Sunday, November 21, 2010

C&S Question

Does anyone out there in the ether know who currently holds the rights to Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus's fantasy RPG, Chivalry & Sorcery, originally published by FGU? As I understand it, the rights to C&S were acquired by a company called Highlander Designs sometime in the 1990s, resulting in a new edition of the game. Highlander Designs eventually goes under and the game passes on -- whether under license or having been bought wholesale, I don't know -- to another company called Britannia Game Designs, who publish yet another edition around the turn of the century. Since then, I've heard nothing about Chivalry & Sorcery or Britannia Game Designs and I have read in various places that the company no longer exists. Sadly, both Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus are now dead.

So, does anyone know the current status of C&S? Who owns it? And how might one find out who legally holds the right if one wished to do so? I ask this almost entirely out of personal curiosity, with a slight hint of an ulterior motive. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I'd be appreciative.

17 comments:

  1. Whew, good luck with that. Sounds like you're going to see how good a detective you can be, because I think that's what's going to take to find out who owns it now.

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  2. Well, boredom and a sense of curiosity led me to perform a google search. You might check with these guys, Mystic Station: http://www.mysticstation.com/about.html

    I'm assuming it's the same C&S, but it could be something different. I didn't dig that deep... at least not yet.

    According to the wiki page there is also an unauthorized edition pdf floating around.

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  3. James, as far as I know, Britannia Game Designs still owned the rights to C&S until very recently -- they liquidated just a few weeks ago. Between that and Wilf's recent death, the rights to C&S may very well be in limbo. You might be able to get clarification from BGD's Steve Turner, he's on Facebook and in the C&S FB group: http://tinyurl.com/2fqa8kc

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  4. Oh, and AFAIK, MSD was just a US distributor for BGD's C&S 4th Ed here in North America.

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  5. I believe, after extensive litigation, Ed got the rights back from FGU back in the early 1990s (I'd have to check my archives to find out exactly when). Because of the problems with FGU I don't believe he was willing to alienate the rights to the game any more, and the rights to the game were actually invested in Ed's own company, Maple Leaf Games.

    The Highlander Games production of the game was an explicit grant of licence by Ed and Maple Leaf Games.

    However Ed was unhappy working with Highlander, and transferred the licence to publish C&S to Britannia Game Designs (which I believe was essentially little more than a small collective of dedicated fans based in the UK). Steve Turner was the managing director. [Other important names include Colin Spiers, Dave Blewitt, and Paul Perano.]

    However the actual rights to the game should have remained with Maple Leaf Games, and since this was a non-public company should have passed to whoever was heir to Ed's estate, since it was essentially a holding company.

    This is all based on unreliable recollections of discussions on the Loyal Order of C&S (LOCS) mailing list, so may be totally wrong.

    However (as of 2010) Mystic Station Designs is still apparently publishing C&S and Skillscape (the 3rd, 4th and Light editions of the rule system for the game) )stuff and holding "living C&S tournaments," so they are probably a good contender for having gained the licence. <grin>

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  6. Hmmm, I found a post from Steve Turner dated July 2010 at the C&S Forum. Obviously not current, but may give you a good idea of how difficult it might be to get the answer to this, or work with those involved:

    "Despite all rumours Brittannia Game Designs Ltd is still around and we are still working on the official 5th edition. As for any other versions that may be produced in Canada, we own the trademarks for the game in Canada and if any version is produced we shall request the trade department of the UK Embassy in Canada to handle the matter for us.

    We have spent to long on C&S to just give it away, its cost me 2 well paid jobs trying to put out products for a the fan base. After 15 years I have yet to receive any reward financial or otherwise and have invested thousands of pounds of my own money.

    Now if someone wishes to offer GBP 75,000 for the game then fine, but thats the estimate of how much time and money I have personally invested let alone others.

    C&S is a wonderful game but also a great way to lose money as a publisher.

    Now Francis is working on the product but we all have a real life. If some one can fund us to the tune of GBP 60,000 a year (that covers Sue and my salary) then we can churn out product for you. Otherwise be patient or find the above price to by the game.

    Regards

    Steve Turner"

    http://tinyurl.com/24xsz9w

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  7. This is as per the wikipedia page for Brittania Game Design:

    "According to Companies House, Britania Games Design Limited has not filed accounts for 2008 or 2009, and was liquidated on 30 October 2010."

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  8. I was involved in C&S and the translation of the light version in Italian... also with playtesting of the 4th edition, at the time I had phone contacts with Ed :( and mail with Steve....
    sadly I don't know who is holding the rights of it

    what memory you bring back :)

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  9. I don't have anything to contribute except to marvel at the wonderfulness of the internet to allow folks to jump in with answers like this so quickly.

    I played C&S and it wasn't "my thing" so I didn't pay much attention to it after that, and it's so neat that the game is still out there and that folks are still playing it!

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  10. If you find out, please let us know. I started thinking about the game in the past few weeks too and found what the others have found (the liquidated information and post from Steve Turner). It's a shame that it appears to be dead without the possibility of it continuing with a new publisher. Since it appears that the game hasn't made any money, too bad it wasn't released as OGL or under the Creative Commons for fan support.

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  11. I got nothing, but it seems that everyone else has you covered lol

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  12. I'd be fascinated to see what comes of this. I had both the Highlander and BGD versions of the game, and really like C&S's magic system.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. FWIW, I've done a little work for Mystic Station Designs, and am good friends with the managing partners, and have asked them to contact you to try and answer your questions.

    Hope this helps.

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  15. Hello:

    My name is Kory Kaese. I am one of the Managing Members of Mystic Station Designs, LLC. We are one of the companies that has a license for producing C&S materials. If you have questions concerning C&S please let me know? I can be contacted at:
    tracker@mysticstation.com

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  16. Thanks to everyone who's been providing me with links and contacts regarding C&S's current status. I'm in the process of sorting through all the details and I'll make a post about it once I have a more complete sense of the situation.

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  17. C&S is still held by Brittanna, who did not dissolve. I think there was an online shop of a Similar name that did.

    BGD had some problems over the last few years, litigation over the trademarks and the death of Steve and Sue's son being the most prominent

    However

    C&S 5th is being worked on, an updated and expanded C&S Essence was just published on Drivethrurpg.com and a C&SLight update is on the cards

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