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TSR Did TSR Sue Regularly?

Shannon Appelcline (Designers & Dragons) talks about it here! With infographics! "Every company interacts with the rest of the industry in a different way. For Chaosium it's been more than 40 years of licensing, while Target Games created and defined roleplaying in its home country of Sweden. Dave Nalle's Ragnarok Enterprises instead influenced designers and publishers through interactions in...

Shannon Appelcline (Designers & Dragons) talks about it here! With infographics!

"Every company interacts with the rest of the industry in a different way. For Chaosium it's been more than 40 years of licensing, while Target Games created and defined roleplaying in its home country of Sweden. Dave Nalle's Ragnarok Enterprises instead influenced designers and publishers through interactions in A&Eand Abyss. As for TSR, the founder of our industry: as wags have put it: they sue regularly."


They also sued WotC once!
 

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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
No memories of Princess Ardala?
The spoiled rich girl who thinks she is Buck's girlfriend, and has an XL not-Imperial-Cruiser that falls apart for no apparent reason when you shoot a hole through her personal quarters? Yah, I remember her !
 

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Jimmy Dick

Adventurer
It was always my belief that TSR simply had too many product lines going which diluted the sales for each. Each product line consumed financial resources for development which meant low sales for some product lines resulted in a net loss. That meant stronger performing lines' profits were being used to sustain development of unprofitable lines. An example would be having two different versions of D&D with the main line having multiple campaigns to develop and sustain. I don't know the sales figures for each campaign, but I would assume some were far more profitable than others.
 


It was always my belief that TSR simply had too many product lines going which diluted the sales for each. Each product line consumed financial resources for development which meant low sales for some product lines resulted in a net loss. That meant stronger performing lines' profits were being used to sustain development of unprofitable lines. An example would be having two different versions of D&D with the main line having multiple campaigns to develop and sustain. I don't know the sales figures for each campaign, but I would assume some were far more profitable than others.

TSR got paid up front by Random House for books shipped, not sold, with no real limit. They must have inked that deal back when TSR was selling books as fast as they could print them. So as long as they kept cranking out books, Williams could keep paying herself a salary & bonuses...until finally, RH sued them. But hey, when the creditor comes calling, you don't have to give your salary back!
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
I played the Buck Rogers CRPGs recently. They were modified from the far-more-popular goldbox series. They were fun if you enjoyed those, though they didn't work quite as well because the combat system really wasn't that interesting once you removed magic, and they hadn't figured out how to make the skill system interesting in computer games yet.
 

Yes. Even before there was an internet as we know it they were going after people on BBS's, and when people started making web pages they freaked out. They turned what could have been a lot of free marketing into a lot of badwill.
Truth be told, it wasn't just TSR.

In the early/mid 1990's, a lot of companies didn't know how to deal with the rise of the internet. They interpreted fan pages the same way they'd interpret an unauthorized 3rd party book being published about whatever their IP is.

Viacom did the same thing with Star Trek fan pages for a while in the mid 1990's, treating all Trek fan pages as copyright infringement, trying to shut them all down, and explicitly saying that the only Star Trek website on the internet should be their official website.

The attempted purge didn't succeed, and cooler heads prevailed after a little while, but it does show that TSR was not alone in a ham-fisted and inept transition to the internet age.
 

They were spending plenty of money as well, and licensing (for example, Buck Rogers) was funneling money away in a way that I feel was almost fraudulent in some ways.
I'm surprised it wasn't explicitly illegal.

Lorraine Williams controls the Dille Family Trust, the legal entity that owns the rights to all Buck Rogers IP. Whenever TSR made Buck Rogers products, she directly financially benefitted from them.

She got paid directly for having TSR license something from another entity she controls and print books based on that license. The books didn't have to sell, she made money off the license fees alone.

So, TSR was wasting money on producing products pretty much nobody wanted to buy, because she got a decent chunk of the production costs going straight to the trust she controls. TSR flushed a fortune down the toilet so that a portion of that fortune could go directly into Williams's trust fund.

If that's not outright illegal, it's at least seriously unethical.
 

darjr

I crit!
Truth be told, it wasn't just TSR.

In the early/mid 1990's, a lot of companies didn't know how to deal with the rise of the internet. They interpreted fan pages the same way they'd interpret an unauthorized 3rd party book being published about whatever their IP is.

Viacom did the same thing with Star Trek fan pages for a while in the mid 1990's, treating all Trek fan pages as copyright infringement, trying to shut them all down, and explicitly saying that the only Star Trek website on the internet should be their official website.

The attempted purge didn't succeed, and cooler heads prevailed after a little while, but it does show that TSR was not alone in a ham-fisted and inept transition to the internet age.
Yea this. It was also in the open source world with chip makers freaking out about linux developers and other such things.
 

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