Friday, December 14, 2012

Kickstarted for free OSR art?

Should we have free community art for old school RPG house rules?

I'm floating this idea to see if there's enough interest. I like to make semi-pro looking house rules documents for my games. One of the issues I've run into is that, as great as the Open Game License has been for old school gaming, art and illustrations are typically reserved as Product Identity. That's totally understandable, but it means I can't, for example, shove my house rules into Swords & Wizardry and distribute it, even if I'm only giving it away for free to people I play with (online or off).

What if we started some kind of kickstarter project to commission art that anyone could use and redistribute in their own non-commercial RPG projects?

Would this be useful to the community?

Is there enough interest?

How would artists feel about it?


  1. I'd bung in a few bills for it.

    Then again, if it's just your house rules and you're only distributing them to your friends (or even on your blog), why not use art you find online?

  2. why not use art you find online?

    I'd rather use stuff with permission.

  3. While I am not the greatest artist in the world, I do do a fair job with monsters and such, and would be more than happy to do some art for you.

    As far as a free art kickstart thing, I would buy it.

    Check my blog for some of my art.

  4. Have you asked Kevin Crawford how he went about Spears of Dawn?

    I'd fund anything that brought more Russ Nicholson or Pete Mullen art into the world.

  5. Russ Nicholson and Peter Mullen would both be on the wish list, Rob.

    I haven't been following Spears of Dawn too closely, but I'll take a look at it. I enjoyed Stars Without Number.

  6. Getting the art for Spears of the Dawn was very simple, really- I just made it clear up front to the artist that I wanted to buy full rights to the piece so as to release it into the public domain on the game's publication. You can expect to pay more for it that way, but so long as the artist knows what the deal is, it's not an issue.

    The trickier part is the art direction. You need to take into account the way that the art might get repurposed in different ways- pieces cut from larger works, bleed changing as a piece that originally appeared as a saddle-stitched cover gets turned into a hardback, and having the artists work in layered tiffs where practical to allow for elements to be subtracted or added to a scene by layer activation. And atop this, you need to pick topics that have character while simultaneously avoiding things that would make your art too niche for general use.

    I know that the fact that SotD's art was going to be public domain was a net plus for the project. I'm not sure you could carry an entire kickstarter on it for any great sum of money, but it could be worth a try. You'd likely have to put some money up front to get some example pieces done first, however, and that might make it something of a risk.


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