A big part of my book is that the characters play the tabletop RPG "Dungeons and Dragons". There is no content actually showing them playing it, but they do mention it. Would that be allowed?

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    Welcome! You are using the tag copyright. Does that mean you are asking this from a legal perspective? As in "I want to use the trademark 'Dungeons and Dragons' in my book to describe the activities my characters engage in"? If so check out Is it considered trademark infringement to use the name of a real business in a novel? which mentions using brand names like "Uber" in your writing. The essence seems to be: be careful about defamation. Other than that there shouldn't be a problem.
    – Secespitus
    Aug 2, 2019 at 21:36
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    Does it need to be D&D? There are a lot of roleplaying systems out there, and there can be significant advantages to using an unspecified homebrew system, as it allows you full control over the mechanics/worldbuilding should you need it. Aug 2, 2019 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


If the characters talk about having played the game, rather than actually playing on-screen, as it were, the actual game is in danger of becoming an extraneous detail -- at best, it's group characterization ("This group of friends are geeks of the flavor who sit around a table with odd-shaped dice and pretend to be wizards and barbarians"). At worst, it's trend-following.

Aside from whether it's a good idea from a writing standpoint, as long as you don't say anything about the game that could be construed as defamatory (in the worst possible light -- lawyers can make "You look great today" into an actionable insult), you ought to be okay. It would surely be safer if you gave the off-screen game a different name (but these days there are at least a dozen knock-off games similar to older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, with roughly similar names, and you should avoid their names, too).

(And just so no one takes the above the wrong way, I've been one of those geeks with the dice for more than forty years.)

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