7–14 December 2021: Blockchain and Litigation

The TSR logo, at the heart of some legal battles between Wizards of the Coast and TSR

This week: TSR and Wizards of the Coast head to court, while Kickstarter promises a move to the Blockchain — much to the dismay of RPG creators on the platform.

A Long Rest

It’s almost the holidays, so it’s time for the d100 crew to take a break, recover some spell slots, and get back up to full HP. This will be our last post of the year: we’ll be back with an update in early January!

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TSR v. Wizards of the Coast

The name of TSR is once again in the middle of controversy. TSR, that is (since there are a few of them), Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax’s TSR, briefly launched a (stupendously doomed) lawsuit against Wizard of the Coast, looking to claim the rights over certain trademarks that belonged to the original TSR. (To be clear, LaNasa’s TSR has no relation to the original TSR, beyond sharing a company name, and a founder’s name.)

TSR also launched an IndieGoGo campaign, asking for help with legal fees. TSR then dropped the lawsuit, though the IndieGoGo campaign remains — with a promise that the lawsuit will be refiled.

Wizards of the Coast has now filed its own claim, calling for some of TSR’s trademarks to be cancelled, on the grounds that they will be confused for their own.

Whatever else you say about them, TSR is truly keeping alive one of the industry’s oldest traditions: stupid lawsuits that make us all feel embarrassed. — Amy

Kickstarter Plans a Blockchain Move

Crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, announces plans to build a blockchain-based version of its website, using “carbon-negative” blockchain, Celo.

To give Kickstarter the greatest benefit of the doubt, the platform is talking about using blockchain technology. That doesn’t necessarily mean cryptocurrency or NFTs. Blockchain can be an incredibly useful way of storing and validating data. It also doesn’t need to (though it often does) use a lot of energy (in fact, Celo doesn’t*). We don’t know what form Kickstarter’s blockchain move will take, and it might not be terrible.

But the majority of blockchain projects use the technology for no better reason than attracting investment. The space is full of bad actors and pyramid schemes and copyright infringement. We’re not really holding out hope that Kickstarter will offer anything better than the norm.

There’s been a lot of backlash, with designers threatening to leave the platform, and backers tempted to boycott. This could be especially difficult for small creators — alternative platforms are not going to work in every case, and many will be relying on Kickstarter. We’ll keep watching to see what happens.

* Celo uses proof-of-stake validation which — as I understand it — is more energy-efficient than traditional pre-blockchain methods. Proof-of-stake contrasts with proof-of-work validation, which is the energy-guzzling method that gives blockchain a (deserved) bad rep. I’m not personally certain how much of Celo’s claims of “carbon-negativity” are based on BS (carbon offsetting is generally a bad sign IMO). But it’s probably a whole lot better than most. — Amy

Bundles & Deals

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Fantasy Grounds Pathfinder content, a bundle of Pathfinder books, a bundle of Cyberpunk books, and two bundles of 3d-printable miniatures & terrain.

Bundle of Holding is offering two bundles of Paranoia books, a bundle of Forged in the Dark books, and a bundle featuring the Invisible Sun RPG.

Crowdfunding

Noteworthy New Projects

Vaesen RPG – Mythic Britain & Ireland: A supplement to the Nordic Horror RPG, Vaesen, focused on British and Irish mythology, by Free League. So far this project has raised SEK 4.4m ($480,000) from 5,800 backers. Ends December 22nd

All Free League projects do exceptionally well now, but this one has slightly surprised me as it has eclipsed the original Vaesen project (which raised SEK 2.7m from 3,900 backers), and looks set to overtake the project for Symbaroum 5e from earlier this year. Vaesen’s take on Nordic-inspired horror is fairly unique amidst a sea of Lovecraft-wannabes, and this project strokes the collective ego of the Anglosphere. — James

Other & Generic Fantasy

Spheres of Guile and Ultimate Engineering: Two supplements for Pathfinder first edition, focused on social interactions and tinkering, by Adam Meyers (Ultimate Spheres of Power: The Complete System!, Spheres of Might: A New Pathfinder Martial System, Skybourne: A Pathfinder Campaign Setting) — January 9th

This update was made possible by Keenan Collett, Robert Carnel, and the rest of our Patreon supporters.

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