Saturday, October 24, 2020

State of The Tavern - 10/24/2020 (Blog, Podcast, Newsletter, Projects, More)

Here we are, nearing the end of October, and I THINK things are finally settling down. 2020 has been an epic ride of the type I'd rather not repeat. A week ago Thursday Rach and I put our 14-year-old cat Ashley to sleep due to serious and recent health issues due to newly diagnosed cancer. So, just when I thought I was caught up on 2020 life issues, I kinda got derailed again.

So, here's where things stand on various Tavern projects and platforms:

Torchlight - I spoke with Jeff, our layout artist, and my partner on this endeavor, and we agreed (after Jeff suggested) that we have the material for two issues in hand before we announce the next issue. Work on my end commences this coming Monday (or tomorrow night, depending on how the newsletter comes together). I'd like to get an issue out by Thanksgiving, but no promises.

The Town Watch Project - likely on hold until 2021. Too much to juggle and I need to get some focus on the project aims and expectations so I can focus on the creators' strengths.

This Blog - As always, huge thanks to the Frugal GM, not just for his weekly Sunday columns but for stepping in when I've been hospitalized. I still don't understand how I was capable of 3 to 6 posts daily WHILE I was working...

The Tavern Chat Podcast - Bad Mike and I decided to fold the more or less weekly Talking Crit Podcast back into Tavern Chat as a regular feature. Listenership for the Tavern Chat Podcast has nearly tripled over the last few weeks. Yes, blows my mind too. Truly, I can't thank you all enough for spreading the love and spreading the word.

YouTube (Live and Other) - Talking Crit (most Wednesday Nights at 8 pm eastern) and all Fireside Chats/guests for the Tavern Chat Podcast will be recorded live via Facebook and YouTube. We will read your comments during the show and certainly appreciate the audience participation. Join The Tavern's YouTube Channel and never miss a live show :)

Discord Server - Lively discussion and the place where we host the Tavern Chat Live hangout Thursday. Nights from 9 pm eastern until...

Weekly Newsletter/Mailing List - I'll be working on it tonight for a send out tomorrow. It's free to join and free to submit content. Join the list here and send news and the like to tenkarsDOTtavern at that Gmail thing.

Alright, time to make dinner for Rach and me :)

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are the affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Death Notice - Len Lakofka has Passed

And a horrible year continues to be horrible. It has been said on Facebook that Len Lakofka, writer of the "L" series of modules and inspiration of the Lendore Isles in the Greyhawk Setting has passed. L2 was one of the first modules I ran.

From Wikipedia

Lenard "Len" Lakofka (1944-2020) was an American writer of material for the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Although never a formal TSR staff member, the company that published Dungeons & Dragons, he was an influential voice in the development of the game.[1] He was one of the playtesters of the game as it was being developed, an editor of early manuscripts, wrote a widely-read monthly D&D magazine column and two official D&D adventures, and had his home campaign setting of the Lendore Isles incorporated into Gary Gygax's World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Humble Bundle - Voices of Warhammer 2020 by Black Library

My days of sitting down and reading novels are long past. My attention span just isn't what it was prior to chemo over a dozen years ago, and physically reading a book means I can't multitask. But audiobooks? That I can do. As for Warhammer audiobooks? They are like listening to audio plays. It brings an already amazing setting to life. I am listening to the first chapter of Trollslayer as I type this ;)

Humble Bundle is offering Voices of Warhammer 2020 by Black Library, a selection of Warhammer audiobook fiction for a little as a buck. I'm in for 18 bucks, less than a buck a book. Huzzah!

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are the affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube, or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Introducing the Weekly Tenkar's Tavern Community Mailing List

Actually, the link is later in this post and permanently above the post ;)

As a community, the OSR lacks a comprehensive news site. Sure, The Tavern covers some news stories, but much of the ongoing events, interesting posts, amazing podcasts, and the like simply do not get seen by all the eyes or heard by all the ears they should be. Especially from those that are part of the larger Tavern Community.

This is my idea to address that omission.

I'll be putting together an email list that is free to join and free to contibute to. Quite simply, if you have a new blog post, fresh podcast episode, vidcast share, new OSR release, current Kickstarter, upcoming convention, zine or the like, email me at tenkarsDOTtavern @ that gmail thing. Use "Mailing List" in the subject line. Include a link and a short two sentence levator pitch / summary of your content. If you have new content you'll want to email weekly.

Yep, weekly. I'm hoping this will be relatively timely. Entries in by Saturday will be in the mailing that goes out the following Sunday / Monday.

Want to subscribe? Here's the link to the Weekly Tenkar's Tavern Community Mailing List.

I won't sell or rent your email address to anyone. It will soley be used for this mailing list.

Recruiting players for your Swords & Wizardry (or Labyrinth Lord, or 1E, etc) VTT Game? Send an email with your 2 sentence pitch and contact info and we'll put it into the weekly update.

The possibilities are endless.

The more that participate the successful the list will be. Join us!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

DTRPG Halloween Sale - OSR Picks - Part the First

It's that time of the year again, where you dig through the bowels of DTRPG looking for jack-o-lanterns in the hopes of finding free shit. It's also the time of the annual DTRPG Halloween Sale, with 25% off a large selection of releases.  This post will be highlighting some of the OSR releases that are on sale right now and will be for the next 2 weeks. More posts will be forthcoming.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition) -ASTONISHING SWORDSMEN & SORCERERS of HYPERBOREA™ is sword-and-sorcery role-playing at its pinnacle. Play an Amazon fighter, Atlantean magician, Esquimaux shaman, Hyperborean warlock, Ixian necromancer, Keltic barbarian, Kimmerian cataphract, Pictish thief, Viking berserker, or one of many other possibilities. Normally 19.00, on sale for 14.25

The Blackest Space - An Interstellar Sci-Fi Survival Roleplaying GameThere are 15 Classes represented:  Bounty Hunter, Captain. Communications Commander, Ebontear Endbringer, Ebontear Necrojudge, Emerald Champion, Medical Officer, Meta-Psych, Pilot, Pirate, Science Officer, Security Director, Shock Marine, Smuggler and Technician. 12 Playable Races: The Apparatus, Arpi, Asaluss, Cymyrs, Gnargfang, Gronslag, Harkfey, Humans, Lanerians. Mirewhips, Qu’fer and Zygaq. Normally 9.99, it's on sale for 7.49

Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure Hubris is a weird fantasy setting that uses the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics rules!  In this book you will find 10 territories filled with tables and charts to generate interesting locations and encounters, new occupations, 4 new classes, 5 new playable races, 3 new spells, 4 new patrons, including 3 patrons spells for each, 11 new and terrible gods, 14 tables and charts for a GM to use to aid them in their game or create interesting/fun situations, two new adventures to kick off a campaign, and 51 new enemies. Normally 9.99, it's on sale for 7.49

Dark Streets & Darker Secrets - Dark Streets & Darker Secrets is a Street & Sorcery Rules Light Role-Playing Game with an Old School spirit, just like its predecessors: Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. It’s a game about modern adventures in the world we live today, only with a layer of supernatural weirdness and horror. Characters are people who have found out about the mysteries and horrors that exist in the world and have decided to do something about it, be it battle it, join it, or simply explore its possibilities in any way they see fit. They will battle evil cultists, corrupted ghosts, bloodsucking vampires, and frenzied werewolves, or maybe they will be the horrors of others. This edition of the game assumes the reader knows the principles of what role-playing games are and how they are played. Normally 9.99, it's on sale for 7.49

Dark Fantasy Basic - Player's Guide - Dark Fantasy Basic is an old school roleplaying game (or adventure game) that pays homage to a beloved 80's game - which is stilll, for many fans, one of the most concise, clear and well-written RPGs ever published. This book uses the same system as the world’s most popular RPGs – six abilities, classes, levels, etc. – and it is meant to be compatible with games from that era. Or any OSR game, really. It also has some modern influences, including all of the OSR and the most recent version of this game. This is a complete game (from the player's side), with five classes (fighter, cleric, thief, magic-user and hopeless), skills, feats, weapons, etc. There are no races - all PCs are human or similar - but there are notes on how to create races for your games. There are 20 different spells but each one is flexible, meaning you can choose the spell level and some of the effects as you cast them. Normally 3.99, on sale for 2.99

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are the affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube, or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Weis & Hickman sue Wizards of the Coast for Breach of Contract re: New DragonLance Series

Margaret Weis LLC & Tracy Hickman and suing Wizards of the Coast for Breach of Contract, Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and Tortious Interference with Contract. The lawsuit can be read in its entirety here.

Having read the entire filing, I find the following stand out:

It appears that the controversies at Wizards of the Coast run deep and wide. If nothing else, it's a sad day for Dragonlance fans.  

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are the affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube, or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Armchair Legal Aid


A couple of days ago I had the dubious pleasure of watching one of Erik's initial YouTube livestreams and he was mentioning this whole Trademark issue with TSR and the Dungeon Hobby Shop. Since then I've seen some finger-pointing, name calling (well, kind of), and even a little bit of dick measuring.

Now 1st and foremost..... I am NOT a lawyer.

I do however, have degrees in Business, Information Management, and even Library Science. I know....who cares, but if you're reading this you're either looking for flaws to point out (I have many) or you're willing to give me the benefit of the doubt....either way you're still reading, right? In all three of those degrees I've had to take classes in legal issues concerning copyright and trademarks.

Now I'm not going to put myself up as an expert, much less try and train you, dear reader, up on the finer points of these issues, BUT I will take this soapbox opportunity to make a few pertinent points and I'll post appropriate links so you can actually read the important stuff on your freaking own......just think of this blog post as a guided tour.

1st of, what the fuck (we have established I can post swears, right?) is a trademark? If you're up for it, here's a short booklet from the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). Not into reading, well tough shit....this is a blog post. A trademark is "generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others."

Ok, I'll throw you a bone...here's a video from the USPTO that covers this info:

2nd...and how does this apply to the BS going on right now?

There are several trademarks at issue in this case and they can be looked up here, yet again at the USPTO. For the sake of this "conversation" I'm only going to reference one of the several in question out of the 76 trademarks for "TSR". This one in question, which I'm using as an example, is serial #90124839. Here's a screenshot (click to embiggen):

Now this particular trademark application was made on August 19, 2020 and covers the use of the trademark "TSR THE GAME WIZARDS" for eight specific uses, all of which are gaming related. If you poke around the database a bit you'll undoubtedly come across the "Dead" trademark of serial #73351412, which was an actual awarded trademark #1241135. The one above is just an application for the trademark, it hasn't been awarded yet.

Obligatory screenshot:

You can clearly see that both of these are essentially the same trademark, although the application in progress is planning on being used for more purposes, but still the same two main classes (IC 016 and IC 028).

Clearly the trademark owned by TSR, "died" on November 20, 1989, so this new trademark application is good-to-go, right? What seems to be the problem?

Oh boy.....this is really the meat of the matter. Did you read the pamphlet? No, no you didn't. Of course you didn't. I don't blame you. Go ahead....download it now and give it a once-over. This post isn't going anywhere......

You didn't once over it, did you? You clicked on it and went "36 pages! I'm not doing any effing homework on a Sunday! Screw that!" It's ok, I forgive you, but since you clearly have the booklet, go over to page 13 and look at the sub-section "Is federal registration of my mark required?":

"No. In the United States, parties are not required to register their marks to obtain protectable rights. You can establish “common law” rights in a mark based solely on use of the mark in commerce, without a registration.

So basically you don't have to have a (registered) trademark. Having one basically expands upon your rights and makes certain things easier......but you don't have to actually register your trademark. 

Again, I'm not a lawyer, but (and feel free to disagree with me, plenty will) if TSR actually registered a trademark, and then used it.....the use would establish "common law", then that trademark is a real thing. A real thing that followed TSR to WotC and then to Hasbro. Sure, the registration died in 1989, but the "common law" rights to that "thing" did not expire....and is still in use by Hasbro when they sell stuff branded with that "thing". Part of me says this is just common sense, but a) common sense isn't that common, and b) it's easy for me to come to that conclusion with my particular education/background. I can easily see someone else without that "common sense" just see a "dead" trademark registration and think it's fair game.

In ANY case.....what's going on now with serial #90124839 is just a registration application. Think of it like you registering for your license to drive. You've paid your $50 and taken your test, but you don't know if you've passed and the DMV hasn't given you your license yet. It's a little premature to be out on the road driving, much less selling your ride off as an Uber.....

By my quick math just the filing of this particular application was $450. Multiply that by however many applications there were (IIRC it was five, but I'll be honest in that I'm not searching through all 76 "TSR" entries to make a point) and you've easily got a couple grand, not including any attorney costs. That's a lot of dough for essentially adding your trademark to a federal list that you don't actually have to do in the first place! The USPTO basically maintains the list...they don't do much else. If you've still got that booklet open....and I know you don't, here's a list of stuff they don't do (from page 14):

  • Decide whether you have the right to use a mark (which differs from the right to register). No law requires that you federally register your mark in order to acquire rights in the mark;
  • Enforce your rights in the mark or bring legal action against a potential infringer;
  • Conduct trademark searches for the public;
  • Comment on the validity of registered marks;
  • Assist you with policing your mark against infringers;
  • Assist you with recordation of your mark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
  • Answer questions prior to filing on whether a particular mark or type of mark is eligible for trademark registration; or
  • Offer legal advice or opinions about common law trademark rights, state registrations, or trademark infringement claims. 
So the point a few of us have been trying to make is...well, why apply for someone else's trademark? The counter-argument is that these are "dead" trademarks.....but are they really? You don't have to have a trademark application to have a trademark as there are some "common law" protections. Since Hasbro still sells products with these trademarks, are they really dead?

Now I've dumped a lot of words in a blog post that may or may not have helped someone. If you've read the brochure, watched the video, and think you've got a grasp on the issue at hand, here's some advanced topics/information.

1st, a longer video with some good stuff:

2nd, what about the trademark for Gygax magazine? According to the USPTO "The USPTO will also refuse registration of a proposed mark for many other reasons, including if the mark is a surname"

3rd, how much of any of this matters if you get the courts and lawyers involved? If you don't want to watch the whole 41'47" video from above, check out the 16" from this start point....

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