What does the OGL mean for things based on d20 elements, but which aren’t games?

I’ve been thinking lately about how the Overlord novels/manga/anime are so clearly based on 3e/3.5e/d20/whatever, yet were still commercially published–and, as far as I’m aware, suffered no legal action from Wizards of the Coast.

Much of the “mechanics” of the series (at least from what I’ve seen) are entirely possible within the parts of d20 that are covered by OGL.

Just as an example, let’s look at Overlord‘s spell magic arrow, a clear copy of d20’s magic missile. It’s a 1st-tier spell, equivalent to a 1st-level spell, and it launches an unavoidable bolt of non-elemental (equivalent to force damage, or not having an energy type) magic that deals a small amount of damage and cannot be blocked by normal means. The spell can also create multiple bolts if cast at a higher tier/level, just like how magic missile would (depending on what exactly the Overlord wiki means by this, possibly similar to the Spell Points variant rule, also open content)

By my reading of the OGL 1.(e), “Product Identity” (which, as per section 7, must be agreed to not have any of the following done with it, from 1.(f): “Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content”; 1.(b) defines Derivative Material as “copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into other computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment or other form in which an existing work may be recast, transformed or adapted”) includes both the “spell” magic missile and the “magical…effect” produced by magic missile, as well as any modification or adaption thereof.

The effects of magic arrow are clearly derivative of magic missile. But the specifics, such as dealing 1d4+1 damage (or what 1d4+1 damage even translates to, beyond rarely being enough to kill a target with one shot), or having a range of 100 ft. + 10 ft. per caster level, or any of those details which pertain to actual d20 mechanics, do not seem to be mentioned in Overlord.

So this brings me back to the question, which is more general than just that single spell. How is it that Overlord‘s use of things which seem like they ought to be forbidden due to being considered WotC’s “Product Identity”, is actually okay? Is it because Overlord isn’t a game (in which case, where are exceptions like this stated in the OGL? Does it have to do with the fact that the above details are generalized into a written/drawn form?)? Is it because magic missile isn’t explicitly designated as Product Identity beyond the proper name of itself as a spell (in which case, what about spells like sleep and animate dead, which Overlord keeps the names of, or elements such as “troll” creatures with high strength and what amount to d20’s Scent/Regeneration abilities?)? Or is it something else entirely?

(Sorry if the formatting of some of this question is a mess, I’m not really used to dealing with talking about licenses and don’t know what’s considered conventional)

Can a bard use a musical instrument as a spellcasting focus if they aren’t proficient with it?

The bard’s spellcasting class features (PHB, pg. 53) includes the following:

Spellcasting Focus

You can use a musical instrument (found in chapter 5) as a spellcasting focus for your bard spells.

In chapter 5, it says this about musical instruments (PHB, pg. 154):

Musical Instrument. Several of the most common types of musical instruments are shown on the table as examples. If you have proficiency with a given musical instrument, you can add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to play music with the instrument. A bard can use a musical instrument as a spellcasting focus. Each type of musical instrument requires a separate proficiency.

Typically, a bard will have at least one musical instrument proficiency (3 from start, 4 if they get another via background, or as few as 1 if they multiclass into bard from something else).

However, at the end of the chapter 5 quote, it says “Each type of musical instrument requires a separate proficiency”, meaning that a bard could lose their musical instrument but find or buy one that they aren’t proficient in.

The chapter 5 quote also says “If you have proficiency with a given musical instrument, you can add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to play music with the instrument”, but that’s about playing it, not necessarily using it for spellcasting (and there doesn’t at time of writing seem to be a definitive answer on whether you need to play it to cast spells with it; that’s not the purpose of my question, anyway).

Finally, the chapter 5 quote also says “A bard can use a musical instrument as a spellcasting focus”, but it says it in a separate sentence to the one about proficiency, so the two sentences don’t necessarily relate to one another.

If a bard only has a musical instrument that they aren’t specifically proficient in, can they still use it to cast spells?

Personal Data Services/Stores (“PDS”) – Why aren’t they more common?

Okay, so… bear with me, and please suggest better communication channel, if this isn’t a great place to ask about this concept… this idea has been puzzling me for some time now.

I had a dream once, and in that dream all individuals’ personal data (SSN, Birthday, Drivers License, etc) could be managed by and have access controlled by the individuals themselves.

A centralized repository of information would allow for an individual to update (for example) their mailing address once, and all authorized subscribers of that piece of information would receive an update about it being changed. Think along the lines of pub/sub with granular authorization. Any external system that wanted access to an individual’s personal information would have to be explicitly allowed by said individual. Eureka!

Here is a small collection of examples of projects in this vein of thinking. It’s all I’ve found with some quick searching recently, but these all appear defunct/abandoned, or focused only on enterprise/team sharing, etc:

  • Personal Data Service – Wikipedia

I’ve thought about this a years now. My question is simply this: Why a personal data service of this nature failed to become a common mechanism—perhaps even a standard—by which personal data is maintained and distributed?

How come correctness proofs aren’t tautological?

Consider the following function on binary trees, which is supposed to tell whether a given int is a member of a binary tree t:

type tree = Leaf | Node of int * tree * tree;;  let rec tmember (t:tree) (x:int) : bool =   match t with       Leaf -> false     | Node (j,left,right) -> j = x || tmember left x || tmember right x ;; 

If one wants to prove that this function is correct, one would need to define first what tree membership actually means, but then I can find no formal way of doing this except for saying that x is a member of t if and only if it is either equal to the root of t, or it is a member of the left or right subtree of t. This is essentially saying that x is a member of t if and only if tmember t x outputs true.

What am I missing here?

Image Gallery photos aren’t cropping, even though they’re set to crop

Can someone help???

I know I’m uploading relatively high-res photos, and yet they’re still not filling the frames of the image gallery I’m creating in the post.

I’ve set the switch to “Crop” in the gallery setting, and still when I preview on the front end, they’re not filling the frames.

Is there a code or site-wide solution to this? I’m managing so many posts and it’s such a hassle to have to go into “image editor” and tweak individual photos when possible.


Why aren’t distributed computing and/or GPU considered non-deterministic Turing machines if they can run multiple jobs at once?

So we know a nondeterministic Turing machine (NTM) is just a theoretical model of computation. They are used in thought experiments to examine the abilities and limitations of computers. Commonly used to dicuss P vs NP, and how NP problems cannot be solved in polynomial time UNLESS the computation was done on the hypothetical NTM. We also know an NTM would use a set of rules to prescribe more than one action to be performed for any given situation. In other words, attempt many different options simultaneously.

Isn’t this what distributed computing does across commodity hardware? Run many different possible calculations in parallel? And the GPU, does this within a single machine. Why isn’t this considered an NTM?

Why aren’t my hero images appearing as thumbnails in the SERP?

I display hero images across the top of my blog pages. However, I use CSS images rendering through div tags and I read that google doesn’t typically index those.

So the images aren’t included as thumbnails in SERPs, see below.

Can you please confirm if there is a way to direct google to index the images like with an image sitemap?

Does an image have to be included in the IMG tag to be considered for a thumbnail in the SERP?

enter image description here

Why aren’t ZUIs (zoomable user interfaces) popular?

After reading Jef Raskin’s The Humane Interface it seems that ZUIs are a obvious paradigm choice to make easier interfaces. Apparently the original iPhone interface was a big investment in that direction with many ZUI patterns, although not considered 100% a ZUI.

Why are ZUIs not a popular UI paradigm / more common?

Can a Mystic swap out their Bonus Disciplines for some that aren’t from their Order?

The Mystic is an Unearthed Arcana class in D&D 5th Edition. All the Mystic Orders (subclasses) except the Soul Knife get Bonus Disciplines :

At 1st level, you learn two additional psionic disciplines of your choice. They must be chosen from among [your Order’s] disciplines.

Regular disciplines can be swapped out :

In addition, whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one discipline you know with a different one of your choice.

Can the Bonus Disciplines also be swapped out, even for replacements that aren’t from the Order ?

For chicken-and-egg apps which require a network effect, should I try to delay my user from noticing early on that there aren’t many others?

For example, in my user registration, I can let the user pick preferences for other users, similar to a dating app.

If those other users get filtered out, this introduces the possibility for the user’s first impression using the app to be, “Oh, there’s nobody here. Is this thing dead?” -> close -> uninstall -> and they’ll probably never come back. Churn. Actually, it’s just brand new!

So while I’m growing the app and there’s not many on it yet, should I leave those preferences out of the registration, just so their first impression isn’t that the app is dead, and slightly delay it, allowing them to choose the preferences later? They could still potentially get value from the app if it’s not just their strict preferences right away.

I know there’s not too much I can do here, but what is your recommendation?