Tabletop Adventures Sues Geek Therapeutics For 'Libel, Slander, and Copyright Infringement'

Realms of Kymoria Cropped.png

Shawn Thomas of Tabletop Adventures is suing Geek Therapeutics and its founder, Dr. Anthony Bean, for "libel, slander and copyright infringement" over Realms of Kymoria, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch (ICD). Shawn authored Realms of Kymoria, and discussed manufacturing, marketing, and distributing the setting with Geek Therapeutics. "Despite the alleged lack of a finalized licensing agreement between Thomas and the Texas company, Geek Therapeutics launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to get Realms of Kymoria to market."

The active campaign is live on Backerkit, not Kickstarter, though there is a Kickstarter "coming soon" launch page. ICD's original article offers details reprinted in its entirety here via ICD's use of Creative Commons:

A “certified therapeutic game master” from Iowa is suing a Texas company called Geek Therapeutics for libel, slander and copyright infringement over a planned Dungeons & Dragons spinoff.

Shawn Thomas and his Ankeny company Tabletop Adventure are suing Geek Therapeutics and its founder, Dr. Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist, in U.S. District Court for Southern District of Iowa.

The lawsuit revolves around Thomas’ development of a role-playing tabletop game called Realms of Kymoria. The lawsuit claims that players of the game inhabit a fictional world that provides an inclusive and welcoming environment for all types of individuals.

Thomas alleges that in creating Realms of Kymoria, he produced graphical maps, stories in the form of written prose, and graphic depictions of various characters within those stories. In 2021, he created a limited liability company, Tabletop Adventure, to hold the copyrights, trademarks, and other rights associated with the game.

That same year, the lawsuit alleges, Thomas acquired his “therapeutic game master certification” from Geek Therapeutics, signaling his ability to host role-playing games in therapeutic environments. Soon thereafter, Thomas and Bean allegedly began discussing a potential licensing agreement whereby Geek Therapeutics would manufacture, market, and distribute Realms of Kymoria.

The lawsuit alleges Thomas was concerned about losing control of the intellectual property rights associated with the game and that Bean agreed all such rights would remain with Thomas. Negotiations continued through December 2022, when it was learned that a California company called Wizards of the Coast was planning major changes in its licensing agreements that allow third parties to create games using rules that are compatible with its popular Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.

Among the planned changes was one that would grant to Wizards of the Coast a perpetual royalty-free license to use the officially licensed third-party games for any purpose. The lawsuit claims this plan triggered “an uproar in the tabletop gaming community” because many game developers had created business models centered on their compatibility with Dungeons & Dragons rules.

Thomas was among the concerned developers because he had intended to make Realms of Kymoria compatible with Dungeons & Dragons, but was opposed to the Wizards of the Coast licensing arrangement, according to the lawsuit.

Geek Therapeutics, however, opted to pursue compatibility and it moved forward with its marketing plans for Realms of Kymoria. Despite the alleged lack of a finalized licensing agreement between Thomas and the Texas company, Geek Therapeutics launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to get Realms of Kymoria to market. In April 2023, Thomas allegedly demanded that Geek Therapeutics immediately cease all efforts to reproduce and distribute his game.

According to the lawsuit, Geek Therapeutics announced, earlier this month, plans to distribute and sell the game through its Kickstarter campaign. “Hundreds of people have pre-registered” to provide support for the game, the lawsuit claims, and various websites and merchandise have been created to promote and sell the game.

In addition to an injunction, Thomas’ lawsuit seeks damages for copyright infringement as well as libel and slander, with Thomas alleging the defendants sent its Kickstart backers a supportive email that falsely claimed to be from him.

The defendants have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.


Realms of Kymoria A Therapeutic TTRPG Quickstart Kit for 5e.png
 
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Queer Venger

Dungeon Master is my Dad
I was curious and did some digging, but the actual lawsuit seems to only be accessible behind a Pacer login. However, in the search it turns up that this isn't Bean's first lawsuit. If I understand correctly, it seems he originally tried to launch his "certification" services under the name "Geek Therapy" which was being used by an existing podcast, convention, and therapists. They tried to stop him, and I couldn't find any resolution, but considering Bean's "certification" services are being run as Geek Therapeutics, I'm guess the original podcast won.

It's one-sided, of course, but this explanation of the issue doesn't exactly put Bean in the best light and lends credence to the "money-grabbing document mill" theory (which I agree that this has strong vibes of from ones I've seen in the IT realm that I'm more familiar with discerning useful from money-grabbing "certifications", but I'm no expert in this domain):
Geek Therapy Trademark Update - March 2021
Im an expert on the subject. If you want to throw your money at this go ahead.
If you want to really work with human beings and they're (edit) crap and you want to changes lives, invest a lot of $$ and sacrifice half a decade of education, then another half a decade of certification. then you'll only scratch the surface of human psychology.

Games are inherently therapeutic, any game is inherently therapeutic. You don't need a degree to have fun and explore your inner demons at a table.
 
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michaeljpastor

Adventurer

Shawn Thomas of Tabletop Adventures is suing Geek Therapeutics and its founder, Dr. Anthony Bean, for "libel, slander and copyright infringement" over Realms of Kymoria, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch (ICD). Shawn authored Realms of Kymoria, and discussed manufacturing, marketing, and distributing the setting with Geek Therapeutics. "Despite the alleged lack of a finalized licensing agreement between Thomas and the Texas company, Geek Therapeutics launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to get Realms of Kymoria to market."

The active campaign is live on Backerkit, not Kickstarter, though there is a Kickstarter "coming soon" launch page. ICD's original article offers details reprinted in its entirety here via ICD's use of Creative Commons:

A “certified therapeutic game master” from Iowa is suing a Texas company called Geek Therapeutics for libel, slander and copyright infringement over a planned Dungeons & Dragons spinoff.

Shawn Thomas and his Ankeny company Tabletop Adventure are suing Geek Therapeutics and its founder, Dr. Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist, in U.S. District Court for Southern District of Iowa.

The lawsuit revolves around Thomas’ development of a role-playing tabletop game called Realms of Kymoria. The lawsuit claims that players of the game inhabit a fictional world that provides an inclusive and welcoming environment for all types of individuals.

Thomas alleges that in creating Realms of Kymoria, he produced graphical maps, stories in the form of written prose, and graphic depictions of various characters within those stories. In 2021, he created a limited liability company, Tabletop Adventure, to hold the copyrights, trademarks, and other rights associated with the game.

That same year, the lawsuit alleges, Thomas acquired his “therapeutic game master certification” from Geek Therapeutics, signaling his ability to host role-playing games in therapeutic environments. Soon thereafter, Thomas and Bean allegedly began discussing a potential licensing agreement whereby Geek Therapeutics would manufacture, market, and distribute Realms of Kymoria.

The lawsuit alleges Thomas was concerned about losing control of the intellectual property rights associated with the game and that Bean agreed all such rights would remain with Thomas. Negotiations continued through December 2022, when it was learned that a California company called Wizards of the Coast was planning major changes in its licensing agreements that allow third parties to create games using rules that are compatible with its popular Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.

Among the planned changes was one that would grant to Wizards of the Coast a perpetual royalty-free license to use the officially licensed third-party games for any purpose. The lawsuit claims this plan triggered “an uproar in the tabletop gaming community” because many game developers had created business models centered on their compatibility with Dungeons & Dragons rules.

Thomas was among the concerned developers because he had intended to make Realms of Kymoria compatible with Dungeons & Dragons, but was opposed to the Wizards of the Coast licensing arrangement, according to the lawsuit.

Geek Therapeutics, however, opted to pursue compatibility and it moved forward with its marketing plans for Realms of Kymoria. Despite the alleged lack of a finalized licensing agreement between Thomas and the Texas company, Geek Therapeutics launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to get Realms of Kymoria to market. In April 2023, Thomas allegedly demanded that Geek Therapeutics immediately cease all efforts to reproduce and distribute his game.

According to the lawsuit, Geek Therapeutics announced, earlier this month, plans to distribute and sell the game through its Kickstarter campaign. “Hundreds of people have pre-registered” to provide support for the game, the lawsuit claims, and various websites and merchandise have been created to promote and sell the game.

In addition to an injunction, Thomas’ lawsuit seeks damages for copyright infringement as well as libel and slander, with Thomas alleging the defendants sent its Kickstart backers a supportive email that falsely claimed to be from him.

The defendants have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.


Why do they refer to WOTC as a California company?
 


CellarHeroes

Explorer
I wish I knew what a “certified therapeutic game master” was though!

(Ah, looking it up on their website, it seems you pay them $1500 for a course).

View attachment 348970

After doing some further digging...
It looks like a "certified therapeutic game master" is someone who wants to write off all gaming materials and the space they play in (home). They also get sleep well while charging $50+/player for a 2-hour game session.
 


After doing some further digging...
It looks like a "certified therapeutic game master" is someone who wants to write off all gaming materials and the space they play in (home). They also get sleep well while charging $50+/player for a 2-hour game session.
Paid GM'ing is rather large in online gaming. So much so that Reddit forums Looking for group/player/GM are required to note in the heading of all new threads whether it is paid for free.

There are lots of gamers looking for groups. I put up a notice for a player just before starting my for my current campaign (on Reddit), and within 45 minutes had three candidates, one of whom passed the vetting process. I closed the thread an hour after posting. The campaign is in the Fading Suns setting using modified Zweihander rules, so I can't claim a wide base of setting or system followers.

And this with my house rules already posted.
 

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