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Role Playing (Games) The Courts Games

Villains & Vigilantes Creators Sue Publisher 71

Posted by timothy
from the neater-than-garotting-them dept.
rcade writes "Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, the creators of the super-hero roleplaying game Villains & Vigilantes, have filed a federal copyright lawsuit against the game's longtime publisher Scott Bizar of Fantasy Games Unlimited. They allege that Bizar has no rights to publish the game because his corporation was dissolved in 1991, reverting the rights to them. Dee and Herman revived the old-school RPG last year and have been battling Bizar ever since. Sadly, this suit will not be resolved by muscle-bound men in tights."
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Villains & Vigilantes Creators Sue Publisher

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  • How about we try a new roll playing game where everyone acts like adults and business people and resolve their differences without suing everyone and invoking copyrights, trademarks and patents?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How about we try a new roll playing game where everyone acts like adults and business people and resolve their differences without suing everyone and invoking copyrights, trademarks and patents?

      So only children file lawsuits now?

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Children don't, but childish adults do. The adults incapable of voicing their disagreements in public, based in fact and working with others of differing opinions to come to a satisfactory conclusion.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, you just defined an expansion for Game Dev Story 2 [droidgamers.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RTFA?

      Brent Rose, the Tampa attorney representing Dee and Herman, told me in email that the suit was filed after other means of resolving the dispute were attempted. "There were cease and desist letters issued by both sides," he said. "We requested arbitration or mediation or even just a teleconference to just try and work things out before filing our federal lawsuit, but our written requests were either ignored or refused."

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      ha where did you get that chunk of fantasy

    • by danbuter (2019760)
      Problem is, if Bizar tells them no, their only recourse is to use the courts.
    • A roll playing games? What has Mon Santo been putting into the wheat?!?!

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        You are giving him crap about using a word that sounds exactly the same, then you type a company's name incorrectly?

        http://www.monsanto.com/Pages/default.aspx [monsanto.com]

        The name is one word, not two, but at least you used all the letters in the correct order. :)

        • Retroactive excuse: Their stock is MON. I'll claim that I just forgot the link and put in the space to separate the ticker from the continuation of their name.

          Grammatical return fire: You're capitalizing god in your signature as if it were a proper noun...

    • How about we try a new roll playing game where everyone acts like adults and business people and resolve their differences without suing everyone and invoking copyrights, trademarks and patents?

      Wait, do you want something where everyone acts like adults and business people?
      Or do you want something where everyone resolves their differences without suing everyone and invoking copyrights, trademarks, and patents?

      Because, in the real world, "adults and business people" actually are usually the ones using lawsui

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      I agree! Since we are talking about a role playing game here I suggest a simple and quick resolution to the dispute...the teams, lawyers and all, dress as their characters, with real armor and real weapons, take 50 paces and come out a swinging! We'll give bonus points for the first team that drops a lawyer, although you only get half points if its your own lawyer. My money is on the elf! (They have long range bow attacks ya know)
    • by genner (694963)

      How about we try a new roll playing game where everyone acts like adults and business people and resolve their differences without suing everyone and invoking copyrights, trademarks and patents?

      High fantasy isn't for everyone.

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      "How about we try a new roll playing game where everyone acts like adults and business people and resolve their differences without suing everyone and invoking copyrights, trademarks and patents?"

      I'm sure there is a GURPS book for that.

      • I'm reminded of the joke illustration in the 1st edition AD&D DMG, where a group of fantasy characters are sitting around a table playing "Papers and Paychecks".

  • by sstamps (39313) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:01PM (#36992528) Homepage

    I remember our interpretation of their acronym:

    Fscking Game's Unplayable

  • by kirkb (158552) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:02PM (#36992534) Homepage

    Wow, I'd forgotten about this game. I played V&V back in 1987-ish with buddies back in junior high. We had the Marvel Super Heroes game too, for when we wanted to play "legit" super-heroes. Good times...

    FYI, here's a review of it (not mine): http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/9/9439.phtml [rpg.net]

  • Don't get me wrong, I loved V&V, I played it for years, but it's so amazingly outdated now. If you want the same feel but with a smoother system, try out Icons from Adamant Entertainment. You get the awesomeness of a randomly-rolled superhero (try it, it's a great creative springboard), a nice combat system, no miniatures to worry about, and a great story balance between high-powered supers and lower-powered ones. And yes...these are the same folks coming out with the Buckaroo Banzai RPG.
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      I have often wondered how does a book based on pure fantasy become "outdated"

      • by aekafan (1690920) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @09:37PM (#36993152)
        Tell that to playboy magazine.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The _system_ is outdated. It was published in 1982. Just to give you an example of another outdated system, early D&D had you roll high for some things (attack rolls) and low for others (saving throws). In some cases, low scores were good (Armor Class), but high scores were good for others (hit points). One of the nice things D&D 3E did was to toss all that out the window and say "rolling high is good, high scores are good" across the board.

        In this case, one of the dated elements in V&V is

      • I have often wondered how does a book based on pure fantasy become "outdated"

        Games, including RPGs, aren't based on pure fantasy. Sure, the setting and story are based on fantasy, but game system designs draws from an evolving palette of tools to achieve the desired ends.
         

      • by Creepy (93888)

        Most games from that era actually look quite similar to D&D, and in some ways V&V was no exception. For instance, I believe normal stats were 3-18 (not that they couldn't be boosted or reduced - I remember insect powers reduced my character's intelligence to zero, but then I got power armor with intelligence 22...). Also there could be a massive disparate power balance - I think I had something like 11 powers when all was said and done, but two other heroes had only two. The GM went out of his way

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Mechanics.

  • Go Dee and Herman!
  • by flimflammer (956759) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @11:14PM (#36993624)

    FTA:

    Our contract was with Fantasy Games Unlimited, Inc. -- which, we recently discovered, was "dissolved by proclamation" by the state of NY in 1991 for failure to pay state taxes. It no longer exists. And the contract clearly stated that if FGU, Inc., ever ceased to exist, then the publication rights reverted back to us.

    If this is accurate, then how does this Bizar guy even have a leg to stand on to fight this? How can he claim anything at all? It seems like any litigation would reach the point where that bombshell is dropped and the judge would place judgement against Bizar for whatever these guys are asking for.

  • by lexsird (1208192) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:21AM (#36994336)

    Once upon a time, I owned a game shop, I enjoyed playing V&V myself because it was a break from DMing. We had a super fun cheesy time, bellowing battle cries while we tossed dice to see if we fell flat on our face or landed a deadly blow. We had a GM for V&V nicked named Dizzy, and he put on a great game. Thinking back there are just some things that don't translate well into computer gaming. The social aspect of it being the number one thing that comes to mind. Gone are the late nights, the delivered pizza boxes stacked up, piles of empty soda cans and playing hard until everyone is goofy tired, played out and ready to crawl home and sleep late. We smoked too, a thick haze choked the pastiest of geeks, so we had a fan blowing it out. It was a place to go for so many people. Kids used to tell us that they would much rather be gaming at the shop than out at a party.

    I still remember my cheesy character I named "The Black Mask", who wore a black mask...real brilliant, huh? But it I played it up until it would slay the lactose intolerant.

  • by Tom (822)

    I didn't even know it was back. Wow.

    Does it still feature the "you, the player, are your superheroes secret identity" gimmick? I'd buy a copy just for that. It was an unbelievably cool idea.

  • The creators of something have to sue a distributer to retain ownership? What a perfect representation of ownership in the 21st century.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If you give some else complete rights to the material you created, what do you expect?

  • The fact that this went on for so long and the plaintiff didn't have any problems until recently would seem like an "easement" of sorts has been created, at least with respect to copies made in the past.

    Yes, I know easements are for real estate but the concept is portable: If you knowingly let people use your property (real, physical, or otherwise) over an extended period of time and don't at least say "woah, ask permission first next time, please" you may lose exclusive control over it.

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