Ongoing Legal Battle between Wizards of the Coast, and TSR LLC reaches new stage

In the wake of numerous, and more recent controversies, such as the racist and transphobic content found in the playtest version of TSR LLC’s ‘Star Frontiers: New Genesis’. Wizards of the Coast, the current publisher of Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game, owned by conglomerate Hasbro has filed a preliminary injunction against TSR LLC in an attempt to prevent the publication, and sale of this new version of a beloved TTRPG classic produced by the original TSR.

The lawsuit cites conflicts over the intellectual property, and reprehensible content which includes racist, transphobic and questionable text.

TSR LLC (NuTSR, TSR3.5) is the result of an attempt by founders Ernie Gygax, son of the late Gary Gygax, Stephen Dineheart, and Justin LaNasa (owner and operator of the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum) to re-establish the TSR brand under their ownership, a defunct brand which was best known for publishing the very first original version of Dungeons & Dragons in 1973 and subsequently acquired by WotC in 1997.

TSR LLC claims that WotC allowed the TSR and Star Frontiers trademarks to expire around the early 2000s, and moved in swiftly to reclaim them, citing that they were eligible for use. TSR LLC also seeks the removal of a content disclaimer placed by WotC on digital versions of older TSR products, including the original Keep on the Borderlands module, which was sold as part of the original Red Box D&D product.

As part of a now-cancelled Indiegogo campaign fundraiser, TSR LLC made the following statement regarding this content disclaimer.

“This disclaimer attempts to make a statement of fact argument, and therefore paints all of the writers, editors, artists and consumers of those products as supporting those alleged prejudices, stereotypes and bigotry, wrongfully claimed to be part of those products,” TSR LLC wrote online

TSR LLC

This is just another step in that battle, and in July things came to a further head when the playtest materials leaked for the Star Frontiers: New Genesis RPG. Gamers read the material and found transphobic, racist, and questionable content within its pages. These included a negro race described as a: ‘Subrace’ with an average intelligence score, and a maximum intelligence of 9. Meanwhile, the norse race has a minimal intelligence of 13.

The preliminary injunction notes these points and cites them as an example from this playtest.

WotC has been working to address issues in its own publications, where harmful tropes have pervaded for a while. Such as all evil races such as the dark elves, being black skinned, and treated as villains.

Wizards would be irreparably harmed by the publication and distribution of the game using its trademarks because consumers may mistakenly associate Wizards with the reprehensible content of the game, damaging its reputation and goodwill and undermining its efforts to foster a culture that embraces diversity.

Wizards counsel, preliminary injunction

The legal battle between WotC and TSR LLC seeks to reclaim the TSR brand, and prevent further damage, this also includes blocking the sale and creation of TSR LLCs products such as New Genesis which also uses the unique logo, and branding which WotC had acquired in 1997.

Wizards has licensed the TSR Mark and related Dungeons & Dragons intellectual property to OneBookShelf, Inc., which sells older editions of Dungeons & Dragons products bearing TSR Mark. OneBookShelf has sold products bearing the TSR Mark continuously since December 2012.” This includes, at time of writing, Star Frontiers itself.

Wizards of the Coast

The legal fight is expected to continue for a while, and you can find out much more through Geekwire and NoHateInGaming.

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