OSRIC™ represents a compilation of rules for old school-style fantasy gaming. The book is intended to reproduce underlying rules used in the late 1970s to early 1980s, which being rules are not subject to copyright, without using any of the copyrighted "artistic presentation" originally used to convey those rules. In creating this new "artistic presentation," we have made use of the System Reference Document produced by Wizards of the Coast.
The reason for going back to square one and restating the underlying rules is simple. It allows old school publishers (both commercial and fans) to reference the rules set forth in this document without making reference to any protected trademark (this document is trademarked, but the use of the trademark is permitted under the terms of an open license – see the license pages here
). By using this document in tandem with the Open Game License of WOTC, a publisher should be able to produce products for old-school fantasy gaming and clearly make reference to this particular ruleset without violating the terms of the Open Game License.
Thus, in many ways, the entire OSRICTM book is nothing more than a tool for old-school writers, a stepping stone to put the original, non-copyrightable portion of the old-school rules into an open license, as permitted by law. Great pains have been taken to ensure that we have used none of the original artistic presentation, for we have the greatest possible respect for the authors who originally created these games. We considered the non-copyrightable rules to be the numerical algorithms that would be in a computer version of the game (most precedent in the area of game copyrights has come from computer games, not RPGs), and have included these and the relations between the results of the formulae. "To hit" numbers are a clear example. On the other hand, level titles other than "name" level are clearly artistic presentation and are excluded. When "name" level does not create a numerical effect such as taxes from a stronghold or the ability to improve fighting power with followers, we have not used name level titles, even though the titles themselves are generic words.
Spell effects are mainly covered by the WOTC SRD, and where they are not covered by the SRD we have considered their functional effect to be a part of the rules (thus, not subject to copyright protection). All spell descriptions not covered by the SRD (and most that are) have been completely rewritten. The fact that tables of available spells are identical with previously published works is a somewhat grey area, but it definitely seems to be more a part of the "system" than an "artistic presentation" since it defines and delimits the capabilities of a spell-casting character rather than being decorative (as, for example, the level titles are).
In many cases you will find that rules themselves have been clarified, or are more based on the SRD than on original rules (when it was difficult to separate rules from artistic presentation). The greatest difference is in the experience progressions, and the inclusion of some random factors into the original level progression.
Note: Nothing in this document is to be construed as legal advice. For legal questions you should retain an attorney to advise you.
OSRIC is not produced by Øone Games, for further information about OSRIC™, please visit this link.