View Full Version : OGL Distribution of PFS scenarios

September 2nd, 2013, 23:31
We all know that one of the major complaints from current or potential PFS GMs (other than PFS chronicle sheets/admin) is the time it takes to prepare a PFS scenario in Fantasy Grounds.

I've been toying with an idea for a while, and I'd like to give it a test run to see how feasible it is.

As most of you know, Pathfinder is covered by the Open Gaming License (OGL) which allows some free distribution rights, but this only covers game mechanics, not Paizo intellectual property (termed product identity in the OGL). Essentially, we can freely distribute NPC/Creature stats, game related mechanics (spells, traps, items, class descriptions, feats, skill descriptions, etc., etc.) but we can't distribute artwork, storylines, text, etc. from a PDF. This leaves us with a problem whereby we can distribute portions of a scenario we may have already prepared in FG, but not everything that is needed by a GM to run the game. This is the case even if someone can prove they have purchased the PDF as well.

Soooooo, I've been thinking of a way of providing a PFS scenario with all of the OGL stuff included, but a lot of the other stuff not there but ready to be plugged in. This was done a while back when we ran PFS out of a Yahoo group - but this didn't allow for story links, shortcut pins on maps, etc..

So, what I am trying is this. I will, in the next post, distribute a PFS scenario in the form of a FG Campaign directory. This will include a lot of nice things that can be distributed as part of the OGL:

Creature statblocks.
NPC encounters.
Treasure parcels (if appropriate).
Numbered story entries for key sections/locations within the scenario with the product identity content removed.
Hanging links to product identity sections that will need to be added to the campaign by the end user/GM.
OGL and Community use statements to allow distribution of OGL content and to allow the use of Paizo names under the community use policy.

What will be removed is:

All maps/artwork.
Story entries - mostly boxed text, faction related information, knowledge check text, etc..

Links to the "stuff" that has been removed will remain, and this is where the "clever" (hopefully) bit comes in... As this is a campaign, it is expecting image/map files with a specific name - so, if the new GM extracts images from the scenario PDF and puts them into the campaign with exactly the same names as the ones that have been removed then FG will pick them up and use them as if they were never removed. This allows for pushpin shortcuts on maps, linked story entries with maps and creature images. Essentially, all of the basics to allow the GM to run the adventure in FG - they'll still have to refer to the scenario PDF to actually run it, but all of the nice stuff will be ready to go in FG. If the GM wants to enter boxed text to drag to the chat window they can, and they can edit/expand the FG campaign structure as they like.

I'm really hoping this will work and won't be too complex. In theory, this will allow a GM to do PFS FG prep with a fully OGL/Community use compliant campaign produced by someone else within 30 minutes. That's the aim! :)

September 2nd, 2013, 23:32
This is the first example of an OGL/Community use compliant PFS scenario that can be distributed and then used with a small amount of work...


Steps to get this working:

Download the above attachment - this is a zipped campaign directory.
Copy the attachment to the <FG App Data Folder>\campaigns directory and unzip. It should create a new directory called "PFS 4-18 Veteran's Vault - OGL Distribution"
DO NOT LOAD THE CAMPAIGN WITHIN FG AT THIS TIME. Otherwise the image links will be broken.
Look at the table below - this details the images that need to be extracted from Paizo PDFs and put into the \images directory of the new campaign. It is important that the exact filename listed is used for these images otherwise FG will not link them to the correct entries within the campaign.
Go to each of the PDFs in turn and extract the images - how you do this will depend on what PDF reader you use. At the least, Adobe Read allows you to left-click on the image to highlight it, right-click and select "Copy" then open up an image editing program and copy the image into that program. Then, save the image as a JPEG with the filename listed in the table below.
Once you have done *all* of the images from the table below (some are optional - these are usually creature images from other Paizo PDFs which can add flavour to the adventure) and saved them with the correct filenames in the new campaign \images directory, you can now load the campaign in Fantasy Grounds.
Load the campaign in Fantasy Grounds. Check that all of the images in the Maps & Images window have been loaded OK. Look through the story entries - for example, "A1. An Aberrant Bargain" this will have a section for box text to be copied from the PDF and also 4 links - the first and last link to images, try these and see if they work. If they don't then the chances are you haven't used the correct filenames for the images from the table below, or haven't saved them in the JPEG format in the correct campaign \images directory.
Open up any map images and enable the shortcut layer - you should see some red pushpins that link to story entries with more detail.
Add in any box text you want from the scenario to the story entries.
That's it - you should be ready to go!

Page & Image
Image filename

The Veteran’s Vault PFS Scenario PDF

4 - Venture-Captain Canayven Heidmarch portrait
Canayven Heidmarch.jpg

5 - Sascha Antif-Arah portrait
Sascha Antif-Arah.jpg

6 – Korvosan Sewers maps

7 – Togg creature image

11 – Abandoned Vault map
Abandoned Vault.jpg

14 – Mifra creature image
Little Dudette.jpg


Pathfinder Bestiary PDF

55 – Darkmantle creature image
Black flat thing.jpg

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 PDF

142 – Jinkin creature image
Little dude.jpg

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 PDF

131 – Globster creature image
Blue Sludge Person.jpg

177 Fungus Leshy creature image
Fungus Guy.jpg

September 2nd, 2013, 23:32
Let me know any thoughts on this and how using the above example in post #2 goes.

If this works and the community feels is an acceptable/usable way of distributing PFS scenarios then I will refine and document the process to produce the OGL/Community use compliant campaign.

September 3rd, 2013, 00:29
Sorry to be negative, but my first thought is what does Mike and John have to say about this. In essence it is cheating, while still within the scope of legal. Not that it's a big deal, but Paizo might not want a Venture Lieutenant openly endorsing it.

September 3rd, 2013, 00:49
While it makes sense to verify with Mike and John - and fully admitting that official positions may have changed - I did pose the question to Paizo when we started doing something very similar 2 years back. The position at the time was that this was ok so long as the artwork and Paizo IP were not included (namely artwork, maps and story) and further provided that the Community Use Policy was displayed. The biggest time save was in providing the NPC stat entries. I like the idea of starting this up again - but for me personally - the majority of the time save is with the NPC entries....Ill work with the template provided and see if that provides an additional lift I had not expected.

Edit: Here's the thread where Mark Moreland responded to my questions:http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2n028?Can-Event-Organizers-Provide-Scenarios-to-GMs#12
In summary, I relied on his following statement that the process was acceptable "So most of the work in making a VTT campaign file can be done and distributed, just not the PDF itself, nor any artwork or maps not included in the Community Use Package or blog/web fiction."

September 3rd, 2013, 01:23
Sorry to be negative, but my first thought is what does Mike and John have to say about this. In essence it is cheating, while still within the scope of legal. Not that it's a big deal, but Paizo might not want a Venture Lieutenant openly endorsing it.
Everything that is being released here is completely under the OGL and community use policy. No one can run the PFS scenario with just this FG campaign - they need to purchase the PDF to be able to get the information required to run the scenario which includes data that is classed as product identity.

I'm not sure how you think this is "cheating" perhaps you could explain more? Have you had a look at what is in the FG campaign I included above?

September 3rd, 2013, 01:40
Just out of curiosity, has anyone asked Paizo recently if they would allow Smiteworks to sell the PFS modules? They might be more open to it now that they've created an online VC.

September 3rd, 2013, 02:21
I'm not sure how you think this is "cheating" perhaps you could explain more?

Not sure I can. It just feels like something that Mark and John would consider taboo. I did look at what you were providing and there was nothing wrong with it. But that's the same argument as saying that hosting a torrent file is okay since you are not hosting an illegal file, just pointing to where one should be. Technically this is true, but people still go all crazy about it.

If Paizo is fine with scenario shells, then I'm all for it. (Even though I don't run PFS anymore.)

September 3rd, 2013, 02:31
I think this can only be a good thing.Id be happy to strip my modules down and share if it helps.

September 3rd, 2013, 02:34
But that's the same argument as saying that hosting a torrent file is okay since you are not hosting an illegal file, just pointing to where one should be. Technically this is true, but people still go all crazy about it.
Err, I don't see how this torrent analogy has anything to do with what I am proposing here. In fact, I find it rather insulting that you would use such an analogy as it infers that what I am doing is like a torrent file and therefore is borderline illegal (if not completely illegal). The OGL scenario content in this campaign is not referencing any illegal or copyright protected material anywhere, nor is it providing links to such material.

The whole point of the OGL is that people can re-use and distribute OGL content. PFS scenarios are released under the OGL.

I will say again - all of this content is completely within the OGL and Paizo community use policy, I include both in the campaign as story entries which is required both for the OGL and Paizo community use policy. This FG scenario material is completely useless without having purchased the scenario PDF - it is impossible to run the PFS scenario with this OGL campaign without purchasing the scenario PDF from Paizo.

September 3rd, 2013, 03:04
I'm sorry you find it insulting. Wasn't my intention. But you explain my reaction better than I could. Your response to the idea of a torrent file is precisely what I was talking about. Torrents aren't illegal and neither are the files they point to, unless the IP owner states that electronic versions of their product is not allowed. I agree MOST torrents are used by people that don't have a right to electronic version of owned property (due to not owning the property) and that the act of using the torrent to gain a file is illegal for those people, but that doesn't mean that the torrent file is illegal.

Feel free to delete my posts in this thread. I wasn't questioning the validity of what you're doing and certainly not discouraging it. My initial question was whether Paizo would view this as a legitimate legal way to share part of one of their products or would they view it as something close to trying to illegally distribute (even though it is not) due to not fully understanding. Talen answered that by showing what they thought of the idea of scenario shells.

Like I said, if Paizo is fine with scenario shells, then I'm all for it.

September 3rd, 2013, 08:05
I think its a good idea if it gets more people running games. I personally would be happy with just the mod file for the NPC's. I run and prep my PFS games in a fairly mifairly minimal manner- npc stats and images and cut and paste into the chat window or read out loud all the flavour text. Also using torrent technology in it self isn't illegal in most places in the world yet. I have oftern torrented Linux distributions and i seem to remember World of Arcraft used to use torrents for updates

September 5th, 2013, 10:27
I find it kind of funny that Paizo would have any problem with copyright issues with their fan basses using their product to peruse more options for their consumers. The fact that Dungeons and Dragons decided to pull all their protected copyright information is specifically why Paizo had such a large fan base to begin with. The whole idea of allowing third party participants to put things out, only expands their growth. What I would like to see is Paizo getting in-bed with Fantasy Grounds and developing, selling, and expanding this online option. I know they will do stuff like this, and Hero Labs is the perfect example. I'm for it and I think I might give it a shot. Look at me I'm going to buy another scenario seeing I don't have this one!

September 5th, 2013, 11:01
I don't think thats going to happen as paizo are play testing a VTT at the moment whose unique selling point will no doubt be the integration with any paizo product you have previously purchased.