Saturday, June 15, 2013

How Not to Sell Fanfiction

The Witchcraft Wars Trilogy, a series of novels by a little known Australian author, have recieved quite a bit of attention on forums and social medial recently as it turns out that many of the names used in the series are IP owned by Wizards of the Coast. Early speculation that the author had obtained legal permission to place her novels in the Mystara Setting was rejected when the author herself claimed never even having heard of Mystara.

Although the setting of this series of novels is called the Kingdoms of Kaynos and feature an original story by the author, realms in this world are called things like: Glantri, The Heldann Freeholds, The Duchy of Karameikos and Vestland. Furthermore there is a city called Zeaburg and another character called Thincol Torion. Many of these names date back to the first appearance of the Mystara setting back in 1981. Furthermore art work and maps appearing in the novels replicate that from published RPG books as demonstrated on Tim Brannan's Blog.

Understandably this has upset authors who worked with the setting for TSR over the years, including Mystara Guru Bruce Heard, as well as Dragonlance creator Tracy Hickman who adressed the issue over at his blog, explaining why even he is now no longer allowed to publish new Dragonlance fiction. Paying homage is one thing, but at one point  the line is crossed.

The situation has been reported to WotC, so presumably the matter will be resolved soon.






-Havard


Illustration by Bruce Heard.

6 comments:

  1. I think the "never heard of it" defense is looking a little weak here. I'd expect a self-proclaimed fantasy author to come up with something a bit more clever.

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  2. I think it's quite possible it's based on a D&D game she played in it, and not being the GM, she didn't realize it was from an established setting.

    Shockingly enough, not everyone is a Mystara fan. Sad, but true.

    And lets be honest, many retro clones rip off a lot of D&D that wasn't in the SRD. Maybe not the exact wording, but in some cases, tablets are copied exactly. Like say the stronghold building costs in either ASSH or ACKS. Both very closely mimic the table in the Rules Cyclopedia/Companion set, but weren't in the SRD.

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  3. I think it is one thing to have a similar cost table on a gaming product produced under the srd and ogl...and a whole other thing to produce your "own fantasy world" with the exact names of a d&d product.

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  4. I agree that it is hard to say what happened here. It could easily be ignorance as much as more malign intent. Nevertheless the author is responsible for what she publishes. Perhaps with the new and easier ways of sef-publishing we will see more such cases since it leaves it up to the individual author to obtain the sufficient knowledge of copyright laws etc. Hopefully this matter will be resolved quickly and as painlessly as possible for all parties involved.

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  5. Havard, thank you for your well-reasoned posts on this issue. I've seen far too much of this kind of things over the years, where people don't think things through; Bruce and the other folks who brought us Mysteria have every right to be upset; they may not have legal standing under their old contracts, but they certainly do have a moral and ethical standing here.

    Sigh.

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  6. Whoops! Spelling error alert!

    That's "Mystara", not "Mysteria"; my bad!!!

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