Last year I translated DURF, a rules-light dungeon-fantasy tabletop role-playing game to Finnish. This was made possible by the permissive Creative Commons license on the game. Now I found some time to translate the System Reference Document (SRD) of micro RPG sci-fi series 2400 as well. You can find the translation on Itch.

Again, this was possible because the 24XX rules are available on a Creative Commons license. It also helped that the rules fit to the two sides of a paper sheet1, and this includes a cover and some random tables, so there wasn’t that much to translate. However, as was the case with DURF translation, making the Finnish translation fit in the given space was a challenge. I had to really cram the text and play around with margins.

Most other translations had opted to switch the front cover art of the rulebook, and so did I. For a pulpy sci-fi game, playing around with some out of copyright pulp scifi magazines could have been an option but I wasn’t totally sure what the copyright situation with those were. However, NASA’s Image and Video Library has an insane amount of content and not just photographs - there’s a treasure trove of concept art as well. For this translation, I went with this concept of Skylab 4 astronauts observing Comet Kohoutek, although I rotated and cropped the comet out of the picture.

Artist's concept of Skylab 4 astronauts observing Comet Kohoutek
Artist's concept of Skylab 4 astronauts observing Comet Kohoutek

One thing that is interesting with 24XX and DURF and many others is that there is a business model behind these permissively licensed rules and SRDs, which I did not cover in my original take on them and was behind the original D&D SRD as well, the rules might be free, but the adventures, modules and other content rarely are. The free rules allow others to contribute to the ecosystem and this makes the game stronger. The accessibility of the rules doesn’t just mean the cost of the rulebook but also the simplicity and ease of contribution. One great example of this is how much user-contributed content exists for a game like Mörk Borg2 - it even has its own official sub-label, Mörk Borg Cult, for selected, approved and curated MÖRK BORG content written by fans and laid out and illustrated by us.

I have often talked about platforms on this blog, and these permissively licensed rules and SRDs are a great example of their power3. There’s probably more to write about this aspect later on.