Role-playing design notes

Random notes on the design of Gods & Monsters, and maybe even Men & Supermen if I can remember what I was drinking when I wrote it.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

New Version of GFDL Announced

By way of the Free Roleplaying Community news feed, it looks like there will be a new version of the Gnu Free Documentation License coming out soon, and this one will fix some “issues”:

According to a recent interview with Eben Moglen, president and executive director of the Software Freedom Law Center, a new version of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) will be published “by 1 July”. According to the interview, the new version should deal with some of the issues raised about the GFDL.

Hopefully, those issues include the potential lock-in caused by “invariant sections”. The best option is simply to remove them. Invariant sections add a confusing element to what is otherwise an open document. They superficially resemble open and closed content in non-open licenses, making it look like some relevant content can be opened and some closed; in fact, no content relevant to the document’s topic can be designated an invariant section. But that’s part of the problem:

  1. Once an invariant section is added, that section’s topic is forever off-limits to the document as a whole.
  2. Offensive invariant sections can be added that cannot be removed, thus locking off that branch of the document to any who would like to modify it but who are unwilling to distribute the offensive portion.
  3. Crud will tend to buildup--or, more likely, simply discourage use of open content--because when small parts of a document are re-used in a new document, the invariant sections also get copied over.
  4. Some merges will be impossible, if one document has an invariant section that discusses something relevant to another document. If invariant sections can’t be on topic, then a document with an invariant section can’t be merged with a document that discusses that invariant section’s topic.

Another simple solution to the problem is to allow the wholesale removal of any invariant section. This would allow downstream publishers to expand topics into what were covered by invariant sections, as well as allow the removal of what is required to be unrelated to the topic at hand anyway. It would still protect upstream publisher’s ability to include irrelevant material that cannot be modified downstream.

If the new version of the GFDL does do away with invariant sections, I’ll almost certainly be switching over Gods & Monsters very soon after the new version is made available. I haven’t yet switched over to version 1.2 because it just hasn’t been worth the effort. I keep meaning to make my own version of 1.2 that removes invariant sections. But if the Free Software Foundation does that work for me, all that’s left is merging the GFDL with my style sheet.

  1. <- Map Grids
  2. Third 2005 Update ->