News Digest: BattleTech/MechWarrior Lawsuit Settled, ENnie Nominations and Voting Dates, The Expanse Getting an RPG, and more!
  • News Digest: BattleTech/MechWarrior Lawsuit Settled, ENnie Nominations and Voting Dates, The Expanse Getting an RPG, and more!


    Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news. BattleTech and MechWarrior legal battle over (for now), ENnie Nominations and Voting, The Expanse coming to tabletops, and more!


    The legal battle over the BattleTech/MechWarrior franchise appears to finally be over. Last week, Harmony Gold settled their lawsuit with Piranha Games and Catalyst Game Labs over the intellectual property rights to mecha designs used in the game series. In case you haven’t followed this particular over-two-decade-old legal battle, I’m going to give you the short, short, short version (yes, I will be leaving out bits and glossing over important details or else this would balloon into a five thousand word essay) before going over the recent developments and their ramifications.

    In 1984, FASA Corporation created the game BattleTech (originally titled “BattleDroids” until a Cease & Desist from LucasFilm over the trademark for the word “Droid”) using around a dozen mecha designs licensed from the anime series Macross. In 1985, Harmony Gold licensed the anime Macross to re-edit and dub the series into the cartoon franchise Robotech. In the mid-1990s, a legal dispute over who had a proper license to the Macross mech designs ended in a sealed settlement between FASA Corporation and Harmony Gold which resulted in those designs no longer appearing in artwork, miniatures, or other media. As the BattleTech property changed hands a few times, attempts were made to redesign these BattleMechs into original designs so they could be used again. Some of these redesigns were used in the production of material for the BattleTech tabletop wargame and roleplaying game from Catalyst Game Labs, the MechWarrior Online video game from Piranha Games, and the BattleTech video game from Harebrained Schemes. Harmony Gold filed a lawsuit against all three companies in 2017.

    As of June 20, 2018, the lawsuit has been settled with prejudice. The terms of the settlement are not part of the public record (which is typical of these sort of cases), but all parties can continue to use the mecha designs and assets as they have been. The dismissal with prejudice means that Harmony Gold cannot sue over these designs again. Because the settlement is sealed, that’s about all we know beyond speculation. But I can’t help but speculate… Based on the court filings, Harmony Gold was backed into a corner by Piranha Games’s legal team as they argued that Harmony Gold didn’t even have the rights they claimed to have for Macross in the first place. The resulting settlement gives Piranha, CGL, and Harebrained everything they wanted (basically to be left the hell alone) and ensures that Harmony Gold can’t file suit again. So hopefully, finally, this entire complicated (seriously, this was the short, short, short version) is over.


    The ENnie Award Nominations for 2018 have been announced. Voting for the ENnie Awards will start next Wednesday, July 11, and run until July 21. The award ceremony will be on August 3 at 8 PM Eastern at Union Station during Gen Con in Indianapolis, IN, as well as live streamed. Voting will also be held for the 2019 ENnie Award Judges. Applications for judges are still open until Saturday, July 7, at 11:45 PM Central. You can find out more details and announcements at the ENnies official website. Finally, you can hear commentary from Morrus, Peter, and Angus over on the Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk podcast and in some of the Deleted Scenes episode exclusively available on Patreon.


    Green Ronin announced on Tuesday that they will be creating a roleplaying game based on the popular novel series The Expanse by James S.A. Corey. The game will be based on the AGE system with Steve Kenson (responsible for the majority of superhero games you can probably think of) serving as lead designer. This makes a full circle for The Expanse, which started as an online forum roleplaying campaign. The project will have a Kickstarter launching later this month before the game is released this August at Gen Con. Now that the dam has broken and many of the designers working on the project are talking on social media, we should be getting more details rapidly as Green Ronin has been relatively silent since the original announcement of the license last year.


    Steve Jackson Games announced details for the crowdfunding campaign to bring back The Fantasy Trip. The basic box will include four books, Melee, Wizard, and In the Labyrinth (which may be printed as one volume at 160 pages) and Tollenkar’s Lair with a new color map. The Kickstarter will launch on July 23 with stretch goals that include new color artwork, additional material (monsters, magic, and rumors being mentioned in the announcement), erasable megahexes (which are erasable marker friendly interlocking hexes that can be used to build a map scaled for miniature use), and “other ideas”. More details will be announced during a live stream with Steve Jackson on Facebook at 4 PM Central time today, Thursday, July 5 (and available as an archive on their Facebook page afterward).


    The new Starfinder hardcover expansion Starfinder Armory is available for pre-order. The 160-page book brings new guns, augmentations, armor, magic items, and equipment to the science-fantasy roleplaying game. The book will also include new player options and class features for every class themed around different equipment. The PDF will be available August 2, while the hardcover does not have a firm date announced but Amazon has a pre-order listing with an August 21 release date (which means most likely a Gen Con week release both at the convention and at game stores in advance of the mass market release). The hardcover has an MSRP of $39.99 and the PDF of $9.99.


    “Darryl, don’t you normally reserve the section of your column before the Kickstarters for creator Patreons and charity bundles? Why are you covering a Kickstarter here?” Ah, because this Kickstarter is also a fundraising effort! Killing Lee Garvin is a card game from Greg Porter where the players compete to, well, kill Lee Garvin in more imaginative and outrageous ways. Lee Garvin is a veteran game designer in multiple senses of the word, being both a veteran of the United States military and a game designer of many years including games like Tales from the Floating Vagabond and Badass Zombie Killers. Proceeds from this game will be split between helping Garvin pay his mounting medical bills and get back to a normal life and helping other game designers down on their luck through the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. The game itself is available for a $25 pledge, a version signed and customized by Lee Garvin with a story about how one of the events on the cards actually happened to him is available for $35, and a special $250 level still has two spots open to make a card based on you in the game. The Kickstarter is not yet funded but has until Wednesday, August 1, to meet its $15,000 funding goal.


    Geist: The Sin-Eaters Second Edition will update the core game from the Chronicles of Darkness line from Onyx Path. The game, set in the same world as Vampire: The Requiem and Mage: The Awakening puts the players in the role of someone who died with unfinished business before making a deal with a powerful being known as a Geist who put them back in their own bodies with the Geist tagging along, turning them into a Medium. Because this is an Onyx Path Kickstarter, the reward levels and add-ons are many, but the PDF version is available for a $25 pledge, the hardcover edition for $50, and a bookplate edition signed by the design team for $110. This Kickstarter is fully funded and unlocks stretch goals for new content until Tuesday, July 31.

    Studio 6d6 is creating a new dice line for large print, easy to read polyhedral dice. The dice are only slightly larger than the standard dice sets, but even the slight increase in size combined with a font and color scheme designed specifically for increased readability make it easier to see dice from far away or for those with visual impairments. Additionally, they’re adding a replacement to the pyramid d4 for the set, which is an easy-to-roll d12 that is marked with the numbers one through four on three sides each, making it both easier to roll and read while still being a fair, random result. One set is available for a $15 pledge, two for $25, and five sets for $49. This Kickstarter is fully-funded and unlocking more color availability via stretch goals until it funds on Thursday, July 12.

    Dark Times is a new roleplaying game that blends the genres of cyberpunk and superheroes. The game is set in the near-future where unchecked corporate expansion and experimentation has created the Enhanced, people with superhuman abilities. The corporations view these experiments as their property, whether they agree to it or not. The players are caught in the middle of other superpowered Enhanced who use their powers to further oppress the people and the corporations using them as weapons. The PDF is available for a $7 pledge, the hardcover for a $29 pledge, and a full library of all PDFs produced for the game for $32 pledge. This campaign is fully funded and runs until Thursday, July 12.

    That’s all from me for this week! Find more gaming crowdfunding news by following our Kickstarter news tag, and don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you 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’ll be announcing the various streams I’ll be doing to hopefully finish up Dragon Age: Origins on my Twitch channel, follow Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube featuring videos on gaming history and gaming Let’s Plays, 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, Humble Bundle, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. LuisCarlos17f's Avatar
      LuisCarlos17f -
      Battletech is a good example about how sci-fi franchises get older very bad, because the new generations miss a lot of things from present age but didn't appear in the fiction from decades ago, for example the new materials.
    1. reemul -
      Easy to read dice aren't just good for gamers with visual difficulties, they're the last, best hope for gamers with ethical difficulties, as well. You know, that guy you've been friends with forever, but if he keeps fudging his rolls he's either going to have to use those novelty foam dice the size of a toddler's head or be banned from the game? This gives him one more chance. No one takes his word for it anymore - or, honestly, should - but if his result can be clearly read by everyone there isn't any argument and everyone can go back to having fun.

      * Besides, those foam dice always bounce off the table, and that twelve inch red countdown die is so heavy it would go right through if you dropped it from any height. Easier to read dice are a better option, especially as I keep creeping closer to 40 years playing D&D.

      ** Yes, we tried. And in the end we stopped inviting him.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by reemul View Post
      Easy to read dice aren't just good for gamers with visual difficulties, they're the last, best hope for gamers with ethical difficulties, as well. You know, that guy you've been friends with forever, but if he keeps fudging his rolls he's either going to have to use those novelty foam dice the size of a toddler's head or be banned from the game? This gives him one more chance. No one takes his word for it anymore - or, honestly, should - but if his result can be clearly read by everyone there isn't any argument and everyone can go back to having fun.

      * Besides, those foam dice always bounce off the table, and that twelve inch red countdown die is so heavy it would go right through if you dropped it from any height. Easier to read dice are a better option, especially as I keep creeping closer to 40 years playing D&D.

      ** Yes, we tried. And in the end we stopped inviting him.
      I have a very similar story about a guy we made roll one of those giant D20s that are about the size of a golf ball because he used to roll, immediately pick it up and hold it in his hand as he ran his finger down his character sheet, then announced his result.
    1. Xavian Starsider's Avatar
      Xavian Starsider -
      Expanse RPG just announced, releases next month but is kickstarting ? How is this even possible? And how is this timeline even encouraging? At that rate, they should offer proofreading and playtesting as stretch goals.
    1. Aaron L's Avatar
      Aaron L -
      Hell yes, BattleTech!
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xavian Starsider View Post
      Expanse RPG just announced, releases next month but is kickstarting ? How is this even possible? And how is this timeline even encouraging? At that rate, they should offer proofreading and playtesting as stretch goals.
      A slight phrasing issue.

      Game announced last year. Kickstarter just announced for this month. The original plan was for a release at Gen Con; I assume that's still the same, but I'm not sure.
    1. BTRC's Avatar
      BTRC -
      Name: FreeDice2.jpg ► Views: 233 ► Size: 22.3 KBHey, thanks for giving Killing Lee Garvin a shout-out. Sadly, Lee's situation is not unique, but it is a pretty harsh example of its kind. Aaron Allston had to go hat-in-hand after his heart attack in 2004. Loren Wiseman, ditto to cover medicine. And Richard Tucholka, despite his numerous games going all the way back to Morrow Project, never was all that well off. And none of them were older than 65 when they died. I'm just doing my damnedest to see if I can stop this from happening to someone else whose games I have on my shelf. I may not be able to help everyone, but I can try to help someone. A lot of us, myself included, will be going to Gen Con in a few weeks, and those of us who have made that pilgrimage know the kind of cash we lay out for it. For the cost of a few gut bombs from the food trucks on Georgia Avenue you can get a fun game and help out a game designer who is literally living in his car right now.
    1. leegarv -
      Thanks Darryll, and also thank you, Greg, for being just the right kind of sicko to bring my travails to a game like this one. And we haven't even included some of the really weird events. We thought they would stretch credulity.
    Comments Leave Comment