Announcing: the Sixth History Community Licence

How It Is

Something about the Secret Histories enthuses people. Fanworks, fiction, commentary, art; I’ve lost count of the number of TRPG homebrew rules projects I’ve seen. For a long time, our take on this was sure, it’s nice to see this kind of thing, use our stuff… as long as you’re not making any money out of it, because our IP is our livelihood, and we need to protect it.

But a few months ago I had a conversation with a smallish YTer who wanted to do actual-play videos with their own Secret Histories-based content. I said, sure, as long as you’re not making any money out of it… they said, well, we make a little bit out of ads. I pressed for details and when they said it was literally only a couple of dollars a month, I immediately felt abashed.

Lottie and I began to realise two things. Firstly, we get a lot of these sort of borderline requests – can I run a LRP based on your work and charge to cover costs, can I use your tarot deck to do professional readings, can I do DeviantArt commissions – and our answer is nearly always yes, but it’s often complicated and we have to think about it. And secondly, we really don’t mind if a semi-pro or even pro creator pays the rent using our IP, as long as it doesn’t hurt our own ability to pay our own rent. And if someone does really well and helps grow the audience, so much the better.

But what, people always ask, if Hollywood calls and then their lawyers say the IP situation is too complicated? Bugger Hollywood. We got optioned for TV a few years ago, did I ever mention that? Like most options, it never went into production, and I realised afterwards how relieved I was. Even though the people involved (a) were clearly nice and smart and (b) had actually played Cultist. If the upside of community licensing is that people make interesting things, and the downside is that we damage the remote possibility of a someday deal which would make us, eh, about as much money as a really successful piece of DLC in exchange for titrating away a quarter-soul’s worth of our distinctiveness over several subjective years of meetings… I lost my thread. You get the gist.

How It’s Going To Be

So we started talking about permissive licensing. This is where we ran into a snag. It’s the lore – the background, the story, the mysteries – that most attracts people. A lot of you want to write your own answers to the questions posed by Cultist Simulator et al. But we designed a lot of those gaps and mysteries very carefully, and we need to be sure there’s a clean distinction between Weather Factory answers, and everyone else’s.

Here’s what we came up with. There is not only one History, as they say.  The known Secret Histories are five in number. So if there were an unsanctioned, unknown, unlawed Sixth History… it would be your playground.

We’ve talked to our lawyers and we’re finalising the licence details. We’ll release the licence next week but basically:

You’ll be able to use the Secret Histories setting as a basis for your own TRPG, board game, app, fiction, art commission…and earn money from it, up to a limit of 50K GBP p.a… without needing to check with us… as long as you follow the licence, particularly by using the Sixth History logo to make clear it’s not an official Weather Factory project.

That’s the tl:dr;  but for God’s sake do read the whole license, don’t skip bits, if you’re planning a project along these lines. (And of course this is meant for small-scale works. If you’re thinking of proposing a serious commercial project that may make more than the revenue limit, or if it needs our direct creative involvement, like the Mysterious Package Company’s super-deluxe Lady Afterwards, or the Locksmith’s Dream, then you’ll still need to talk to us, and we don’t usually agree more than one of these a year.)

Where’s the licence again?

We’ll link to it when it goes live on Monday 28th November 2022.

I have other questions!

r/weatherfactory on Thursday 1st December 2022 at 6PM GMT. Bring snacks and a post-work drink! Or if you’re in America and it’s therefore early in the day, I don’t know, bring porridge.

on Announcing: the Sixth History Community Licence

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