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

Shawn Thomas of The Tabletop Adventure is suing Geek Therapeutics and its founder, Dr. Anthony Bean, for "libel, slander and copyright infringement".

Realms of Kymoria Cropped.png

Shawn Thomas of The Tabletop Adventure 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 [The] 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, [The] 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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Egg Embry

Egg Embry



Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I can see the issue of copyright infringement (sort of?) but I'm having trouble seeing any libel or slander. I'm not fluent in legalese, though. Maybe someone more familiar with these topics could show me what I'm missing?
I guess you'd need to read the lawsuit filing to find the specifics of the accusation. I'm sure somebody can dig it up!

The article mentions "a supportive email that falsely claimed to be from him" which I'm guessing is the thing that prompted that.

I'm not convinced the Iowa Capital Dispatch really understands the situation.
 


MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
I'm having trouble seeing any libel or slander.
Keep in mind that it's a pretty abbreviated description of events. There's probably a lot more details that might have prompted.

The thing I odd is that it seems like the SRD De authorization debacle is a major component, but that's been resolved now. I think there's probably just a lot of bad feelings between the two parties.
 

Queer Venger

Dungeon Master is my Dad
Strangely enough, the tangled legalese of all of this was the most comprehensible thing I read here.

Lol @ theraupetic game master certification. They the same people that give out chiropractic degrees?
Im a licensed therapist, this is the sh*t that devalues our profession. If you really want to get this certificate go ahead and give your money away to sheisters
 

Im a licensed therapist, this is the sh*t that devalues our profession. If you really want to get this certificate go ahead and give your money away to sheisters
This does have all the hallmarks of a scam - did you look at their site's store? - but (and correct me if I'm wrong) using TTRPGs for therapy isn't a completely far-out wacky idea in therapeutic circles at this point, is it? I was under the impression the concept had achieved some degree of legitimacy among licensed therapists at this point.
 


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
 

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