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Thanks to my wife, Amy. Youll never realize how wonderful you are.

2016 Thunderegg Productions

Based on The Black Hack by David Black

Some artwork copyright Octavirate Entertainment, used with permission.

Cover by S. Trent Troop

Welcome! The Shifter Bots RPG is a way to scratch your itch for fast and furious robot combat action. Its
patterned after your favorite Saturday morning cartoons from the 80s. I hope you like it. Be sure to drop
me a line on the Thunderegg Productions Google+ community page.

Many thanks,

Jacob DC Ross

Wisdom (WIS): How much you know, and

Game Rules how well you notice things.
Charisma (CHA): That special something
that helps you influence other people.
Core Mechanic A roll of 20 is a fumble and always fails.
Any time you need to see if your character The GM usually declares that an unintended
succeeds or fails at a task, roll 1d20 and negative consequence comes from this. A
compare it to the relevant stat (numerical roll of 1 is a critical success, or just a crit,
values that represent your characters and always succeeds. The GM usually
physical and mental abilities). The GM declares a beneficial consequence from a
determines which stat you should roll for crit.
each test.

If the roll is under your stat, you pass.

Generally enemies shouldnt be rolling tests, Advantage
but if something comes up where it makes
sense that they would, consider which class When circumstances or training are
an enemy would have, it has stats equal to decidedly in your favor, you have
twice its HD in the two stats which that class Advantage on a roll. Roll 2d20 instead of
can roll twice during level advancement and the usual 1 and take the lower result. When
equal to its HD in other stats. the odds are highly stacked against you you
have Disadvantage. Roll 2d20 and take the
Shifter Bots uses the following stats: higher result. The GM determines when you
Strength (STR): A measure of your have Advantage or Disadvantage. Your
characters ability to work and cause characters class also provides a reliable
damage in combat. Advantage for situations related to your
Dexterity (DEX): Your characters athletic PCs areas of expertise.
ability, nimbleness and skill with ranged
weapons. An Advantage is always canceled by
Constitution (CON): How well your Disadvantage, and vice-versa. If you have
character rolls with the punches and takes multiple sources of Advantage and only a
damage. single source of Disadvantage, you still
Intelligence (INT): The ability that allows dont get Advantage.
you to see patterns and solve puzzles.
Advantage might come from fighting an something, blend into the background,
opponent while you have the high ground, attack their enemy, etc. Its not always
attacking from the shadows or having necessary to keep track of turns outside of
evidence to blackmail someone. combat, but sometimes things are moving
Disadvantage could come from fighting in too quickly for PCs to get everything that
bad weather,using bad equipment or they want to do done before anyone else
fighting with grievous wounds. acts.

Tracking Time Armor Points

There are two units of time in this game. Armor Points, or AP, represents a
Rounds, are for fast actions during combat characters ability to avoid incoming
or other dramatic situations. Turns are for damage. They have a set value based on
travel, exploration, and other low-stress equipment. After each hit on a character,
scenarios. reduce damage by AP, then reduce AP by -
1. AP regenerates after the character has a
Turns can be minutes, hours, days or chance to rest. Enemies have AP equal to
longer, depending on the scale that youre their HD -1, to a maximum of 10.
operating. A long sea voyage might be
played out in Turns that represent weeks,
while a foot journey of 10 miles could be
represented by hour-long turns. Armor Proficiency
A characters class determines which armor
Combat they can comfortably wear or have attached
to their chassis. If a character wears
The following section details everything you unfamiliar armor they subtract -X from their
need to know about running combat for your stats when making physical rolls, where X is
Shifter Bots sessions. the AP from that armor.

Initiative Movement and Distance

When combat breaks out, everyone sorts There are four abstract range bands in this
into an order so they each get to act and game. Close is within arms reach, or up to
react in turn. Every character tests their 20 feet, Nearby is between 20 and 240 feet,
DEX, those who succeed take their turn Far Away is 240 to 480 feet and Distant is
before their opponents. They must then act anything beyond this. Some effects have
as a group, deciding their own order for listings in specific distances, but for the
actions. Those who fail their DEX tests go most part you should be able to relax and
after their opponents. not worry about counting squares and
hexes on maps. You can run to a Far Away
Distance if you dont do anything else in a
combat round and you can move to
Player Turns anything Nearby and attack. Enemies might
attack you while you run.
On their action a PC can take a variety of
actions, try and convince someone of
Ranged and thrown weapons list maximum Larger, more deadly weapons deal +2
accurate distances. Shooting or throwing damage, but also add +2 to the attack rolls
beyond this distance imposes Disadvantage you make with them (increasing the difficulty
on your attack and requires you to Intensify of attacks). The same holds true for wielding
for each range beyond the maximum two weapons at once. Some abilities might
distance. If maximum distance is Distant, negate the penalty when using that schools
apply a penalty for every 240 feet beyond weapons of choice.
480 feet.

Class Weapons
Attacking, Defending Each class lists weapons that PCs of that
class are proficient in using. When using a
and Damage weapon not listed in their class, combat
tests have Disadvantage.
When a character attacks a creature they
must roll below their STR stat for a Melee
Attack or DEX for a Ranged Attack.
Likewise, when an enemy attacks, the
character must roll below
Enemy HD
its STR against a Melee Attack and DEX HD, or Hit Dice, are a measure of how
against a Ranged Attack to avoid taking powerful an enemy is. You roll 1d8 per HD
damage. The GM can determine the stat to determine an enemys HP (Hit Points).
required for the test. Attacking them until their HP is depleted
causes you to be victorious in combat. This
The damage an attack deals is based on system gives variable levels of health to
the characters class. To make a Melee similar enemies to keep things
Attack an opponent must be Close. Ranged unpredictable. To save time you can opt to
Attacks against Close opponents are instead assume that each enemy has HP
possible, but the attacker suffers a equal to 4x its HD.
Disadvantage. Enemies deal damage based
on their HD. Refer to the Enemy HD table.

Enemy HD Damage
Critical Attacks and HD Damage Example
Fumbles 1 1d4 Drone, police officer
If a player making an attack rolls a 1, they
double the result of the damage dice they 2 1d6 Soldier, weak bot
roll. If they roll a 20 when avoiding an
attack, they take double damage. Armor 3 2d4 Tech
Points are used normally.
4 1d10 Infiltrator

5 1d12 Officer, Tank

Two-Handed Weapons 6 1d6+1d8 Warrior, Jet fighter
and Dual-Wielding 7 2d8 Elite Infiltrator
8 3d6 Elite Officer Resting
9 2d10 Elite Warrior, When characters rest for about an hour,
Battleship they regain the use of all their Armor points.
Also once per day, after resting, they may
10+ 1d10+1d12 Faction leader roll a Hit Die associated with their class and
(Mekanikhan, regain that many HP. After eight hours of
Praetoria, High sleep a character regains another HD of
Queen) HP.

20+ 2d20 At this level there is

only Titanitron Campaign and
Powerful Opponents Rules
For every HD above the characters level,
add +1 to every roll the player makes for
any attribute test that would determine the Experience
outcome of a conflict between them and an
NPC. A level 3 character defending against Adventurers learn through defeating and
a HD 5 enemy attack would add +2 to their overcoming obstacles. For every session,
roll. This holds true for combat, social quest or major event the character survives
interactions or other tests. they gain a level. The GM decides the exact
milestones. Keep it consistent for the
players sakes.
Death and Dying
When a character is reduced to zero Hit
Points (HP) they get taken Out of Action
(OofA), they are unconscious and cannot
Gaining Levels
make any actions. When the fight is over or When a character levels up, their maximum
the PCs are out of danger, a character that Hit Points increase by rolling the Hit Die for
is taken OofA rolls CON to see if they the class. Also a player should roll a d20 for
survive. If they pass they recover 1d4 HP. each stat, if the result is higher, that Stat
increases by 1. Theres no maximum level
for characters, but 10, 15 or 20 are all good
places to stop. Once a character gets too
Healing powerful the game becomes less
challenging, and thus less fun. High-level
Characters can gain Hit Points from class characters should ride off into the sunset,
abilities. They can never gain more than retire, go out in a blaze of glory or do
their maximum and can never go below something dramatic.
zero. When healing a character who is
OofA, just start at zero and count up. That
character is now back on their feet and no
longer OofA.
Heat Feel free to make the scenario more intense
according to the degree by which the team
As the war rages between the various failed. Rolling -1 under Heat might cause a
Shifter Bot factions humanity begins to take single cop car to show up, while rolling 10
notice. This is called Heat. A bots form (see under could merit military intervention. Its
the Form section in the Character Creation up to you, the GM, to decide what level of
chapter) makes it more or less conspicuous. interruption makes sense for each scenario.
Destructive or overt actions also generate Crits and fumbles dont apply for Heat rolls.
Any time the action gets intense in a way
At the beginning of a battle or other that should draw attention, roll Heat again,
important encounter, roll 1d20 and compare adding +1 or more to the total. The alerted
it against the Heat generated by the PCs parties (government, enemy bots, etc.)
forms. If the party is separated by half a probably wont show up immediately. PCs
mile or more, roll separately for each group. and their bot enemies might call ceasefire
If you roll under the Heat value, the mission and flee once they realize that the military is
gets more complicated when humans or coming, which would end the battle in a
other bots show up. stalemate.

Character Creation
To create a character, begin by rolling up your stats. Roll 3D6 for each stat (in order for a
challenge, or create a pool of six results and assign them as you like).The stats are as follows:

Strength (STR): A measure of your characters ability to work and cause damage in combat.
Dexterity (DEX): Your characters athletic ability, nimbleness and skill with ranged weapons.
Constitution (CON): How well your character rolls with the punches and takes damage.
Intelligence (INT): The ability that allows you to see patterns and solve puzzles.
Wisdom (WIS): How much you know, and how well you notice things.
Charisma (CHA): That special something that helps you influence other people.

If you roll 15+ for a stat, roll the next one using 2D6+2 (if youre used to playing other OSR
games, dont worry about the slightly lower starting stats, they can skyrocket in this game).
Once youre done, you can switch two stats of your choice.
Every PC is a member of the Shifter Bot race. They are a mechanical being with shapeshifting
capabilities. A Shifter Bot spends their time among their enclave in their natural form, and time
spent in human society disguised, usually as a vehicle.

Shifter Bots each have their own functions, here called classes. A class determines the bots
capabilities and niche in a team. The four classes are Infiltrator, Officer, Tech and Warrior.

Infiltrators do what their name suggests. They sneak where they arent supposed to go, gather
information or sabotage the enemy. These bots tend to be smaller than those of other classes.

Starting HP: 4+1d6

Per Level/Resting: 1d6
Weapons and Armor: Light melee weapons, silent ranged weapons, light armor
Attack Damage: 1d6 Armed/1d6 Unarmed or Improvising

Special Features
Advantage when attacking while undetected or unexpectedly, and while sneaking

Attacks from concealment do 2d6 Armed/2d4 Unarmed or Improvising+Infiltrator level damage

You generate -1 Heat due to your form and can roll INT to reduce the Heat you generate from
any action by -1

Leveling Up
Roll twice for DEX or WIS, roll once for other stats.

Starting Gear
Weapons: Light melee weapon, light silent gun
Armor: Light plating

Typical Appearance: Dark colors or camouflage patterns, silent movements, spindly limbs,
short, thin metal tentacles
The Officer leads his squad to victory. His words can inspire the lowliest Warrior to great things.

Starting HP: 8+1d6

Per Level/Resting: 1d6
Weapons and Armor: Melee weapons, shield, medium armor
Attack Damage: 1d6 Armed/1d6 Unarmed or Improvising

Special Features
Advantage on CHA tests made to inspire or intimidate people, and to resist emotional and
mental manipulation..

Roll INT to grant an ally Advantage on a single roll a number of times per encounter equal to
half your Officer level.

Leveling Up
Roll twice for CHA or INT, roll once for other stats.

Starting Gear
Weapons: Medium melee weapon and shield
Armor: Light plating
Typical Appearance: Gold or silver trim, tall, crown or tiara, running lights

The Warrior is a front-line fighter for the cause. They are adept at wrecking their opponents

Starting HP: 8+1d10

Per Level/Resting: 1d10
Weapons and Armor: Any
Attack Damage: 1d8 Armed/1d6 Unarmed or Improvising

Special Features
As part of their action you can make a number of attacks equal to half your Warrior level,
rounded up.

Leveling Up
Roll twice for STR and DEX, roll once for other stats.

Starting Gear
Weapons: Your choice of medium melee weapon and shield, two medium melee weapons, two
light guns, one large gun, a large melee weapon or one light gun and shield
Armor: Medium plating
Typical Appearance: Thick and stocky or muscular, Primary color with secondary trim,
chromed accents
Techs are responsible for maintaining their team. Without a good Tech the heat of battle can
quickly wear a squad down to nothing.

Starting HP: 6+1d6

Per Level/Resting: 1d6
Weapons and Armor: Light melee weapon, light guns and light armor
Attack Damage: 1d6 Armed/1d6 Unarmed or Improvising

Special Features
Advantage on WIS and INT tests made to fix machines or deactivate traps.

Heal your target 1d6+Tech level HP whenever you succeed on a repair roll.

Roll INT to recharge a Usage Die to 6 a number of times per encounter equal to half your Tech

Leveling Up
Roll twice for INT or WIS, roll once for other stats.

Starting Gear
Weapons: Light melee weapon or light gun
Armor: Light plating
Other: Two utility kits of your choice
Typical Appearance: White, medium build, utilitarian, neon accents

Shifter Bots have the amazing ability to become other machines. Each PC can select a single
alternate form at character creation. This ability raises some serious questions. Why do Shifter
Bots not stay in their natural form all the time? Why do some choose cars and others choose

The Shifter Bots are not the majority population of the planet. Though mighty, they dont have
the numbers to fend off the might of most nations, so staying in a vehicle form allows them to go
undetected and unthreatened by Earths military. The Shifter Bot factions are at war with one
another, so they maintain the masquerade from their enemies. Keeping a low profile reduces
Heat (see the Heat section for an explanation) to prevent discovery.

A plane is faster than a car and can go where land-based vehicles cant. On the other hand
planes are all tracked by radar and far more conspicuous than cars. They also cant go into
tunnels and confined spaces. A good force is balanced between land and air bots.
Form Tags
Form tags allow you to craft your alternate vehicle mode to your specifications. Make sure to
check with the GM before writing anything down.

Choose one Type:

Civilian: Sedans, one-man airplanes and fishing boats or other regular vehicles. -1 Heat.
Government: Examples include police cars or ambulances. Gain access to crime scenes,
disaster areas and similar locations without being noticed. +1 Heat in other situations.
Military: Tanks, black helicopters and the like. Your weapons do +1 damage. +3 Heat.

Choose one Mode:

Aquatic: Can float in the sea and dive below the surface. Medium speed.
Chopper: Flies in the air and handles almost as easily as a car. Very fast. +3 Heat.
Flyer: Soars in the sky like a plane. Incredibly fast, hard to control (Disadvantage on various
tasks per GM rulings).. +2 Heat.
Land: Can go on or off roads. Fast.

Choose one Size:

Small: Like a motorcycle, gyrocopter or rowboat.
Medium: Like a car, tank, jet fighter or speedboat. +1 Heat
Large: Like a semi truck, passenger liner or yacht. +2 Heat.
Medium Shifter Bots can carry one small bot as a passenger. Large Shifter Bots can carry four
small bots or two medium bots as passengers.

Each character begins the game with their listed equipment. They can choose another piece of
equipment after a successful mission (if the GM rules that the team recovered sufficient
resources to build the new equipment).

Equipment is set up into two categories: combat and utility. Utility items have a Usage Die that
begins (and maxes out at) d8. Each utility item is geared towards a specific non-combat task
(repairing shifter bots, fixing cars, hacking computers, etc.) and provides Advantage for that

Combat gear is weapons and armor. Armor is usually bolted onto your frame and provides AP
based on its design. Shields add variable AP against all attacks.

Weapons are either melee or ranged. You can choose to have your melee weapons be swords,
spears, daggers, lances or whatever. Ranged weapons could be bows, pistols, rifles, shuriken
or even a slingshot if you like. The appearance doesnt have an impact on gameplay, only the
tags that you apply to them. All weapons have a based damage of 1d6. Ranged weapons
normally can fire up to Far Away.

You can upgrade your arsenal by scavenging components. A medium sword can get enhanced
with a plasma emitter after you construct it. The more powerful a weapon, the more time and
resources it takes to make and upgrade. Some upgrades also increase the maximum Usage
Die, but you should be careful with allowing this.

Weapon and Armor Tags

These tags differentiate items from one another.

Light Weapon: Does 1d4 damage, counts as half an item for encumbrance purposes.
Medium Weapon: Does 1d6 damage, all weapons without Light or Heavy tags are Medium.
Heavy Weapon: Does 1d+2 damage and adds +2 to your attack roll.
Extendable: As Melee Weapon but can attack Nearby as well as Close distances.
Long Range: As Ranged Weapon but can now shoot up to Distant range.
Melee Weapon: Attacks at Close distance.
Ranged Weapon: Attacks at up to Far Away distance.
Plasma Weapon: Makes attacks through normal armor. Rechargeable Usage Die d6.
Ripper Weapon: Make a CON save when attacked by a Ripper Weapon to avoid a +2 penalty
on all physical rolls. Make a STR roll when attacking to give you and all allies a -2 bonus to all
rolls made to avoid attacks from your target.
Silent Weapon: Can attack without making noise.

Light Armor: 2AP

Medium Armor: 4AP
Heavy Armor: 6AP, +2 to all rolls made for stealth.
Aurora Reactor: Roll 1d6 after being successfully attacked. On a 5-6 regenerate 1 AP. Usage
Die d6.
Force Field: AP applies to Plasma Weapons. Usage Die d6.
Jump Jets: Gain Advantage when leaping, can jump up to Far Away. Limited flight (roll twice
on Usage Die when flying). Usage Die d8.
Rerouting Circuits: Make a WIS roll to drop one combat items Usage Die by one step to raise
anothers by a single step, no more than once per encounter per item raised.

Light Shield: 1AP against all attacks, counts as half an item for encumbrance. Usage Die d8.
Medium Shield: 2AP against all attacks. Usage Die d10.
Heavy Shield: 2AP against all attacks, can bash to add +1 damage with melee weapons,
counts as 2 items for encumbrance. Usage Die D12.
Energy Shield: AP applies to Plasma Weapons. Usage Die d6.
Note that shields only lose AP when their Usage Die finally depletes.

Usage Die
Any item listed in the equipment section that has a Usage die is a consumable, limited item, or
one powered by a rechargeable reactor. When you use a consumable, roll a Usage Die in the
next Minute. If the roll is 1- 2 then the usage die is downgraded to the next lower die in the
following chain:

d20 > d12 > d10 > d8 > d6 > d4

When you roll a 1-2 on a d4 the item is expended and the character has no more of it left. Some
items recharge at the base, others might be gone for good. Regular items with Usage Die
effects, such as a lance with the Plasma Weapon tag or a Heavy Armor with a Force Field, dont
go away completely. You can still use your lance as a melee weapon once it runs out of plasma.
Using two disposable/rechargeable items together (such as a Medium Shield with the Energy
Shield property) means that you roll Usage Dice for each of them.

A character can carry a number of items equal to their STR with no issues. Carrying over this
amount means they are encumbered and all attribute tests have Disadvantage. They can also
only ever move to somewhere Nearby. A character simply cannot carry more than double their


A note to GMs. This release has a very sparse detailing of the setting. Thats because I dont
want to impose on your creativity with my ideas. I am developing further setting material, but
feel free to create whatever you want!

The world of Shifter Bots is much like our own, only populated with fantastic new life forms and
dangers. In the game you play, not a human adventurer, but a Shifter Bot, a mechanical being
of unimaginable complexity.

Shifter Bots originate from another world, called Pangeara. They have no context as to where it
is in relation to the here and now, as a great cataclysm warped many members of their
civilization to Earth. The survivors are stranded here, though they can occasionally send and
receive messages with the small remnant on Pangeara. On even rarer occasions they can warp
supplies and reinforcements through (usually no more than a single Shifter Bot).

The truth is that the Shifter Bots hail from a far future version of our Earth. They were made by
hyper-advanced computers that had long since displaced humanity. The Shifter Bot civilization
lasted for untold millions of years before it fell to infighting. The trigger of the Tav Device, the
deadliest weapon ever conceived, caused most of the bots on Pangeara to disintegrate within
seconds. Most of the survivors were hurled into a time warp and ended up on Earth.
There are several groups that are vying for dominance. Listed below are a few of them.

The Camtrons are a more or less peaceful faction that want to start a new life on Earth. Many of
them were guardsmen in the old Pangeara Militia. Their leader, Praetoria, wishes to see her
people come to an understanding with humans.

The Cogdroids are a violent individualist faction who defy all authority, save that of their leader
Mekanikhan. To these passionate robots humanity is a stain upon the universe, and they plan to
enslave them after subjugating the Camtrons. Many of them come from the former rebel worker

The Hive rejects individuality in pursuit of a single unified mind. Their goal is the blending of all
thought into a single continuum. Theyre guided by the All-Queen AI and often create small
hives of covert human cyborgs. The Hive currently only links up completely when theyre in their
hidden base to avoid detection and disruption.

A Summoner cares nothing for his own life, nor for such concepts as love, freedom or strength.
There is only Titanitron. There will only ever be Titanitron. So far nobody seems to know what
this mantra means, but few want to find out.
The name Thunderegg Productions, game setting information, and proper names (Pangeara, Mekanikhan, etc.), logos and layout
are product identity.
All other content not designated as Product Identity is Open Game Content under
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Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document. Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors
Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary
Gygax and Dave Arneson.
Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.;
Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins,
David Noonan,
Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt,
based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
The Black Hack, Copyright 2016 Gold Piece Publications, Author: David Black
Kaigaku RPG, Copyright 2016 Thunderegg Productions, Author: Jacob DC Ross