D&D publisher seeks injunction against competitor, citing 'obviously racist and transphobic' content

D&D publisher seeks injunction against competitor, citing ‘obviously racist and transphobic’ content

Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast has filed an injunction that could prevent the publication of content it calls “despicable” and “obviously racist and transphobic”. The request, filed in front of a federal judge in Seattle on Thursday, seeks to immediately halt production of Star Frontiers new genesisa reboot of the classic star borders tabletop role-playing game first published in 1982. The target of the injunction request is TSR, an entity Wizards purchased in 1997.

The newly formulated TSR, Inc. is owned by budding game publisher Justin LaNasa. He claims residency in North Carolina, where he is best known for a chain of tattoo parlors – and also for a failed political campaign that was torpedoed, among other things, by reports that he once asked several female employees to fight in a bathtub full of hot water. grains. LaNasa had been promoting its reboot of the original star borders for over a year without actually producing much content. Then, in July, what appears to have been an early test build of the game leaked. It was so reprehensible, according to Wizards, that the company felt compelled to take action to protect its brand.


Page 9 of the injunction outlines the elements of the playtesting document that caused Wizards to pursue further legal action.
Image: Wizards of the Coast

The 23-page claim (embedded in full below) lays out his evidence against LaNasa, the vast majority of which appears to have been written or edited himself. As part of its argument, Wizards includes excerpts from what it claims is an early draft of LaNasa’s manuscript for New Genesis. The document appears to include gameplay features that position black characters as mechanically inferior to other characters due to their perceived lower base intelligence scores and other “latent issues” with what the test calls a “sub-race.” “. [sic]. The manuscript also goes out of its way to note that the modern Black Lives Matter movement is “radical” and specifically prohibits trans characters of any type. Wizards took issue with these elements of the manuscript, among others, because they could negatively impact consumer sentiment toward its own brand.

(Justin) Should we do a trans type race?  Maybe some

Annotations on the purportedly authentic manuscript include comments attributed to LaNasa asking what could be construed as additional transphobic content.
Image: Wizards of the Coast

“Wizards has long embraced an inclusive culture for games, including its Dungeons & Dragons products,” Wizards said in the injunction request. “All players are welcome in Wizards games. In recent years, Wizards has redoubled its commitment to diversity and inclusion. For example, Wizards updates its people descriptions when reprinting old Dungeons & Dragons products to remove racially insensitive elements. He increasingly uses sensitive readers and diversity experts in his creative process to ensure his storytelling reflects his values. New products no longer include cultural traits like languages ​​and recognize a range of physical characteristics for character races.

Wizards’ filing also seeks to undermine LaNasa’s most powerful argument – that Wizards abandoned TSR and other related brands, thus opening the door to its impersonation of the brand and its games.

“The counterclaim defendants claim ownership of the intellectual property of former TSR, Inc.,” Wizards wrote. It goes on to state that, regardless of TSR’s assertion, it continues to use the IP in question, including through sales through its official licensee OneBookShelf and in the recent Spelljammer: Adventures in Space books.

This is where things get complicated. Wizards Admits It Didn’t File for TSR’s Registration, star borders, and other related marks in a timely manner as required by federal law. But through the continued sale of related products and the use of associated intellectual property, the company claims ownership via “Common Law Trademark Rights”. It will be up to a jury to determine if that is indeed the case.

Wizards’ injunction request against the sale of Star Frontiers New Genesis is expected to be answered by the end of September. The question of who owns TSR and its associated marks will be submitted to a judge in October 2023.

Thursday’s injunction request follows an embarrassing episode for Wizards. His Spelljammer: Adventures in Space The product was criticized by fans and critics for its inclusion of racist tropes and stereotypes. Wizards has since issued a retraction to all digital versions of sorry spelling and promised to remove the offending content in future reprints. This entire episode was actually included in the injunction request – as a positive sign of Wizards’ efforts to be included in its work.

Contacted for further details, Wizards said it does not comment on ongoing litigation. Polygon reached out to Justin LaNasa but did not receive a response before publication.

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