Gears / AARG

Gears logo I got a message via the contact form on the blog’s About page from someone who has been working on the AARG system for the better part of the last two years.

He read the post about Gears yesterday and got a bit concerned since he thought that it sounds an awful lot like his AARG system. He even gave me a link to the current AARG rules, so I could have a look.

Alas said person forgot to include his name or email address in his message to me, so I have to use this blog post to quell his fears.

Gears is in no way related to AARG. Of course there are a few similarities, but you’ll find similarities between a lot of RPGs on the market. Both system have been developed independently.

If the person working on AARG is reading this, could he please contact me again and provide me with an email address, so that I can contact him directly? Thanks!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

11 thoughts on “Gears / AARG”

  1. He was nice enough to provide me with the rules, so that I can have a look and I briefly leafed through them. And no, I didn't want to give them a proper readthrough, because I really don't want to be inspired by AARG at this moment. 😛

  2. Uhm…so let's sum this up:
    – You can't have known his rules, before he send them to you, as you couldn't have downloaded them.
    – He knows nothing about your rules, because you posted just a very rough set of planned features. I mean, "no classes or levels" is not unique and using 3d6 isn't either.

    But he still feels the need to contact you and, however nice, accuse you of stealing his ideas? *raises eyebrow* Yeah, right!

  3. I have to admit I am not really sure what he wanted to accomplish with this. At least he managed that I posted about the whole affair and at least 5 of my readers clicked the link and checked out the AARG website. Just saying…

  4. First, something's up with your contact page because I did leave you my name and email address.

    Second, I apologize for not making it clear in my comment what I was looking for. I thought I had.

    And last, there was no accusation of anything.

    I've been working on this system for 2 years and, just before I'm prepared to release it, I find a link from Rob Lang to a system that sounds awfully familiar.

    Given that SG has a much larger audience than I do at the moment, at least within the RPG "community", I wanted to be certain that when I released my system I wouldn't be looking at a "wow, they both have the same system" scenario.

    I didn't ask for a link or even a mention, merely SG's help in determining, in advance, how similar we actually were.

  5. Thanks for pointing that contact form bug out to me. I just checked it myself and for some reason, I only get the message but not the contact information.

    And I don't really know what I have to say to the whole affair. As Sven pointed out neither do you know Gears nor have I seen AARG before you sent me a link to the rules. And the features I listed in my post are what you've probably seen in many games before. And I actually doubt either of us will reinvent the wheel or something.

    If you look at Savage Worlds and the Cortex System you'll notice that both systems have a lot in common. But they are also different enough to stand on their own. And I am pretty sure it will be the same with Gears and AARG.

    And it's true, that you didn't ask for a mention of something, but because I didn't get any contact info (because of the faulty contact form) this post was the easiest way to get your attention and to discuss this topic openly. And I don't think you mind getting a few more hits on your site. 😉

  6. Even if the mechanics of the rules were identical, rule systems cannot be copyrighted in the US. Only the actual text can be copyrighted.

    If someone states the same mechanics, using their own language, then no one has violated copyright. This is why there are 500 different versions of Monopoly around. It is also how the Runequest system was republished by Mongoose Publishing, even though Avalon Hill is not around to give them permission to remake the rules.

    Of course, it is a courtesy to say "Hey, I like these mechanics and want to incorporate them". But it is not strictly necessary according to the law.

    Granted, I am not an attorney, nor a game publisher, but this is how it was explained to me by a lawyer when I asked about the Mongoose Runequest game.

  7. Just imagine if rolling a d20 (or 3d6 or whatever) to determine success at a skill or combat maneuver was patentable!

    It would be a very small RPG market. In fact, casinos would probably have patented that action long before RPGs were ever heard of.

  8. Todd, my concern was never legal repercussions but, as Sven so pointedly displayed, the swift and decisive nature of the Court of the Internet.

    Think about it, on one side you've got SG who's active in the online RPG community and has a lot of readers. On the other side, you've got me, a hobbyist working on his own in obscurity.

    Now lets say SG and I both publish our free systems and they're nearly identical. How many Svens do you think there will be rushing to fast judgments and which side do you think they'll take?

    If SG and I are developing similar systems, I'm going to release mine and notify my immediate circle of friends, and that's it. I won't make the release widely known so as to avoid that kind of unfavorable comparison.

  9. I just wanted to be informational.

    In the eyes of the (real) courts, incorporating mechanics into a game (or copying it outright) is a non-issue legally.

  10. By the way, Steveo, I am just a hobbyist, too. But instead of working in obscurity I love to write about stuff I enjoy.

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