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Dungeons and Dragons to eliminate concept of "inherently evil" races

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On 6/27/2020 at 1:57 AM, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

I don't disagree with your sentiment, but Wizards didn't create the problem.

 

Gygax and Tactical Systems Research ("Research!"  HA!  :rofl:   ) created the problem.

 

For what it's worth, I don't care if they leave the alignment system in or not, because _screw_ D&D.   ;)      However, I've never been really big on accepting "this whole race is evil; deal with it."   I am _totally_ cool with "this particular dickhead right here, _he_ is totally evil."  I'm _way_ fine with that.  I just can't figure how a race of mortals with any sort of society can all just "be evil" and a society is still maintained.  I'm willing to be that even Mayans weren't chucking people onto the altar every stinking day.....

 

 

True like most of the problems in dnd it can be laid at Gygax feet. Arnson were more palatable but he had also his own ideas about race. 

As for evil I figured people never talked about nor thought of themselves as evil. Off course since most dnd player think of evil pretty much as black plate armour, and being feared is cool. that went out of the window pretty early. Blunders like aligment languages did not help. Then you have pathfinder who are working around the clock to make lawful evil into the new good. 

They say lawful evil is actually people who are willing to sacrifice everything to make sure the law is upheld rather than sneaky sneaks who hide behind their law to do their evil deeds. And that the devils in the abyss is actually some kind of bullwark against the demons, ignoring that demons existed millennia before devils fell in most campaings and that demons dont have to crush hell before they invade the campaign world. Its just a bit of characterful background. Also TSR and wizards trying to milk the annoyance we gamers felt from being called satantistic by selling "books of darkness" and other crap to make the game look as occult as possible. 

On 6/27/2020 at 8:50 PM, pinecone said:

I usually used "Snooty Elves" to highlight systemic racist behavior, the few elves who gave a dang and tried to help save the world were viewed as dangerous deviants by their own kind. And the usual source of stable half elf families. Most 1/2 elf children were raised by single mothers.

Yes that is a good point. Elves was usually labeled as racist even though elves in the dungeon and dragons book were noted for hanging out in the forest and having parties. They were hippies not nazis. But still players on some level wanted them to be racist and their counter part the orcs to be freedom fighters. 

 

This is ironic since Tolkien created elves and orcs as two faces of the same coin. Elves were cultural one who loves nature, art and harmony. While orcs were the warlike ones who hates nature, loves technology especially weapons and wants to exterminate all the other races in the world. Both were the same race. Just two facets of the same culture. And since fantasy is closely related to fairy tales where evil is clearly marked by ugliness and good is clearly marked by innocence. The good elves were beautiful while the evil elves were ugly orcs. 

But dnd, warcraft and players in general wanted so much that the aggressive orcs who wanted to exterminate humanity and bring in the new era of the orc and Sauron (You cant stop progress!) to be on THEIR side and the "wussy" (peaceful) and "snooty" (cultural) elves to be their enemy. 

 

In psychology that is an easily recognized instinct some humans want to suck up to those who are more powerful than us and they want to attack and destroy those who are weaker than them.

Its the same with Klingons, Stormtroopers and so on. Off course people dont want to admit that they are morally evasive so they invent stuff like they are racist or they hate us or something like that to explain their instinctual behavior.

But in the end it is about this: Some players want to be on the side they perceive would win. Because in fantasy without our merry band of heroes the forces of evil would win. The point of fantasy is that small heroic bumps can topple a big cart of evil and give hope to humanity in an world where evil often win. But that does not speak to some peoples instincts they want to win and they want to win easy and fast and the fasted way to do so is to join the side with the biggest guys and the largest most organized army. Showing us that to some players the point of fantasy just go straight over their head.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Trencher said:

True like most of the problems in dnd it can be laid at Gygax feet. Arnson were more palatable but he had also his own ideas about race. 

As for evil I figured people never talked about nor thought of themselves as evil. Off course since most dnd player think of evil pretty much as black plate armour, and being feared is cool. that went out of the window pretty early. Blunders like aligment languages did not help. Then you have pathfinder who are working around the clock to make lawful evil into the new good. 

They say lawful evil is actually people who are willing to sacrifice everything to make sure the law is upheld rather than sneaky sneaks who hide behind their law to do their evil deeds. And that the devils in the abyss is actually some kind of bullwark against the demons, ignoring that demons existed millennia before devils fell in most campaings and that demons dont have to crush hell before they invade the campaign world. Its just a bit of characterful background. Also TSR and wizards trying to milk the annoyance we gamers felt from being called satantistic by selling "books of darkness" and other crap to make the game look as occult as possible. 

Yes that is a good point. Elves was usually labeled as racist even though elves in the dungeon and dragons book were noted for hanging out in the forest and having parties. They were hippies not nazis. But still players on some level wanted them to be racist and their counter part the orcs to be freedom fighters. 

 

This is ironic since Tolkien created elves and orcs as two faces of the same coin. Elves were cultural one who loves nature, art and harmony. While orcs were the warlike ones who hates nature, loves technology especially weapons and wants to exterminate all the other races in the world. Both were the same race. Just two facets of the same culture. And since fantasy is closely related to fairy tales where evil is clearly marked by ugliness and good is clearly marked by innocence. The good elves were beautiful while the evil elves were ugly orcs. 

But dnd, warcraft and players in general wanted so much that the aggressive orcs who wanted to exterminate humanity and bring in the new era of the orc and Sauron (You cant stop progress!) to be on THEIR side and the "wussy" (peaceful) and "snooty" (cultural) elves to be their enemy. 

 

In psychology that is an easily recognized instinct some humans want to suck up to those who are more powerful than us and they want to attack and destroy those who are weaker than them.

Its the same with Klingons, Stormtroopers and so on. Off course people dont want to admit that they are morally evasive so they invent stuff like they are racist or they hate us or something like that to explain their instinctual behavior.

But in the end it is about this: Some players want to be on the side they perceive would win. Because in fantasy without our merry band of heroes the forces of evil would win. The point of fantasy is that small heroic bumps can topple a big cart of evil and give hope to humanity in an world where evil often win. But that does not speak to some peoples instincts they want to win and they want to win easy and fast and the fasted way to do so is to join the side with the biggest guys and the largest most organized army. Showing us that to some players the point of fantasy just go straight over their head.

 

 

Some good points, but I usually look at Elves not as "Hippies" and instead as super bothersome vegans, who always look down on all others. "Go back to your stinky cities monkey boy!' "I've got "High magic" to cast!" (And the reason the world is in danger, turns out to be "High magic!" after all) :)

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On 6/26/2020 at 12:39 PM, Scott Ruggels said:

Just don’t buy any new books or new reprint of older materials. In games, I dislike moral ambiguity in my escapism. Orcs aren’t real and I resent the SJW intrusion into geek escapism. I play a fair amount of 5e right now, but I will be more selective from now on. 

 

I'm with you there.  In an action RPG where players are heroes there is a need for enemies.  So having a "stock" evil to fight works for a game, especially when they are not real. 

 

 

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Drow may not be "inherently evil" anymore, but I think most non-Evil Drow will be getting purged by the priestesses of Lolth pretty quickly.

 

This change may make their species seem even more horrifying than before, since your choices as a good Drow are 1) hide it and commit just enough villainy to be ignored by the nearest Drow Matriarch; 2) run away and hope you can make it through the Underdark to the surface; or 3) be sacrificed to Lolth.

 

Will the SJW crowd still let us say that Drow culture is evil?

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10 hours ago, Trencher said:

True like most of the problems in dnd it can be laid at Gygax feet. Arnson were more palatable but he had also his own ideas about race. 

As for evil I figured people never talked about nor thought of themselves as evil. Off course since most dnd player think of evil pretty much as black plate armour, and being feared is cool. that went out of the window pretty early. Blunders like aligment languages did not help. Then you have pathfinder who are working around the clock to make lawful evil into the new good. 

They say lawful evil is actually people who are willing to sacrifice everything to make sure the law is upheld rather than sneaky sneaks who hide behind their law to do their evil deeds. And that the devils in the abyss is actually some kind of bullwark against the demons, ignoring that demons existed millennia before devils fell in most campaings and that demons dont have to crush hell before they invade the campaign world. Its just a bit of characterful background. Also TSR and wizards trying to milk the annoyance we gamers felt from being called satantistic by selling "books of darkness" and other crap to make the game look as occult as possible. 

Yes that is a good point. Elves was usually labeled as racist even though elves in the dungeon and dragons book were noted for hanging out in the forest and having parties. They were hippies not nazis. But still players on some level wanted them to be racist and their counter part the orcs to be freedom fighters. 

 

This is ironic since Tolkien created elves and orcs as two faces of the same coin. Elves were cultural one who loves nature, art and harmony. While orcs were the warlike ones who hates nature, loves technology especially weapons and wants to exterminate all the other races in the world. Both were the same race. Just two facets of the same culture. And since fantasy is closely related to fairy tales where evil is clearly marked by ugliness and good is clearly marked by innocence. The good elves were beautiful while the evil elves were ugly orcs. 

But dnd, warcraft and players in general wanted so much that the aggressive orcs who wanted to exterminate humanity and bring in the new era of the orc and Sauron (You cant stop progress!) to be on THEIR side and the "wussy" (peaceful) and "snooty" (cultural) elves to be their enemy. 

 

In psychology that is an easily recognized instinct some humans want to suck up to those who are more powerful than us and they want to attack and destroy those who are weaker than them.

Its the same with Klingons, Stormtroopers and so on. Off course people dont want to admit that they are morally evasive so they invent stuff like they are racist or they hate us or something like that to explain their instinctual behavior.

But in the end it is about this: Some players want to be on the side they perceive would win. Because in fantasy without our merry band of heroes the forces of evil would win. The point of fantasy is that small heroic bumps can topple a big cart of evil and give hope to humanity in an world where evil often win. But that does not speak to some peoples instincts they want to win and they want to win easy and fast and the fasted way to do so is to join the side with the biggest guys and the largest most organized army. Showing us that to some players the point of fantasy just go straight over their head.

 

 

The treatment of the strong vs the weak is really nature itself not just humanity.

 

To survive, you must adapt. The strong are seen as those who adApted best. 

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Among human beings (the only sapient species we know of), adaptation has always depended more on intelligence than strength.

 

The concept of "strength" is itself a narrow and misleading generalization for adaptability among other species. Climate gets colder? Animals grow thicker fur and/or fat. Food becomes scarce? Animals get smaller so they need to eat less. Lots of predators in an area? Prey develop better camouflage so they can hide more effectively. It would be hard to argue that any of these adaptations make them stronger than their predecessors.

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6 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Among human beings (the only sapient species we know of), adaptation has always depended more on intelligence than strength.

 

The concept of "strength" is itself a narrow and misleading generalization for adaptability among other species. Climate gets colder? Animals grow thicker fur and/or fat. Food becomes scarce? Animals get smaller so they need to eat less. Lots of predators in an area? Prey develop better camouflage so they can hide more effectively. It would be hard to argue that any of these adaptations make them stronger than their predecessors.

Well when I say strength. I will say it has many forms, not just physicAl to be fair

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Fair enough. But generally when people say, "the strong survive and the weak perish," they're implying that Nature applies some kind of eugenics to improve the breed; whereas the "weak" who actually perish are generally the young, old, sick, or injured, which likely didn't reflect how genetically healthy they were.

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11 hours ago, pinecone said:

Some good points, but I usually look at Elves not as "Hippies" and instead as super bothersome vegans, who always look down on all others. "Go back to your stinky cities monkey boy!' "I've got "High magic" to cast!" (And the reason the world is in danger, turns out to be "High magic!" after all) :)

Well that is the point. People make up their own version of elves so it is okay to dislike them. 

6 hours ago, Badger said:

The treatment of the strong vs the weak is really nature itself not just humanity.

 

To survive, you must adapt. The strong are seen as those who adApted best. 

Tolkien the creator of orcs were a World war one veteran. He saw the futility of total war and were naturally enough inclined to promote the idea that peace and kindness were the way for humanity to survive. I say this to put this notion in context: You can just as well see the strong as people who force others to adapt to them.

Changing and adapting is not really about strength but about surviving. Which is the orcs weak spot. Orchish lives mean nothing to them. Victory for the dark lord and thereby themselves means all. 

Strength, aggression and violence are not ways for them to adapt their own culture (such as it is..) to better survive but to change other cultures and people into another state. These states being enslaved and dead respectively.  

Off course in epic fantasy based on a humanistic morality the morale of said stories are usually to show the futility of the orc (or equivalent) kill or be killed attitude. And the value of peace and kindness (like hobbits for instance). 

Many games and books show the inhuman conditions of the orcs warfare and the heavy toll it takes on themselves and how it lead to their doom. Very few epic fantasy promote the total war soloution that orcs represent. Usually they glorify the single warrior against many and or honor and chivalry in war. For instance showing mercy to conquered enemies are often shown to pay of at a later date.

 

To take video games as an example the excellent video game "Shadow of Mordor" takes to be mild quite a lot of liberties with the lore of middle earth. However there is one thing that game gets right and that is to show of the hopelessness and futility of the orcish condition. The cost of their way of life. Both physically and psychologically. 

 

But there is another example seen in a recent world of warcraft cinematic. In it we meet an old cool looking orc who have doubts about war, especally the current one againt the heroic alliance which could really be avoided and are not fought in an way that appease the orchish sense of honor. (As in this game the orcs are a noble warrior race). 

He then meet an young and a naive troll who idolizes him, idolize war and are ready to fight for the honour of the horde. The old warrior orc is implied to know better.

Then the troll dies infront of the warrior orc. AND THIS CONVINCE HIM TO FIGHT ON!

And the cinematic shows this as a cool and heroic moment. War is the way. War is cool! Fight on! Dont quit! 

These are two approaches not only to war. But to the total war that orcs usually represent. The authors of the cinematic are trying really hard and doing a really good job at making unjust war seem like an honorable. The opposite of what orcs were intended to do. 

 

I think that some people are just attracted to that idea of total war and they try to it honorable and shown as the "only way". 

Off course they dont really want to do that. So story wise they often meet themselves in the door and have to make their warriors extra kind and sensitive like they have done with the world of warcraft orcs.

From the first warcraft game orcs who looted pillaged and stabbed each other in the back up until to the warcraft movie where the orcs were just looking for a place to belong and raise their cute litte orc babies. Each version of the warcraft orcs are heaped on with more and more humanistic qualities while all the players want its to play tusked hulk and smash puny alliance humans. Its diffent wants and needs dragging the concept of the orc in different directions. 

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Hero Games' own Turakian Age includes the nation of Thordar, populated by "civilized Orcs" who live little differently than the kingdoms of Men around them. While most Orcs are brutal, rapacious, etc. Thordar was founded by an Orc who experienced enough of the wider world to believe his people were capable of much more, and over centuries the Thordarans weeded out most of the destructive qualities of their culture.

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Tolkien was never comfortable with the idea of Orcs being inherently evil. They were easily corrupted because that's how they came to be. But an Orc repenting of his or her evil (extremely unlikely, as they had been taught that Elves and Men would never show mercy) would be able to be redeemed.

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On 6/25/2020 at 5:26 PM, Lord Liaden said:

SJWs make D&D go PC! :rockon:

 

;)

 

Sadly, they've been going in that direction since at least 2015 (probably earlier given their location in the ultra-liberal/leftist Seattle area)- there was a moronic uproar about a "colonialism" (not necessarily a bad thing) and "racism" (which was false) in Tomb of Annihilation.  But I think it's excessive and silly.  I think the best call is just to give players and DMs options to run the game.

 

If you want an escapist game where you can fight evil without any moral quandaries, keep alignments and evil races.

 

If you want a game with shades of gray and moral dilemmas, then drop alignments and have no evil races.

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I liked that blog post -- or, at the very least, I understood where they were coming from. Orcs do tend to be a cheap cop-out in many cases. I wonder why the Tolkein estate barred Gygax from using terms like "hobbit" but kept "ent", and "orc". Since so much fantasy gaming is built around the D&D concepts, we're always going to have orcs. But they seem to be a lazy way to write at times unless they are so thoroughly deconstructed that we might as well not call them Orcs anymore.

 

Yes, I knwo if wouldn't be D&D without orcs, but we're not playing D&D (at l;east not that often, and not here). We're playing Hero. We don't need Orcs, and they raise too many extremely troubling questions. Human history is bloody enough without Orcs, thank you very much.

 

If D&D does, in fact, still need Orcs, then that's a problem with the world-building of D&D.

 

(And I see no problem with being called an SJW. Were the term not so pejorative I would wear it as a badge of honor like Antifa. Who can rationally be opposed to justice?)

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39 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

I liked that blog post -- or, at the very least, I understood where they were coming from. Orcs do tend to be a cheap cop-out in many cases. I wonder why the Tolkein estate barred Gygax from using terms like "hobbit" but kept "ent", and "orc".

 

IIRC Ents were renamed to treants to appease the estate, whereas the term "Orc" came from mythology and was not invented by Tolkien.  Balrogs got renamed too, I think.

 

As for controversy, it's important to remember that D&D has drawn attacks from lawyers and SJWs of all kinds throughout its history.  That's why demons and devils became tanar'ri and baatezu and why Cthulhu was cut out entirely.  It's not entirely realistic to expect a game with such dependence on its subject matter to remain static for almost fifty years.  Allowing orcs and drow to be non-evil is hardly even a change.

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This all reminds me of a player in a Cthulhu many decades ago who was playing a businessman a la Carter Burke from Aliens. He wanted to capture and study the interdimensional maddening horrors, and wouldn't listen to any talk about them being evil.

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7 hours ago, grandmastergm said:

If you want an escapist game where you can fight evil without any moral quandaries, keep alignments and evil races.

 

If you want a game with shades of gray and moral dilemmas, then drop alignments and have no evil races.

 

Why is it either/or?

 

There's PLENTY of things you can elect to fight within the structure that "no humanoid races are implicitly evil."  Evil cults.  Despotic tyrants.  Uncontrollable ravagers like trolls or bulettes.  

 

And just because the statement is "orcs are not implicitly evil"....doesn't mean bands of them aren't.  

 

Saying "all orcs (drow, etc) are EVIL" is just stupid and lazy.

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4 hours ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

(And I see no problem with being called an SJW. Were the term not so pejorative I would wear it as a badge of honor like Antifa. Who can rationally be opposed to justice?)

 

I'm with you, Michael. Social justice is worth fighting for.

 

It's hard for me to look at this thread's topic and not think about racism in our world. I see people in this thread who want to be able to, in game, designate whole groups of people as other, as less than, and as without the right to life, based only on their race, utterly without regard for their personal qualities. When I see someone who wants to be able to, in a game, kill people with impunity and no moral qualms because their skin is green, I can't help being reminded of the people who, in the real world, want to be able to kill people with impunity because their skin is brown.

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4 hours ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

I liked that blog post -- or, at the very least, I understood where they were coming from. Orcs do tend to be a cheap cop-out in many cases. I wonder why the Tolkein estate barred Gygax from using terms like "hobbit" but kept "ent", and "orc". Since so much fantasy gaming is built around the D&D concepts, we're always going to have orcs. But they seem to be a lazy way to write at times unless they are so thoroughly deconstructed that we might as well not call them Orcs anymore

 

 

3 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

IIRC Ents were renamed to treants to appease the estate, whereas the term "Orc" came from mythology and was not invented by Tolkien.  Balrogs got renamed too, I think.

 

The word "ent" is an Old English word for "giant," but Tolkien was the one who connected the word to sapient mobile trees. I'm not certain if "balrog" was original to Tolkien's invented language, although their Quenya name, "Valaraukar," certainly is. But "hobbit" has no precedent in folklore -- the name and the species are entirely Tolkien's creation.

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3 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

IIRC Ents were renamed to treants to appease the estate, whereas the term "Orc" came from mythology and was not invented by Tolkien.  Balrogs got renamed too, I think.

 

As for controversy, it's important to remember that D&D has drawn attacks from lawyers and SJWs of all kinds throughout its history.  That's why demons and devils became tanar'ri and baatezu and why Cthulhu was cut out entirely.  It's not entirely realistic to expect a game with such dependence on its subject matter to remain static for almost fifty years.  Allowing orcs and drow to be non-evil is hardly even a change.

 

Cthulhu mythos deities were included in very early DDG...as were the gods of Lankhmar.  Yes, well, that's copyrighted material there;  they were explicitly even using the names.  There's no folklore or mythological link for Azathoth or Cthulhu;  they're pure Lovecraft.  Lankhmar is pure Lieber.  So using them for commercial purposes is a clear copyright violation.  

 

Now, the argument for eliminating "demon" and "devil" in favor of something more fantastic...THAT was PC.  The flap that "D&D promotes demonology!!!" goes back to at least the 80s when I was playing.  This was when Falwell was railing about most anything even remotely counterculture;  it might be fair to say it was the reaction to the days of the Warren Court, Vietname protests, etc.  

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2 hours ago, unclevlad said:

 

Cthulhu mythos deities were included in very early DDG...as were the gods of Lankhmar.  Yes, well, that's copyrighted material there;  they were explicitly even using the names.  There's no folklore or mythological link for Azathoth or Cthulhu;  they're pure Lovecraft.  Lankhmar is pure Lieber.  So using them for commercial purposes is a clear copyright violation.  

 

Now, the argument for eliminating "demon" and "devil" in favor of something more fantastic...THAT was PC.  The flap that "D&D promotes demonology!!!" goes back to at least the 80s when I was playing.  This was when Falwell was railing about most anything even remotely counterculture;  it might be fair to say it was the reaction to the days of the Warren Court, Vietname protests, etc.  

I remember Mayfair Games getting in more than a bit of trouble when they attempted to fill the demon void with their own Role Aids series books about demons. One of the demons in Demons II was even modeled after Jesus (he founds religions based around himself) in what was probably an effort to thumb their noses at Falwell.

 

I do not recall exactly what happened, but TSR was not pleased. Mayfair is now out of the RPG business, restricting themselves to boardgames. Which incidentally has led to -- or might be a result of -- massive uncertainty about who owns the system used in DC Heroes. There are at least three conflicting claims on it, and the general consensus is that this knot is so Gordian that it can't be resolved using normal means. 

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29 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

I remember Mayfair Games getting in more than a bit of trouble when they attempted to fill the demon void with their own Role Aids series books about demons. One of the demons in Demons II was even modeled after Jesus (he founds religions based around himself) in what was probably an effort to thumb their noses at Falwell.

 

I do not recall exactly what happened, but TSR was not pleased. Mayfair is now out of the RPG business, restricting themselves to boardgames. Which incidentally has led to -- or might be a result of -- massive uncertainty about who owns the system used in DC Heroes. There are at least three conflicting claims on it, and the general consensus is that this knot is so Gordian that it can't be resolved using normal means. 

 

Wiki says TSR sued for trademark infringements.  From the article, the company was a mess for a very long time.  They sold all their IP and closed their doors 2 years ago.

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