This is Audio EXP for the 24th of October 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘Legal challenges at Wizards of the Coast’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #67]
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What scares you?
The online marketplace OnBuy commissioned a survey to find out what scares people in Netflix horror movies.
Let’s do the top 10 in reverse order.
- Aliens, 30% of people said they were scary.
- Snakes, 41%.
- Clowns, 50% of people aren’t fans of clowns which surely is devastating news for every clown out there.
- Zombies, 52% and I doubt any zombie cares.
- Killer children, 66%
- Dolls, 72% and I have to assume they mean killer or possessed dolls. G.I. Joe isn’t that spooky!
- Spiders, 78%
- Cannibals, 86%, and we’re into well-reasoned territory here; if you find yourself alone with a cannibal then, yeah, leave.
- Ghosts, 87%, oh well, reason succumbs to superstition.
- Serial killers at 92% take the top spot.
As it happens, Serial Killers also have the most horror content on Netflix. Oddly, they’re followed by aliens which is what people are least frightened by.
Do you know what frightens me? Attack lawyers. It’s a shame that so many parts of the world have become so litigious. It’s not good when people are scared of coming to the help of someone on the street in case the person they help winds up trying to sue them.
It’s the mention of lawyers that brings us to the big story of the week. The Dragonlance co-creators, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are taking Wizards of the Coast to court.
The paperwork from the two authors claims that Wizards of the Coast is maliciously blocking the next Dragonlance trilogy and therefore depriving Hickman and Weis of millions of Dollars.
Allegations in the paperwork are horrible, but we should remember highly paid attack lawyers have worked hard to make them sound as damning as possible. We’ve not heard from Wizards of the Coast, and since it’s gone legal, we might never do.
Wizards of the Coast own Dragonlance.
Hickman and Weis pitched a new trilogy to Wizards, who agreed, and then Penguin Random House was lined up to be the publisher. The authors struck international deals.
After that, there was some sort of back and forth around inclusion, diversity and representation in the books. Hickman and Weis say the compiled to all of Wizards of the Coast’s requests.
Wizards of the Coast then found themselves embroiled in hot water around their perceived failure to do enough on inclusion, diversity and representation. Hickman and Weis’ paperwork links the two, claiming that what happens next is a related issue.
The authors say that Wizards of the Coast shoved the project into limbo after the first book was pretty much written. The court documents say that Wizards of the Coast won’t cancel the contract, and presumably, there are some commercial penalties for them doing so, but nor will Wizards of the Coast approve any more revisions of the work.
The result is an impasse which leaves the 64-year-old Tracy Hickman and 72-year-old Margaret Weis without any money from the project.
The website Networth Post estimates Tracy Hickman to be worth $14 million and Margaret Weis to be worth $8 million.
Obviously, though, treat those estimates with a truckload of salt. I once found a website that estimated Geek Native had several employees and was worth $7 million. Er, no. There’s me with about a half dozen Patreons.
The lawsuit will have already damaged Wizards of the Coast. It’s not hard to find gamers who think the publisher is the devil and the allegations made will only inflame those perceptions.
We know that Wizards of the Coast are working on bringing three classic settings to D&D 5e. I’m not sure how this might impact the chances that Dragonlance is one of them. They might wish to burry the name. They might want to exert control over their setting, pushing Hickman and Weis further from it.
Let’s turn our attention to GAMA. That’s the Game Manufacturers Association. They’ve announced plans to restructure.
They are only plans right now and must be approved by a vote by the members. That vote might not pass because the plan is to broaden the scope of who can be a member so that you don’t just need to be a game maker.
Why is this happening? Well, GAMA has had a particularly harsh 2020. Not only has the lockdown and restrictions cancelled conferences and hit logistics, but GAMA’s attempt at an online convention, Origins Online, was cancelled after key guests pulled out. Those guests pulled out because GAMA didn’t support Black Lives Matter quickly and enthusiastically enough.
It’s a sign of the times. I still speak to RPG publishers who don’t want to have a political stance. I totally get that people turn to gaming for escapism and see why publishers want to respect those wishes. On the flip side, silence is also a political statement.
I don’t this tightrope act is exclusive to the tabletop hobby industry, I think every company in the West is walking it right now.
Is Geek Native in GAMA? No. I think it would cost $50 to join, but as a blogger, I think I could join. I’d be a communicating member, so wouldn’t get to vote, but as a paid-up communicating member GAMA would give me press releases and insights on what’s going on with the world of game manufacturers.
Here’s the thing. Isn’t telling sites and podcasts like Geek Native what’s going on in the world of game manufacturers the reason GAMA exists? Why don’t they do it? Why put a paywall in front of me and other fans who try and cover the industry.
Somes covering industry news unearths some disturbing stories. I’ll spare you the horrible details, but Fat Goblin Games needs your help to pay vet bills for Gideon the pig.
If you’re on the site for the transcript, then you’ll be able to see just how cute Gideon is from a picture taken from better times. Gideon has been shot by a mad neighbour. Why anyone would chase a wee pig down the street is beyond me.
So, to help Fat Goblin Games simply check out their store on DriveThruRPG and buy anything you fancy, or line up some Christmas gifts to give away, or even share the story and encourages others to do so.
It’s a good time to do some shopping on DriveThruRPG as their Halloween sale is in full swing.
Look out for the Roguetober Bundle from Wayward Rogues Publishing.
Now, I can’t say I know Wayward Rogues very well, but this bundle caught my eyes and drew plenty of attention. It contains about $225 worth of RPG goodies, and it only costs $10. That’s right, more than $200 value of downloads for only $10.
It’s easy to see why it’s so hard to make a living writing RPG material, isn’t it!
What’s even cheaper than a $10 bundle? Free.
There are a few freebies that have made it into this Audio EXP summary.
First up, there is The Adventure of the Great Hunt from Chaosium.
The adventure, though, is more than just free content. It’s also a teaser of the upcoming King Arthur Pendragon 6th edition.
It’s been two years since Chaosium’s founder Greg Stafford passed away and so it is safe to say I wasn’t expected to see any new releases written by him. However, Stafford had been working for a decade on this edition of Pendragon. Chaosium has called it his magnum opus and the Ultimate Edition.
Ergo, it’s absolutely worth checking out The Adventure of the Great Hunt.
Then there’s the The Secret FIles of Section D. This is a Savage Worlds alternative history game.
The Nazi’s pseudoscience is real in this other world, so are monsters and aliens. In response, the secret service has an elite team of unnaturally talented agents.
There’s a Kickstarter coming soon, but the generous teaser will get you started.
There are many great Kickstarters live right now but let’s talk about Crown of the Oathbreaker.
Yes, it’s another D&D 5e adventure. It’s by Elderbrain, the people who did the Year of the Rogue Dragons module in which you could play as a dragon.
This time around, Elderbrain ran a considerable survey, and they’ve shared some of the stats from it.
The three most popular D&D planes are Feywild, the Nine Hells and Shadowfell. I won’t run through all the stats in the podcast, you can find them via the show notes, but I will say that the Crown of the Oathbreaker goes to the Feywild, the Nine Hells and Shadowfell.
What class do people think makes for the arch-villain? That’s Paladin or Anti-Paladin. And the worst? Ranger.
We can speculate on another Kickstarter too. Nightfall Games, the company behind SLA Industries, made an announcement of a surprisingly large game this week and I suspect a Kickstarter will follow.
Nightfall will make The Terminator RPG.
We knew the company was working on two games, one in their S5S system and another in an unnamed but popular game engine.
It’s a coin flip as to which The Terminator will be.
Do you think there’s life in the franchise yet? The last couple of movies have not been a commercial success.
Let’s finish with a happy success story. The gaming charity Safe In Our World is celebrating its first anniversary with a charity computer game bundle.
Money raised from sales will help Safe In Our World protect the mental health of gamers and people who work in the computer games industry.
The bundle, which contains seven mental health-related games, is exclusively availabia via Fanatical and is limited to 10,000 keys only.
And on that note, let’s call it a wrap. Keep safe and stay out of melee range. See you next week.
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