Dragonlance creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have filed a lawsuit against Wizards of the Coast, claiming the company that owns Dungeons & Dragons breached a License Agreement for a new Dragonlance trilogy.
In the lawsuit, it details that Weis and Hickman contracted with Wizards of the Coast to license a new Dragonlance trilogy that would be published by Penguin Random House.
The lawsuit specifically states, “In March, 2019, the negotiations between the parties hereto culminated in new written licensing agreement whereby Weis and Hickman were to personally author and publish a new Dragonlance trilogy in conjunction with Penguin Random House, highly prestigious book publisher.”
The suit continues stating that “by June 2019, [Wizards of the Coast] received and approved a full outline of the first contracted book in the trilogy and by November 2019 the publisher accepted a manuscript for Book 1. [Weis and Hickman in turn sent the manuscript to [Wizards of the Coast], who approved it in January 2020.”
They even state that Wizards of the Coast was already approving foreign language translation rights and “encouraging [Weis and Hickman] to work on subsequent novels.”
However, on August 13, 2020 the lawsuit claims that during a telephone conference with high level executives of Wizards of the Coast, they “declared that it would not approve any further Drafts of Book 1 or any subsequent works in the trilogy, effectively repudiating and terminating the License Agreement.”
The suit alleges that “no reason was provided for the termination” and “the termination was wholly arbitrary and without contractual basis.” It goes on to claim that “the termination was unlawful and in violation of multiple aspects of the License Agreement (arguably almost every part of it, in fact). The termination also had the knowing and premediated effect of precluding publication and destroying the value of [Weis and Hickman’s] work not to mention their publishing deal with Penguin Random House.”
Maybe the most explosive part of the lawsuit is that it alleges that Wizards of the Coast terminated their licensing agreement with Weis and Hickman because Wizards of the Coast “was embroiled in a series of embarrassing public disputes whereby its non-Dragonlance publications were excoriated for racism and sexism.”
The suit continues, “Moreover, the company itself was vilified by well-publicized allegations of misogyny and racist hiring and employment practicies by and with respect to artists and employees unrelated to Dragonlance.”
“[Weis and Hickman] are informed and believed, and based theron allege, that a discussion was made jointly by [Wizards of the Coast] and its parent company, Hasbro Inc., to deflect any possible criticism or further public outcry regarding [Wizards of the Coast’s] other properties by effectively killing the Dragonlance deal with [Weis and Hickman],” the suit goes on to state.
It also adds, “The upshot of that was to inflict, knowing, malicious and oppresive harm to [Weis and Hickman] and to interfere with their third-party contractual obligations, all to [Weis and Hickman’s] severe detriment and distress.”
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.'”
It goes on to specifically claim that Wizards of the Coast was interfering with Weis and Hickman’s business relationship with Penguin Random House.
Weis and Hickman are seeking in “excess of $10 million” in their claim that Wizards of the Coast is in breach of contract.
They are also seeking “in excess of $10 million” for their claim that they are in breach of implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.
In their third claim of tortious interference with contract they are seeking “in excess of $10 million.”
What do you make of this lawsuit against Wizards of the Coast by Dragonlance creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.