News Digest: Gaming Hurricane Relief Efforts, Buck Rogers Lawsuit, Star Frontier Maybe Coming Back, and more!
  • News Digest: Gaming Hurricane Relief Efforts, Buck Rogers Lawsuit, Star Frontier Maybe Coming Back, and more!


    Hello everyone, Darryl here…somehow…with this week’s gaming news! A lot of gaming fundraisers and donations for Hurricane Harvey relief, Star Frontiers possibly coming back, a lawsuit over Buck Rogers rights, a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP event cancelled, and more!


    I’d like to start out this week’s column a little differently. Some of you may know that I live in Texas. Specifically, my city, Nederland, is about two blocks from the city line of Port Arthur. Somehow, I have made it through Harvey with very little impact aside from my own sanity (constant worry, preparations, and stress don’t couple well with anxiety disorder).

    However, some weren’t so lucky. Normally I place individual crowdfunding or charity efforts at the end of my column, but this time I’d like to open with it. Jason Yarnell is a game designer and owner of D3 Adventures. His home was badly affected by Hurricane Harvey. While he and his family are safe, his home took on several feet of floodwater and they’ve lost most of their possessions. They’re looking at weeks if not months of recovery and rebuilding efforts to get back to normal. Jason’s sister has set up a Go Fund Me campaign in order to assist him. If you can, please consider donating.

    Many other efforts are underway to help with fundraising for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Author Ari Marmell (whose work you may recognize from Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Vampire: The Masquerade) will donate proceeds from sales of his self-published book series and his Patreon donations to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. You can purchase The Conqueror’s Shadow and The Warlord’s Legacy from his Corvis Rebaine dark fantasy series, the Strange New Worlds: Tales of Heroism, Hi-jinks, and Horror short story anthology, or donate directly to his Patreon for access to exclusive unpublished fiction and essays on fiction, writing, and game design.

    The Houston-based Minionworks podcast network is putting together a Twitch marathon “Roll for Relief” on Saturday, September 9 starting at 11:45AM and running until midnight. The GoFundMe has been set up in advance so you can donate now, or wait until the live stream to benefit the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, Texas Diaper Bank, Houston Food Bank, Corpus Christi Food Bank, and Houston Humane Society.

    Z-Man Games announced their newest version of Pandemic called Pandemic: Rising Tides which uses similar mechanics as the original game now focused on flood management. The company scheduled this announcement far in advance, but were struck by horrible timing. Z-Man Games have pulled their original product announcement and are currently reformatting it as they researched ways for portions of the sales of their new game to go toward storm relief. On Friday, they announced that $5 from each pre-order will go toward storm relief efforts.

    Green Ronin placed all items in the A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying line on sale at 10% off and will donate 20% of all proceeds from purchases in their store to the Houston Food Bank and Houston Humane Society. In the announcement, they also provided information on how to locate charities to donate to.

    Chris Perkins tweeted out pictures of Wizards of the Coast staff putting together game care packages. Which may sound like a silly thing for a large company to donate on the surface, but it can make a huge difference right now. Having gone through this before with Hurricane Rita, if you’re in a shelter, you’ve got nothing to do. You’re in a strange room with strange people in a terrifying situation and you’ve got nothing to do other than sit and think about how horrible things are. Having a distraction like tabletop games is a godsend in situations like this because it allows you to focus on something – anything – besides worry and anxiety. Any TVs nearby will be showing the news, laptops and phones need power and there’s limited outlets even if the cell towers are still operational, and a book can only last you so long before you’re finished. Tabletop games require no power, are easily portable, provide a distraction, and help ease anxiety about the strangers you’re sharing this terrifying moment with, especially for children who are experiencing an event they’re not prepared for and have no frame of reference to understand fully.

    Finally, a massive bundle of games from so many companies is available on Drive Thru for only $25 with all proceeds going to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. The retail value of the bundle is over $400 and I can’t even start to list all the products included. There are books for 5th Edition, Pathfinder, Icons, Prowlers & Paragons, Savage Worlds, FATE, Mutants & Masterminds and a lot more, including sourcebooks, core rulebooks, adventures, and supplements from first party and third party publishers.


    By Night Studios and Masquerade By Night cancelled their Tampa By Night event for the Vampire: The Masquerade LARP last week. The event was scheduled for September 28-October 1 before the cancellation. Masquerade By Night posted the announcement to the event page on Facebook:

    Effective immediately, By Night Studios is canceling Tampa by Night.

    It is our duty to provide an environment that is safe for and tolerant of all people; regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic. When we encounter anything less--when we feel that we cannot guarantee the safety and security of our guests--we feel that we owe it to our community, our partners, our sponsors, and ourselves to change course immediately.

    We deeply regret the inconvenience this causes to those planning to attend the event, but in this instance we feel it is the responsible thing to do. We will be issuing refunds in the order we received ticket purchases on a rolling basis, to be completed by 9/30 at the latest.


    Asked for comment to provide further context, representatives for By Night Studios stated that they could not comment further due to legal issues. However, a comment from poster Ryan Marsh offered a possible explanation. The LARP was to take place at a Tampa club called The Castle, which recently had an employee quit over harassment issues from a Neo-Nazi group at the club as well as staff members and model-cosplayers frequently cosplaying in Nazi regalia including SS uniforms and anti-Jewish propaganda with multiple incidents of racial, anti-LGBT, and religious harassment culminating in a violent incident. The Castle posted a statement that they have a zero tolerance policy for Nazi or hate group iconography of costuming, but those involved in the harassment reportedly have not been fired.


    Speculation abounds about a “new” edition of Star Frontiers after a trademark filing from Evil Hat Games went public. Though there is not an official announcement yet, but the trademark application was filed on July 2, 2017, for “Star Frontiers” for use as “Dice; Equipment sold as a unit for playing role playing games games; Equipment sold as a unit for playing board games; Board games; Role playing games; Tabletop games”. If Evil Hat were to publish a version of Star Frontiers, it would be a new game as a “spiritual successor” to the original as that intellectual property would still be owned by Wizards of the Coast. Therefore, it would be similar to the Alternity reboot from Sasquatch Games where the original trademark has been abandoned, but the text of the original game is still under copyright.


    Speaking of trademarks, a lawsuit over the rights for Buck Rogers is going to trial. The plaintiff in the lawsuit are descendants of author Phillip Francis Newman who originally created the character and the descendants of John Flint Dille who published the Buck Rogers newspaper strip in the 1940s and are the current owners of the intellectual property. You may know the main defendant in the lawsuit, Lorraine Williams, as the former CEO of TSR who oversaw the company in its final years before being sold to Wizards of the Coast in 1997. Williams leveraged her rights to Buck Rogers and position at TSR to create the Buck Rogers XXVc roleplaying game, designed by Mike Pondsmith. The lawsuit itself is…complicated. The short version is Newman’s widow sold the rights to Dille after Newman’s death in a lawsuit settlement, but the Newman Family Trust and Dille Family Trust have been filing trademark applications, counter-applications, and various other requests for dismissal of each other’s trademark filings and objection filings all due to a potential television deal with NBC-Universal for a revival/reboot television series. The roleplaying game license to TSR is the last time the Buck Rogers trademark has been active and is evidence in the trial.


    Doomtown Reloaded is the poker-themed territory card game based on the Deadlands roleplaying game from AEG and PEG. This Kickstarter is for There Comes a Reckoning, a 24 card expansion (plus more with stretch goals, currently more than twenty more unlocked) with four copies of each for every deck, adding new themes and a new card type for all six factions in the game. Not only do you get the cards, but every reward level also includes the Doomtown sourcebook for Deadlands! A printable PDF version is available for $15, while the expansion alone is $25, a special storage box for $50, and the base set for $75. This Kickstarter is far, far beyond its funding goal with many stretch goals for more cards to unlock until the project funds on Monday, September 25.

    The City of Seven Seraphs is a capstone campaign setting book for Pathfinder from Lost Spheres Publishing and is inspired by “Epic 2nd edition adventures in the Planes”. Planescape. They mean Planescape and just can’t legally say Planescape, but it’s Planescape. It’s Colin McComb, Wolfgang Baur, and a bunch of other designers whose names you recognize doing a Pathfinder version of technically-not-Planescape. The book details each of the eight districts of the city as well as the various organizations and important NPCs, plus new feats, spells, archetypes, monsters, playable races, and seven new base classes. The PDF version is available for a $21 pledge, the hardcover version for $49, and both for $63. But you have to hurry because this fully-funded Kickstarter ends this Sunday, September 10.

    That’s all from me for this week! Find more gaming crowdfunding news at the EN World RPG Kickstarter News website, and don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you even more gaming news content. If you have any news to submit, email us at news@enworldnews.com. You can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse where I realized that I don’t need to find space on my SSD to install a 15 year old point-and-click adventure game so I’ll be trying to decide what games of the 300 or so I’ve installed this past week, or you can listen to the archives of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. Until next time, may all your hits be crits! Note: Links to Amazon, Humble Store, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Matthan's Avatar
      Matthan -
      The City of Seven Seraphs looks amazing in every way except that it's for Pathfinder. I'm a 5E guy at this point and epic Pathfinder sounds like it would be an absolute pain to convert. It's a shame too. That's a great talent line up and it sounds very interesting. I just can't justify the purchase for a game system that I don't use. Also, just a slight correction, but the kickstarter hasn't fully funded yet.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Matthan View Post
      The City of Seven Seraphs looks amazing in every way except that it's for Pathfinder. I'm a 5E guy at this point and epic Pathfinder sounds like it would be an absolute pain to convert. It's a shame too. That's a great talent line up and it sounds very interesting. I just can't justify the purchase for a game system that I don't use. Also, just a slight correction, but the kickstarter hasn't fully funded yet.
      Just quick clarification because it could easily be misconstrued, but it's "epic" in being expansive and dealing with grand ideas, not "epic" as in 3.0-style Epic Level 21+. Wasn't sure if that's what you meant, but just in case, I'd hate to see that misunderstanding spread.

      I'm not involved with it, so I don't know what the final contents will look like, but from what I've seen and considering the inspirations, I wouldn't be surprised if it was very heavy on ideas and setting material that could be easily ported over. I've been moving more and more into 5e as well, but I love Planescape and planar material and am hoping this will have plenty of great setting/flavor that I can use.
    1. Matthan's Avatar
      Matthan -
      Quote Originally Posted by kenmarable View Post
      Just quick clarification because it could easily be misconstrued, but it's "epic" in being expansive and dealing with grand ideas, not "epic" as in 3.0-style Epic Level 21+. Wasn't sure if that's what you meant, but just in case, I'd hate to see that misunderstanding spread.

      I'm not involved with it, so I don't know what the final contents will look like, but from what I've seen and considering the inspirations, I wouldn't be surprised if it was very heavy on ideas and setting material that could be easily ported over. I've been moving more and more into 5e as well, but I love Planescape and planar material and am hoping this will have plenty of great setting/flavor that I can use.
      That's a great catch because that was my genuine misunderstanding. I thought they were positioning it as high level play. I love Planescape and the ideas that they're throwing out, but there is a lot of mechanics included in the book going by the descriptions. New races, feats, spells, classes, prestige classes, and more. If that was 5E material, I would be thrilled, but those options are not easily translated into 5E. I'm torn. I have other Pathfinder books that I bought and have converted or just use for inspiration, but I feel like this is to much that I don't need.

      I will say that I feel like the price for a printed copy seems pretty fair for that size and full color. If you're a Pathfinder person, it looks like a great buy.
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      The roleplaying game license to TSR is the last time the Buck Rogers trademark has been active and is evidence in the trial.
      The "War Against the Han" supplement for the Buck Rogers Adventure Game (the SECOND Buck Rogers RPG that TSR tried to market over a 5 year span, not the XXVc game shown in the picture above) was published in 1993. I know that's not the last time the trademark was active because Dynamite had a Buck Rogers comic book that they tried to launch within the last decade. A quick check on Google says it was 2009 - and I remembered it because Dynamite had a Buck Rogers issue as part of their Free Comic Book Day push that year. Wikipedia suggests that there was also an action figure line at the same time. There were also some collections of the old daily strips into books around the same time.

      Still -not a lot of action on the Buck Rogers front.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      The "War Against the Han" supplement for the Buck Rogers Adventure Game (the SECOND Buck Rogers RPG that TSR tried to market over a 5 year span, not the XXVc game shown in the picture above) was published in 1993. I know that's not the last time the trademark was active because Dynamite had a Buck Rogers comic book that they tried to launch within the last decade. A quick check on Google says it was 2009 - and I remembered it because Dynamite had a Buck Rogers issue as part of their Free Comic Book Day push that year. Wikipedia suggests that there was also an action figure line at the same time. There were also some collections of the old daily strips into books around the same time.

      Still -not a lot of action on the Buck Rogers front.
      I meant the game line in general, and I was quoting from the Hollywood Reporter article. Part of the lawsuit is dilution of trademark by the Newman Family Trust after they got some of the rights to the property in another in this series of lawsuits and started licensing Buck Rogers out to anyone and everyone, at least according to the filings by the Dille estate. I believe the Dynamite Comics license is part of Newman's licensing of the property and not Dille's, but I'm not 100% sure because--

      Okay, I've covered a lot of intellectual property lawsuits over the years, from the D&D movie rights to BattleTech mech designs to Games Workshop trying to claim trademark on "Space Marine". This is probably the most tangled and long-running battle I've seen and, because it's in active litigation, people aren't talking publicly (especially because no one will indemnify anyone else in the lawsuit, which means any of the licensors could get dragged into this thing). I'm pretty sure there's more legal paperwork filed on the Buck Rogers rights at this point than there are pages of fiction about Buck Rogers. I am not exaggerating when I say how much of a mess this whole thing is and what I posted in the column is the Cliff's Notes of the Cliff's Notes of the Cliff's Notes of what's going on.
    Comments Leave Comment