Tuesday, November 17, 2009
WHO OWNS BLACKMOOR?
Yesterday's announcement that WotC will not renew their contract with Zeitgeist Games over the Blackmoor lisence, preventing any future Blackmoor products from Zeitgeist Games/Code Monkey Press has created quite a buzz on various gaming forums.
One question many have asked is the question of who really owns the Blackmoor lisence. I might not be the final authority on this subject, but this is what I have found out so far:
Dave Arneson's Estate:
Dave stated that he owned the First Fantasy Campaign (FCC). This booklet was published by The Judges Guild, but Bob Bledsaw later transferred the rights back to Arneson. The FFC contain the early documentation of the setting, including early maps etc. Arneson has also for many years distributed D&D Supplement II on his website and has apparently been allowed to do so by WotC, though it is hard to tell whether this was a friendly gesture, ignorance on the behalf of WotC, or if it was part of some agreement between the two parties.
Wizards of the Coast:
WotC own the rights to the Blackmoor Trademark. I believe they also own the contents of the DA Modules, although what the ruling is on the material which exists in both the DA series and the FFC is anyones guess.
Zeitgeist Games/Dustin Clingman:
According to CMP's Robert Reed (Mynex), Clingman owns the rights to various elements that were added to Blackmoor during the 3E/4E era (2003-2009). This includes the halfing subrace called Docrae, the mysterious wizard Skelfer Aard, the 3E classes and probably other rules specific items. Code Monkey Press announced that they intend to make use of this in a future project labeled The New Lands. It is perhaps surprising that none of these additions were not retained by the Arneson estate.
Whether this division of ownership will be a disadvantage for Blackmoor in the future is hard to say. The biggest factor in such a future will most likely be WotC. It is possible that they could be interested in publishing modules based on the classic Blackmoor locations, though their disinclination to renew the lisence can also be seen as a continuation of a similar treatment of the Dragon, Dungeon, Ravenloft and Dragonlance lisences.