So you can imagine that when I heard of a new game called Braunstein appearing at an online RPG retailer my curiousity was peaked. Furthermore the description blurb read the following:
"A Drive-Thru exclusive in digital format only!
Role-playing began with the Braunstein games of the late 1960s. These converted war-games emphasized personal interactions and setting over complex rules and excessive mechanics... Braunstein! is written in this style, being designed for historical adventure games in the 4th through 15th centuries, but expandable through the early 16th if so desired. The judge need only choose a historical book(s) on the period they wish to chronicle and use these rules to create characters and resolve unpredictable situations using extremely simple (just 18 pages) mechanics. The rest is pure interaction! History is the best, most richly-detailed setting around, but Braunstein! also has simple rules for introducing real magic and witchcraft - perhaps the easiest ever! History or historical fantasy - it's your game now!"
The reference to the Braunstein games of the 1960s further suggested that this was the same game that Wesely used to run. The description on the cover of 1:1 Scale was slightly more confusing. Wasn't Braunstein combat typically handled through small a unit skrimish system? Was this really Wesely's game? One poster on Facebook suggested the game had little resemblence to the descriptions of the Braunsteins of the 1960s.
|David Wesely created the Braunstein Games of the 1960s|
Yesterday, Mr Wesely posted several places on Facebook that he had nothing to do with this ruleset. He had not been consulted for the contents and the publisher, "Olde House Rules", had never asked Wesely permission to use the name.
Critical voices were raised on various Facebook groups. Was this copyright infringement? Was it ethically right to market the game as something liked to the Braunstein's of the 1960s when the contents appear to have little to do with them? One defender suggested that it was okay because the game was dedicated to Wesely and because they only charge $1.49.
The product has now been pulled from the online retailer. According to one source, Wesely is in talks with "Olde House Rules" to see if they can come to some sollution instead of getting into legal action. Hopefully the issue can be resolved.
I am no lawyer, but what do you think? Should this small time publisher have been left alone? Do ethics matter in OSR publishing?
More discussion of this topic.