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News Digest for the Week of July 2

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Updates on the ongoing TSR Games controversy, the free Adventures in the Forgotten Realms tie-in adventure for Dungeons & Dragons is now available, Marvel Multiverse pre-orders are live, several new releases for Cyberpunk RED announced, and more!

Don’t forget, you can get all the news every week with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by DM Sarah to talk about being a professional DM.


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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So I kind of hoped last week's coverage of the entire fiasco with the various companies named TSR Games would be my last, but this week certainly proved that an incorrect assumption. So because this gets complicated, let’s define terms. TSR1 is the original TSR Hobbies aka TSR Inc. formed in 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye to publish Dungeons & Dragons which was purchased by Wizards of the Coast in 1997. TSR2 was founded in 2011 by Jayson Elliot who found the trademark of “TSR” abandoned, both in terms of registration and by a legal standpoint as Wizards of the Coast was no longer using it commercially, which published Gygax Magazine for several years and created the newest version of the spy thriller game Top Secret. TSR3 was founded by Justin LaNasa in 2020 with Ernie Gygax (son of Gary Gygax) as Executive Vice President and Stephen Dinehart as Chief Creative Officer, who noticed Elliot missed a deadline for filing re-registration of the TSR trademark and registered it themselves. For more information on the backstory behind all this, it was summarized in last week’s News Digest as well as a Twitter thread I did, while Morrus posted a thread with links to all of the EN World articles so far covering the story.

First, Jayson Elliot confirmed the situation with the trademark on Twitter, announcing that TSR2 missed the filing date for the registered trademark allowing TSR3 to register it. Elliot previously stated that TSR2 planned to continue licensing the trademark for TSR Games from TSR3, but further updated saying they would no longer do business with TSR3 including the licensing agreement. It is not yet clear whether Elliot intends to stop using the “TSR Games” trademark or intends to fight the registration in court.

This came as a slew of companies and freelancers began to distance themselves from TSR3. Gen Con stated that TSR3 does not have a booth at the upcoming convention nor any events, and that if they applied for a booth or an event they would be denied. GAMA (Game Manufacturer’s Association), the tabletop gaming trade group behind Origins and GAMA Trade Show, announced that TSR3 will not be allowed at any GAMA event. Luke Gygax (from GaryCon, son of Gary Gygax and brother of Ernie Gygax) restated that he was not involved with TSR3, saying “The way TSR treats people online in their public exchanges is rude” and that their “museum is a for profit business and was asking for donations”. Tim Kask, who was the first employee hired at TSR1 in 1975, made a vlog where he spoke at length criticizing TSR3 and Ernie Gygax’s statements, refuting many of their claims about the “old days”. Jeff Dee, original Dungeons & Dragons artist who was hired to do freelance work for TSR3, has stated he has terminated all contracts with TSR3 for future work and will not work with them in the future.

After a ban was placed on TSR3’s content on the Facebook group Old School TSR Games, Justin LaNasa reportedly contacted the administrator of the group demanding they remove the first edition TSR logo and art from the group within 48 hours or TSR3 would have the group removed from Facebook. To clarify: TSR3 does not own the copyright to any Dungeons & Dragons products, logos, or artwork as those rights are held solely by Wizards of the Coast following the 1997 purchase of the company.

Normally I would try to do an explanation of the legal aspects involved, but since I am not a lawyer and so many other lawyers are doing so, I’ll leave this part to the experts. Twitter user @OrcishLaw created a thread explaining the legal aspects of trademark law involved, and Frylock’s Geekery blog created a post talking about the various intellectual property rights law intersecting in this issue. The Lawyers Guide to the Galaxy podcast announced they would be tackling the subject in an upcoming episode (and they requested assistance from me via Twitter for the episode).

In the wake of this, Ernie Gygax and Stephen Dinehart deactivated their Twitter accounts. Ernie Gygax posted an apology statement on his Facebook page (reproduced in full in the previous link) where he attempted to explain his behavior by citing high school bullying (in a deleted version of the post, he made allusions to wishing he had an automatic rifle to “wipe away some of those laughs”.

TSR3 has since attempted many explanations or excuses to justify the company and its employees’ behavior and statements on social media. On Tuesday, identical statements were posted by the personal accounts of Stephen Dinehart and Ernie Gygax, stating:

“There is a coordinated assault across various channels being mounted upon me, my company, my father, & our staff by @Wizards_DnD [the official Twitter account of the Dungeons & Dragons department for Wizards of the Coast]. I need your help to stop it before someone gets hurt. We created this business. We are TSR™. Please support us at”

The quote follows with a link to the TSR.games website. At the time of writing, neither Wizards of the Coast nor their parent company Hasbro has made any public statements about TSR3. It is also unclear why the symbol ™ was used (which is for trademarks that are protected under common law) rather than ® (indicating a trademark that is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office) considering the registration of the trademark is at the center of this entire situation.

And finally, @TSR_Games announced on Twitter late Thursday evening that they have hired a new Public Relations Officer.

“Hi everyone,
I am the new Public Relations Officer for TSR.Games. The individual that was handling this account is no longer with TSR. Please direct all future TSR communications to me.
In the coming week, there will be a video featuring Ernie Gygax, in which he will address:
SciFi4Me TV’s “Live from the Bunker 277” Interview
The childhood story he posted on his personal Twitter account.

Please stand by…
Michael
Public Relations Officer
TSR/Giantlands”

A similar post was made to the official @GiantLands Twitter account. While it is unclear who the previous person managing the account was, most on Twitter pointed to Chief Creative Officer Stephen Dinehart due to the similarities in the wording of tweets from his now-deactivated private account and tweets made by @TSR_Games and @GiantLands official accounts.

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Wizards of the Coast released the first of the tie-in adventures for Magic: The Gathering’s Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Titled “In Scarlet Flames”, the 14-page adventure involves an apparent Planeswalker visiting the Sword Coast and attracting the interest of two Red Wizards of Thay. The party finds out about the confrontation from a bandit leader named Lothar who was forced to abandon his hideout as the wizards confronted one another. “Wizards hunting wizards can lead to no good.” This adventure is available for free from the Magic: The Gathering website with further installments appearing weekly until July 28.

More card previews have come out for the new set as well, exploring the more D&D-themed elements that aren’t new mechanics. The set will feature a series of new Instant cards named after common adventure seeds, allowing you to choose between one of two actions to resolve the issue. For example, the card You Hear Something on Watch is an Instant with a casting cost of 1 colorless and 1 white with the text “Choose one – Rouse the Party – Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn or Set Off Traps – This spell does 5 damage to target attacking creature” while You See a Pair of Goblins is an Instant with a casting cost of 2 colorless and 1 red with the text “Choose One – Charge Them – Creatures you control get +2/+0 until end of turn or Befriend Them – Create two 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens.” Additionally, we now know what all of the new Basic Land cards will look like, with four of each of the lands included in the set. Each of the cards will have flavor text (a first for Basic Land cards in Magic: The Gathering) which can also work as an adventure seed or hook in Dungeons & Dragons games.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms releases on July 23 in the standard set booster packs, draft booster packs, collector booster packs, four pre-constructed Commander decks, and two different gift boxes (the first featuring 10 booster draft packs, 1 foil art promo card, 40 basic lands, an oversized d20 spindown life counter, and storage box while the second will have all of that plus a collector booster and 5 additional Rare or Mythic Rare cards).

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In what is probably one of the earliest pre-order timeframes for a tabletop roleplaying game I recall seeing, the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game playtest rules are available for pre-order now…for a March 29, 2022 release. The book will be 104 pages long and a softcover published by Marvel. While it won’t have the full rules for the game, it will feature the combat rules and character creation as well as an introductory scenario and pre-generated characters for Spider-Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Wolverine, “and more”. Interestingly, Amazon has other information on the product page, including the grade level is “Preschool and up” and the reading age is “Baby and up”. So something tells me that this information may change in the eight months between now and its release.

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Monte Cook Games released a free preview of the upcoming Numenera sourcebook Vertices this week. The preview contains 13 pages from the full sourcebook skipping around through the chapters to give a good look at what the book has to offer. The full sourcebook will feature eight prior-world ruins explored in full detail, new cyphers, new artifacts, new creatures, new NPCs, and a detailed random settlement generator. The full sourcebook will be available later this month and is available for pre-order in print with a retail price of $29.99.

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Goodman Games launched a crowdfunding effort for a Dungeon Crawl Classics adaptation of the Jack Vance novel series Dying Earth. Officially licensed by the Jack Vance estate, the boxed set will feature three rulebooks (one for the core rules, one for magic, and one for creatures and NPCs) with a selection of six adventures available as add-ons from Leve 0 to Level 5. For those unfamiliar with the setting, Dying Earth takes place in the far future on an Earth with an aged and weak red sun and a history that has been lost and forgotten. And yes, it is the origin of the Vancian Magic system that has informed countless other fantasy stories and games over the decades including Dungeons & Dragons. The PDF of the boxed set is available for a $25 pledge or as a set with all six adventures for $50, while physical versions of the boxed set are $50 and packed with the modules for $110. This project is fully funded and runs until Wednesday, July 21.

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R. Talsorian Games announced a slew of updates to the Cyberpunk Red roleplaying game. First is a third printing of the core rulebook with new errata making minor adjustments and clarifications to the rules. The PDF of the core rules will be updated with this new errata closer to the third printing release. There will also be a gamemaster screen available for the new edition finally. While originally intended to be part of the launch line-up, quality issues caused a delay in release. However, the physical editions are on their way to game stores currently with a retail price of $20 while the PDF version is available now (complete with an alternate version of the screen art) on DriveThruRPG for $8. A new Data Pack collection will also be available soon featuring six Screamsheet Adventures, six new random tables for Night City events, six 11” X 17” maps, and a pad of double-sided character sheets.

And we’re not done with the announcements there’s the new sourcebook Black Chrome which features all sorts of new shopping for the game. In the fashion of the original Chromebooks, this book will feature new weapons, new armor, new fashion, and an exploration of the economy of the setting. There’s no current release date or price for this book. Finally, we have the return of Interface, the magazine for the Cyberpunk system. Interface RED will be a 64-page book collecting the free PDF “DLC” downloads for the game along with brand new content. While there’s no release date or price yet for Interface RED, the company plans to release more updates semi-regularly depending on demand.


That’s all from me for this week! 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@enpublishingrpg.com, and you can get more discussion of the week’s news on Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk every week. You can follow me on Twitch to get notifications when I go live, subscribe to Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube for videos on gaming history, RPG reviews, 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.
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Ok, that TSR3 saga was very nicely collated @Abstruse thanks. Couldn't keep up with all the threads. And seriously, what a saga it has been. It's actually incredible how in the space of 7-ish days an entire company (well, 3 guys involved) can be brought to its knees and a people fired, accounts deactivated and a new PR person. Twitternet speeds are very fast...
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Also, it's been pointed out that the MtG Forgotten Realms adventure seems to be missing some of its maps or part of its main map. Anyone else feel that way?
 

Abstruse

Legend
Ok, that TSR3 saga was very nicely collated @Abstruse thanks. Couldn't keep up with all the threads. And seriously, what a saga it has been. It's actually incredible how in the space of 7-ish days an entire company (well, 3 guys involved) can be brought to its knees and a people fired, accounts deactivated and a new PR person. Twitternet speeds are very fast...
And there's been updates since yesterday. The TSR Games owned by Jayson Elliot (the one that used to publish Gygax Magazine and currently publishes Top Secret) rebranded to Solarian Games. They're still on Twitter as @TSRGames for the moment, but I expect the username to change soon since the display name and logos have all changed.

And if that name sounds vaguely familiar but can't place why, "Salarian" (notice the a) is the name of an alien species in the Mass Effect series. They're the amphibian-inspired short-lived scientist/doctor species most known for the Mass Effect 2 companion Mordin Solus and the Salarian Councilor voiced by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine alum Armin Shimerman (Quark).
 

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