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TSR TSR (2) Confirms TSR (3)'s Acquisition of Trademark (Updated!)

Jayson Elliot registered the TSR trademark back in 2011 and used it to launch Gygax Magazine along with Ernie and Luke Gygax. The two Gygax's left the company a few years later after Gary Gygax's (co-founder of TSR (1) back in the 1970s) widow, Gail Gygax, forced the closure of Gygax Magazine. Then, earlier this year, TSR (3) swooped in on the TSR trademark, after Jayson Elliot accidentally let it lapse, as TSR (2) confirms:

We have owned the TSR trademark since 2011. Last year, we missed a filing date, and another company registered it, though we are still using it in commerce. While we could win a lawsuit, we frankly don't have the money to litigate. So, we're licensing it back from them.

As a result, there are two companies now using the name TSR. You can tell when it's us because we're the only ones using the new logo.

They're opening a museum in Lake Geneva at the old TSR house, and we wish them success with it, it's important to celebrate the legacy that Gary Gygax created.


Ernie Gygax, formerly of TSR (1) under Gary Gygax, then working with Jayson Elliot as part of TSR (2), is one of the founders of of TSR (3), and confirmed in his (now infamous) interview --

The other TSR is a licensee because [Jayson Elliot] let it lapse. But he had absolutely ... love for the game and the products. There was no reason to say 'oh you've screwed up, oh it's all ours, ha ha ha ha!' Instead, Justin [LaNasa] came to him and said ... we love that you're doing Top Secret things, we have a much broader goal for the whole thing. But there's no reason for you to stop or even have any troubles. Justin said, I'll take care of the paperwork, you just give me $10 a year, and you put out all this love for old school gaming that you can. And we appreciate that you were there to try and pick up things, and you produced Gygax Magazine, for in its time that you're also working on a game that you love to play ... because Top Secret was Jayson's love, as a young man.


TSR (2), still run by Jayson Elliot, publishes Top Secret, and is not connected to TSR (3) other than now having to license it’s own name from them. TSR (3) has also registered the trademark to Star Frontiers, a game owned by and still currently sold by D&D-owner WotC.

In other news the GYGAX trademark appears to have lapsed.


tsr2.png

UPDATE! TSR (2) has decided NOT to license its own name from TSR (3):

Update to our earlier tweet - we will NOT be licensing anything from the new company claiming rights to the TSR logos. We are not working with them in any fashion.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Dausuul

Legend
The phylactery used in D&D bears no resemblance to the Tefillin, for that matter: phylactery is a broader Greek word for Talisman, and it seems the original D&D phylactery was actually a hidden jar. More Universal's "The Mummy" than anything: so more than passing Orientalist, but not drawing from anti-Semetic tropes per se. It'd be a pretty silly Lich who wore their Horcrux on their brow and hands.
In the 2E Monstrous Compendium (edit: I had the source wrong, it was the 3.5E Monster Manual), the lich entry described the typical phylactery as being a box full of strips of paper covered in arcane symbols. It bugged me for years because it seemed so weird and random. But that appears to be an exact description of a Tefillin.

Now, this was 2E 3E, long after the original introduction of the lich. It may well be that Gary picked the name "phylactery" as a generic term for "protective amulet," and then a later writer who knew "phylactery" as a synonym for "Tefillin" assumed that was what it meant. But no matter when it happened, the association definitely made its way into D&D.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Jewish religion is a different topic because the whole Judeo-Christo-Islamic thing is way too sensitive and volatile to ever make them a part of a fantasy game that wants global appeal, rather than a niche audience.
Yes, these reallife monotheistic religions are sensitive. At the same time, pressuring the devout adherents of these to play polytheists can also be unwelcoming.

Personally, I am a fan of the "cosmic force" Cleric in Xanathars, and hope it becomes core. To focus on a concept, like love or light, or whatever, allows enough flexibility in the character concept, that (most of?) the monotheistic adherents can work with comfortably.

I also like the formulation of the 5e "cosmic force". It is more concrete and plays out more realistically as something that could be plausibly sacred, than the 3e "philosophical" that often felt solipsistic.

Also "cosmic force" works great for animism too, where it can be, for example, the concept of "community" including all of the surrounding natural beings.
 

Unless I'm missing something, the 2e Monstrous Compendium (original three-ring binder and later book printings) just says "The phylactery, which can be almost any manner of object, must be of the finest craftsmanship and materials with a value of not less than 1,500 gp value per level of the wizard."

In the 2E Monstrous Compendium, the lich entry described the typical phylactery as being a box full of strips of paper covered in arcane symbols. It bugged me for years because it seemed so weird and random. But that appears to be an exact description of a Tefillin.

Now, this was 2E, long after the original introduction of the lich. It may well be that Gary picked the name "phylactery" as a generic term for "protective amulet," and then a later writer who knew "phylactery" as a synonym for "Tefillin" assumed that was what it meant. But no matter when it happened, the association definitely made its way into D&D.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I don't think an "accurate and compassionate welcome" is even possible in this case. Jewish mythological concepts are so different from DnD that the only way to integrate them would be to mangle them beyond recognition. I mean, can you imagine what combat would look like? Rocket tag to see who can pronounce YHVH first!

In my own campaign, when I portray a monotheistic culture, I emphasize that the Divine is infinite and imageless, and wants humanoids to figure out how to make the world a better place. Meanwhile, the Plane of Positive Energy is perceived by the culture as the immanent aspect of the Divine, energizing, healing, and making whole.
 

Faolyn

Hero
No, almost certainly not. It was an innocent mistake almost fifty years ago. But it's a mistake that hasn't been corrected in almost fifty years.
I googled phylactery (I know what it means, but wanted to see what the internets would say). According to Wikipedia, while the primary definition are the boxes that Torah scrolls are kept in, the word has several other major uses: as magic amulets, as a reliquary for Christian relics, as the name for the little ribbon-y word balloons you get in medieval art, and... where monsters keep their souls, as per D&D. And also according to Wikipedia, the word comes from Ancient Greek and means "protectant."

So the D&D usage of the word is only a mistake if you consider any usage other than that of a place to put Torah scrolls in, in which case it's also a mistake for Christians and for art historians to use that term as well.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Not that it changes anything about my opinion on whether phylactery is anti-Semitic or offensive, but I went back and looked at the 1e and 2e phylacteries and found this. There are three magic item phylacteries. All of which are priest only items, one of which specifically calls it out as being wrapped around the arm. Both editions use identical language.

It seems that when they made the game that they were aware of the religious use of the term and built their magic item phylacteries around that. Liches, though, are different and any object can be used, so that one used the alternate definition.
Yup. It was those magic items that make me look up phylacteries in an encyclopedia when i was but a wee lad. I always thought that they were neat.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Unless I'm missing something, the 2e Monstrous Compendium (original three-ring binder and later book printings) just says "The phylactery, which can be almost any manner of object, must be of the finest craftsmanship and materials with a value of not less than 1,500 gp value per level of the wizard."
My mistake, I had the source mixed up. It wasn't 2E, it was the 3.5E Monster Manual: "The most common form of phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed."

So, quite a long time after Gary and D&D parted ways. But it did end up in there.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
In the 2E Monstrous Compendium, the lich entry described the typical phylactery as being a box full of strips of paper covered in arcane symbols. It bugged me for years because it seemed so weird and random. But that appears to be an exact description of a Tefillin.

Now, this was 2E, long after the original introduction of the lich. It may well be that Gary picked the name "phylactery" as a generic term for "protective amulet," and then a later writer who knew "phylactery" as a synonym for "Tefillin" assumed that was what it meant. But no matter when it happened, the association definitely made its way into D&D.
That's odd, because the 2e Monstrous Manual Lich entry says this.

"In order to become a lich, the wizard must prepare its phylactery by the use of the enchant an item, magic jar, permanency and reincarnation spells. The phylactery, which can be almost any manner of object, must be of the finest craftsmanship and materials with a value of not less than 1,500 gold pieces per level of the wizard."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My mistake, I had the source mixed up. It wasn't 2E, it was the 3.5E Monster Manual: "The most common form of phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed."

So, quite a long time after Gary and D&D parted ways. But it did end up in there.
And by WotC no less. Of course, they did go on to say at the end of that section...

"Other forms of phylacteries can exist, such as rings, amulets, or similar items."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Personally, I am a fan of the "cosmic force" Cleric in Xanathars, and hope it becomes core. To focus on a concept, like love or light, or whatever, allows enough flexibility in the character concept, that (most of?) the monotheistic adherents can work with comfortably.

That idea is in Xanathar's, but it is notable that the equivalent - being a cleric that simply had an ethos about the subject of their spheres existed as a stated option back in the 3e PHB.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
Would you want to go up against the richest woman in the world in the dispute over whether your use of her entirely made-up word, when you are using it largely in the same way and context as she does? Are you sure you won't have tripped over into her "particular expression" in a way that will stick in court? I wouldn't be.

Honestly, I am 100% certain that my estate would eventually win. But you make a very good point that she can afford to lose that lawsuit many, many, many more times than I could afford to win it. This is why I'm not a lawyer and why I don't give legal advice more specialized than "if you're asking me for legal advice, you need to hire a lawyer".
 


DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
Yes, these reallife monotheistic religions are sensitive. At the same time, pressuring the devout adherents of these to play polytheists can also be unwelcoming.

Pressing polytheists to pretend to worship the awful monsters most D&D settings call "gods" isn't great, either. Especially when they give those awful monsters the names of our gods.
 

No worries, though it appearing that way in 3e is kinda worse - by that time there was far better access to information and people should've known better.

I checked 1e's MM entry, and all it say is a Lich "retains <its unlife> by certain conjurations, enchantments, and a phylactery," without saying anything further about it. Doesn't even mention anything about destroying the phylactery.

I'm almost curious enough to dig out my 4e books to see what they say...almost.

My mistake, I had the source mixed up. It wasn't 2E, it was the 3.5E Monster Manual: "The most common form of phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed."

So, quite a long time after Gary and D&D parted ways. But it did end up in there.
 


Voranzovin

Explorer
In my own campaign, when I portray a monotheistic culture, I emphasize that the Divine is infinite and imageless, and wants humanoids to figure out how to make the world a better place. Meanwhile, the Plane of Positive Energy is perceived by the culture as the immanent aspect of the Divine, energizing, healing, and making whole.
Depending on the Jewish person in question, this may actually be less welcoming then standard Polytheistic Dnd. Back when I was religious, I happily played characters who worshiped polytheistic gods, knowing that (from a Jewish perspective) such Gods are entirely fictional, and therefore harmless. On the other hand, anything that strayed to close to actual Jewish conceptions of God would have been very uncomfortable for me.

Of course other religious Jews might see even fictionally worshipping anything other then God as avodah zarah, so your mileage may vary. My point is that this is not really something we can expect Wotc to navigate successfully, even in theory.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Pressing polytheists to pretend to worship the awful monsters most D&D settings call "gods" isn't great, either. Especially when they give those awful monsters the names of our gods.
Totally agree.

Here too, "cosmic force" works better.

For example, in a Norse-esque culture, if a Cleric is a "friend" (not worshiper) of Thor, then the "cosmic force" that the Cleric and Thor share in common, can be "honoring oaths", "keeping ones words true", "defending humanoids from hostile aspects of nature", or even a special love for the beauty, power, and life-giving properties of thunderstorms.

A Paladin is surprisingly fitting for Norse. The honorable combat is spot on, and the warrior magic (healing and abjuration) corresponds well to the Songs.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
No worries, though it appearing that way in 3e is kinda worse - by that time there was far better access to information and people should've known better.

I checked 1e's MM entry, and all it say is a Lich "retains <its unlife> by certain conjurations, enchantments, and a phylactery," without saying anything further about it. Doesn't even mention anything about destroying the phylactery.

I'm almost curious enough to dig out my 4e books to see what they say...almost.
The description of a typical phylactery is definitely in 4e. The question is: was including that typical form of a phylactery intended to correct a perceived slight at the Jewish phylactery because previous descriptions didn't acknowledge that or is it a slight because it does?
 

Voranzovin

Explorer
I googled phylactery (I know what it means, but wanted to see what the internets would say). According to Wikipedia, while the primary definition are the boxes that Torah scrolls are kept in, the word has several other major uses: as magic amulets, as a reliquary for Christian relics, as the name for the little ribbon-y word balloons you get in medieval art, and... where monsters keep their souls, as per D&D. And also according to Wikipedia, the word comes from Ancient Greek and means "protectant."

So the D&D usage of the word is only a mistake if you consider any usage other than that of a place to put Torah scrolls in, in which case it's also a mistake for Christians and for art historians to use that term as well.
A somewhat pedantic point, as it's not really relevant to the discussion, but for the record they don't keep Torah scrolls in tefillin. Torah scrolls are very large--you definitely couldn't wear one on your arm or forehead! The scrolls in tefillin only include a few lines from the Torah.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
These ethnic languages mentioned by Xanathars are significant to English-speakers, many of them in personal names. The one that is missing is Hebrew. The missing language is especially conspicuous when Arabic and Egyptian are present.

And it isnt about population number. The number of Norse (Scandinavians and Icelanders) is in the same magnitude as the number of Hebrew (Israelis and Diaspora Jews).

And it isnt about religion, because the Greek and Latin of Christianity are present. And the Arabic of Islam.

Hebrew is missing.
The Greek and Latin names in Xanathar are not Christian names, though the Aranic names are Muslim, and the Spanish ones are pretty Christian IIRC.
 

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