News Digest for the Week of March 11

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Dragonlance teased in Unearthed Arcana, a preview of Critical Role Presents: Call of the Netherdeep, ICv2 RPG sales rankings, an update on the TSR/Wizards of the Coast lawsuit, and more!

Don’t forget, you can keep up with all the week’s gaming news with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by Jessica Hancock to talk about the launch of EN Live!


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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This week marks the launch of EN Live! As you might remember from last week, EN World is expanding its media coverage onto multiple new platforms in addition to Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk podcast. This past Monday, the first episode of Not DnD premiered with host Jessica Hancock interviewing our own Morrus about the Awfully Cheerful Engine. For those who missed it, the archive is available on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook where it will stream every Monday. And starting today, Jessica will host This Week in TTRPG on TikTok, a brief overview of the week’s tabletop RPG news. You can find the full schedule for EN Live on the website.

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The newest Unearthed Arcana is something that many people have clamored for from D&D 5e for a while: Dragonlance rules! The playtest document “Heroes of Krynn” features a new version of the Kender who are feywild based and retcons their “kleptomania” as a magical ability to pull a random item out of any container. The document also features the Lunar Magic subclass for the Sorcerer and presents the Knights of Solamnia and Mage of High Sorcery as Backgrounds. Of note, those groups are no longer class-restricted so that any spellcaster can become a Mage of High Sorcery and any martial-focused class like Fighter, Paladin, or Cleric can become a Knight of Solamnia. Advancement in the two organizations is handled through feats available at 4th level, with those having the relevant background able to select the Knight of the Crown/Sword/Rose and Adept of the White/Red/Black Robes. There are also two new feats that give access to Divine magic to any class representing a deity choosing the character to “carry a spark of their divine power”.

While this is not an official confirmation of an official Dragonlance setting book, similar mechanics were playtested in Unearthed Arcana in advance of sourcebook releases for Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft and Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos. This combined with the upcoming release of Dragons of Deceit by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman this August seems to point in the direction of a Dragonlance setting book coming soon.

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Speaking of upcoming Dungeons & Dragons books, a big preview of Critical Role Presents: Call of the Netherdeep came out this week. The sneak peek features a look at the new Rival NPC system for the game, which focuses less on pure villains and more like…frenemies? The system allows for NPCs to be involved in the ongoing events of the campaign without being a direct antagonist to the player characters and might even be valuable allies, depending on the circumstances. Four Rivals are previewed with full stat blocks: Irvan Wastewalker (human rogue), Dermot Wurder (goblin cleric), Ayo Jabe (water genasi ranger), and Maggie Keeneyes (ogre fighter). Art and descriptions (but no stats) for four monsters were also released, the corrupted giant shark, death embrace, and light devourer. The hardcover for Call of the Netherdeep is available on March 15 in North America and April 5 in Europe with a retail price of $49.95.

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The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced the finalists for the Nebula Awards, and the Nebula Award for Game Writing this year is dominated by tabletop roleplaying games. Coyote & Crow is a science fantasy roleplaying game set in an alternate future where the colonization of First Nations people never happened created by an all Native team. Grandma’s Hand is a game based on Golden Age comic books that reimagines the genre with a focus on Black characters and stories set in the 1930s-1950s age of superheroes and hardboiled comic detectives. Thirsty Sword Lesbians is…well, what it says on the tin. It’s about flirting, sword fighting, and witty banter, often all at the same time. Wanderhome is a pastoral RPG about anthropomorphic animals travelling through the world in a journey of exploration. The only video game which made the nomination list was Wildermyth, which is a turn-based fantasy RPG following heroes over entire generations with a highly tabletop RPG inspired gameplay style and aesthetic. The Game Writing category was added to the prestigious genre awards in 2019 and, since then, only one tabletop RPG product has been nominated prior to this year, the Fate Accessibility Toolkit in 2020. The winners of the 57th annual Nebula Awards will be announced on May 21.

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ICv2 released their industry reports for Fall 2021 and there’s been some shuffling among the RPGs. Of course, Dungeons & Dragons 5e takes the top spot, Pathfinder takes second place, and Dungeons & Dragons 5e from Goodman Games is in third. Free League’s Alien and R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk Red have both fallen off the top five list, with Modiphius’s Fallout RPG based on the popular video game series taking the fourth place and Chaosium’s classic Call of Cthulhu taking fifth. For these curious about who is leading other parts of the hobby gaming industry, ICv2 also tracks information for collectible games (Pokemon), board games (Wingspan), card/dice games (Codenames), and non-collectible miniatures (Warhammer 40K) to round out their sales rankings. Note: This section has been edited as it originally stated Goodman Games published material for the D&D organized play Adventurer's League when this third-party license is held by Baldman Games. Goodman Games have a third-party license to reprint classic D&D adventures with 5e rules updates.

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The legal proceedings between Wizards of the Coast and TSR LLC (aka TSR3) heated up this week as Wizards of the Coast not only responded to the lawsuit filed against them but also countersued TSR3, the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum LLC, and Justin LaNasa personally. For those seeking a summary of the events leading up to this lawsuit, Morrus has a full timeline located here. The lawsuit is over the trademark to the name “TSR” itself, to several graphic logos for TSR, and to the name “Star Frontiers”.

Wizards of the Coast filed its response to the lawsuit from TSR3 on March 4, presenting seven different defenses against the claims in the lawsuit. These defenses range from stating that the court does not have the legal authority to grant TSR3 what it wants from the lawsuit, Wizards of the Coast used the trademarks first and continued to use the trademarks in commerce, and that TSR3’s claims to the trademark are fraudulent and made in bad faith.

The countersuit claims that TSR3 used the trademarks in question to sell products in a manner intentionally designed to confuse consumers into thinking that TSR3 is the original TSR1. This is supported by various press releases and social media posts where TSR3 claims to be the reincarnation of TSR1 and either implies or outright states that they are the same company as TSR1 despite Wizards of the Coast acquiring TSR1 and all their intellectual property in 1997. The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum is listed as a defendant in the countersuit because the webstore for the museum is used to sell products baring the TSR logo including dice, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and the perpetually “out of stock” Star Frontiers: New Genesis core rulebook.

Justin LaNasa personally is also listed as a defendant in the countersuit as LaNasa is the sole owner of both TSR3 and the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum and because LaNasa registered the trademarks for the “TSR” name, the graphic logos, and the name “Star Frontiers” all under his own name before transferring those trademarks to TSR3. LaNasa also personally signed the trademark registration paperwork with the United States Patent and Trademark Office certifying under penalty of perjury that no one else currently used the trademarks in question in commerce. The IndieGoGo campaign to fund the lawsuit is under LaNasa’s name and has used the trademarks to raise money both in the campaign itself and in marketing and social media posts.

Wizards of the Coast is seeking a court order blocking TSR3, the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, and Justin LaNasa from using any of the trademarks in question. Additionally, Wizards is requesting all materials produced using the trademarks be destroyed, all domain names using the trademarks be turned over to Wizards under cybersquatting laws, the monetary value of all revenue gained through the use of the trademarks (which not outright stated, this seems to include the funds raised via IndieGoGo), $25,000 in damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. TSR LLC, the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, and Justin LaNasa have 21 days from the filing to respond to the filing or face judgment by default against them.

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Itch.io currently has four charity bundles live supporting various causes featuring tabletop RPGs. The Bundle for Ukraine features 992 items for $10 featuring over 300 TTRPGs plus video games, comic books, music, and more. Proceeds from this bundle benefit International Medical Corps and Voices of Children and will be available until Friday, March 18. Another bundle specifically for tabletop RPGs, The TTRPG Community Stands with Ukraine Bundle, features 112 products for $5. This bundle benefits the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal and is available until Thursday, March 17.

Finally, the TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas Bundle featuring 493 tabletop RPG products for $5 is also running through the month. In addition to the products listed in the bundle, Monte Cook Games announced they will also provide PDFs for the Numenera adventure Forgetting Doomsday, the Cypher System adventure The Infinity Shift, The Strange adventure The Hum, the Numenera QuickStart Ashes of the Sea, and the Consent in Gaming book and checklist. To claim the free products from Monte Cook Games, simply fill out the form on their website with a screenshot of proof of purchase of the bundle. This bundle benefits Transgender Education Network of Texas and Organización Latina de Trans en Texas.

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The first DLC for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is now available along with a new patch for the base game. The DLC The Inevitable Excess is a new endgame adventure that can be played using imported characters from the main game or with an all-new party starting at high level. The story explores the machinations of some of the many powerful entities just before the start of the Fifth Crusade, including a visit to Axis, the birthplace and home of the inevitables. This DLC contains 7-8 hours of new content and is available on Steam, Epic Games, and GOG as part of the season pass for $28.99 or on its own for $12.99. Owlcat Games, which is based out of Moscow, issued a statement on February 28 that they are continuing to work on the game but that physical shipments are currently unavailable due to their shipping company suspending operations in Russia.

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Humble has partnered with Goodman Games to offer the Fifth Edition Fantasy bundle. At the base $1 level, you receive the first two adventures under the Fifth Edition Fantasy series, Fey Sisters’ Fate and Glitterdoom plus a voucher for 20% off the Goodman Games store. The $10 level adds on Fifth Edition Fantasy #3-10, and the top tier of $18 completes the series with #11-18 plus the PC Pearls book of character inspiration, Monster Alphabet compilation of monster design elements, and the GM Gems book full of system-neutral advice for running a game. This bundle benefits The Global Food Banking Network and runs until Thursday, March 24.


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

Birmy

Adventurer
I'll once again thank you for doing the work in parsing complicated legal proceedings, as so frequently turn up in such an IP-heavy industry. Lord knows I wouldn't have much more than an inkling without having my hand held via these reports.
 

Abstruse

Legend
I'll once again thank you for doing the work in parsing complicated legal proceedings, as so frequently turn up in such an IP-heavy industry. Lord knows I wouldn't have much more than an inkling without having my hand held via these reports.
I re-wrote that section a good three times trying to pare it down and make it a bit easier to understand. I figure anybody who cares about the legal definition of "estoppel" probably already knows the definition of "estoppel".
 


Abstruse

Legend
Oh, one highlight from the lawsuit I didn't mention: Wizards of the Coast's legal team calls out LaNasa for using a Photoshop template to make a mock-up cover that looks like there's a stack of printed Star Frontiers hardcovers in a bookstore. Or at least as close as one can in a legal filing without making undue assertions...

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