Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, has filed an injunction that might prevent the release of material it describes as blatantly racist and transphobic. The request, filed on Thursday, aims to immediately suspend the production of Star Frontiers New Genesis, a remake of the classic Star Frontierstabletop role-playing game first published in 1982.
Justin LaNasa, a promising game publisher, owns TSR, Inc., a newly formed business that is well-known for a chain of tattoo parlors and a failed political campaign that was torpedoed by, among other things, reports that he once asked several female employees to wrestle in a warm grits tub in July. It was so gross, according to the company, that it felt compelled to protect its reputation.
Wizards includes excerpts from what it claims to be an early draft of the LaNasas manuscript for New Genesis, citing a perceived lack of base intelligence scores and other unreported issues with what the playtest refers to as a Sub race.
Wizards stated in a request for an injunction that all players are welcome in its Dungeons & Dragons games. In recent years, Wizards has increased its commitment to diversity and inclusion. For example, it is updating its descriptions of people when reprinting older Dungeons & Dragons products to remove racially offensive material. It increasingly uses sensitivity readers and diversity experts in its writing process to ensure that its narrative reflects its values.
The Wizards' application seeks to undermine LaNasas's most powerful argument that Wizards abandoned TSR and other related trademarks, opening the door to his usurpation of the brand and its games.
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Counterclaim Defendants claim ownership of TSR, Inc.'s intellectual property, according to Wizards. It states that regardless of TSRs claim, it continues to use the IP in question, including through sales by its official licensee OneBookShelf and in the recent Spelljammer: Adventures in Space books.
Here's where things get complicated. Wizards admits that it failed to file paperwork for the registration of TSR, Star Frontiers, and other related marks in a timely manner as required by federal law. However, through continued sales of related goods and use of the related IP, the company claims ownership via common law trademark rights. It's up to a jury to decide if that is the case.
The Wizards' request for an injunction against the sale of Star Frontiers New Genesis is expected to be filed by the end of September. The question of who owns TSR and its related marks will be decided by a judge in October 2023.
The demand for an injunction comes on the heels of an embarrassing episode for Wizards. The game's Spelljammer: Adventures in Space was criticized by fans and opponents for including racist tropes and stereotypes. Wizards has since issued a retraction to all digital versions of Spelljammer and has promised to remove the offending content in reprints after the request for an injunction.
Wizards said it does not comment on any pending litigation after reaching out to Justin LaNasa, but did not receive a response prior to publication.