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TSR Darlene tells NuTSR NO!

The artist Darlene, who designed one of the original TSR logos that TSR3.5 is currently using, has emphatically and publicly refused to endorse the company's use of the logo.

Darlene's work appeared in early Dungeons & Dragons materials, and included the full-color map in 1980's World of Greyhawk.

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In December, I finally reviewed the contract Justin LaNasa (JL) wanted me to sign. That’s when I took a stand and gave this answer: “I prefer not to be directly involved in any way with your lawsuit against WOTC. Therefore, I do not give permission to use the Wizard-head logo."

For the longest time, I tried to remain neutral, aloof, and unaffected. I wanted to avoid being associated with the bombastic claims of the new TSR.

JL first responded with a denial: “We were not planning on having you in the lawsuit this is why we ask for your permission.” Then a guilt trip: “We really tried to bring back something good with TSR.” Then played the underdog card: “it seems like WOTC and their supporters have a lot of fear and sway amongst the industry.”

It’s upsetting if JL thought I would be stupid enough to sign a contract without reading or comprehending it. In my response, I referred him to item #3 which obligates me to defend his position in his WOTC lawsuit. 


The pressure they are putting on me to reconsider has increased. Ernie Gygax thinks granting my permission for them to use the logo—which, btw, they are already using anyway—is key for their successful arbitration. He intimated if I don’t give in, sign away my rights and take their money, I’d be hurting some people I really care about. He also suggested I can “up the ante” for double the amount initially offered.

JL has since amicably proposed to work out a contract that excludes me from the lawsuit. He’s been very nice and cordial to me throughout. Nevertheless... The contract will most likely retain the first sentence where I declare that I have “not previously transferred my rights to any entity or party.” What? As I understand it, logos don’t work that way.

The most important thing to me has not been addressed. As a visual thinker and logo designer, I am very particular about the nuances of what I create. Yes, I designed the original wizard-head logo back in the ’80s. That is not in dispute. However, the logo produced as “Exhibit ‘A’” in JL’s contract is not my logo. It’s a bastardization—a greyed-out, fuzzy, lesser version—of what I designed. I detest the spindly letters used for "The Game Wizards." Ugh!

Therefore, I cannot honestly take money for it because I do not and will not claim it as mine. I’m extremely picky about choosing my clients. Before I would consider designing a new logo for the new TSR, they would have to demonstrate ethical behavior as a business entity.

Ever since they appeared on the scene, the new TSR has been plucking the heartstrings of those who fondly remember the good ole days when the hobby was in its infancy. JL’s lofty words: “to honor and remember TSR, the Dragon, Gary and all the alumni of the old days of gaming” sound inspiring. But I remain unmoved. I never want to return to Lake Geneva to relive those “good old days."


If I were to endorse the new TSR, they have to correct the mistakes of the old TSR. They must be kinder and more generous to artists and authors in their employ. They would show proper respect, listen to, and honor women, both within the gaming field and as consumers. They would be more inclusive and sensitive enough to address the needs of individuals beyond the white male demographic. They would be fair to their customers and transparent in their actions.


Besides, the idea of me endorsing TSR—new or old—is laughable. Not always, but in general, I did not have a positive experience freelancing for TSR. Looking from the outside in, I witnessed how the growth spurts of TSR turned it from being an “all-for-one; one-for-all” company into an uncaring corporate entity with an “us vs them” mindset. With few exceptions, success brought out the worst in those TSR people given positions of authority. I witnessed how the creatives got the brunt of TSR’s unfair predatory policies. No, I do not yearn to return to that stressful, hostile, and toxic atmosphere.


My memories of TSR are clear because they are frozen to the time I needed to leave Lake Geneva for my own mental health and well-being. I turned my back on the growing number of small-minded TSR people who created and spread malicious rumors and hurtful lies about me, made me feel unwelcome whenever I visited the building, told me my art was not very good and caused me to doubt myself and my abilities.

I left to pursue knowledge, my MFA, and the prospect of new beginnings with no intention of returning. Gary Gygax contacted me in 2005 and coaxed me back. That’s when he and I became fast friends. In the years since, I’ve discovered—for the most part— nothing much has changed for females in the gaming world (ie: gamergate). TSR’s unfair internal practices (abusing creatives financially) seem to have followed the RPG industry. How do I know? Having worked as a professional in the “real world” since 1984, I’m aware of the many disparities.


Today, I decided to publicly share my “power of no” because I recognize this as a teachable moment for the dispossessed. Charged with 42 years of suppressed emotional pain, my “no” is big and empowered. It includes “no” to bullying and unethical business practices; “no” to the unfair treatment and compensation of artists, creatives, and women; and “no” to taking advantage of the disadvantaged to profit at their expense.


My “no” is also cathartic for me. With it, I officially reclaim those lost parts of myself I abandoned so long ago. To have the courage to take this stance, my desire for money had to be relinquished. Only then could I clearly understand the implications of what saying yes meant. As tempting as a yes would be, it is ultimately disempowering.


Compromising my integrity for money is the same as selling my soul.

Therefore, I choose to continue living like I always have, modestly. I choose not to allow temporary feelings of desperation or depression to rule me nor compromise the greater truth of who I am. Perhaps I should credit JL for catalyzing my healing process and helping me demonstrate what feminine power looks like.
 
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S'mon

Legend
Because nuTSR isn't a normal company.

It seems pretty clear that to the extent they are a business, their business is not the making & selling of RPG products. Everything they have done seems to be aimed at riling people up, presumably for fundraising from their (IMO misguided) supporters. Their product is controversy, and even attack threads like these ones on ENW likely play to their goal, by fostering a backlash. They don't care if 90% of people who know about this stuff detest them, they just need support (financial support) from some people who detest the detesters and are willing to go along with whatever their line is.
 




Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And in other news, I hadn't noticed but apparently LaNasa's "employees battling in tub of grits" video has been taken down because LaNasa himself claimed COPYRIGHT over it.

The trouble with people like Lasagna is that they lack shame, humor, and any sense of irony.


....actually, that's pretty far down on the list of their troubles that they have and cause, but it's always present.
 


Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Again-

1. nuTSR is knowingly and intentionally using other people's IP.

2. Once they were called out on it in a C&D letter (because of course this was going to happen), nuTSR decided to assert to a Court that WoTC doesn't own it, because Darlene does.

3. No, this is not how things normally work. Normally, a rational company doesn't simply steal IP. Because that is stupid. Then, normally a rational company when they are called out on it in a C&D letter ... actually ceases and desists. Finally, and most importantly, a rational company would not really choose to assert in a court filing that the reason they are okay is because they are stealing it from another entity (this might be fine when you're attacking a prima facie case, but it's pretty stupid in a declaratory action).

So yeah, this is entire nuTSR's fault, from the beginning until now, and not just how things normally work. Because nuTSR isn't a normal company.


EDIT- and this is before getting into the skeeviness of LaNasa's contacts with Darlene, and Ernie Gygax's attempts to pressure her into signing a contract that no one in their right mind would sign.
The "this is just how stuff works" was not being applied to NuTSRs behavior at all. There is no rational way to read what I wrote and draw the conclusion that's what I am saying.

At this point it is looking like you and a couple of other guys are on the warpath and looking for people to blame because your frustrated. I get that. But I am not a fair target for your frustration. I am not, in any way shape or form, defending NuTSR from anything. I simply chimed in about what I predict will be the lawsuit path here based on my experience. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am right. It's just my prediction about what's likely going to happen.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
@Mistwell I’m not the only one.

But OK
You could ask me what I think rather than assuming? I get a lot of people are frustrated. Do not take out your frustrations on me because I tried to add some experience based prediction about some likely legal ramifications. I am not defending anyone. And I am not and never have been a fan of anything NuTSR has ever done.
 

darjr

I crit!
You could ask me what I think rather than assuming? I get a lot of people are frustrated. Do not take out your frustrations on me because I tried to add some experience based prediction about some likely legal ramifications. I am not defending anyone. And I am not and never have been a fan of anything NuTSR has ever done.
I did ask you.
 

darjr

I crit!
The "this is just how stuff works" was not being applied to NuTSRs behavior at all. There is no rational way to read what I wrote and draw the conclusion that's what I am saying.

At this point it is looking like you and a couple of other guys are on the warpath and looking for people to blame because your frustrated. I get that. But I am not a fair target for your frustration. I am not, in any way shape or form, defending NuTSR from anything. I simply chimed in about what I predict will be the lawsuit path here based on my experience. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am right. It's just my prediction about what's likely going to happen.
wait. We're on the warpath?

Have you seen what LeNasa has been doing?

Why does it seem you are now trying to paint him as some kind of victim of us?
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
wait. We're on the warpath?

Have you seen what LeNasa has been doing?

Why does it seem you are now trying to paint him as some kind of victim of us?
Obviously I meant you were attacking ME in frustration, not Lenasa. But OK darjr. If you're going to continue to do that, I guess we need a break from each other.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The "this is just how stuff works" was not being applied to NuTSRs behavior at all. There is no rational way to read what I wrote and draw the conclusion that's what I am saying.

At this point it is looking like you and a couple of other guys are on the warpath and looking for people to blame because your frustrated. I get that. But I am not a fair target for your frustration. I am not, in any way shape or form, defending NuTSR from anything. I simply chimed in about what I predict will be the lawsuit path here based on my experience. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am right. It's just my prediction about what's likely going to happen.

But your analysis is incorrect. I already wrote a long post about this, but it's incorrect.

Unless you chimed in to make the banal point that someone who is named in a Complaint is likely to be deposed if the lawsuit continues .... but I'm not sure why this is important for you to point out. Moreover, given that it is incredibly necessary to nuTSR's action, and given the odious behavior they had regarding Darlene independent of the declaratory action, I am not sure why you have gone out of your way to say, "Sure, nuTSR might have dragged her into this, but after nuTSR named her in a Complaint, it's possible that WoTC might depose her. So ... no villains, amirite?"
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
But your analysis is incorrect. I already wrote a long post about this, but it's incorrect.

Unless you chimed in to make the banal point that someone who is named in a Complaint is likely to be deposed if the lawsuit continues .... but I'm not sure why this is important for you to point out. Moreover, given that it is incredibly necessary to nuTSR's action, and given the odious behavior they had regarding Darlene independent of the declaratory action, I am not sure why you have gone out of your way to say, "Sure, nuTSR might have dragged her into this, but after nuTSR named her in a Complaint, it's possible that WoTC might depose her. So ... no villains, amirite?"
Where did I say anything like "So...no villains, amitie?" Why are you continuing to attribute those sorts of claims to me? Show me anything I've written which could imply that? That's not a rhetorical question, I really would like you to specify what I said which led you to draw that conclusion so I can clarify if there is a misunderstanding.

Obviously it would be NuTSR starting all this, and dragging her name into it to begin with, which would be the cause of all this. I'm just saying once they did that, it has one likely ramification of her being dragged into it now no matter what.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Where did I say anything like "So...no villains, amitie?" Why are you continuing to attribute those sorts of claims to me? Show me anything I've written which could imply that?

Obviously it would be NuTSR starting all this, and dragging her name into it to begin with, which would be the cause of all this. I'm just saying once they did that, it has one likely ramification of her being dragged into it now no matter what.

1. No, not "no matter what." If nuTSR immediately dismissed the declaratory action, and had their attorney respond to the C&D appropriately (and include assurance and affidavits and they stop using WoTC's IP) then she would not be involved.

2. Further, if nuTSR did not choose to contest the prima facie case regarding ownership (they could amend the Complaint in the declaratory action) then it likely would not come up. That's much less likely.

3. Next, if WoTC has reasonable records then they probably aren't concerned. Neither of us know- but regardless, if that's the case, then WoTC won't care. Obviously, if Darlene ever sought to assert her own rights independently, that might be different. But nuTSR's filing isn't a contested claim of ownership, since it can't even assert the allegation other than as a Hail Mary.

But I think you're probably missing the gist of all of this- it's odd (?) that you find it necessary to keep stating that WoTC might end up deposing Darlene. Yeah, they might have to if the lawsuit continues, because nuTSR is trying to use her for their own purposes. That's it. More importantly, they specifically named her in the Complaint, and tried to get her to sign away her work (and defend them!) without telling her what was going on.

Which is why people are reacting against you- of course she might get dragged into this now. And it's odd for someone to keep saying, "Yes, and WoTC might depose her!" Weirdly, she hasn't been deposed for more than two decades ... what changed?
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
1. No, not "no matter what." If nuTSR immediately dismissed the declaratory action, and had their attorney respond to the C&D appropriately (and include assurance and affidavits and they stop using WoTC's IP) then she would not be involved.
And I am disagreeing with your prediction. That's not me saying "no villain" it's me disagreeing with your prediction that would end things.
2. Further, if nuTSR did not choose to contest the prima facie case regarding ownership (they could amend the Complaint in the declaratory action) then it likely would not come up. That's much less likely.
Discovery happens prior to that point.
3. Next, if WoTC has reasonable records then they probably aren't concerned. Neither of us know- but regardless, if that's the case, then WoTC won't care. Obviously, if Darlene ever sought to assert her own rights independently, that might be different. But nuTSR's filing isn't a contested claim of ownership, since it can't even assert the allegation other than as a Hail Mary.
I agree NuTSR has no case. That doesn't mean everything that's happened to this point won't lead to WOTC wanting to be thorough in getting their rights 100% cleared through the legal process (likely a settlement) which could involve discovery first.
But I think you're probably missing the gist of all of this- it's odd (?) that you find it necessary to keep stating that WoTC might end up deposing Darlene. Yeah, they might have to if the lawsuit continues, because nuTSR is trying to use her for their own purposes. That's it. More importantly, they specifically named her in the Complaint, and tried to get her to sign away her work (and defend them!) without telling her what was going on.

Which is why people are reacting against you- of course she might get dragged into this now. And it's odd for someone to keep saying, "Yes, and WoTC might depose her!" Weirdly, she hasn't been deposed for more than two decades ... what changed?
Why is it odd? She hasn't been subject to discovery because the issue was never raised in a legal threat. Once she was named as part of a legal action, that sets a lot of things in motion.

Let me ask you, are you a lawyer and speaking from experience here? Serious question and not snark.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And I am disagreeing with your prediction. That's not me saying "no villain" it's me disagreeing with your prediction that would end things.

When someone focuses on a single thing, and not the substance of an argument, you know they have lost. But since you seem very concerned about this, I will explain this to you simply-

I was making up a quote so that you would understand how your argument appears to other people. Of course you didn't use those words- I thought "amirite" might be a giveaway and save you from having to search, but sometimes it helps clarify what you appear to be saying.

Finally, you asserted several times that things had to be a certain way. No, of course not. I just gave you one way in which it doesn't have to be that way.

Discovery happens prior to that point.

Really? Tell me more! Oh wise one, discovery happens prior to any amendment of the Complaint! So what you're saying is that if they amended pursuant to FRCP 15(a)(1)(A), then discovery already happened? Thanks for the tip- the more you know.

(For those who don't know, this isn't true.)

I agree NuTSR has no case. That doesn't mean everything that's happened to this point won't lead to WOTC wanting to be thorough in getting their rights 100% cleared through the legal process (likely a settlement) which could involve discovery first.

If they have no case, then WOTC doesn't need to be through in their rights.

If I sue Coca Cola and say that own all their bases, and if I don't, then my good friend Chad does, Coca Cola doesn't have to depose Chad if they already have the documents to show that neither I, nor Chad, own its bases.


Why is it odd? She hasn't been deposed because the issue was never raised in a legal threat. Once she was named as part of a legal action, that sets a lot of things in motion.

I'm guessing you missed the point of that. I was just again making the point that until nuTSR's filing, this hadn't been done. Moreover, AFAIK, no artist or writer or contributor to TSR has made a similar claim of any kind regarding the IP of WOTC or TSR.

Let me ask you, are you a lawyer and speaking from experience here? Serious question and not snark.

On the internet, no one knows you are a dog. Which is why obvious things are obvious.

Woof.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
When someone focuses on a single thing, and not the substance of an argument, you know they have lost. But since you seem very concerned about this, I will explain this to you simply-

I was making up a quote so that you would understand how your argument appears to other people. Of course you didn't use those words- I thought "amirite" might be a giveaway and save you from having to search, but sometimes it helps clarify what you appear to be saying.

Finally, you asserted several times that things had to be a certain way. No, of course not. I just gave you one way in which it doesn't have to be that way.



Really? Tell me more! Oh wise one, discovery happens prior to any amendment of the Complaint! So what you're saying is that if they amended pursuant to FRCP 15(a)(1)(A), then discovery already happened? Thanks for the tip- the more you know.

(For those who don't know, this isn't true.)



If they have no case, then WOTC doesn't need to be through in their rights.

If I sue Coca Cola and say that own all their bases, and if I don't, then my good friend Chad does, Coca Cola doesn't have to depose Chad if they already have the documents to show that neither I, nor Chad, own its bases.




I'm guessing you missed the point of that.



On the internet, no one knows you are a dog. Which is why obvious things are obvious.

Woof.
Err, OK Snarf. I can tell you're upset at me. I am not sure exactly why but you're clearly upset. I like you, so I think I am just going to back away at this point.
 



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