TSR Companies & Freelancers Distance Themselves From The New TSR

The new TSR (which I refer to as TSR3 to avoid confusion) has doubled down on its stance--which has been widely condemned online--via an ongoing series of tweets and replies from its TSR Games, Giantlands, and Dungeon Hobby Museum social media accounts (possibly operated by Justin LaNasa) in an astonishing PR campaign which makes the original interview which sparked off the controversy look mild in comparison. Various entities are moving to distance themselves from the company and its activities, including TSR2, the company founded in 2011 by Jayson Elliot, which has now declared that it will not be using the name TSR any longer. Other companies including Gen Con and freelancers such as Jeff Dee have also made statements.

For reference -- TSR1 is the (no longer existing) company which launched D&D in 1974, TSR2 is the company founded by Jayson Elliot in 2011 to create Gygax Magazine and which currently publishes the Top Secret RPG, and TSR3 is the newly launched company.



Catch up on my previous coverage of this story:


TSR3's social media accounts initially sought to distance the company from Ernie Gygax's statements, but within a few hours had reversed course and doubled down on his stance. Note that there have been dozens of social media posts from the company over the last few days, and still continuing as I type this, and I don't intend to share them all here.

(Thanks to Daniel Fox for sharing screenshots below via Twitter).

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TSR2 -- "Update to our earlier tweet - we will NOT be licensing anything from the new company claiming rights to the TSR logos. We are not working with them in any fashion."

Gen Con -- "Gen Con is not associated with TSR Games and we don't support their recent statements. While the foundation of Gen Con is tied with the history of TTRPGs, our goal is to build off the good, acknowledge the bad, and work toward a present free from racism, misogyny, and homophobia."

Gen Con has also indicated that they do not intend to allow TSR3 at the convention.

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GAMA (the Game Manufacturers Association) -- "We’re aware of the appalling statements published by TSR Games and their founder - GAMA does not condone nor agree with any part of it. We pride ourselves on supporting and promoting inclusivity always. Our motto is “A game at every table, a table for everyone”. Transphobia, racism, and sexism will not be tolerated. That means that TSR is not welcome at Origins Game Fair, GAMA Expo or any event affiliated with our organization."

Jeff Dee -- "There is a rumor going around that I am part of this new TSR company. That is not accurate. I have done some work for them as a freelance artist. That’s how I make my living, and spreading the misinformation that I’m now employed full-time by one particular client could stop other clients from approaching me and hurt my business. So, please do not spread that rumor. If I ever become a full-time employee anywhere again, I will announce that myself. Thanks. UPDATE: After investigating reports about statements made by representatives of this new TSR, I have determined that I can no longer do business with them in good conscience. I've returned their downpayment on the next piece of art I was scheduled to do for them. And yeah, I could sure use some new commissions to make up for this big hit on my cashflow"

Jim Ward, an original TSR alumnus and who wrote Giantlands, TSR3's flagship product -- "At the present time I know little or nothing about the relaunch of TSR. Right now I don't see how anyone could pick up where the old company left off. Yes it's a name with some logos, that is all I know."

Luke Gygax -- "FYI- I am not involved with any TSR company nor is Gary Con nor anyone else in my family outside of Ernie. Full stop. That is all ... I have reasons for distancing myself. The way TSR treats people online in their public exchanges is rude. The museum is a for profit business and was asking for donations. Using names of people to promote without their knowledge. Going out of the way to talk gender/woke stuff ... Also basically jacking the TSR logo from Jayson Elliot. The bombastic press releases and claims to old IP. Making a quick nostalgia money grab based on my fathers name and not much else. So I’m making it clear I don’t like this style and I have ZERO to do with TSR"

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TSR3 responds to Luke Gygax

Tim Kask, an original TSR alumnus who worked at the company until 1980, spoke at length on this topic in a YouTube video (below). I've transcribed some bits, but he says a whole load more (ellipses represent sections I have not included, for reasons of brevity), so check out the video for the whole thing.

"There has been bandied about in social media over the last several days several claims about what's going on in Lake Geneva right now. Ernie Gygax made a most egregious mistake in an interview he did on a podcast. He basically waved his bare ass in front of everybody that's concerned about pronouns, and woke, and all that right now in the industry and thumbed his nose at them. The transcript of his podcasts are there for everyone to read. That they were men, and they didn't give a sh*t, and la la la.

But right there they alienated three quarters of the gaming industry. Probably more than that, I don't believe that there's a quarter of the gaming industry that still are the neanderthals that he would make us out to be.

That's another thing. This whole thing has brought the OSR (the old school revival) into serious disrepute. Now there are some little Karens going on some of the social media and painting with the same brush all of us that were there back then based on the stupid ass sh*t that Ernie just said. No. We weren't all like that. And we aren't all like that now. He's a troll, a troglodyte, a neanderthal, if he really means that. It's a foolish person that doesn't wet his finger once in a while and feel the wind shift.

Now there've been claims in a couple of posts, one of which is by Ernie, about how the stalwarts, the old TSR are flocking to the banner. Bullsh*t....

... There is no one of the creative side of TSR from the early days involved with the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. No one. Not one creative person. No matter who might be claiming what, they simply do not have the credentials. Being named DiMaggio does not mean you can hit a lot of home runs. Or that you even hit any home runs ....

... Just because you say you're TSR doesn't mean you are."


 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Catulle

Hero
I listened to what Jim was saying in the video.

The idea was good always wins.

Linked video not my idea. Big difference between what Jim was saying and Ernie.

It's like nuance or something.
That was a response to what you were saying up there. Not Jim.
 

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Well OK choosing to work in a small business with someone like that I can see implies you're OK with those views. But if you work for a much larger company, inevitably there will be people whose views you strongly differ from. And it's a bit of privilege to tell people they need to quit their jobs if they discover someone, somewhere in the midst of a larger company, has views that are vastly different than their own.

I am not suggesting you said that, but I did want to clarify. You mean a small company like this, not a much larger one where you don't really choose who you work with, right?
Yep, I totally get what you're saying. Any large company will have people with enough differing views that there will be someone you don't agree with.

However, in this situation Ernie is a business partner with them and that person is making, or has made, a lot of very public comments about their views to their potential customers. That's very different to you and Bob being employed by mega-corporation X and Bob makes a racist comment when the two of you are chatting in the lunch room one day.

Even worse is that, rather than saying those comments are wrong and have no place, Ernie has basically gone with, "Hey, I know Justin LaSala has said some things, but I think we should just talk about the RPG products he and I are making." and seems to think that his potential customers will be ok with that because "it's just business".
 

Ok, that may be my ignorance there as I don't really pay a lot of attention to OSR stuff and don't have much of an idea of who the other 3 guys are. Got any links to examples where they've made racist and misogynist statements?
RPGpundit and Venger Satanis?

For the sake of my sanity I'm not going to search out any specific statements from them, but the two of them are well-known and widely despised for being absolute bigots of many different varieties. Both of them used to be among the OSR's most vocal representatives, much to its detriment.
 

TheSword

Legend
Genuinely surprised by the surprise on this issue.

… old man - only famous because of something his dad did - says something reactionary, conservative, tone deaf and dumb.

Maybe I’m cynical but I find it very hard to believe that all the folks distancing themselves from him now weren’t aware of his opinions before this point. I mean they’d all met the guy, right? It isn’t like he’s shy or anything.
 
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That YouTube link above with Jim, parts are cool to listen too concerning 2e history and such but I guess I’m burned out of the bickering from the last 4 years where people are lobbing verbal shots at “the other side” and couldn’t listen to the whole thing.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I’m amazed at how naive Ernie seems to be. If we put the anti-trans comments he made aside for a second, Ernie seems to think that being a business partner with someone making horrible comments is fine because “it’s just business”.

You are the friends you keep and working with people with views like that is implicitly saying you are ok with those views.
Along with the quote "...and stop trying to change the World we will all be off it soon enough as it is", he isn't striking me as someone who likes thinking about unpleasant issues for any length of time.
 



Abstruse

Legend
Genuinely surprised by the surprise on this issue.

… old man - only famous because of something his dad did - says something reactionary, conservative (little c), tone deaf and dumb.

Maybe I’m cynical but I find it very hard to believe that all the folks distancing themselves from him now weren’t aware of his opinions before this point. I mean they’d all met the guy, right? It isn’t like he’s shy or anything.
Three possible explanations for it.

1) Ernie doesn't actually hold these beliefs and it is all performative in order to pander to the "anti-woke" audience that other industry pariahs court like the aforementioned Pundit, Venger, and others over the recent history of the industry. This could be Ernie's idea or LaNasa's and Eenie is going along with it.

2) They did not know Ernie held these beliefs because they did not discuss things like this with him. Many people have the luxury to not discuss politics if they choose because politics rarely affects them directly. And if Ernie wasn't making posts on social media about them or discussing them with others via phone, email, in-person gatherings, etc. they would have no way to know.

3) They ignored the red flags intentionally because of past friendships and/or familial relationships. Without a public platform, calling out posts like this can frequently get the person responding in trouble within the family and/or friend circle for "stirring up drama". Now that the posts are news in the RPG industry and have been seen by hundreds of thousands of people, those statements and beliefs are no longer a "private" matter and require a public response.

Or it could be something else entirely or a combination of those. No real way to know for sure.
 

Anti-inclusive content
Firstly, I don’t believe it’s correct for anyone to insult any other group of people. But, I don’t see why everyone has to continually declare that Black Lives Matter or Trans Lives Matter all the time to reassure people that they aren’t bigots. Comparatively few people proclaim on a daily basis that we should not destroy the planet with waste and pollution but they aren’t “cancelled”. Games should be designed for the masses rather than the minorities. Care should be taken that they are inclusive but the focus seems to be very off nowadays. Games shouldn’t be about politics and agendas.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I just hope it does not reflect too badly on the rest of the OSR community (not it wouldnt not benefit from a nice anti-bigot scrub from time to time). It felt that for a time, the OSR crowd was slowly moving toward a better, progressive attitude despite its love for old style gaming. But with such a showdown, I fear the community with once again close on itself and cherish those idiots from TSR has some kind of paragon to their cause. :(
 


So much for Jim Ward; 24.10 onwards.

eg. (38.12) "...we have Drow and Drow are black people and they... they don't talk about them at all"
In which Jim Ward unironically expresses concern for the "youth of the nation" who are growing up not knowing who gary gygax was and why he wanted orcs to be evil...
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
So, the TL; DR version is TSR3 is an unsurprising dumpster fire but is surprisingly doubling down on hate, vitriol, and divisiveness.
Unsurprisingly. For some reason, a large number of people who are called out for this sort of thing double down. It's only the people who genuinely made mistakes or didn't know that what they said was unacceptable who are willing to apologize and learn.
 

Black Dougal

Footpad
Along with the quote "...and stop trying to change the World we will all be off it soon enough as it is", he isn't striking me as someone who likes thinking about unpleasant issues for any length of time.
The unpleasantness to me is he doesn't like to get called on his bull or his partner's bull. Ernie's own friends are asking him to clarify and he is dancing around them as well, on FB. It's disheartening to watch but more disheartening is what I think Jeff says.

"the defense of marginalized people is political".

I've noticed many transphobic and or homophobic people like to say LGTBQ+ is political. The only reason it is political is because the "phobes" are constantly attacking them through policy, rhetoric, etc. It's 3SR who is being political and then telling everyone not to be political.

The gaslighting is bad. That being said this whole thing feels like a trolling publicity stunt, that even Ernie is naive to, but he let us know his true colors along the way. Maybe he is not naive to it.

The sad thing is many people can not humanize gay or trans folks, none of this is politics to me. That's the anti crowd brushing their bigotry away. People loving other people is wonderful, being free to be who you truly are is great. All people deserve the same rights and common decency, that's not political. Constantly using folks for your own personal "gain" and then gaslighting people is weak, hurtful, and disgusting.

I mean who would feel comfortable at his table if he thought you less than human.

I'm glad so many freelancers and gamers are upset by this. I'm also glad to see some have great values, returning money when you're not well off is meaningful. I always found Jeff very intelligent but also a man of his word/values.

D&D to me from the day I started was always about friends, bonds, and GROWTH as an individual.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Are we not to buy or play the game that the company makes based on the views of the top brass?
I don't know about "we" as a whole, but this moogle certainly won't.

Firstly, I don’t believe it’s correct for anyone to insult any other group of people. But, I don’t see why everyone has to continually declare that Black Lives Matter or Trans Lives Matter all the time to reassure people that they aren’t bigots. Comparatively few people proclaim on a daily basis that we should not destroy the planet with waste and pollution but they aren’t “cancelled”. Games should be designed for the masses rather than the minorities. Care should be taken that they are inclusive but the focus seems to be very off nowadays. Games shouldn’t be about politics and agendas.
It's important and necessary to discuss current events in the gaming industry, and the effects that certain attitudes and policies can have on a group of people. (You might want to step back and examine your reasoning and the comparisons you tried to make, though. This isn't a good path to travel.)
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Firstly, I don’t believe it’s correct for anyone to insult any other group of people. But, I don’t see why everyone has to continually declare that Black Lives Matter or Trans Lives Matter all the time to reassure people that they aren’t bigots. Comparatively few people proclaim on a daily basis that we should not destroy the planet with waste and pollution but they aren’t “cancelled”. Games should be designed for the masses rather than the minorities. Care should be taken that they are inclusive but the focus seems to be very off nowadays. Games shouldn’t be about politics and agendas.
Look around at the world. In this day and age, there are still people who want to control, imprison, or kill others because of their skin color, their sexuality, or their sex or gender (as well as a host of other reasons equally meritless). And there are a lot of people who are very, very outspoken about believing that. Why would you want to not distance yourself from those people?

Secondly, if you think that the focus is "very off" and that they're being about politics and agendas because, what, they're acknowledging that people who aren't "the masses" exist and including them in their games, then you really need to take a second look at the world around them. We have always existed; we're just no longer hiding.
 

thirdkingdom

Hero
Publisher
I just hope it does not reflect too badly on the rest of the OSR community (not it wouldnt not benefit from a nice anti-bigot scrub from time to time). It felt that for a time, the OSR crowd was slowly moving toward a better, progressive attitude despite its love for old style gaming. But with such a showdown, I fear the community with once again close on itself and cherish those idiots from TSR has some kind of paragon to their cause. :(

Some folks over on an inclusive OSR Facebook page are working on compiling a list of progressive OSR designers that should be done relatively soon.
 


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