A hypothetical question



I'm just curious as to the following... Since

a) The Conan RPG is released under the OGL license, making the ruleset open content


b) A considerable amount of Robert E. Howard stories are, at least according to some sources (such as http://www.robert-e-howard.org/AnotherThought4ws02.html ), already in the public domain

does this, when taken together, mean that just anybody could publish RPG material based on the Mongoose OGL rules, using names and characters from Howard's public domain stories?

Or are there special rights/licenses involved regarding "spin-off products" such as comics, RPGs, miniatures, etc ? I assume so, since otherwise Mongoose wouldn't have to license the Conan name to publish the Conan RPG...?

For example, since "Hour of the Dragon" is listed as being in the public domain (see above link), anybody could print and publish that story in a book, and even write their own story/novel including characters and places mentioned in that work, but they could not create a comic book or an RPG adventure based on the same names and places? And if not, why not?

The same question basically applies to Burrough's Mars/Opar, Tarzan, the Sherlock Holmes stories, etc. (also works in public domain).

This might spark off a lengthy debate with much speculation, but perhaps the folks at Mongoose could clarify the situation, since they should know the nitty-gritty legal details... ?

- thulsa
As I understand it, everything you suggest is possible, except that Conan is a trademark and so you couldn't publish any of that using the Conan name.