Copper Hook wrote:
I very much doubt that any of us could sell Harn stuff and not get sued, no matter if we wrote the stuff ourselves...
Hârn and HârnMaster are not registered trademarks. At least the last time I checked.
You don't have to register (R) a trademark (TM) in order to have protection under the law, at least not in the USA. It is true that people in foreign countries must be sued in their country, making the likelihood of a lawsuit pretty much zero unless the infriongement is against a major company, and/or one with offices in the country of the infringement.
It is one thing to say your product is "Compatible with HarnMaster, produced by Columbia Games, Inc." and another to use the trademarks, product identity and copywritten intellectual property of another within your product. Game mechanics cannot generally be copywritten, though I think they can be patented, as in the case of WoTC successfully getting the patent to all "collectible trading card games" (not that I agree with that ruling).
Back to my original topic:
Whether Harn needs d20 or not is not really the issue, nor am I saying it's the best system out there or even the best fit for Harn). What Harn needs (in my opinion) is a major push into the RPG market in a format acceptable to said market. d20 owns a big chunk of the market, therefore it makes sense to cash in on WoTC's marketing. Shane did a good job of producing a d20 version of Harn rules, and I produced a 20+ page document myself for my own d20 Harn campaign. It can be done!
However, GURPS might be a better fit (rules wise) and also has a large audience, so producing a GURPS HarnWorld book might be another way to go. Or producing simply a new rules-neutral generic HarnWorld Campaign Setting hardcover could be another option. However, I think cashing in on d20 is the smartest move financially, as it commands the largest slice of the pie. There is nothing prohibiting producing both GURPS and d20 Harn (aside from licensing issues with WoTC and SJG).
HarnMaster I think, may be dead as far as mainstream acceptance goes, but I could very well be wrong. Without an even more aggressive marketing effort, though, it won't succeed. That's why I advocate going with producing sourcebooks for an already established and far more popular name brand rules system, to take advantage of their already sizable built-in audience and marketing efforts. Since CGI/NRC seem to have poor abilities to finance anything of any such magnitude, that's why I again advocate for getting a big d20 publisher like White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery, Mongoose, AEG, Mystic Eye or Green Ronin to handle production costs, commissioning artwork, and distribution. It makes sense, financially, from a risk management standpoint.
And Patrick/Copper Hook, you and I have crossed swords before on this and similar issues, and there is no offense taken. You've done an amazing job at producing super high quality Harnic works; your love of Harn and ability as a writer is not in question. Neither should my love, nor my desire to see Harn become something more than it is (or likely will ever be, given the past and present state of affairs). I also don't mean to speak badly of CGI or NRC *except* as it applies to their business and marketing skills in relation to Harn. Nobody can be great at everything, which is why you hire or farm out the areas you're not good at to those who are (I'm not advocating myself for any such position, just pointing out a common fact).