Dragonlance Creators Suing Wizards of the Coast for Breach of Contract

Dragonlance Creators Suing Wizards of the Coast for Breach of Contract

Well, here’s a shock.  Wizards of the Coast is making Dungeons and Dragons even worse.  In their unending quest to make D&D more Portland friendly, WotC has decided to piss away one of their crown jewels.

And they have done so in an almost startlingly incompetent manner.

Now for those of you who are too young to remember, set your way-back-machine to the good ole days when Dungeons and Dragons was owned by a company that actually took care of its franchises.  By the mid-1980s Dungeons and Dragons had been around in one form or another for better than fifteen years. The Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules had been published and shops that specialized in role-playing games had sprung into existence. At that point, TSR decided that they wanted to increase the brand’s impact on American pop culture.  The two ways to do that were cheap cartoons and paperbacks.  The cartoon was a godawful failure, but the books were another story.

The biggest success they had was the Dragonlance saga. At that time fantasy hadn’t really arrived yet, it was science fiction’s special-needs little brother.  But it can honestly be said that Dragonlance pushed fantasy a lot closer to mainstream popculture.  It was a big success for TSR publishing and gave them a great tie-in for gaming modules as well.  The series ran out of steam in the early 1990s but it is still ubiquitous in the RPG world.

Reviving the series was a no-brainer from a business perspective.

In 2017, Hickman and Weis met with WotC reps and signed a big contract.  The kind John Scalzi can only dream about. The deal was in the millions for a new trilogy of Dragonlance books. This was supposed to be the capstone to the entire series. In November of 2019, the deal was in place and they delivered the first manuscript titled Dragons of Deceit. 

“However, by August 2020, during a meeting with WotC’s ‘highest-level executives,’ the authors were told that no further drafts “or any subsequent works in the trilogy” would be approved. Further, the authors claim, ‘The termination was wholly arbitrary and without contractual basis,’ and Wizards acted ‘in stunning and brazen bad faith.’”

Wizards of the Coast was trying to breech the contract without actually breeching it.  We aren’t canceling the contract you understand, we simply weren’t accepting anymore drafts.  So, the contract is still in place, we just won’t let you fulfill your end of it.  When you think about it, this is really your fault.

The problems appear to have started in June of 2020 when Wizards of Coast, as mired in “sensitivity” issues as they were (#OrcLivesMatter) had the brilliant idea of putting Nic Kelman in charge of the editing department.  Apparently, WotC felt they were missing out on the pedophilia scandals that have been all the rage elsewhere.

From Kelman’s book, Girls: A Paen

“This girl they sent up really is young. It’s possible she’s not even sixteen. The traces of childhood are gone — the gangliness, the spindly limbs and neck, the overlarge eyes — but just barely. Her hips have hardly swollen enough to give her a waist, her breasts will still develop a little more. But God is she sexy.”

“Resigned, long past shame, you had asked them for the youngest girl they had. It is legal to prostitute girls over the age of fifteen in Amsterdam.”

A review in the Guardian stated, “Nearly all the sex in the novel and there is a lot of sex in it, often graphically described is between adult men and pubescent girls.” In defending the novel, Nic Kelman said, “Technically, all the girls in the book are legal.”

Yeah, legal in Amsterdam.

From Bounding into Comics:

Later in the lawsuit it details that Wizards of the Coast requested “sensitivity rewrites.” In fact, it states that [Weis and Hickman] accommodated such requests and provided rewrites, in one case, 70 pages-worth.”

However, it does reiterate, “at no point in time was there any indication of any problem with the writing or re-writing process. In fact, given that the process was moving forward, [Weis and Hickman] also informed [Wizards of the Coast] that they had completed Book 2 of the trilogy, provisionally titled, ‘Dragons of Fate.’”

And just to add dumb on top of sleazy, somebody at Wizards of the Coast went behind Weis and Hickman’s back to try and spike their relationship with Penguin Random House.  So, on top of a regular breech of contract suit, WotC is looking at tortious interference.

They are demanding in excess of $10 million in damages.  

I wish them the best of luck.

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