Brazilian D&D Translators Fall Out Over Translation Rights
  • Brazilian D&D Translators Fall Out Over Translation Rights


    Things are afoot in Brazil, in what will no doubt become known as "Brazil Translatorgate" or something similar - as a dispute breaks out between the Brazilian company Fire on Board for the recently announced Dungeons & Dragons translations and three other companies who claim they had an agreement with Fire on Board to undertake the project as a joint venture. The dispute has been reported on various sites, with the gist being that the CEO of Fire on Board was appointed to act as spokesman for the group in negotiations with Hasbro (or Gale Force 9, which is overseeing all translations) but instead signed an agreement for just his own company. Fire on Board announced on Facebook on 21 March that it had the license and remains the current licensee for D&D translations in Brazil. Fire on Board, for its part, appears to deny any wrongdoing and says that it notified the other companies that it was withdrawing from negotiations with them, and that at no point was any formal agreement made.



    The various reports cover various emails and conversations and other materials. It's all presented from just one side of the dispute, of course, but here's a summary as best I can make it out, with the caveat that the below is the position from one side of the dispute:

    1. On 28 Nov 2015 Antônio de Sá of Redbox indicated that discussions with Hasbro were beginning.
    2. Fábio Ribeiro, also of Redbox, convened four Brazilian companies (Rigo, RedBox, Maple BR, and Fire on Board) to form a joint venture called FMR.
    3. Several months of planning and communications take place between the four companies. It's not clear what, if anything, was happening between them and Hasbro during this time, because then...
    4. Hasbro surprised them by announcing Gale Force 9 as the global D&D translation licensee.
    5. FMR approached GF9 to begin negotiations represented by João Barcelos, owner of Fire on Board. It seems GF9 were not aware of the prior history. They met at Spiel Essen (the big German gaming convention) in October 2016.
    6. FMR itself meets amongst itself in November 2016 to divide duties. As a result of this meeting, Redbox began hiring staff for translation and layout design. Fire on Board, however, claims that the meeting resulted in "nothing concrete. We talked and shared ideas." It appears that nothing was signed (see below).
    7. Redbox invoiced the other members of the partnership for the recent hirings, and Fire on Board paid its share.
    8. Meetings between Fire on Board and GF9 continued, with no clear information coming from either party.
    9. Contract deadlines get pushed back twice; at this point it seems that FMR, in February 2017, has not yet actually signed anything, but that's not clear. It's two years since they first formed their joint venture.
    10. On February 15th, Fire on Board notifies the rest of FMR that it is withdrawing from the project. "For strategic and logistical reasons, as well as some occurrences that go against the ethical philosophy of the company, Fire on Board Games will not be able to go along with the project sketched out during the meeting we had. Therefore, all the negotiations for the putative formalization of this project are impeded. We decided to formalize this by email to make sure that everyone, that is all the recipients of this email, is aware of this at the same time."
    11. The remaining members of FMR contacted GF9 to find out that Fire on Board had signed a deal with them to handle the Brazilian translations, and that GF9 was not aware of the other companies.
    12. On 21st March, WotC announced publicly that GF9 would be handling translations into various languages, with Fire on Board as the Brazilian distributor.


    That, at least, is what I can make out from the existing articles about the situation (linked above). The CEO of Fire on Board has a different view, as he posted in a public statement: he says that the entire translation arrangement was between Fire on Board and GF9, and that they met with the other three Brazilian companies informally and exchanged ideas with a view to possibly forming FMR, but after Redbox hired translators and billed Fire on Board for it (a bill Fire on Board paid - which seems odd, if no agreement had been made yet) they decided not to work with those companies.

    The dispute appears to be the timing and the actuality of any agreements. The four companies first spoke in November 2015, and by February 2017 no contract had yet been signed. Fire on Board takes the position that no agreement existed; the other companies feel that the amount of communication, meetings, and so forth represented an (informal) agreement with Fire on Board has breached. The Brazilian D&D community appears to be incensed about the situation, generally taking the side of FMR, and FMR is speaking publicly about potential legal action (I'm no lawyer, so I couldn't possibly comment as to the legal situation). WotC and GF9 have made no comment on the matter, and I would be surprised if they did.

    I would suggest reading the above articles and the statements made before forming an opinion. There is more detail and nuance that I was unable to cover. Here are the English translations of the statements from those involved, courtesy of Pedro Coelho - they are quite emotional and accusatory.

    Redbox

    "IT WAS A SPECIAL DAY... November 28th, 2015. Fábio Ribeiro, our freight forwarder, had found an opening with Hasbro and there was the possibility we could start talking about publishing D&D [5th] in Brazil. For such an arduous, massive, and heavy task, Fábio made the first of the many mistakes we would make throughout the whole story, but certainly the gravest one.

    He put together a group of publishers to work on the D&D project, an assembly that would be capable of getting D&D published in portuguese in Brazil.

    Redbox, Meeple BR, and Fire on Board were invited to form a new publisher, a joint venture called FMR (from the company's starting letters—Fire Meeple Red) with the sole purpose of publishing D&D.

    After months of meetings, comings and goings, e-mails exchanged, projects planned, forms filled, we were very close to bringing the D&D license to Brazil when we got word of some hot news. Gale Force Nine in England was sublicensing D&D to other languages, with Hasbro's endorsement. Now we knew why our process was stalled in Seattle.

    This is where we made mistake #2. Check it out:

    We swapped Fábio, our mediator with Hasbro/Wizards, for Fire on Board's João Barcelos. From then on, João would be responsible for negotiating D&D's licensing for FMR [the joint venture]. And so it went the whole year of 2016, when we had a meeting in Essen with Gale Force Nine.

    In this meeting, we got to know the whole [GF9] team, we were informed that we would be the D&D publisher in Brazil, that everything was fine and that we should hurry with the production, translation, etc. It was all settled. What was missing, though? Wizard's contract with us, which was being "approved" by the head office and would be signed soon.

    Having received this positive answer, we moved on to the practical side of things. We set up a meeting with the [FMR] companies here in Niterói in November 2016. These were the last steps towards having D&D in protuguese. And they were taken on a Saturday of strenuous work, in a meeting that took us practically the whole day.

    The people attending this meeting were Fabiano and myself from Redbox, Diego Bianchini from Meeple Br, Fábio Ribeiro from Rigo Logistics, and an entourage from Fire On Board: João Barcelos, his girlfriend Aline, and his girlfriend's brother (?!?!?) Yuri.

    Many decisions were taken. Pricing, workflow policies, division of work (Redbox would be in charge of editing, translating, layouting and printing, as well as commercial planning), a new publishing label to avoid confusion between the joint venture's products and the individual companies' previous work, that we would keep a blog dedicated to non-official content, who would do this and that.

    Basically, we decided the whole contractual obligations of FMR. We knew who was going to do what and how much each company would have to chip in to be part of the deal. Since it was already November and the deadlines were short, we began the translation process right the following week.

    We rounded up a team of professional translators and proofreaders (Gabriel de Oliveira Bum, Nino Xavier Simas, and Elisa Guimarães), who also happened to be players, to translate the Player's Handbook. Igor Moreno was in charge of managing the translation job. I know very few people in Brazil who know more about translation, the English language, and D&D 5th (thanks, man! We got tricked but thank you for a top notch job).

    However, after having agreed upon the creation of the company, a few things started to happen that flashed a yellow light. Unfortunately, we never had a clear picture of what was going on...

    The contract from Wizards of the Coast never came. The meetings João Barcelos held [with GF9] were not clearly reported back to us. Just short and vague sentences, like "they are tired from an event. We'll decide it next week" and such. The yellow light began to turn orange.

    The new year arrived and we were promised a signed contract in January! We waited Januray and once again the contract signing got postponed.

    In February we found out that Fire on Board was already using the moniker "the D&D publisher in Brazil" as a way to boost its performance with game store owners. When we called João Barcelos out for this, he apologized and said it wouldn't happen again. It didn't.

    On the day we were supposed to receive the contract for us to sign, we got instead a vague email full of pseudo-legal jargon telling us Fire on Board had no longer any interest in the project and was puling out of the D&D/FRM venture.

    How come? Where did the negotiations [with GF9] stop? Why are you withdrawing? They didn't answer any of those questions, and when we reached out to GF9 to resume the negotiations, *boom*!

    "Fire on Board has already signed the contract for the portuguese translation of D&D. We're sorry but we were not aware of your story. Good riddance."

    And that's how we came to know we'd gotten screwed over. Really screwed over.

    We had a lot of meetings to decide how to deal with this. Should we get it all out in the open? Sue? Block the deal? Send a written notice through our lawyers? We have piles of evidence, emails, pictures, messages, even audio and video, is it worth filing a lawsuit? Should we inform Wizards of the Coast and Gale Force Nine of the legal complications ahead? There were a lot of suggestions.

    In the end, we decided not to stand in the way of D&D in Brazil. It wouldn't be fair to all the players that long for the books and don't have the opportunity to play the game in English. We don't want to harm our market. We won't screw anyone over.

    This is all part of life. Part of what you believe in. Call it karma, hell, eternal damnation, conscience, the dark side of the force. Whatever it is you believe in. This kind of thing comes around, and increased twofold! Enjoy it while you can! Be happy! And keep your head down when you bump into us. People who act like that, who believe that "all is fair in the corporate world", usually don't get very far. Or sometimes they do, but the higher they climb... #eikefeelings [t/n: this is a reference to Brazilian former billionaire Eike Batista who recently lost his companies and is facing criminal charges for fraud and other shenanigans]

    It must be a huge accomplishment, to announce [D&D] in your own country and language! More than the truckloads of money (which we know won't come, by our calculations and budget predicitons made during the project), one must feel very proud to hold the D&D license in Brazil. Even if it means deceiving three other companies and dozens of people, and crushing the personal and childhood dreams of many.

    Finally, to wrap it up: congratulations to the Brazilian RPG market that gets to have D&D in Portuguese once again. Congratulations to Fire on Board for their masterstroke. Maybe you do understand D&D better than we do, since you rolled 20 on the backstabbing.

    To us, all that is left is to erase the lost HPs and move on. See you at 20th level."

    Fire on Board

    "As CEO of Fire on Board Games, I come forward to talk about the lying, false accusations that are being shared in social networks about Fire on Board Games.

    Now I'll tell you how it all really happened. The whole negotiation, since the beginning, was conducted between Fire on Board Games and Gale Force Nine, our partner in this project. There was no middleman, besides me, in charge of international contracts. The partnership was struck and we worked hard to do it. Both sides did.

    As meetings went by, we considered a few Brazilian companies to help us in this big project. We do not deny that we talked to these companies. We did. We bounced ideas around but, as I'll explain later in this text, they didn't pan out for a number of reasons, the main one being a lack of trust.

    Therefore, let's make it clear: there was no change of middleman, no negotiations directly with Wizards/Hasbro. There was no sort of agreement between Fire on Board and the other publishers.

    I was informed by [Antônio Pop's] post that the negotiations were about to come to a close. Now, I ask you: how can something come to a close before even starting?

    We had a face-to-face meeting in which nothing came to be. We talked and made conjectures. And, at this occasion, Redbox decided to go ahead with the translation. Afterwards, such translation was billed to us and we paid it through a money transfer to Diego Bianchini. But we never even got it [the translation], saw it, took part in it, etc.

    Incidentally, we feel sorry for the translators that worked hard to deliver a fine job that, although we never saw it, we are sure must have turned out pretty good considering the people involved in it.

    As time went by, there were many hindrances that made it clear that starting a partnership with the other companies would not be viable. I could mention a series of events that happened and were harmful to Fire On Board Games and to the coming of D&D [to Brazil]. Most of them due to disagreements and lack of trust. Since we had been working with Gale Force Nine on our own since the beginning, we decided not to associate with the other companies and to focus on the work we were already doing.

    We let those companies know in due time that we did not wish to engage in any sort of agreement with them.

    We worked hard, really hard, to bring D&D to Brazil. We're talking about many Fortitude Saves to avoid exhaustion.

    I'm sad to know that this is all coming to public knowledge on such a happy day for the whole RPG community and for us. However, we are happy to know with 100% certainty that we made the right choice.

    We do not owe anything to anyone. This clarification is for our clients, customers, fans, followers, and RPG and board games enthusiasts. This is not an attack on any companies, since we don't need to do that to grow and succeed.

    We never harmed anyone and we have a clear conscience about our actions and responsibilities.

    I ask of you not to believe in something as empty and unprofessional. I'm sure that a project as wonderful as D&D would not go to a small (in demeanor) company that keeps discussing personal issues on Facebook.

    We do not post anything related to envious hashtags or the like. We are not like that and we don't do this sort of thing. Again, we are here to hear your doubts, questions, and other demands.

    These are the facts.

    The launch of D&D is incredible news. We didn't want to have to go through this nor to force you to do so, either. We apologize. It was really our mistake: to try something with them.

    We are here to make a great work. May the new dragon arrive in Brazil in all its beauty and its glory.

    Thank you to all who wish us success. We work for you!

    João Barcelos and Fire on Board team."

    Meeple BR

    "Today, a problem concerning D&D 5th edition and Fire on Board Games started circulating after Antonio Pop of Redbox Publishing poured his heart out. The situation had a lot of repercussion, and well reflects the political-cultural moment we curently face in our country.

    Due to many friends and partners' requests for clarification about the case, it is fair that we position ourselves: yes, the claims in Redbox's post are true, every line of it.

    For over a year, the 3 publishers (Fire on Board, Redbox and MeepleBR) worked together with the goal of obtaining the D&D license. There were many months of negotiations, intense talks, expectations, and investment (the latter, confirmed by Fire on Board themselves).

    Our intention as a conglomerate was to form a new company that would deal with the licensing, [a company] that had its contracts written down, e-mails exchanged, terms of acceptance issued, and transactions made. Each [affiliated] company took on a responsibility, and it fell to Fire on Board to conduct marketing and international negotiations. Unfortunately, Fire on Board acted in BAD FAITH, signing the licensing contract directly to themselves, against all conventions signed previously, and ignoring all legal precepts.

    It is our understanding that such a relevant license is quite important, resulting in a huge responsibility towards the fans. Aware of the small size [of Meeple's operation], and acknowledging our limitations, we believed back then that a partnership would be a way to join forces and offer something fresh and good.

    We understand that transparency and trust are vital in today's market, so dynamic and constantly changing. THEREFORE, our intention here is to manifest our COMPLETE DISAPPROVAL OF THE DISLOYAL PRACTICES promoted by Fire on Board, moved solely and purely by its owners' greed. This goes in line with how we behave in face of the current political-cultural crisis [in Brazil]. We don't need actions that serve only to diminish the market, for it is the customer who always ends up paying the price! The market doesn't have to be predatory and without limits. Gladly, it is also our understanding that the market is self-regulated, and situations like this one are no longer tolerated by the customer base, who is eager to support and to buy from responsible, ethical companies, who worry about the environment that they are a part of.

    Finally, we reserve the right to take any legal actions that may apply. And we go on confident in our humble, but honest, work.

    Meeple BR Games"

    Fábio Ribeiro (Rigo Logistics)

    "Well, since my name came up and people are asking me what happened...

    My story doesn't differ much from what Antonio Pop has described...

    Back in 2015 at CCXP [Comic Con Experience] in São Paulo I introduced Fire on Board to Redbox and asked [Antonio] Pop to display the [Fire on Board's] newly-released The Gallerist game on the Redbox's stand (thus giving [Fire on Board] the opportunity to have a new release in one of the biggest events in Latin America). At the time, I saw the opportunity to bring D&D to Brazil (through my contacts at Hasbro). I didn't want to be a megalomaniac who thought he could do it all by himself, so I decided to assemble 3 companies for the task: Fire on Board, Meeple BR, and Redbox - F.M.R. (Hasbro actually has the joint venture's presentation in their hands). That was the start of what has become of D&D in Brazil today. Then, at a certain point, we also started negotiating with Gale Force Nine, which we considered to be a "new front", since Wizards of the Coast was looking for a partner to translate D&D to other languages, but wanted to keep it centralized in one license with other sublicenses. After almost one year of talks, including a visit and a presentation of the companies in a big event in Germany (Spiel de Essen), with a definition of the areas each company would be responsible for inside FMR, with a publishing label named, we were notified by Fire on Board that they were leaving the joint venture. The reason why? None!

    Well, today we learned what "none" meant after Wizards of the Coast and Gale Force Nine announced their international partners.

    But we were already expecting something like this because, after Fire on Board withdrew, Gale Force Nine told us they were dealing with a "new" partner. You know what happened next, my friends.

    Evidence? We have it in abundance... even the split payment for the book translations, there were 4 companies and each of us would have 25% of the joint venture. Legal action? If it were up to me, it would be already in place, but after all it was not a "lone effort", or even "company X's idea"…

    It just saddens me that the arrival of a product beloved by so many is already tainted in its origin."





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    Comments 60 Comments
    1. dropbear8mybaby's Avatar
      dropbear8mybaby -
      Well that didn't take very long.
    1. volanin's Avatar
      volanin -
      Things are heated in the RPG scene here.
      Players in social media are calling for a general boycott.
      There are already memes saying "Backstab Promotion! Betray a friend and get a free PHB!"
    1. Dkamanus's Avatar
      Dkamanus -
      XD

      I, myself, won't be buying PT-BR books, because they might not even be competitive in pricing. And the general meme we are using here is the "Sneak attack with fire damage" xD
    1. jaelis's Avatar
      jaelis -
      Excuse my ignorance, but is there a reason to have separate translators for Brazil and, say Portugal? Or is it that Portugal would use the Brazilian version?
    1. Thiago Rosa Shinken's Avatar
      Thiago Rosa Shinken -
      This saddens me a great deal. Thanks for covering this, Morrus. We need an official statement from GF9, really. Hope this gets their attention.
    1. volanin's Avatar
      volanin -
      Quote Originally Posted by jaelis View Post
      Excuse my ignorance, but is there a reason to have separate translators for Brazil and, say Portugal? Or is it that Portugal would use the Brazilian version?
      Although both countries have Portuguese as the official language, there are many many differences in dialect. Pretty much like US and UK english, but far more disparate. That's why you usually see translations for Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are separate entries in some products.
    1. Barolo's Avatar
      Barolo -
      Quote Originally Posted by jaelis View Post
      Excuse my ignorance, but is there a reason to have separate translators for Brazil and, say Portugal? Or is it that Portugal would use the Brazilian version?
      Even though the language is the same, the way Brazilians and Portuguese build phrases is quite different, and some words that are commonly used in one country are not popular in the other. So it is common for translations and movie subtitles to be done specifically for Brazilian or Portuguese markets.
    1. Reynaldo Junior's Avatar
      Reynaldo Junior -
      We brazilians could use Portugal portuguese but it gets a little odd. The same the other way around.
      Like, say, UK English and US English and Aussie English... there are some minnor differences
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reynaldo Junior View Post
      We brazilians could use Portugal portuguese but it gets a little odd. The same the other way around.
      Like, say, UK English and US English and Aussie English... there are some minnor differences
      Now I want a UK English translation!
    1. robus's Avatar
      robus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Now I want a UK English translation!
      I dare you to pitch it to GF9
    1. volanin's Avatar
      volanin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Now I want a UK English translation!
      I'd definitely pay for an english version with metric units!
    1. SunGold's Avatar
      SunGold -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Now I want a UK English translation!
      I started to laugh at this, but then I remembered that here in 'Murica our Harry Potter books actually were translated into "American English." :\
    1. Istbor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Now I want a UK English translation!
      I would check that out. Sounds interesting and fun.
    1. Beleriphon's Avatar
      Beleriphon -
      Quote Originally Posted by SunGold View Post
      I started to laugh at this, but then I remembered that here in 'Murica our Harry Potter books actually were translated into "American English." :\
      And thus why I'm happy to live in Canada. I can use both units of measure!
    1. duncansalazar -
      Hi, @Morrus, we are using the tag #DnDGateBR here for reference and indexation hehehe
    1. duncansalazar -
      Quote Originally Posted by jaelis View Post
      Excuse my ignorance, but is there a reason to have separate translators for Brazil and, say Portugal? Or is it that Portugal would use the Brazilian version?
      Hi, I'm a linguist, and the translator for D&D 3.0 to 4.0 here in Brazil. Today we have 75% common parlance for Portugal and Brazil, but this is for regular day speaking. Tech terms, specially from 70s, 80s are about 40% similar only. And the use of grammar is becoming more and more similar TO OURS, since there are about 12X more Brazilians than Portugueses (we are almost clocking 200 million here). So, according to "scholars", Brazilian Portuguese will become the official one within the next 100 years or so, specially now that Portugal is welcoming back the whole bunch of Brazilian with Portuguese ascendancies.
    1. José Ozorio Costa's Avatar
      José Ozorio Costa -
      Her in Brazil, The case Took great proportions in the RPG comunity. Mostrar of people take The site of The Red Box puplisher, because ir is onde of The mostrar loved puplishers in our contry. She publish a great OSR RPG caled "Old Dragon" that have a Very active group of suporters and, in general, most of The gamers see them as a Very Nice Company. So when this treachery come to public knowledge you can imagine How angered The people became.
    1. jaelis's Avatar
      jaelis -
      Thanks for the clarifications about Brazil and Portugal!
    1. Dannyalcatraz's Avatar
      Dannyalcatraz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
      And thus why I'm happy to live in Canada. I can use both units of measure!
      I swear, give Canadians a foot, and they'll take a kilometer...
    1. Farrem's Avatar
      Farrem -
      I hope GF9 and WotC cancel the contract with Fire on Board, because they were cheated too. The translation tests and every other aspect of the demands to close the deal on the translation were made by RedBox and Meeple, and Fire on Board was just an intermediate that ended up as the sole publisher. They were never the company they said, and the team that is going to work in D&D now is very different than the team that was presented to GF9, thats a major breach in the contract.
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