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D&D publisher files legal action to halt TSR’s Star Frontiers RPG and its “reprehensible content”

Wizards of the Coast’s preliminary injunction specifically calls out Star Frontiers' explicit bigotry and trademark infringement.

Cover art for the original Star Frontiers tabletop RPG published by TSR in 1982.
Image credit: Larry Elmore/TSR

Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast has taken legal action against TSR LLC to stop the development and publication of its forthcoming tabletop RPG Star Frontiers: New Genesis.

According to court documents, Wizards filed a preliminary injunction against both TSR, Justin LaNasa and the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum in Washington state’s district court on September 8th. Preliminary injunctions are commonly used to stop one party in a legal battle from doing any further potential damage to a plaintiff before they have the chance to bring a formal suit.

In this case, Wizards is shutting down production and distribution of TSR’s Star Frontiers: New Genesis, a tabletop RPG first published in 1982 that the smaller company is attempting to revive. Leaked playtest material hit social media and forums in July of this year (thanks, Techraptor), showing a slew of explicitly racist, bigoted, anti-trans and alt-right material throughout its worldbuilding and character creation.

You're likely familiar with the original TSR as the creators of the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which Liv helpfully breaks down in this video.Watch on YouTube

LaNasa and the two companies - along with Gary Gygax’s son, Ernie Gygax, Jr. - comprise what’s commonly called “NuTSR”, a publisher who is already embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with Wizards of the Coast over the rights to the Star Frontiers licence. NuTSR dropped its lawsuit against Wizards amid a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, only to be slapped with a countersuit claiming continued fraudulent use of the TSR logo, among others.

Wizards of the Coast currently owns the rights to much of the original TSR’s games and properties after it purchased the nearly insolvent creator of Dungeons & Dragons in 1997. As outlined in the injunction, Wizards did not actively maintain registration of the two trademarks but upheld the legal standard for common law trademark rights by selling digital TRPGs bearing those logos through web stores such as Dungeon Masters Guild and DriveThruRPG.

Wizards of the Coast’s filing claims it wants to stop any further work or distribution of Star Frontiers: New Genesis, including playtesting, because it bears two logos legally belonging to the D&D publisher. It further states the public may mistakenly believe Wizards of the Coast endorses Star Frontier’s “reprehensible content”, which would do “irreparable harm” to the company’s recent efforts to foster a more inclusive environment around its products.

Wizards of the Coast declined to Dicebreaker’s request for comment, and TSR LLC did not respond before publication. The former ended its injunction by claiming this is only the beginning of NuTSR’s latest legal trouble with the Seattle-based company, which is owned by toy-making giant, Hasbro. The document said “general infringement can be remedied through future injunctive relief and monetary damages which Wizards will prove at trial.”

Many will likely be happy to see NuTSR potentially crushed beneath the legal potency that Wizards of the Coast can bring to bear, and its hard to argue that the playtest version of Star Frontiers New Genesis (which explicitly stated it was “not to be given, released and handed to anyone associated with Wizard of the Coast[sic], Hasbro”) deserves space on game store bookshelves.

The preliminary injunction is noted for consideration on September 30th, meaning we will likely know more about Wizards of the Coast’s full legal plan and TSR’s potential rejoinder by then. More detailed information about all three documents can be found in a detailed Twitter thread by NoHateInGaming.

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