorporation or Derivative Use of Proprietary Material” and Section 2E. “Creation of Original Material” for guidelines.)" means that we cannot take a map and add clan names or locations, for instance. Nor, because of the prohibition against redrawing, can we take existing maps, cut them together and make a new map, even if we draw the map ourselves. Does this mean that Issaries will draw all the maps for Glorantha? I very much doubt it.
Incorporation or Derivative Use of Proprietary Material
This is another interesting section. Basically, we now need a licence to make things up based on anything in Issaries' material. So, going back to the earlier example, if I wrote up one of the resources of Berinda's Daughters, perhaps Hengalla Two-Axe, I would need permission to do so.
"Permission must be obtained from ISSARIES to incorporate or make
any derivative use of Proprietary Material. (See “E.
Creation of Original Material” below for guidelines on what does not require approval; anything not indicated in that
section requires approval.) The types of use that are considered to incorporate or make derivative use of Proprietary
Material include, but are not limited to:
To use more than 250 words in the work or to make any changes to text.
To substantially expand previous Proprietary Material (such as a description of a person, place, creature, entity, event, or object).
To use or modify any illustration.
To use, modify, redraw, incorporate information on, or extend any existing map, or to create a map of an area described but previously unmapped in Proprietary Material."
So, making a map of an area only mentioned in a supplement requires a licence and prior approval from Issaries.
"The creation of partial or complete rules systems adapting Glorantha
to any rule system other than HeroQuest, Hero
Wars, or RuneQuest, or the adapting of HeroQuest, Hero Wars, or RuneQuest to any published or proprietary game
setting other than Glorantha, may involve copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property not owned by ISSARIES.
Any such project must be submitted to ISSARIES for approval. The submission (and any approved publication or
dissemination) must include proper copyright and trademark notices, and must include a “Release of Liability” Statement
(see Section 5)."
This includes adapting material from the Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods games,
converting them to HeroQuest and so on. It also includes anything for Alternate
Earth or for people's home-cooked RuneQuest campaigns.
E. Creation of Original Material
"Fan publication of wholly Original Material is encouraged by ISSARIES. As long as the Original Material follows the
terms and guidelines of this policy and uses no Proprietary Material, it need not be submitted for approval due to the
content (but may still have to be submitted for approval for other reasons, such as the form of publication or the terms of a
So we can still write new material, as long as it doesn't refer to anyhting else written by Issaries.
"It may be difficult to determine whether material is wholly original
or is derivative of Proprietary Material, so we offer
guidelines hereafter. These are guidelines only, not absolutes, and if you are in doubt as to the wholly original nature of
your material, you must submit it to ISSARIES for approval."
You may use the names of persons, places, creatures, entities, events, objects, or other concepts as previously published or
approved by ISSARIES (and its predecessors or licensees). Such “concept use” does not of itself make the work derivative
of Proprietary Material."
This actually makes sense, as everyone writing Gloranthan/HeroQuest/RuneQuest
material does this all the time.
"You may not directly contradict established information previously
published by ISSARIES (or its predecessors or
licensees), but you may offer alternative interpretations (see F. Interpretation of Published/Official Sources for guidelines)."
This is surely a joke. This is Gregging, so in future Issaries cannot
contradict previous supplements. It also means that we can't say that something
in published Glorantha is a load of rubbish, so ignore it. Essential rivers,
for instance. What a load of rubbish.
"Guidelines on Original Maps and Diagrams
Unless a map or diagram is wholly original and describes a small area (such as a village or city, an unexplored area of the
Grazelands, or the genealogy of characters newly created for an original scenario), it is unlikely to be Original Material.
Any map that relies upon Proprietary Material (such as a proprietary map or a published text description of a place or
region) is derivative material, and is covered by our copyrights. Such maps must be submitted for approval."
So, if I drew a map based on a description in the Imperial Lunar Handbook
then I am infringing Issaries' Copyrights. So, drawing a map of Bikhy and
showing its ziggurat would break copyright. Hmmm, is this restrictive?
"Guidelines on Original Illustrations
As long as an illustration is of a person, place, creature, entity, event, object, or anything else wholly created by the artist
or another fan, and does not rely on any published illustration, it is not derivative of ISSARIES’ Proprietary Material. Any
illustration that is based in whole or in part on any Proprietary Material is derivative material, and is covered by our
copyrights. Such illustrations must be submitted for approval. A caption or statement to the contrary cannot make an
infringing image into Original Material."
So, a drawing of Harrek and Jar-Eel fighting is not allowed because these are owned by Issaries.
As for licensing, this appears fairly straightforward. One thing that
caught my eye is the Special Cases section. This basically covers articles
that are not for fan-based fanzines and are not for Gloranthan supplements.
So, if I wrote a Gloranthan article for a non-Gloranthan publication, for
instance White Dwarf (ho, ho):
"The submittor must provide to ISSARIES the name and (if possible) issue number and expected publication date of
the publication in which the material will appear, and the name of and contact information for the individual who
accepted the submission.
The submittor must request that the publisher send ISSARIES a copy of the issue that contains the approved material.
If all of these requirements are not or cannot be met, the material cannot be submitted to the Professional Periodical, nonperiodical
Professional Publication, or non-Gloranthan Fan Publication."
So, I must tell Issaries where and when the article will be published and ask the publishers to send Issaries an article, or I will be refused permission to submit the article. Surely some mistake here.
In the Required Statements section, there is only one gem:
“Glorantha is the creation of Greg Stafford. Greg Stafford and Issaries, Inc., reserve the right to use any Gloranthan names,
places, and concepts, from any Original Material, in any future Gloranthan development or publications, without further
credit or payment.”
So, Issaries could use references to the Gord'Un, for instance, without asking me for my consent, and include them in future Issaries material. Presumably the same restrictions apply to them as to us regarding only 250 words, no paraphrasing etc. As it happens, I have no objection to any of my ideas being used in Issaries publications, the Gord'Un have already appeared in Sons of Kargzant, for example, but the principle is there for them to take whatever they need.
And, finally, the Appendices are noticeable by their absence.
A. Policy for Online Fan Sources
B. Policy for Cafepress.com Shops
C. Examples of Submission Process
D. Submission Form
E. Non-Disclosure Form"
It is very difficult to review the online fan sources policy if it is not there for review. Similarly, if I wanted to send something for submission, how do I do it without the forms?
When I first saw the Fan Policy, I saw things in it that were very bad indeed. The Concept of Use clause seemed to imply that Issaries could take things from my material and use them without any regard for copyright, owbnership or whatever. Reading it again and more carefully, it doesn't seem to imply that at all. However, having spoken to several people who have written things for Glorantha in various capacities, a good many of them have said to me that they will no longer be writing Gloranthan material. This makes for a poorer Glorantha.
Glorantha has been in existence for over 30 years. In the beginning, it was purely a series of short stories and articles, then came WB&RM/NG and RuneQuest. There followed a series of publications, some official and some, including Judges Guild, unofficial, but they were supported by fanzines such as Wyrms Footnotes and Differenet Worlds. (I know that WF and DW were associated with Chaosium). Even White Dwarf carried a number of RQ articles. Then came RQ3 and Heroes magazine and a sudden decline in official supplements. There was a period where the only thing keeping Glorantha alive were the fanzines, most notably Tales of the Reaching Moon. Then there was a minor renaissance and some things were published, then nothing. ToTRM, Codex, RQ Adventures, Enclosure and Tradetalk carried on producing RQ material for Glorantha until HeroWars came out. There was a flurry of activity between Hero Wars and HeroQuest with some supplements being produced but most of the supplements were non-Issaries ones. The Pavis/Big Rubble Companions, Thieves Arm, Troll Pak, Tarsh Exiles, Sons of Kargzant, Wintertop Fair were all being produced and were generally better than the Issaries supplements, with the exception of Dragon Pass which was fantastic. Now that Glorantha is on a high, Issaries seems to be turning its back on Fan-based publications and seems to want more official material. Since I know of at least 4 people who have stopped producing non-Issaries material, I can see the wealth of material we have had in the past not being carried forward in the future. What will happen in five years when Issaries shoots itself in the foot, as has happened consistently in the past of Glorantha? Where will the fan communty be? Who will carry Glorantha when that happens? Somehow, I think the answer will be: Nobody. The fan community has carried Glorantha too many times and this Fan Policy may well be the thing that kills off all support for Issaries and Glorantha. In my opinion, it is a mistake.