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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 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?
Confirmed, the 4E Monster Manual has the same thing, almost word-for-word: "...typically takes the form of a fist-sized metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been written."

5E is a little less on-the-nose, but retains the basic idea: "...traditionally an amulet in the shape of a small box, but it can take the form of any item possessing an interior space into which arcane sigils of naming, binding, immortality, and dark magic are scribed in silver."

As to the question of whether it's a slight, I'll just say it's a bad idea and they should have changed the name. Calling it a phylactery means you will almost always get one of two reactions when someone encounters it for the first time: Either "Whoa, that's kind of offensive" or "Phyla-what?" I'm not seeing the upside here. Just call it a soul talisman or something.
 
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My assumption would be that someone looked up phylactery or did some research, thought "oh, wouldn't it be neat if we used that in the game" without thinking whether it would be problematic or not. Maybe it was someone that just liked the imagery it evoked. Or maybe it was just trendy early 21st century occultism - it was around this time that Madonna, for example, was really into the Kabbalah.

If we were to change the name, I'd go for "soul jar." It says what it is on the tin, but also makes Acererak's Soulmonger sound that much more ominous. But like I said before, I'm not particularly worked up over it.

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?

Confirmed, the 4E Monster Manual has the same thing, almost word-for-word: "...typically takes the form of a fist-sized metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been written."

5E is a little less on-the-nose, but retains the basic idea: "...traditionally an amulet in the shape of a small box, but it can take the form of any item possessing an interior space into which arcane sigils of naming, binding, immortality, and dark magic are scribed in silver."

As to the question of whether it's a slight, I'll just say it's a bad idea and they should have changed the name. Calling it a phylactery means you will almost always get one of two reactions when someone encounters it for the first time: Either "Whoa, that's kind of offensive" or "Phyla-what?" I'm not seeing the upside here. Just call it a soul talisman or something.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Confirmed, the 4E Monster Manual has the same thing, almost word-for-word: "...typically takes the form of a fist-sized metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been written."

5E is a little less on-the-nose, but retains the basic idea: "...traditionally an amulet in the shape of a small box, but it can take the form of any item possessing an interior space into which arcane sigils of naming, binding, immortality, and dark magic are scribed in silver."

As to the question of whether it's a slight, I'll just say it's a bad idea and they should have changed the name. Calling it a phylactery means you will almost always get one of two reactions when someone encounters it for the first time: Either "Whoa, that's kind of offensive" or "Phyla-what?" I'm not seeing the upside here. Just call it a soul talisman or something.
For plain English, maybe call the Lich’s amulet a "soul jar": "traditionally an amulet in the shape of a small clay jar ... into which the preserved heart of the lich is inscribed with arcane symbols".

Thus eliminate the small box, and avoid the term "phylactery".
 



Parmandur

Book-Friend
My assumption would be that someone looked up phylactery or did some research, thought "oh, wouldn't it be neat if we used that in the game" without thinking whether it would be problematic or not. Maybe it was someone that just liked the imagery it evoked. Or maybe it was just trendy early 21st century occultism - it was around this time that Madonna, for example, was really into the Kabbalah.

If we were to change the name, I'd go for "soul jar." It says what it is on the tin, but also makes Acererak's Soulmonger sound that much more ominous. But like I said before, I'm not particularly worked up over it.
My bet is that it phylactery used in an early 20th century pulp story about an undead "Asiatic" wizard.
 



What about the other magical phylactery in the game? Those have nothing to do with the evil of a lich, such as from 3.5:

Phylactery of Undead Turning: This item is a boon to any character able to turn undead, allowing him to do so as if his class level were four levels higher than it actually is. Moderate necromancy [good]; CL 10th; Craft Wondrous Item, 10th-level cleric; Price 11,000 gp

Also from 3.5, this one sounds much more like a rip-off from Judaism:

Phylactery of Faithfulness: This item is a small box containing religious scripture affixed to a leather cord and tied around the forehead. ... The wearer of a phylactery of faithfulness is aware of any action or item that could adversely affect his alignment and his standing with his deity, including magical effects.

Also, just back in 2017, to go with Tales from the Yawning Portal, WotC had a "design your own phylactery" contest.


And the Forgotten Realms Wiki has a lot of info too:

 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
2E priests hand in 1990 covered it. First appearance afaik.
That only gets you half a point. While you are technically correct and @Umbran is technically incorrect, I don't think most people got the 2e Priests Handbook. 3e was really the first edition where it was core to allow someone to be a cleric of a concept, rather than a god. For most people, that was their introduction to that idea.
 


billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
My bet is that it phylactery used in an early 20th century pulp story about an undead "Asiatic" wizard.
I doubt it. Gygax was well-read and religious. I'd bet he encountered reference to it in the Bible (Jesus refers to ostentatious ones in his criticism of the Pharisees), did a little digging, and found it was a Greek word for a device used to protect something or as an alternative for the term reliquary.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I doubt it. Gygax was well-read and religious. I'd bet he encountered reference to it in the Bible (Jesus refers to ostentatious ones in his criticism of the Pharisees), did a little digging, and found it was a Greek word for a device used to protect something or as an alternative for the term reliquary.
Why not both...?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I'd bet he encountered reference to it in the Bible (Jesus refers to ostentatious ones in his criticism of the Pharisees).
The descriptions of Pharisees can be sensitive if taken to represent Jews generally.

I want to point the Hebrew term "Parush", meaning something like "detached", has several meanings. The Talmud mentions three meanings, and only one is positive.

The comments by Jesus are wordplaying on the double meanings. While being a Parush in the sense of dedicated to God is a good thing, being disconnected from the needs of normal people is a bad thing.

The ironic language is a pique to be the good kind of Parush.

These puns dont translate well into other languages.
 

What about the other magical phylactery in the game? Those have nothing to do with the evil of a lich, such as from 3.5:
Exactly. They go back to 1st ed AD&D at least (I don't have as much of OD&D impressed in my brain yet), and it's a broad term for multiple different types of protective items, most of which are beneficial, not evil, and have no connection to liches.

The ones liches use, closely akin to a soul jar, don't even appear to gain any descriptive similarity to Jewish ones until 3rd ed.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
That only gets you half a point. While you are technically correct and @Umbran is technically incorrect, I don't think most people got the 2e Priests Handbook. 3e was really the first edition where it was core to allow someone to be a cleric of a concept, rather than a god. For most people, that was their introduction to that idea.

Wasn't trying to get points. I just find it funny that done things were added to the game 30 years ago and people still have ideas stuck in their head.

Maybe because if 4E making clerics divine power source.
 


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