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I am starting to develop a new game and i'm thinking about using some names for some features coming from other games (such as WoW and D&D).
I have already read this Is it legal to develop a game using D&D rules? and i know about Beholders and Mind Flyers (before reading this question) which i'm not going to use anyway in my game (neither specific D&D rules nor those monsters) and i'm not going to use an aready existing game system as i'm developing mine (which will use some classical RPG concepts but will have its unique flavor, at least i hope so...).

What i'm interested in is to know if i can legally use names those games use for skills, statistics, classes, enemies and so on...

I'm not talking about classic names such as Wizard, Mage, Warrior but more specific names you will find almost exclusively in that game (such as Bladesinger, Charisma, Power Attack or Warbringer...which apparently is a metal band and a monster in WoW and nothing else), these features won't be an exact copy of what you can find in other games, but will inherit just the "flavor" (sometimes not even that) of that feature

for example can i make a skill called "Power Attack" which gives you more damage per attack but a lower chance to hit (which is similar to D&D's power attack, though not exactly the same since mine will have a fixed % of damage increase and lowered chance to hit)?
What if this skill gives you more damage when using a weapon two-handed (which is a key feature of D&D's power attack in the 3.5 edition)?

I am aware that those are simple words and they can't be under copyright, what i'm more worried about is the flavor of a skill, statistic and so on and using a mechanic very similar to those found exclusively in other games

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marked as duplicate by MichaelHouse Aug 25 '15 at 14:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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I wish I could add a comment, but I can't since I have under 50 Rep, so I guess I'll put it here.

A question very similar to this was asked and answered on the RPG Stack Exchange and I think you'd benefit a lot from reading it.


First and foremost, I AM NOT A LAWYER, so nothing I say, should be taken as solid legal advice.

IN GENERAL:

That linked answer says, from what I understand, you should usually steer clear from copying exact game mechanics, names, or phrases. Although, in the US Copyright registration for games page, it is clearly stated that Copyright does not protect the idea for a game:

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. [...] Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

So taking precise skill, class, or weapon names from another game could be viewed as a violation of the literary side of the agreement. I would assume that a skill name such as "Giru-gameshi Naput Flame" would be an infringement, but something as generic as "Strong Punch" or "Claw Swipe" isn't, since it is very generic.


What i'm interested in is to know if i can legally use names those games use for skills, statistics, classes, enemies and so on...

I'm not talking about classic names such as Wizard, Mage, Warrior but more specific names you will find almost exclusively in that game (such as Bladesinger, Charisma, Power Attack, Warbringer).

Even though you might think that these are "exclusive" names, you can always think of it this way, Bladesinger, is a Blade Singer, nothing more. I highly doubt you'd get into trouble with extremely generic stuff like that. Though, to stay on the safe side, I'd recommend just creating your own names, it makes your game much more unique when someone sees "Heavy Hunter Hippo" as a class and not the generic "Ranger".


For example can I make a skill called "Power Attack" which gives you more damage per attack but a lower chance to hit (which is similar to D&D's power attack, though not exactly the same since mine will have a fixed % of damage increase and lowered chance to hit)?

Things like that, I would have to say you can, since "Power Attack" is a very, very generic name, it is as if saying you can't use a "Healing Potion" because it has the same name and same effect as other games.


I am aware that those are simple words and they can't be under copyright, what I'm more worried about is the flavor of a skill, statistic and so on and using a mechanic very similar to those found exclusively in other games.

Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game.

So I'd say you could use some mechanics from other games, but if you'd like my advice, I'd say take lots of inspiration from many other games, and not just one, then tweak them, fix them, improve on them, and throw them all together to make something new and unique. You're game won't go anywhere being a D&D or WoW clone, the people want something new something they have never seen before, so instead of taking some generic name or class from another game, create your own! I really like the name "Flying Monkey Princess of Doom". That's a bit nicer than "Paladin".

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think i'm gona call the paladin in my game "Flying Monkey Princess of Doom", it perfectly describes such a class! Thanks for the answer! \$\endgroup\$ – valepu Aug 25 '15 at 9:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hahaha, yep it does! My pleasure. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Cold999 Aug 25 '15 at 9:44

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