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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Is Gail Gygax Illegally Retaining / Selling Rob Kuntz's Physical Property?


I received the following from a personally known individual that wishes to remain anonymous. It was received last night. It went public a few hours ago on Facebook. Highlights are mine.

(unable to upload screenshots from the convention floor)

PUBLIC NOTICE
Posted October 30, 2019
Posted by Robert J. Kuntz, Responsible Party

This is a Public Notice to Private and Public RPG/Game Collectors, to all Game Companies, to RPG Historians, Film Industry Companies and all and Other.

That the Gygax Estate and their agents (past or present) have had repeated demands of them made by the Estate of Robert J. Kuntz to return Mr. Kuntz’s physical property held by the former. That to date the Gygax Estate refuses to comply with this request that was originated May 18, 2018.

That there is a substantiated rumor that the Gygax Estate has moved to sell all of its physical literary estate properties and that at least one major collector has been contacted regarding purchasing of same.

That the physical property of Robert J. Kuntz, a stolen property, may be part of this transaction and that Mr. Kuntz is now effectively and publicly warning those enumerated in paragraph one, above, of these circumstances.

That the matter of a prior pending civil lawsuit by Robert J. Kuntz against the Gygax Estate regarding the return of said properties is by his legal representatives:

Kravit ▪ Hovel & Krawczyk, s.c.
825 N. Jefferson, Milwaukee, WI 53202-3737

Has been transferred for review for actionable and prosecutable felonies to the Walworth County District Attorney, 1800 County Trunk NN, Elkhorn, WI 53121, this to pursue Class G Theft felony prosecution ( § 939.50(3)(g).)
against the Gygax Estate and all and others that may be implicated in the sale or receiving of Robert J. Kuntz’s property as enumerated below.

That Robert J. Kuntz is also pursuing through counsel additional felony theft and/or fraud charges associated with the Gygax Estate’s illegal duplication of his physical and literary IP and transfer of it by the Gygax Estate to Tom DeSanto in 2016 for the express purpose of developing it for monetary gain.

That, in due course, Tom DeSanto was made aware that this was not the Gygax Estate property (as well as other properties that were claimed by the Gygax Estate that were not theirs) which, in part, caused suit to be filed against the Gygax Estate by Tom DeSanto, in part and in case 1, for fraud (see above images). Agreements between Mr. DeSanto (as a victim of the Gygax Estate’s fraudulent activities) and Robert Kuntz have been reached and he is not involved, at all, in the pending criminal/civil/or other legal charges aforementioned and that are now being forwarded.

From: robert Kuntz <[E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE]
Date: May 18, 2018 7:19:13 PM GMT+02:00
To: Gina Ramirez [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE], Gail Gygax [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE] "Paul J. Stormberg"[E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE], Nathalie Hachet-Kuntz [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE] Cc: robert Kuntz [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE]

Subject: IP List and Return Request/Future Business Options

Dear Gail and Gina,

The following is a list of the 2nd Greyhawk Castle level maps and keys created by me and belonging solely to myself. I am requesting they be returned:

Core Level 3 Gem Room and Crypts Level
Core Level 6 Black Pudding Doorkeeper Level
West Level 7 Barracks Level
Core Level 11 Entrance to Oz Level
Core Level 12 Boreal Level
Core Level 12 Valhalla (which is a sub-level)
Core Level 13 Entrance to Asgard, Melnibone, and Dying Earth Level
Core Level 14 Orb, Scepter, and Crown Level
Core Level 5 Sealed Tomb Level
East Level 3 Garden & Giant's Pool Hall Level
East Level 8 Machine Level
South Level 9 Horsing Around (which was a split level)
Core Level 2 Invisible Maze Level
West Level 5 Gallery Level

Note that by their uneventful return I would grant duplication of the originals for replacement purposes, this so as to not "gut" the castle and thus diminish its perceived value for presentation/developmental purposes.

Thus this request does not preclude me contributing these levels and the IP they represent to any castle project should I become contractually involved in such. I am requesting their immediate return due to:

1) An offer for their purchase as I noted with Gina.
2) The concerning particulars of their transfer to a third party without my knowledge or consent; and the subsequent threat of a pending lawsuit between the former partners who were the sender (Gail) and receiver (Tom DeSanto) of my IP. [PUBLIC NOTICE INSET, see Figures #1 and #2, Tom DeSanto vs. Gygax Estate Lawsuit recitals re, FRAUD]
3) My numerous requests through Paul Stormberg for Gail to communicate with me upon this matter and to discuss my possible participation in such a project as is now being pursued, which have, to date, been unfruitful.

As I am, and have always been, interested in successfully furthering any project regarding the castle or original campaign materials I believe it would be enlightening to offer a quick synopsis of various related designs I was involved in:

Several other castle levels were worked on by both Gary and I, sometimes Gary doing the map and myself designing the keys, sometimes I redrew Gary's maps, and sometimes we worked on both, together. These are not included in the above list as they are distinctly shared designs.

Within the collection will be the four-page City of Greyhawk color map. Gary created the southeast section or "Old City" while the southwest, northwest, and northeast sections were created by Gary and I together. Along with the map there are two pages of color coding keys created by myself.

Gary detailed certain areas of the city, Odd Alley & Weird Way, and I detailed other areas, such as the Church of the Latter Day Old Ones, shops and the warehouses serving as the front for Fu-Manchu (aka Fu's Front), Green Dragon Inn, etc. I alone created the sewers and catacombs beneath the city and detailed them on a four-page map. This map in turn connects to another of my designs for the campaign--a temple to the Old Ones.

As Gary became increasingly involved in the day to day affairs of TSR I began detailing more and more parts of the campaign, such as the Outdoor region of the Wild Coast and numerous other adventure locales.

This can be referenced in a lengthy essay (2013) at my blog, "The First Living Campaign": http://lakegenevaoriginalrpg.blogspot.fr/…/the-first-living… This, near its end, includes an old (1998) World of Greyhawk marketing plan that I submitted to WotC with Gary's approval and of which Gail might be familiar with.

I retain my personal notes and designs from this period and could potentially bring them to any project regarding the greater scope of the original, ground level campaign (D&D's pre-publication, 1972-1974). In particular, I have the maps, keys, and designs for several other levels for the castle--Bottle City, Demonworld, The Stalk, and many others. Gary and I had never planned (pre-TSR) to stop developing castle levels and its offshoot materials, all of which tied into the various cities, regions and outer-plane areas. This made the Castle more than a castle, of course, which was our intent, but also an annex for further and expanding adventure locales.

I am requesting your acknowledgement within 10 days of your receipt of this communication of your good faith intent of returning my IP as requested; and another two weeks following that acknowledgment of completing its return, the latter which we will then communicate upon regarding how that can be executed.

Sincerely,

Rob Kuntz

From: Paul Stormberg [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE]
Date: May 17, 2018 6:32:44 PM GMT+02:00
To: Robert Kuntz [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE]
Subject: Disposition of Castle and Campaign Materials
Reply-To: [E-Mail Address REDACTED for PUBLIC NOTICE]

****************************************
copy of message
****************************************

Howdy Gail,

Just so you and Gina have a clearer picture of the levels and campaign materials done by Rob Kuntz, I have enumerated them below:

1) These are the levels done solely by Rob Kuntz that currently reside within the castle binder. These are the ones he is asking to be returned to him. Each has a map and a key:

Core 5 Gem Room and Crypts Level
Core 6 Black Pudding Doorkeeper Level
Core 7 Barracks Level
Core 11 Entrance to Oz Level
Core 12 Ice Level
Core 12 Asgard Level (Split)
Core 13 Fire Level
Core 14 Orb, Scepter, and Crown Level
East 6 Living Room Level
East 7 Garden & Giant's Pool Hall Level
East 8 Machine Level
West 3 Invisible Maze Level
West 5 Gallery Level
South 9 Horsing Around Level (Split)

2) There are also levels where Gary and Rob each did either the key or the map or vice versa but Rob is *not* asking for those:

Core 7 Multi-Layered Level (Rob did key)
Core 10 The Great Stone Enigma Level (Rob redrew map)
Core 16 Entrance to Bottle City Level (Rob & Gary did key together)
Core 18 Gargoyle (Rob did the key)
Core 20 Dragon Level (Rob & Gary did map together)
North 8 The Lake (Gary did map and key based on Rob's original design)

3) Additionally, there is one level that has a map drawn by a classmate of Ernie Gygax at Badger High. Rob and Gary labeled the map and created the key together but Rob is *not* asking for this:

South 8 Repeating Hex Rooms

4) Ultimately, there are a number of other examples of shared development of campaign materials between Rob and Gary. Rob is *not* asking for these but I shall mention them for your awareness:

The Four-Fold City Map & Keys (done both by Gary & Rob)
The Dyvers City Map & Keys (done both by Gary & Rob)
The Green Dragon Inn Map & Key (done by Rob)

5) Rob does retain a few of the original level maps and keys that he created in their entirety for the castle. These levels are well know to his and Gary's fans. If he was involved with any future project regarding the castle he would bring these levels with him:

The Greater Caverns Level
The Stalk Level
Demonworld Level
Clowning Around Level
Emerald City Level
Dying Earth Level
Bottle City Level

The numbers, if totaled, come down to 41 levels contributed by Gary, 21 by Rob, and 6 levels with shared creations.

6) Finally, in addition to all of the campaign and castle information Rob has in his head he still retains his own design notes and maps for the greater campaign. The contribution of these materials would be invaluable to the success of projects regarding either the campaign or castle.

Futures Bright,

Paul J. Stormberg
The Collector's Trove

*****

In 2016 Three Line StudioTLB Games released the El Raja Key Archive, ©1971-2016, Robert Kuntz containing 1,000 image scans of maps, keys, mss and other artifacts that he created and controls the IP thereof. As with past product releases (2002 to present) this established an absolute and unchallenged ownership by Mr. Kuntz. A great number of these scans and copies are exact duplicates of the original physical properties that the Gygax Estate holds and has repeatedly refused to return to Mr. Kuntz.

Any person having knowledge of the illegal offer to transfer, sell or duplicate Robert J. Kuntz’s properties, secretly or publicly, should be forewarned by the above-listed information. They should contact the Robert J. Kuntz Estate through enquiries@threelinestudio.com to inform him of such criminal attempts which will be forwarded to the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office.




9 comments:

  1. I love lawsuits. There’s nothing better to tell you what someone has. In this case, we get to know a little about Castle Greyhawk levels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's now clear why EGG insisted on remaking the guts of Castle Zygyg from scratch, keeping only the broad themes for areas, instead of using any original material. Not worth the hassle to do it the other way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. Especially since Kuntz isn't the only person who would have had an IP claim on the work. A bunch of these levels and areas appear to contain references to other people's work that may not be public domain (Dying Earth, Fu Manchu, Oz).

      Delete
  3. Paul Stormberg is the very definition of a "Hanger-on" personality.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My question would be under whar conditions were these other levels created? Were they "work for hire" which means that Gary owns those outright or was it truely a collaboration where Rob was to share in any royalties etc? There is no mention here of a contract or agreement between Rob and Gary. So it is not clear who actually owns the IP on those levels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a interesting question. If you and I created a setting that we used in both of our campaigns. And certain specific locales like a multi-level dungeon underneath a castle were created jointly. With me doing some levels you doing others while some levels are a mix of both of our works.

      Then umpteen years later one of us can sell something based on that work. What needs to be sorted out legally? At the time we sat down together we had no idea that we were going to be published anything or use it to make money.

      Delete
    2. In 1975 Gary and Rob were credited as co-authors on the D&D supplement titled GREYHAWK for which both received royalties based on a percentage of retail price. The contents of the book were mostly drawn from, and included a few mostly oblique references to, the campaign of that same name that at the time they were running as co-DMs. Sometime later (c. 1980?) Rob signed a contract giving up all future royalties to that work in exchange for a lump sum payment. I've seen a copy of that letter - I think it was maybe included in "El Raja Key DVD Archive" Rob released a couple years ago. The tricky thing about that quitclaim is that it refers to GREYHAWK without, IIRC, specifying further "D&D Supplement I" or "the rulebook of that name released in 1975" or any such thing, which means it could be (and presumably was by TSR) read as not just a release on any royalty obligation for that specific book but on GREYHAWK as a whole - the entire world/setting/concept. Which is presumably why when TSR released "The World of Greyhawk" in 1980, Rob Kuntz's name is never mentioned even though it was based at least in part on that same campaign that he and Gary created together.

      It wouldn't be surprising if Gary used the same argument to claim ownership over Rob's contributions to GREYHAWK Castle as well. However, when Gary officially separated from TSR in 1986, the Greyhawk IP and trademark remained with TSR, which is why when Gary tried to publish this material in later years he wasn't able to use that name - he had to call it Dunfalcon, Castle Zagyg, Yggsburgh, etc. So even though Rob gave up all his owenrship and royalty rights to GREYHAWK, he didn't give up his rights to "Dunfalcon" or "Castle Zagyg," even if it's based on the same material. And thus, presumably, the basis for the current legal action - the vague wording that worked against Rob in the past seems to be working in his favor now.

      Delete
  5. I think like most of the early days of gaming, relationships and handshakes carried a lot more sway than hard contracts and legal documents. Which is both good and bad as we can see from what is going on here.

    ReplyDelete

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