Catalyst Game Lab’s “Leviathans Lieutenant’s Manual” and the Creative Commons License

“Leviathans” is a steam-punk miniature air combat game  from Catalyst Game Labs coming out in the Spring of 2010. Hopefully I will get a look at the GAMA Trade Show Leviathans Logo before the release and will post some thoughts. In the interim, Catalyst released the “Leviathans Lieutenant’s Manual.” This 32-page PDF offering contains an introduction to the game and some basic rules. I quickly read through it and it has enough to get a feel for the game and the world.  Catalyst Game Labs sells the PDF for $2.99 at their Battlecorp site, but here is the interesting thing; it is licensed very loosely under the Creative Commons License. Complex legal explanations aside, you can copy the PDF  freely! Catalyst even uploaded a free torrent seed for the  “Leviathans Lieutenant’s Manual.” That said, Catalyst does request a $2.99 payment for each download, but it is on the honor system.  I suggest you check out the Leviathans blog at Monsters in the Sky for more information.

The recent hammer-handed copyright take down threats by Games Workshop are a fascinating counterpoint to this very open business model.  Of course, people can and will take advantage of the “free” part of the license and never pay a cent to Catalyst.  Catalyst believes their game is so good that they can give the books away for free and people will spend  on printed releases, miniatures and other supplemental material.  A game company competing in the market place on the merits of its product line, rather than going after homebrew rules, FAQs and rules summaries with copyright lawyers is a refreshing change.

More importantly, it takes balls. Catalyst took a huge risk with this open model and failure is a real possibility. Taking a financial risk like this requires courage lacking in many large game companies, hide-bound in 20th century business models and archaic ideas of intellectual property.  I hope Catalyst blows Games Workshop and their ilk back the stone-age with “Leviathans.”

I will now go pay my $2.99 to avoid hypocrisy and support a great idea. I hope other downloaders will  do the same. Oh, I do not get a dime from any sales, in case you wondered.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

One thought on “Catalyst Game Lab’s “Leviathans Lieutenant’s Manual” and the Creative Commons License

  • December 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Let us not forget that Catalyst also released the excellent Eclipse Phase under the Creative Commons License, a full RPG core book for sale for $15, as a PDF, and free to copy and download.

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