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D&D General Dragonlance's Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman Are Suing WotC for Breach of Contract

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For fans of the Dragonlance D&D setting, there's some mixed news which has just hit a court in Washington State: it seems that there's a new Dragonlance trilogy of books which was (until recently) being written; but we may never see them. On 16th October 2020, a lawsuit was filed in the US District Court by Dragonlance authors Weis and Hickman asserting an unlawful breach of contract by WotC regarding the licensing of a new series of Dragonlance novels. Indeed, it appears that the first of three novels, Dragons of Deceit, has already been written, as has Book 2, Dragons of Fate.

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The Lawsuit
From the documents it appears that in March 2019 a new Dragonlance trilogy was licensed by WotC; Weis and Hickman wrote a book called Dragons of Deceit, and the draft of a second called Dragons of Fate, and then WotC terminated the contract in August 2020.

The suit asserts that the termination was unlawful, and "violated multiple aspects of the License Agreement". It goes on to assert that the reasons for the termination were due to WotC being "embroiled in a series of embarrassing public disputes whereby its non-Dragonlance publications were excoriated for racism and sexism. Moreover, the company itself was vilified by well-publicized allegations of misogyny and racist hiring and employment practices by and with respect to artists and employees unrelated to Dragonlance."

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NATURE OF THE ACTION

1. Margaret Weis (“Weis”) and Tracy Hickman (“Hickman”) (collectively with Margaret Weis, LLC, “Plaintiff-Creators”) are among the most widely-read and successful living authors and world-creators in the fantasy fiction arena. Over thirty-five years ago, Plaintiff- Creators conceived of and created the Dragonlance universe—a campaign setting for the “Dungeons & Dragons” roleplaying game, the rights to which are owned by Defendant. (In Dungeons & Dragons, gamers assume roles within a storyline and embark on a series of adventures—a “campaign”—in the context of a particular campaign setting.)

2. Plaintiff-Creators’ conception and development of the Dragonlance universe has given rise to, among other things, gaming modules, video games, merchandise, comic books, films, and a series of books set in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy world. While other authors have been invited to participate in creating over 190 separate fictional works within the Dragonlance universe, often with Plaintiff-Creators as editors, Weis’s and Hickman’s own works remain by far the most familiar and salable. Their work has inspired generations of gamers, readers and enthusiasts, beginning in 1984 when they published their groundbreaking novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight, which launched the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy. Their books have sold more than thirty million copies, and their Dragonlance World of Krynn is arguably the most successful and popular world in shared fiction, rivaled in the fantasy realm only by the renowned works created by J.R.R. Tolkien (which do not involve a shared fictional world). Within the Dragonlance universe, Plaintiff-Creators have authored or edited 31 separate books, short story anthologies, game materials, and art and reference books in a related series of works all dedicated to furthering the Dungeons & Dragons/Dragonlance brand.

3. In or around 2017, Plaintiff-Creators learned that Defendant was receptive to licensing its properties with established authors to revitalize the Dungeons & Dragons brand. After a ten-year hiatus, Plaintiff-Creators approached Defendant and began negotiating for a license to author a new Dragonlance trilogy. Plaintiff-Creators viewed the new trilogy as the capstone to their life’s work and as an offering to their multitude of fans who had clamored for a continuation of the series. Given that the Dragonlance series intellectual property is owned by Defendant, there could be no publication without a license. In March, 2019, the negotiations between the parties hereto culminated in new written licensing agreement whereby Weis and Hickman were to personally author and publish a new Dragonlance trilogy in conjunction with Penguin Random House, a highly prestigious book publisher (the “License Agreement”).

4. By the time the License Agreement was signed, Defendant had a full overview of the story and story arc, with considerable detail, of the planned trilogy. Defendant knew exactly the nature of the work it was going to receive and had pre-approved Penguin Random House as the publisher. Indeed, Defendant was at all times aware of the contract between Penguin Random House and Plaintiff-Creators (the “Publishing Agreement”) and its terms. In fact, the License Agreement expressly refers to the Publishing Agreement.

5. By June 2019, Defendant received and approved a full outline of the first contracted book in the trilogy (“Book 1”) and by November 2019 the publisher accepted a manuscript for Book 1. Plaintiff-Creators in turn sent the Book 1 manuscript to Defendant, who approved it in January 2020. In the meantime, Defendant was already approving foreign translation rights and encouraging Plaintiff-Creators to work on the subsequent novels.

6. During the development and writing process, Plaintiff-Creators met all contractual milestones and received all requisite approvals from Defendant. Defendant at all times knew that Hickman and Weis had devoted their full attention and time commitment to completing Book 1 and the trilogy as a whole in conformity with their contractual obligations. During the writing process, Defendant proposed certain changes in keeping with the modern-day zeitgeist of a more inclusive and diverse story-world. At each step, Plaintiff-Creators timely accommodated such requests, and all others, within the framework of their novels. This collaborative process tracks with Section 2(a)(iii) of the License Agreement, which requires Defendant to approve Plaintiff- Creators’ drafts or, alternatively, provide written direction as to the changes that will result in Defendant’s approval of a draft.

7. On or about August 13, 2020, Defendant participated in a telephone conference with Plaintiff-Creators’ agents, which was attended by Defendant’s highest-level executives and attorneys as well as PRH executives and counsel. At that meeting, Defendant declared that it would not approve any further Drafts of Book 1 or any subsequent works in the trilogy, effectively repudiating and terminating the License Agreement. No reason was provided for the termination. (In any event, no material breaches or defaults were indicated or existed upon which to predicate a termination.) The termination was wholly arbitrary and without contractual basis. The termination was unlawful and in violation of multiple aspects of the License Agreement (arguably almost every part of it, in fact). The termination also had the knowing and premeditated effect of precluding publication and destroying the value of Plaintiff-Creators’ work—not to mention their publishing deal with Penguin Random House.

8. Defendant’s acts and failures to act breached the License Agreement and were made in stunning and brazen bad faith. Defendant acted with full knowledge that its unilateral decision would not only interfere with, but also would lay waste to, the years of work that Plaintiff-Creators had, to that point, put into the project. Given that the obligation to obtain a publisher was part and parcel of the License Agreement, Defendant was fully cognizant that its backdoor termination of the License Agreement would nullify the millions of dollars in remuneration to which Plaintiff-Creators were entitled from their publishing contract.

9. As Plaintiff-Creators subsequently learned, Defendant’s arbitrary decision to terminate the License Agreement—and thereby the book publishing contract—was based on events that had nothing to do with either the Work or Plaintiff-Creators. In fact, at nearly the exact point in time of the termination, Defendant was embroiled in a series of embarrassing public disputes whereby its non-Dragonlance publications were excoriated for racism and sexism. Moreover, the company itself was vilified by well-publicized allegations of misogyny and racist hiring and employment practices by and with respect to artists and employees unrelated to Dragonlance. Plaintiff-Creators are informed and believe, and based thereon allege, that a decision was made jointly by Defendant and its parent company, Hasbro, Inc., to deflect any possible criticism or further public outcry regarding Defendant’s other properties by effectively killing the Dragonlance deal with Plaintiff-Creators. The upshot of that was to inflict knowing, malicious and oppressive harm to Plaintiff-Creators and to interfere with their third- party contractual obligations, all to Plaintiff-Creator’s severe detriment and distress.


Delving into the attached document, all seemed to be going to plan until June 2020, at which the team overseeing the novels was replaced by WotC. The document cites public controversies involving one of the new team, issues with Magic: The Gathering, Orion Black's public complaints about the company's hiring practices, and more. Eventually, in August 2020, the suit alleges that during a telephone call, WotC terminated the agreement with the statement "We are not moving toward breach, but we will not approve any further drafts.”

Ending the Agreement
The suit notes that "None of the termination provisions were triggered, nor was there a claim of material breach much less written notice thereof, nor was a 30-day cure period initiated." The situation appears to be that while the agreement could not in itself be unilaterally 'terminated' in this way, WotC was able to simply not approve any further drafts (including the existing draft). The text of that allegation reads:

Not only was Defendant’s statement that “we will not approve any future drafts” a clumsy effort to circumvent the termination provisions (because, of course, there was no ground for termination), it undermined the fundamental structure of the contractual relationship whereby the Defendant-Licensor would provide Plaintiff-Creators the opportunity and roadmap to “fix”/rewrite/cure any valid concerns related to the protection of the Dungeons & Dragons brand with respect to approvals. In any event, Defendant had already approved the essential storylines, plots, characters, creatures, and lore for the new Dragonlance trilogy when it approved Plaintiff-Creators’ previous drafts and story arc, which were complete unto themselves, were delivered prior to execution of the License Agreement, and are acknowledged in the text of the License Agreement. In other words, Defendant’s breach had nothing to do with Plaintiff-Creators’ work; it was driven by Defendant’s response to its own, unrelated corporate public relations problems—possibly encouraged or enacted by its corporate parent, Hasbro, Inc.

Basically, while the contract itself could not be terminated, refusing to approve work amounts to an 'effective' termination. Weis and Hickman note that the license itself does not allow for arbitrary termination. The following section of the document is relevant:

Nothing in the above provision allows Defendant to terminate the License Agreement based on Defendant’s failure to provide approval. To the contrary, should Defendant find any aspect of the Draft to be unacceptable, Defendant has an affirmative duty under contract to provide “reasonable detail” of any changes Plaintiff-Creators must make, which changes will result in Defendant’s approval of the manuscript. Accordingly, for Defendant to make the blanket statement that it will never approve any Drafts going forward is, by itself, a breach of the license agreement.

So, the agreement apparently requires WotC to allow W&H to fix any approval-based concerns. Notwithstanding that WotC might be unsatisfied with W&H's previous rewrites, the decision in advance to simply not approve drafts without giving them this chance to rewrite appears to be the crux of the issue, and this is what the writers are alleging is the breach of contract.

Weis & Hickman are demanding a jury trial and are suing for breach of contract, damages, and a court order to require WotC to fulfill its end of the agreement. They cite years of work, and millions of dollars.

Licensing Agreements

Defendant acted with full knowledge that its unilateral decision would not only interfere with, but also would lay waste to, the years of work that Plaintiff-Creators had, to that point, put into the project. Given that the obligation to obtain a publisher was part and parcel of the License Agreement, Defendant was fully cognizant that its backdoor termination of the License Agreement would nullify the millions of dollars in remuneration to which Plaintiff-Creators were entitled from their publishing contract.

So how does all this work? Obviously we don't have access to the original contract, so we don't know the exact terms of the licensing agreement; similarly, we are hearing one side of the story here.

The arrangement appears to have been a licensing arrangement -- that is, Weis & Hickman will have licensed the Dragonlance IP from WotC, and have arranged with Penguin Random House to publish the trilogy. It's not work-for-hire, or work commissioned by and paid for by WotC; on the contrary, in most licensing deals, the licensee pays the licensor. Indeed in this case, the document indicates that Penguin Random House paid Weis & Hickman an advance in April 2019, and W&H subsequently paid WotC (presumably a percentage of this).

Licensing agreements vary, but they often share similar features. These usually involve the licensee paying the IP owner a licensing fee or an advance on royalties at the start of the license, and sometimes annually or at certain milestones. Thereafter, the licensee also often pays the IP holder royalties on the actual book profits. We don't know the exact details of this licensing agreement, but it seems to share some of those features.

On March 29, 2019, Plaintiff-Creators and PRH entered into the Publishing Agreement. PRH remitted the signing payment due under the Publishing Agreement to Plaintiff- Creators in April 2019. Per the terms of the License Agreement, Plaintiff-Creators in turn remitted a portion of the signing payment to Defendant—an amount Defendant continues to retain despite having effectively terminated the License Agreement.


Tortious Interference

On information and belief, Defendant also engaged in back-channel activities to disrupt the Publishing Agreement by convincing PRH that Defendant would prevent Plaintiff- Creators from performing under the Publishing Agreement

There's another wrinkle, a little later. The document says that a second payment was due on November 2019 -- similarly it would be paid to W&H by Penguin Random House, who would then pay WotC. It appears that PRH did not make that second payment to W&H. W&H later say they discovered that WotC was talking directly to Penguin Random House about editorial topics, which is what the term 'tortious interference with contract' is referring to.

By June 2019, Defendant/Hasbro expressly approved a detailed outline of Book 1. In November 2019, PRH indicated that the complete manuscript of Book 1 was accepted and it would push through the second payment due on the Publishing Agreement. At that time, Plaintiff-Creators submitted the complete manuscript of Book 1 to Defendant/Hasbro who expressly approved the Book 1 manuscript in January 2020. Inexplicably, and despite Plaintiff- Creators’ repeated request, PRH never actually delivered the second payment due on approval of the Book 1 manuscript.


What Happened?
Throughout the process, WotC asked for 'sensitivity rewrites'. These appear to include four points, including the use of a love potion, and other "concerns of sexism, inclusivity and potential negative connotations of certain character names." W&H content that they provided the requested rewrites.

One section which might provide some insight into the process is this:

During the writing process, Defendant proposed certain changes in keeping with the modern-day zeitgeist of a more inclusive and diverse story-world. At each step, Plaintiff-Creators timely accommodated such requests, and all others, within the framework of their novels.

It's hard to interpret that without the context of the full conversations that took place, but it sounds like WotC, in response to the previously-mentioned publicity storm it has been enduring regarding inclusivity, wanted to ensure that this new trilogy of books would not exacerbate the problems. We know they asked for some rewrites, and W&H say they complied, but the phrase "within the framework of their novels" sounds like a conditional description. It could be that WotC was not satisfied with the rewrites, and that W&H were either unable or unwilling to alter the story or other details to the extent that they were asked to. There's a lot to unpack in that little "within the framework of their novels" phrase, and we can only speculate.

It sounds like this then resulted in WotC essentially backing out of the whole deal by simply declaring that they would refuse to approve any further drafts, in the absence of an actual contractual clause that would accommodate this situation.

What we do know is that there are two completed drafts of new Dragonlance novels out there. Whether we'll ever get to read them is another question! Dragons of Deceit is complete, Dragons of Fate has a draft, and the third book has been outlined.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Dragonhelm

Knight of Solamnia
I am catching up on this thread, so pardon me if I have a few posts here.

Good plan, this. I think Dragonlance is best returned to the original authors. Pity they are too broke to purchase the rights to Dragonlance the way John Wick purchased the rights to 7th Sea.

Unfortunately, WotC and Hasbro aren't known for selling their properties.

It can be clearly inferred from the Statement of Claim that WOTC had issues with the authors depictions of various gender roles and racial depictions (and possibly also sexuality issues) in the drafts as presented to them. Issues have been raised from the authors earlier works (the authors are both devout Mormons, and there have been accusations that this has influenced their works to some degree- from the obvious 'Golden Disks of Mishkal' returning faith to Krynn, to other less obvious examples) including rather narrow and stereotyped racial depictions (Kender and Gnomes for example who are inherently and inviolably thieves and crazed inventors respectively, and the whole Gully Dwarf thing, among others).

Tracy and his wife Laura are devout Mormons. I've never known Margaret to say too much about faith, so I'm not sure what church, if any, she is a member of.

Also, kender are NOT thieves. They are curious and don't understand the concept of personal property like you or I do.
 

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It would be convenient for both parties to try before a reconciliation to can say later "we tried to fix this with a friendly agreement". Hasbro also should be prudent, because fandom could be angry if they don't like certain changes or retcons.

The reboot of the franchise still is possible, but if the changes are too big it would harder to sell reprint of the previous novels. Other option is to create something like a spin-off, an alternate universe. Then we would have two Krynns, one of the the classic TH&MW, and the other would be the ultimate Netflix version with draconians nerfed as dragonborns, humanoids with fluid gender and that type of things.

Kenders can be very fun characters, but they need the right writer or DM. This is not only with Dragonlance, but when in all the TTRPGs when you try to add some touches of comedy. And they don't steal, but they think everything should be shared by the rest of people. If you borrow something they don't need for that instant they wouldn't complain at all.
 
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Catulle

Adventurer
Do you know what is fun? When a company tries to publish more inclusive fiction, but later this has to be rewritten to avoid censure in other countries, for example a lesbian become straight if you want the book to be published in China. Or the own fandom changing the lore, and then Rainbow Dash has got a boyfriend and later marry and they have children.

D&D and the TTRPG were inclusive allowing lots of different origins decades ago when it was not the rule yet.

You can't forget Dragonlance is Christian fantasy, as Narnia and Lord of the Rings. You can add lots of things in Eberron and other worlds, but in Dragonlance isn't so easy.

* Most of us can agree about racism against fantasy creatures may be ridiculous, but in the real life the name of some fictional races or characters could be used to offend real people, for example Tyrion the nickname of a children with shorter stature who is suffering school bullying, or orc from Mordor as an insult against an ugly person.

* We can argue about days about how to cook the perfect pizza, but the trouble here and now is about the accusation some ingredients can't be sold because they aren't suitable for the consumer. This is not about if how you like but about somebody could be hurt. We have to take care because our words or actions could cause damage or offenses to other people.

* I am afraid in the next months or years we will see a new wave of satanic panic, or witch-hunt, and not only in some piece of the TTRPG, but a serious section of the entertainment industry.
Again, the satanic panic was not about rpgs equals bad; it was about abuse inflicted on (chiefly) children and women through bad-science "psychiatry" and centering around the fabrication of false memory recollection through highly unethical practices. This created a degree of lasting harm that is absolutely offensive when compared to "I couldn't play this game I wanted when I wanted."
 

Not, this time this new wave of satanic panic will be different. Let's say we shouldn't worry about D&D, Warcraft...nor even World of Darkness neither Mortal Kombat or Doom Eternal but those future targets will be others not linked with RPGs or videogames. Only I dare to say Q is a very famous almighty character from Star Trek: the next generation, but also..
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I don't know why folks are getting so upset about Kender. I always found them a funny and charming part of the setting. Haven't read the books in ages, so it has been a while. But things like Kender and Tinker Gnomes, were the humorous details that made Dragonlance fun to read (and to play in on occasion---the Dragonlance setting was only popular with a couple of the GMs I gamed with over the years).

They attract jerk players like flies and encourage it.

There's also three comic relief races all Chaotic Stupid and annoying. And Lawful Stupid elves.

Each race is essentially a caricature. Mostly of themselves.

Warning sign of player you do not want.

"CN Kender Warlord....."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I mean Superman, of course, though I was being coy and should have been direct.

Oh, then unless you are being very selective, you're incorrect - Shazam is a solid and important part of the (now) DC canon, and just had a movie that made a couple hundred million dollars.

The point of copyright may be as you say, but the point of allowing things to enter the public domain is a function of cultural importance.

I already covered this - it is not correct. In fact, the majority of material covered by copyright does not, and isn't really intended to have, major cultural significance.

Moreover, if we look back to where copyright comes from, "cultural significance" (at least as how I expect you mean that term) was not the point. The very first copyright statute ever, the Statute of Anne, was fully and formally titled, "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned". (bolding mine).

That law contains mention that it was to encourage, "learned men to compose and write useful books," by ensuring that they could get profit out of them for some time, after which that useful material wold be available to everyone. The point was intellectual impact and enabling people to make a living at writing for education. The fact that art also gets protected is a nice side effect, but was not the real goal.
 

Dragonhelm

Knight of Solamnia
One thing I feel is important to point out is that while some aspects of Dragon Lance may not have "aged well" as others have written above, in many ways DL was ahead of its time in how it portrayed women. I reread the original trilogy a little over a year ago, not having looked at it since the late 80s. I was surprised at how well female characters, both heroes and villains were portrayed. Obviously I've not read their new, unpublished books, so I can't comment on whether they are cancel worthy given current sensibilities. But I do think Weis and Hickman deserve some credit for providing more interesting and strong female characters than were typically available in the genre of their time.

Weis and Hickman have done an amazing job of portraying female characters, such as Kitiara, Laurana, Goldmoon, Tika, and Mina.

When Margaret saw the art for Goldmoon without pants, she marched down to the art department at TSR and talked to them about that. From that point on, Goldmoon was portrayed with pants.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
When Margaret saw the art for Goldmoon without pants, she marched down to the art department at TSR and talked to them about that. From that point on, Goldmoon was portrayed with pants.

Which is great.

However, Goldmoon was still problematic, in that she's a clear Native American analog, but she's white, and blond, and instead of following anything like the spirituality of such people, she's a convert to a religion driven by stuff written on golden plates, and her background is from then largely ignored in the trilogy.
 

Dragonlance heroines were true action girls before Xena or Lara Croft.

OK, Goldmoon is blonde-hair and this is not common among their tribe, but the mutant Orore Munroe, "Storm" (X-Men, Marvel comics) is totally white hair and nobody cares.

If there is a future videogame, you will can customize all the PCs as you want, even maybe also gender, with their own voice actresses for the female version of Flint and Tas.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Weis and Hickman have done an amazing job of portraying female characters, such as Kitiara, Laurana, Goldmoon, Tika, and Mina.

When Margaret saw the art for Goldmoon without pants, she marched down to the art department at TSR and talked to them about that. From that point on, Goldmoon was portrayed with pants.

While they did a better than normal job of being aware, and while Tracy Hickman is a great guy who is aware of issues of equality and sexism and is generally pro-equal rights for everyone (as far as I've been able to tell), there were still many problematic issues even with those names you mention.

Kitiara was only one who wasn't super hung up on a man at one point in their story arc, and even then she had the whole Tanis thing. All the others did. How many women were strong, independent figures that had no intimate relationships with anyone as part of their core story arc? How many men were strong independent figures who had no intimate relationships with anyone as part of their story arc? I think that list is pretty stark in contrast.

And it's not like strong independent women didn't exist in media. Even if you ignore the old literature of Joan of Arc or Cleopatra to use as templates, there were plenty of examples just in the early 80s they could have used, including but not limited to: Riply from Alien, Valeria, Princess Leia, Marion Ravenwood (Raider of the Lost Ark), etc. So it's not like they were super ahead of their time or anything.
 

Which is great.

However, Goldmoon was still problematic, in that she's a clear Native American analog, but she's white, and blond, and instead of following anything like the spirituality of such people, she's a convert to a religion driven by stuff written on golden plates, and her background is from then largely ignored in the trilogy.
And??????
She converted from worshipping false gods to the true faith of Mishakal. Her former "gods" had no power and were non existant. And Mishakal did spoke to her. She has been empowered by a god, not by the disks. The disks only revealed to her how to pray and receive answers from a God... It can not be compared to anything in the real world.
And...
She did not forsake her culture. If you read the other novels, she had a very traditional Que Shu wedding. Religion do not always translate into culture.
 

pemerton

Legend
Allegedly in response to sensitivity reading.

And if that merited 70 pages of changes, I suspect there were a lot more problems.

I get asked to change stuff all the time, but it's "can we move forward that detail; it's confusing to not have it until later" or "this feels jargony; can you make it plain English." It's not "please rewrite a quarter of this work."

I mean, my works aren't worth $10 million (which never stops being funny to read or type), but 70 pages is a lot of changes. Editors don't want that many changes, as a rule, because it's a ton of work for them, even if you aren't changing editorial teams midway through the process.

No dissent from any of that - we're all speculating here. But I think this is consistent with my (mild, but also genuine) scepticism about the artistic integrity dimension of this lawsuit.
 

pemerton

Legend
Last week Tracy wrote this blog post. I wonder if the message in the post is directly related to the lawsuit, as I suspect

I found the closing paragraph a little self-important:

All we know is that like that soldier, Margaret and I are both willing to stand up and do hard things … for all you Heroes of the Lance who are out there still. For all of you who bring meaning to Dragonlance.​
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
To be fair, it’s not as good of a movie as 2001.
I disagree. I did not have to read the novelization of 2010 to figure out what was going on. Also, there are long hanging shots in 2001 where not much new happens (falling through the monolith comes to mind). 2010 noticed that there was an audience watching and expecting the film to keep a pace.

2001 still has an awesome premise and doesn't rely on special effects to tell its story. (A few Voyager I photos could be slipped in and enhance the "Jupiter in the background" shots.) But without the novelization to accompany it, watching the film is like Kubrick is daring you to read his mind to figure out what is going on and why.

The two movies are both good, but 2010 does a better job of telling its story.
 

Which is great.

However, Goldmoon was still problematic, in that she's a clear Native American analog, but she's white, and blond, and instead of following anything like the spirituality of such people, she's a convert to a religion driven by stuff written on golden plates, and her background is from then largely ignored in the trilogy.

I don't really see this as being an issue. Stories mix and match cultures all the time. I would think it is actually good to separate ethnicity from culture in this way (because it moves away from the idea that culture is somehow a product of DNA or skin tone).
 

Fezzwick

Explorer
Legal fun fact: Unless WotC specifically objects to the assertion that "their Dragonlance World of Krynn is arguably the most successful and popular world in shared fiction" then for the purposes of this case it is legally considered to be true.

As for the merits of the case, under the fact pattern as we have it here WotC definitely owes some damages for the abrupt cancellation. But really they and their publisher are only owed for whatever the difference in sales is between the books as "a new Dragonlance trilogy by Weis and Hickman" and the same books with a bunch of the proper names changed and no Dragonlance branding. Their own boosterism of their repute as fantasy authors in this filing actually tends to argue for the value of having it be an official Dragonlance release being less important, so they may wish they had bragged less when it comes time to determine damages.

Arguably, the word "arguably" is a word indicating that the statement is "arguable" and not an assertion of uncontroverted fact.
Arguably, mine is the most astute observation ever made.
 

Fezzwick

Explorer
Yeah, they used some serious weasel language on that. And then outright said that it was clearly less successful than Middle Earth, so actually they can't argue that it is the most successful because they've stipulated that it is at most the second most successful.

But to me what is important here is that were this to actually be litigated (they'll settle) there would likely have to be a legal ruling as to how popular a D&D campaign setting is.
No there would not have to be. That statement is not the matter being litigated. Why do you think it would?
 

Dragonhelm

Knight of Solamnia
Ironically, the development of kender society as being supremely naive about personal property was intended to avoid the stigma of being oriented toward thievery.


Tracy had a real problem with the concept of a thief as a character class. He wanted to have a way to do the things a thief could do, but without the illegal and immoral aspects of being a thief.
 

Jiggawatts

Explorer
Which is great.

However, Goldmoon was still problematic, in that she's a clear Native American analog, but she's white, and blond, and instead of following anything like the spirituality of such people, she's a convert to a religion driven by stuff written on golden plates, and her background is from then largely ignored in the trilogy.
That word. It is used as this like magic judges gavel to label things as bad and wrong, like the judgement it decrees is some concrete hard immutable fact, except its not. In the words of the immortal Jeff Bridges, that's just like, your opinion, man.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There's also three comic relief races all Chaotic Stupid and annoying. And Lawful Stupid elves.

Each race is essentially a caricature. Mostly of themselves.
Great! Nothing wrong with humour and caricature; and if you're going to do these then it only makes sense to dial them up to eleven.

In the books, I love the Kender. They're an interesting and usually-funny take on a completely different outlook as to how things work in the world regarding property and ownership. We're all so accustomed to a 'property is sacred' view that to have something come along and upend it is, for many, rather jarring even in fiction. Props to W&H for doing it!

I've never run DL as a game setting thus haven't had to worry about any true Kender PCs, but I've run (and played in) games involving PCs who certainly had a Kender-like attitude; and as long as the arguments stayed in-character it was just fine, and often rather entertaining. :)
 

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