Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Goodman Games Acquires Dark Tower from Judges Guild - Where Does This Leave the CSIO Kickstarter Backers?

Goodman Games
announced over the weekend that they had acquired Dark Tower from Judges Guild. Not the rights to the property, the actual property.

Here's the relevant announcement:

So step back in time with us to 1980 and have a crawl through the only non-TSR module to ever make Dungeon Magazine’s cut as one of ‘the greatest D&D modules of all time:’ Dark Tower. Goodman Games has acquired Dark Tower from the Judges’ Guild, and will republish it in fully converted 5E and DCC RPG editions later this year. Director of Product Development Chris Doyle will lead the conversion to 5E, and original Dark Tower creator Jennell Jaquays will be included in design work on the new edition.

Strange, considering last May's announcement:

Goodman Games has stopped selling our previous Judges Guild products through all distribution channels. 

Judges Guild will no longer receive income from Goodman Games products now that sales of their titles have ceased. 

We have one remaining product to release, which is a collector’s edition focused on the works of Jennell Jaquays. Jennell’s story is one quite different from the views espoused by Bob Bledsaw Jr. Judges Guild and Bob Bledsaw Jr. have agreed to receive no royalties of any kind from this title. To say it bluntly: Bob Bledsaw Jr. and Judges Guild will not profit from the Judges Guild Deluxe Collector’s Edition Vol. 2 focused on the works of Jennell Jaquays. Goodman Games will match 20% of the proceeds of this title with donations: 10% to the Anti Defamation League and 10% to GLAAD. The funds that would have been used for a Judges Guild licensing fee will be included in this donation, as requested by Bob Bledsaw Jr. 

After this final volume, we have no plans to release future Judges Guild titles

Then there was the Kickstarter announcement from the Judges Guild Deluxe Collector's Edition Vol. 2 in November of 2020.

In lieu of royalties, Judges Guild has agreed to donate a portion of proceeds from the Kickstarter to benefit two special charities, as outlined below.

In lieu of a royalty from the production of this volume of the Deluxe Collector’s Edition, Judges Guild has agreed to donate their royalty to philanthropic causes, and Goodman Games will match that donation. Therefore, a total of 20% of the proceeds from this Kickstarter will be donated to charity. 10% will go to the Anti-Defamation League and 10% to GLAAD.

Those royalties would have amounted to about $8,500 from the Kickstarter. How far would that have gone to making the backers of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter whole?  Probably not far enough, but certainly closer than we are now, and I'm sure the monies could have been accounted for in whatever contract Judges Guild would have had to sign.

So, it begs the question - how much were Bob Bledsaw and Judges Guild paid for the rights to Dark Tower? Is that money being earmarked for the floundering CSIO Kickstarter, or is it going to be spent on hookers and blow - or some other such nonsense?

What changed from "After this final volume, we have no plans to release future Judges Guild titles" to "Goodman Games has acquired Dark Tower from the Judges’ Guild, and will republish it in fully converted 5E and DCC RPG editions later this year" in the course of 10 months? I'm guessing an $85k Kickstarter despite the bad publicity caused a change of heart...

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  1. No updates on the CSIO KS in 10 months and even then the updates by Bob Jr. suggested minimal progress on the content (printing it of course requires $$$, but getting stuff to the point that proofreading could happen is basically "free" and before the stuff hit the fan, there probably was good will to crowdsource proofreading).

    Catch 22 on the IP- do you leave it dead and locked up for years if not decades, or with Jaquays' presumed buy-in, do you buy it out to get it out from its ugly ownership? Presumably it only has significant value as a property for 10 or 15 years before the folks who recall it from back in the day leave the market.

  2. I'm amazed the Judges Guild hasn't sold all its IP. That's all it can do at this point. Its future home can deliver what it can of the Kickstarter as a gesture of good will.

  3. This no longer becomes a “judges guild” IP it now becomes a Goodman Games IP. Hence, GMG has still said they are not publishing works of JG and they can stamd by that since tbey fully own Dark Tower outright.

    Semantics I know, GMG can still say they are not working with JG.

  4. "how much were Bob Bledsaw and Judges Guild paid for the rights to Dark Tower?"

    The answer better have been "not one cent" or GMG is going to have some hard questions being asked. It's remotely possible - JG doesn't strike me as being very good about paying debts, and they may have exchanged Dark Tower for GMG releasing them from whatever they were owed for past dealings.

  5. X's "story" is different from Y's "views". But is X's "views" different from Y's "story"?!

  6. I’m not really up on modern developments at JG. But man I loved their cheesy stuff as a kid. I remember in jr. high running DT for the gaming club at an outdoor school clubs event in a booth for hours.

    TSR stuff bored me, but Jaquays works were my jam for sure.

  7. Caverns of Thracia. Lists. Bane.

    "If a minotaur pees on the wall of a gnoll warren, and no one is there to . . . "

  8. I'm shocked that Goodman would go 180 degrees regarding JG like this. If there are mitigating circumstances that somehow make this *not* doing business with JG, I'd think it would be a priority for them to explain.


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