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.






-Havard

5 comments:

  1. Harvard;

    I never knew that Blackmoor ever existed. I have learned something here in the last few days and I enjoy your posts!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Douglas! Happy to be able to introduce you to the mysteries of Blackmoor :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I personally am a big fan of the FFC and hope that Dave's estate still owns the rights to that book. If there is ever to be an "old school Blackmoor" campaign to be published officially, I think that it would have to be based on the FFC.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Frankly, to me this doesn't look good. With so many parties having a slice of the Blackmoor pie, the only likely way for Blackmoor based material to be published would be for one group to purchase all the various rights. On the other hand, The Arneson family almost certainly could build off the FFC for retro Blackmoor material of the many places and adventures mentioned therein, perhaps only needing to avoid the Blackmoor name itself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Finarvyn/DHBoggs: It would be great to see a reconstructed FFC, preferably with some of the Arneson family involved. It would have to be something good though. :)

    ReplyDelete