Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TSR's Code of Ethics

This morning I discovered that TSR had a Code of Ethics and tracked it down for my future reference and contemplation. I'm trusting that this version of the code is authentic as I was linked to it by Colin McComb in his article, Now the Twist: The Price of Freedom.

I'm republishing it here so that I can find it later.

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There has been a great deal of discussion as of late regarding TSR's
policies and their perceived constriction of the flow of information. This
should clear up some of the confusion that has been generated.

First and foremost, TSR wants the players of the ADVANCED DUNGEONS &
DRAGONS (R) game to exercise all of their creative energies in making the
game more enjoyable. Sharing your ideas with fellow gamers is something we
encourage. A few methods for distributing your written works appear below.

FOR PAYMENT


If you've written the next great combat system or other work for AD&D (R),
you can try to get it published. There's nothing quite like seeing your
name in print. Below are a few options for you.

DRAGON (R) Magazine publishes virtually everything imagined for the AD&D
game except for adventure modules. A copy of their guidelines are
available on the internet in the newsgroups as well as on America Online.
You can leave messages for the DRAGON staff at tsrmags@aol.com or
tsr.mags@genie.geis.com.

DUNGEON (R) Adventures publishes adventure modules for various TSR game
systems. A copy of their guidelines are also available on both the
internet and America Online. DUNGEON staff can also be reached at
tsrmags@aol.com or tsr.mags@genie.geis.com.

POLYHEDRON (R) Newszine is the official publication of the RPGA (R)
network. This magazine publishes both stories and adventures for a variety
of different game systems. You can contact the network staff at
RPGAHQ@aol.com or tsr.rpga@genie.geis.com.

FOR DISTRIBUTION

Sometimes, you just want to get something you've written distributed to
everyone else. You can do this by uploading the file to an authorized TSR
site. These sites are:

MPG-Net (mpgn.com): This is the free access that most users on the
internet know about.

America Online (AOL): TSR's forum on this service draws tens of thousands
of gamers every month.

GEnie: The TSR Roundtable also draws thousands of users each month.

OTHER SITES

There are currently no other authorized sites to carry TSR-related
materials as they relate to the AD&D game. TSR is currently considering
other sites (both on the internet and pay services) to provide files to
the gaming public. TSR setting up its own web page is also a possibility.

WHO OWNS WHAT?

A disclaimer is attached to all files uploaded to any of the TSR sites.
This disclaimer provides protection to both TSR and the author of the work
by assuring that neither TSR or the author will distribute the work
without the other's permission.

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN'T BE DISTRIBUTED?

Yes. Anything that violates TSR's Code of Ethics cannot be stored at any
site. The Code appears below.

TSR CODE OF ETHICS

TSR, Inc., as a publisher of books, games, and game related products,
recognizes the social responsibilities that a company such as TSR must
assume. TSR has developed this CODE OF ETHICS for use in maintaining good
taste, while providing beneficial products within all of its publishing
and licensing endeavors.

In developing each of its products, TSR strives to achieve peak
entertainment value by providing consumers with a tool for developing
social interaction skills and problem-solving capabilities by fostering
group cooperation and the desire to learn. Every TSR product is designed
to be enjoyed and is not intended to present a style of living for the
players of TSR games.

To this end, the company has pledged itself to conscientiously adhere to
the following principles:

1: GOOD VERSUS EVIL

Evil shall never be portrayed in an attractive light and shall be used
only as a foe to illustrate a moral issue. All product shall focus on the
struggle of good versus injustice and evil, casting the protagonist as an
agent of right. Archetypes (heroes, villains, etc.) shall be used only to
illustrate a moral issue. Satanic symbology, rituals, and phrases shall
not appear in TSR products.

2: NOT FOR DUPLICATION

TSR products are intended to be fictional entertainment, and shall not
present explicit details and methods of crime, weapon construction, drug
use, magic, science, or technologies that could be reasonably duplicated
and misused in real life situations. These categories are only to be
described for story drama and effect/results in the game or story.

3: AGENTS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

Agents of law enforcement (constables, policemen, judges, government
officials, and respected institutions) should not be depicted in such a
way as to create disrespect for current established authorities/social
values. When such an agent is depicted as corrupt, the example must be
expressed as an exception and the culprit should ultimately be brought to
justice.

4: CRIME AND CRIMINALS

Crimes shall not be presented in such ways as to promote distrust of law
enforcement agents/agencies or to inspire others with the desire to
imitate criminals. Crime should be depicted as a sordid and unpleasant
activity. Criminals should not be presented in glamorous circumstances.
Player character thieves are constantly encouraged to act towards the
common good.

5: MONSTERS

Monsters in TSR's game systems can have good or evil goals. As foes of
the protagonists, evil monsters should be able to be clearly defeated in
some fashion. TSR recognizes the ability of an evil creature to change
its ways and become beneficial, and does not exclude this possibility in
the writing of this code.

6: PROFANITY

Profanity, obscenity, smut, and vulgarity will not be used.

7: DRAMA AND HORROR

The use of drama or horror is acceptable in product development. However,
the detailing of sordid vices or excessive gore shall be avoided. Horror,
defined as the presence of uncertainty and fear in the tale, shall be
permitted and should be implied, rather than graphically detailed.

8: VIOLENCE AND GORE

All lurid scenes of excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes,
depravity, lust, filth, sadism, or masochism, presented in text or
graphically, are unacceptable. Scenes of unnecessary violence, extreme
brutality, physical agony, and gore, including but not limited to extreme
graphic or descriptive scenes presenting cannibalism, decapitation,
evisceration, amputation, or other gory injuries, should be avoided.

9: SEXUAL THEMES

Sexual themes of all types should be avoided. Rape and graphic lust
should never be portrayed or discussed. Explicit sexual activity should
not be portrayed. The concept of love or affection for another is not
considered part of this definition.

10: NUDITY

Nudity is only acceptable, graphically, when done in a manner that
complies with good taste and social standards. Degrading or salacious
depiction is unacceptable. Graphic display of reproductive organs, or any
facsimiles will not be permitted.

11: AFFLICTION

Disparaging graphic or textual references to physical afflictions,
handicaps and deformities are unacceptable. Reference to actual
afflictions or handicaps is acceptable only when portrayed or depicted in
a manner that favorably educates the consumer on the affliction and in no
way promotes disrespect.

12: MATTERS OF RACE

Human and other non-monster character races and nationalities should not
be depicted as inferior to other races. All races and nationalities shall
be fairly portrayed.

13: SLAVERY

Slavery is not to be depicted in a favorable light; it should only be
represented as a cruel and inhuman institution to be abolished.

14: RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY

The use of religion in TSR products is to assist in clarifying the
struggle between good and evil. Actual current religions are not to be
depicted, ridiculed, or attacked in any way that promotes disrespect.
Ancient or mythological religions, such as those prevalent in ancient
Grecian, Roman and Norse societies, may be portrayed in their historic
roles (in compliance with this Code of Ethics.) Any depiction of any
fantasy religion is not intended as a presentation of an alternative form
of worship.

15: MAGIC, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY

Fantasy literature is distinguished by the presence of magic,
super-science or artificial technology that exceeds natural law. The
devices are to be portrayed as fictional and used for dramatic effect.
They should not appear to be drawn from reality. Actual rituals (spells,
incantations, sacrifices, etc.), weapon designs, illegal devices, and
other activities of criminal or distasteful nature shall not be presented
or provided as reference.

16: NARCOTICS AND ALCOHOL

Narcotic and alcohol abuse shall not be presented, except as dangerous
habits. Such abuse should be dealt with by focusing on the harmful
aspects.

17: THE CONCEPT OF SELF IN ROLE PLAYING GAMES

The distinction between players and player characters shall be strictly
observed.

It is standard TSR policy to not use 'you' in its advertising or role
playing games to suggest that the users of the game systems are actually
taking part in the adventure. It should always be clear that the player's
imaginary character is taking part in whatever imaginary action happens
during game play. For example, 'you' don't attack the orcs--'your
character' Hrothgar attacks the orcs.

18: LIVE ACTION ROLE-PLAYING

It is TSR policy to not support any live action role-playing game system,
no matter how nonviolent the style of gaming is said to be. TSR
recognizes the physical dangers of live action role-playing that promotes
its participants to do more than simply imagine in their minds what their
characters are doing, and does not wish any game to be harmful.

19: HISTORICAL PRESENTATIONS

While TSR may depict certain historical situations, institutions, or
attitudes in a game product, it should not be construed that TSR condones
these practices.

PLAGIARISM

It has come to our attention that some freelance writers are committing
plagiarism (literary theft), which is a punishable crime. Your contract
now reflects this (see page 3, no. 3; page 4, no. 5; and page 6, no. 12).
However, TSR feels it is necessary to underscore these sections of the
contract in an effort to clarify this important issue.

Please understand that this reminder is not addressed to any one
individual. It is included in your contract in an effort to heighten your
awareness of the severity of plagiarism.

If you have any questions regarding your contract, please do not hesitate
to contact TSR, Inc. Your cooperation and understanding in this matter is
appreciated.

AD&D, ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, DRAGON, DUNGEON, POLYHEDRON, and RPGA are registered trademarks of TSR, Inc. c 1995. All Rights Reserved.

This document may be freely distributed in its original, unaltered form.

Jim Butler
TSR, Inc.

12 comments:

  1. Good post. Well once Wizards took over, they certainly let some of those ethics slide when Cook made the Book of Vile Darkness. Though it did have a warning label I suppose...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's for sure.

      But out of the Book of Vile Darkness and the Book of Exalted Deeds the second one always bothered me more.

      Delete
  2. I remember reading that a long, long time ago, when I thought I had some neat ideas to get published for Dragon Magazine.

    And you know what the weird thing is? At times they violated this code of ethics in their novels--some of Ravenloft ones certainly crossed the line, as well as the "Villains" series for Dragonlance.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Let's keep in mind that these are all Post-Gygax and Post-Satanic Panic ethics, from a time when Demons & Devils went to the way side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the management team hated the people who bought their products and who wrote for them . . .

      Delete
    2. I wonder if Lorraine Williams isn't getting a bad rap about all that.

      Delete
    3. Oh, let's be honest here, there's lots of reasons to hate Lorraine Williams. But you know, I wonder how many of them are legitimate and how many are a result of her ousting Gary Gygax?

      Delete
  4. You do know, of course, that even thinking about Tekumel is a gross violation of this policy, which will be punished by expulsion from Gen Con as well as other sanctions to be taken against you by TSR Hobbies, Inc.? We routinely violate quite a few of the 'morals clauses' of The Code Of Ethics, and that on a regular basis... :)

    - chirine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That only makes me like Tekumel more, you know!

      Delete

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