Homebrew - legality and ethics?

Hello! So to put my query in context I’m fairly new to tabletop RPG’s (I actually just got started with one of my friends campaign recently - and that’s pretty much my first ever really) so I haven’t a strong grounding in understanding of the norms and customs of TTRPG’s though I would very much like to get more involved - especially now there’s an official fallout version, which makes possible so much I’ve wanted (and which wasn’t really satisfied with FO76) for so long!

So anyways I guess the title kind of states my concerns, I really just want to be able to understand whats considered acceptable as far as homebrew stuff goes so I can be sure I’m doing right by other people - especially modifius and bethesda - I of course don’t intend to be making any kind of money or any such crazy thing as that, the IP belongs to someone else and I completely respect that.

I guess the real question for me is how much is it acceptable to change or alter things ‘inspired’ by bethesda’s work to fit into my campaign??? As I’ve said I’m super excited about fallout coming into a multiplayer viable format which isn’t necessarily an MMO, I’ve started working on some basics for a campaign. I’ve opted to go with a “Survivors of Sanctuary” concept, where there’s more than one survivor of Vault 111 and that coposes the characters in the party. I’ve also started building a map using google maps as a tool and well as you can imagine it’s somewhat difficult to build a map following precisely the layout of locations in FO4 (which makes sense, I mean it’s a fictional representation) I guess the first thing I’m unsure of is it okay to adjust things to work better for my campaign as far as locations go? I mean I know I could much more easily find any number of maps of the commonwealth online which have locations of much more than just various landmarks on them, but I kind of like the idea of using a real world map (even if I’m going to be converting some areas of suburbs into swamps or reclaimed wilderness or whatever) cause it offers some cool inspiration sometimes and though I plan on including all the major locations from the FO4 map, I like being able to expand it out a little bit and include things which hadn’t been in the actual game, because it sounds kind of cool. I guess the crux of the problem I see though is a lot of cannon locations don’t have a real world analogue (though it’s amazing how many do if you look hard enough), stuff like Fort Hagen has no irl analogue (unless you count the Natick Soldier Center, but then the irl location of that is actually a nuclear dumping site cannonically); it’s actually really hard to put things in the exact same positions relative to one another becuase the game map isn’t to scale, so for example things like the Beantown Brewery end up way more west than they are in cannon (actually the cannonical location is the irl location of Harvard XD - but that goes again back to some of the cool stuff which you can include and expand on if you draw more inspiration from irl). There are actually a lot of things like that, Bostom Common is much larger irl than in game and Swanns Pond is only part of the Common irl (which I think is kind of cool actually).

But anyway I guess what it really comes down to for me, how much is it considered acceptable to change things or move them around to suit my adaptation of a Boston area campaign?

Of course whatever the case is I’m already invested in the game at this point having bought the Tabletop Bundle, I can’t wait for it to ship, I’m so excited! I see myself buying the stuff which comes out next as well when it comes out and I kind of wonder if some of the minis from wasteland warfare would be interesting to add as well. My corporation is raising us to $15 an hour come July as well, so I mean I’ll be able to spend some of my money on it, I’m pretty excited to see what comes next.

Like I said I’m not very familiar with the customs and norms in Tabletop, not having as much past experience, so I appreciate any help understanding.

well darn, I thought this was goign to post in 2D20, sorry.


After a long and thoughtful post my answer is quite brief.

Legally you can do anything you want. It’s your tabletop. Fan fiction has always been okay.
Ethically it’s your call. You might want to have a chat with your players about what they would like to see and about how close they would like to stick to the established cannon.

The bottom line is, if you are GM, it’s your world to do with as you please. Just don’t forget that everyone is there trying to have fun and you can’t really go wrong.


I agree with Candyman. If it is at your table it is your game. As long as all the players are in agreement then change locations around and make up whatever house rules you want.
I don’t think I have ever run a game as it is in the book. Even published scenarios get tweaked to better fit my groups playstyle.

I doubt they would be concerned if you put all of your campaign up on your own website as long as you didn’t infringe their copyright (i.e post chunks of rules or rip off their artwork). They would probably welcome it as an addition to the fan community.

The only time that Modiphius would get involved is if you start putting stuff on DrivethruRPG or similar where the audience is much bigger and it might show next to genuine articles.

Interesting take on the whole DriveThruRPG aspect. Do you have any sources for that? I’d imagine they’d be quite pleased about user generated content, as they don’t have to put in any work to make their game even more attractive by having more content available.
Such a constricting policy might explain why I couldn’t find anything Fallout related on there (except for the few official sourcebooks), so you could well be right. Would love to get an official response to this nevertheless.

Nothing official from Modiphius that I know of. But most companies are fairly conservative about products that use their IP being used to make money or appear to have an official stamp of approval.

Especially where there are licencing issues involved as with STA, Fallout, Infinity, etc… which is the vast majority of the Modiphius product line

I don’t have an expert opinion on the legality of it, I’m not an expert of copyright law but you only have to look at the sheer number of Kickstarter projects which are expansions and addons for “5E” to see that it is very normal in the industry to build on what others have started.
Even GW, who are about as litigious as you can get when it comes to protecting “their” IP, don’t seem to chase after Kickstarters and such which add to their world.

The point where that changes, for most applications, is where people release something which profits from, or undermines, their own abaility to make money. If someone were to release something on DriveThruRPG which reprinted large portions of the rulebook I would expect the IP owner to take swift action. When people on Thingiverse release STLs which are direct copies of GW miniatures, they issues take-down orders (and I don’t think even the loudest of “It’s fair use I want to kitbash” arguments really holds much water.)

It’s a fine line when you start to push the boundaries but most companies recognise the importance of allowing the fanbase to play in the world they are selling. Too much action to stifle that will alienate the customers pretty swiftly.

FWIW the OP’s question makes it pretty clear they are not suggesting anything which comes close to warranting a legal challenge and Modiphius appear to be on the “relaxed and groovy” end of the spectrum when it comes to fan engagement and encouraging the players to take ownership of their world.

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Legally speaking its your property youve bought it, you can do whatever you like apart from replicate & redistribute. Also legally speaking its not your property you cant sell it. Or more correctly you cant give away or distribute for cost any part of the original product or its attached IP.

You can make ghouls product of the FEV, or dogmeat the main character or the entire fallout universe be a dream.

You cannot create a list of weapons for the game and sell that list for money. You can give that list away.

You cannot create a list of new weapons and sell that list for money. You can also give this away.

I beleive you can create entirely new ideas for weapons and list them with no stats or ties to the Fallout game world. I beleive you could sell that HOWEVER Modiphius could sue if your ideas border on their IP.

So spring loaded rocket launcher … dangerously close to the fatman … gas powered grenade launcher … fine as long as it doesnt reference the game or fallout :smiley: