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My question regards using the forgotten realms setting for writing a novel. I'll explain.

My original intention was to request permission to write a novel using WotC's Forgotten Realms setting, but as they're page says they are not accepting unsolicited submissions for novels, I'm trying to find an alternative method.

To be clear, in the book itself I wouldn't be referencing any specific characters used by other authors and or the game manuals. All characters would be 100% my own manufacturing. What I do desire to use is the history of the world, the rules and mechanics that govern it, the geographical fixtures of the world, and if possible, although I could remove this, the names of various organizations in the forgotten realms universe.

I have a good idea for a book, and a very strong desire to pen and distribute said book, and I suppose my question is this:

  1. What would be the best method of doing so?

  2. If WotC is completely unwilling to even read/consider my book (its one thing for them to read my submission and say its not something they can see being marketable or such, that I could atleast understand) is there a loophole or another avenue I might be able to take to be able to publish my book?

  3. And finally, would it even be absolutely necessary to receive permission from WotC for this sort of idea?

(P.s. I am not a lawyer and I do not know much about patent law or the like, but I am willing to do whatever research is necessary if such is suggested as a "work-around." Just looking for a "no" or "Yes its possible" and if yes, a starting point.)

Thanks for any replies!

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    I think this will answer your question: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/47443/… --- My advice: invent your own world and write a novel about it. – user5645 May 4 '15 at 10:08
  • I read an authors blog sometime ago (no link) and he claimed that publishers do actually check stuff they receive just in case it is awesome even if they state they don't accept unsolicited submission. Nobody will read it unless the synopsis and writing are very good and you won't get an answer unless it is good enough they want to publish it, but if you are confident in your writing you totally can send text to publishers with such policies. Whether there is any point is a different matter. You probably are better off taking the advice what gave. – Ville Niemi May 4 '15 at 12:38
  • Nevermind the legal ramifications. Do you truly wish to steal from another person's work of art? If you did, then its easy, just steal it and change until it is unrecognizable. But the end product wouldn't be your own creation of original art. – user8727 May 4 '15 at 23:40
  • @user8727 No, I'd never want to steal from someone else. Rather I see a vary intricate and well developed setting that I think I could bring to life. If forced to I could make my own world, but there's so many people out there that do that, and although everyone believes they're idea is completely original, chances are its not. I just wanted a story for fans of the universe and setting, that's more about the character development and plot, then forcing someone to try and learn a whole new concept of magic and new races (that are inevitably the same) and such. – Wolfrin May 5 '15 at 9:55
  • @VilleNiemi Thanks for giving me at least a little hope :). If all else fails, I'll try that and just cross my fingers. Thanks to everyone that commented. Gonna leave it unanswered as I'm hoping someone will suggest something I haven't thought of yet. – Wolfrin May 5 '15 at 9:56
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Disclaimer: This is the opinion of someone with no legal expertise.

If a central part why you expect people to seek out your book is the enjoyment of the history and setting of a well-known universe, then you actually ARE seeking to profit off someone else's creative work and marketing, and you shouldn't do it unless they give you permission.

If the setting inspires you, but isn't the most important part of your book, then you should write the first draft in their world, and then change the setting to a similar but original universe. A huge portion of modern fantasy is set in Tolkien-inspired settings, but good authors bring their own perspective to the foundations that Tolkien laid.

You could always go with a Plan A and Plan B: Plan A, write the book in their world, and submit to them. If it comes back, switch to Plan B and rewrite it to remove the WotC references.

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  1. The best method of going about this would be to first contact Ed Greenwood, as he is the one who created the Forgotten Realms in the first place. I would ask him if you need to talk with him or Wizards of the Coast (WotC) to write in the Forgotten Realms. If Ed Greenwood, then find out from him what you have to do to get permission. If WotC, then read through the support answers on Idea Submissions and Use of Wizards' Intellectual Property if you have not already done so. It's important to remember that the Forgotten Realms setting is copyrighted content. Even if you don't use the characters, the geography, history, and so forth of the Forgotten Realms was created by Ed Greenwood.

  2. For publishing for profit, no, there isn't a loophole that would allow you to get around not being given permission. However, if WotC puts on a writing contest (not sure how likely that is) or opens up a short story anthology to submissions, then it is possible you could get something smaller published that might open the door for a longer piece being accepted. Also, getting an agent might help.

  3. If you want to publish your story, then, yes, it is absolutely necessary to receive permission from the copyright holder (be it WotC or Ed Greenwood). If you go the fan-fiction site route, then it is highly recommended that you get permission or at least research how lenient WotC/Ed Greenwood is concerning such works. If you decide just to print a single copy at a local print shop to share with just your family and friends, then you probably could get away without getting permission, but you wouldn't be able to distribute it.

And while creating a world of your own might be doing what so many others are doing, if you do end up having to go that route there is nothing stopping you from focusing on character development and plot.

But I hope that you are able to get permission to use the Forgotten Realms as a setting for your story.

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If you intend to publish for free, just do it. It falls under fanfiction clause. Technically illegal, hardly ever fought. The work improves strength of the franchise, solidifies the fandom, fighting it would be bad PR - so copyright owners simply let it be.

If you intend to publish commercially, disregard "not accepting unsolicited submissions for novels". You don't want them to publish it anyway; it doesn't apply to your case. What you want, is to contact their legal department, and ask about purchasing a license for using the franchise for the purpose of self-publishing the novel.

Be ready to shell out a... pretty much arbitrary amount of cash they will quote you - it may be free, it may be a token amount, it may be a percentage, or it may be a barrier sum intended to deter you if they want to keep a tight hold on the franchise and not allow any third-party "paraphernalia". Nevertheless, make sure you aren't appearing as a bothersome fan looking for freeloading on their IP. You are a businessperson, a paying customer, willing to buy their product - specifically, a limited use of rights on their intellectual property. You aren't "asking permission to extend their world". You are making a purchase of a product they have.

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