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Let's say I want to make my own D&D game in Flash to possibly sell. I know it would be illegal for me to call it a D&D game, or mention D&D anywhere in it, or put Elminster in it, or say it takes place in Faerun, or anything obvious like that, but what about game mechanics? Could I use Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma as the 6 primary attributes in my game? Would I have to change dexterity to agility or something like that? Is there a copyright on the word "saving throw"?
Using Wizard's IP, trademarks, and branding would be a definite no-no. You simply cannot make a "D&D game" or use any D&D setting if you're not the creators of D&D or have their expressed, written permission. The terms used to name the attributes would be okay, and likely "saving throw" as well, since they aren't owned by anyone. Though if your game too closely resembles the source material, you might run into issues anyway.
However, I'm not a lawyer. Nor do I play one on TV. Genuine issues concerning copyrights should be discussed with your legal adviser. Or at the very least, shoot an email to Wizard's legal team and see what they have to say on the matter.
I suppose I should have said D&D-like game, since there are plenty of games with swords and dragons and magic and dice rolling which are not D&D games. It seems the attribute system, saving throws, and skill checks are not copyrighted so I should be fine with those.
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