TSR The Full & Glorious History of NuTSR

Because the Saga of TSR3 has been ongoing for a while, with many landmarks, I thought I'd do a quick timeline for those who haven't had the time (or, frankly, inclination) to keep up with the whole palaver.

As multiple entities refer to themselves as TSR, I will use the nomenclature (1), (2) etc. to distinguish them. However, all the companies below simply use the term "TSR".

The principle people involved with this story are Ernie Gygax (one of Gary Gygax's children), Justin LaNasa (a tattooist, weapon designer, and briefly a politician who refers to himself as Sir Justin LaNasa*), Stephen Dinehart (co-creator of Giantlands with James Ward), and -- later -- Michael K. Hovermale, TSR3's PR officer.

Also linked to TSR3 is the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Much of TSR3’s commercial business appears to be conducted via the museum.

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  • Late June 2021. TSR3 embarks on an astonishing social media campaign where they tell people who don't like Gary Gygax not to play D&D, call a trans person on Twitter 'disgusting', thank the 'woke' because sales are up, insult Luke Gygax, and more. They also block or insult those who question them on Twitter.
  • Late June 2021. Various companies distance themselves from TSR3, including Gen Con, TSR2 (who rebrand themselves Solarian Games), GAMA, and various individuals such as Luke Gygax, Tim Kask, Jeff Dee, and more. TSR3 responds to being banned from Gen Con by claiming that they created the convention.
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  • June 30th 2021. TSR3 blames the widespread pushback it is getting on WotC, accusing it of mounting a coordinated assault on them. In the same tweets they claim that they created the TTRPG business. Ernie Gygax and Stephen Dinehart then deactivate their Twitter accounts. Months later it transpires that this is the date they received a C&D from WotC regarding their use of their IP.
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  • December 11th 2021. The president of the Gygax Memorial fund publicly declares that they were never consulted, and would refuse any donation from TSR3's crowdfunding campaign. TSR3 quietly removes the references to the GMF from the IndieGoGo page.
  • December 29th 2021. TSR3.5 refiles its lawsuit, this time in the correct jurisdiction. LaNasa and TSR ask for a trial by Jury.
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  • January 8th 2020. Wonderfiled[sic]'s Stephen Dinehart threatens to sue Twitter user David Flor for his negative review of Giantlands on the platform.
  • January 10th 2022. TSR3's Justin LaNasa sends TSR alumn Tim Kask a profane message, telling him to "Go suck Lukes/wotc/balls you f*****g coward" and accusing him of having been fired from TSR for stealing.
  • January 11th 2022. Michael K Hovermale claims that the first edition of TSR3's Star Frontiers: New Genesis game was released and has sold out. He says “It was a very small limited run released and sold on the DHSM [Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum] website. It is no longer available, and probably won’t be reprinted.” As yet, nobody has publicly revealed that they bought a copy.
  • January 14th 2022. Michael K. Hovermale resigns as TSR3's Chief Creative Officer and Public Relations Officer after 6 months in the position.
  • March 4th 2022. WotC strikes back with a lawsuit naming TSR, Justin LaNasa personally, and the Dungeon Hobby Shop museum. WotC seeks a judgement that TSR hand over all domains, take down all websites, pay treble damages and costs, hand over all stock and proceeds related to the trademarks, and more. TSR has 21 days to respond.
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  • March 22nd 2022. TSR gets an extension on that WoTC suit. Two waivers of service of summons granted to both Justin LaNasa and the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. He now has 60 days from March 4th to serve an answer or motion, or suffer default judgment.
  • March 26th 2022. TSR CON takes place at the same time as Gary Con. TSR claims " lol, actually we asked just about every one of the 800 people stopping by, TSR CON, and about 60% had no idea Gary con was going on, and we tried pushing them to go over and attend."
  • March 28th 2022. TSR3 posts images of 'rebound' copies of AD&D 1E books it is selling for $650 each.
  • May 17th 2022. Evidence emerges of Nazi connections via TSR3's Dave Johnson. Public Twitter posts include concentrated hateful imagery and messages over a long period of time.
  • May 17th 2022. DriveThruRPG removes all Dave Johnson Games titles from the platform.
  • May 17th 2022. A jury trial date is set for the TSR/WotC lawsuit for October 2023 (few suits like this actually make it to trial in the end).
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Have I missed anything important? I'll continue updating this as I remember things, or as people remind me of things!

To the best of my knowledge, TSR3 is not actually selling any type of gaming product.

*if anybody has any link to LaNasa's knighthood, please let me know!

Websites
Various websites have come and gone. I'll try to make some sense of it here so you know what site you're actually visiting!
  • TSR.com is the original TSR website. For a long time it redirected to WotC. The URL is no longer in use. (WotC)
  • TSRgames.com was TSR2 until summer 2021. The site is still running, although TSR2 is now called Solarian Games. (Jayson Elliot)
  • TSR.games was TSR3 until summer 2021. It now goes to Wonderfiled(sic)'s website. (Stephen Dinehart)
  • TSR-hobbies.com is TSR 3.5, launched summer 2021 by Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax. (Justin LaNasa)
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
I think their business plan - such as it was - was to do what they're doing. Sell the TSR logos on T-shirts, use the TSR name to associate their own products with old TSR, and generally cater to the nostalgia demographic among those of us in the 40+ demographic who have fond memories of TSR (those of us who weren't online in the 90s and remember them as much T$R as TSR anyway).

I honestly think that LaNasa probably does think that Wizards has "abandoned" the trademarks because they're not using them that way and that his legal case is good. That isn't how the law actually works, but guys like him will often mistake "how I want things to work" and "how things actually work" as being the same thing...
Their business plan definitely included licensing out the TSR name and logos, and Ernie's name, to other people's games, more than actually producing games themselves.

Remember that they tried to license it back to Jayson Elliott, and that this is basically how Stephen Dinehart & Jim Ward, with Giantlands, initially got associated with TSR3. Giantlands was a project that predated TSR3, but they folded it in under the umbrella, slapped the TSR name and logo on it, gave Ernie a development credit and put his (the Gygax) name on the cover.
 

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Jer

Legend
Supporter
Their business plan definitely included licensing out the TSR name and logos, and Ernie's name, to other people's games, more than actually producing games themselves.

Remember that they tried to license it back to Jayson Elliott, and that this is basically how Stephen Dinehart & Jim Ward, with Giantlands, initially got associated with TSR3. Giantlands was a project that predated TSR3, but they folded it in under the umbrella, slapped the TSR name and logo on it, gave Ernie a development credit and put his (the Gygax) name on the cover.
Yeah - I guess I was giving them the benefit of the doubt when it came to both of those things when I shouldn't have. For Elliot I assumed it was a way to claim they weren't screwing him over rather than an actual business move, and for Giantlands I figured it was a way to get more games published under their name so they could quickly puff up their cred as a legitimate game publisher (since they had nothing ready to publish when they snagged the registration). But it might be that was their actual plan all along was to just license the name out to others like you're saying.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Yeah - I guess I was giving them the benefit of the doubt when it came to both of those things when I shouldn't have. For Elliot I assumed it was a way to claim they weren't screwing him over rather than an actual business move, and for Giantlands I figured it was a way to get more games published under their name so they could quickly puff up their cred as a legitimate game publisher (since they had nothing ready to publish when they snagged the registration). But it might be that was their actual plan all along was to just license the name out to others like you're saying.
TBF it's probably both. I remember they were offering the license back to Jayson for a pretty much nominal fee ($50 a year or something?), so that one was probably as much to assuage Ernie's likely guilt about screwing Jayson over, and yeah, I expect a clumsy attempt to not make an enemy of him. Giantlands... yeah, probably both?

We know they haven't actually put out any products yet, so the evidence for their intent to do so is pretty thin so far. Star Frontiers: New Genesis appears to be fake (just a cover and a slightly altered d20 Modern character sheet), and their other reputed product is the Dungeon Crawl board game which again is licensing/acquired from someone else's external project.
 

Yeah, true. But I'd probably make my own system, because reasons. :D

Also, has anyone ever decided what in particular makes a game "old school"? Is there a cut-off date (do late 80s count)? Is there anything ruleswise that's a necessary thing?

As I can state from experience, oh dear gods is that a can of worms.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Also, has anyone ever decided what in particular makes a game "old school"? Is there a cut-off date (do late 80s count)? Is there anything ruleswise that's a necessary thing?

As I can state from experience, oh dear gods is that a can of worms.

Want a nice tussle in the wrong places? Ask whether Old School is limited to D&D, and then stand back.
Yup.

In brief...

...Actually, you know what? Rather than going off-topic I've made my response its own thread.

 
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They could've done just fine with the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum (Or should it be called The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum Shop?). I doubt Wizards would've cared about t-shirts and other merch with a bunch of old logos on it, had they just stuck to that and kept their mouths shut.

It's like the story of Icarus, except instead of flying too close to the sun, they dove too deeply into raw sewage.

I mean “The Hobby Shop” museum is a famous name among the crowd they want to cater too. They didn’t NEED TSR or any kind of claim on the logos!

They could have made T-Shirts with photos of thier collections.

They would have had dice makers lining up to make them dice.

What a freaking waste!
 

DLIMedia

Adventurer
Their business plan definitely included licensing out the TSR name and logos, and Ernie's name, to other people's games, more than actually producing games themselves.

Remember that they tried to license it back to Jayson Elliott, and that this is basically how Stephen Dinehart & Jim Ward, with Giantlands, initially got associated with TSR3. Giantlands was a project that predated TSR3, but they folded it in under the umbrella, slapped the TSR name and logo on it, gave Ernie a development credit and put his (the Gygax) name on the cover.
They're already doing that... the "Dungeon Crawl" game they acquired from another company is branded as being "with Ernest Gary Gygax Jr" on the cover, even though I'm not entirely sure what he had to do with its production if anything. As far as I know, the product was already made by another company and TSR just acquired the publishing rights for it.

And Dinehart's initial involvement in TSR3 is... complicated. I know some details, but cannot discuss them openly.
 




Dioltach

Legend
Makes me wonder whether Michael was as real as SF:NG. "Yes, we did have a Michael, but now we're working on a new edition of Michael, who will be quite different."
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Makes me wonder whether Michael was as real as SF:NG. "Yes, we did have a Michael, but now we're working on a new edition of Michael, who will be quite different."
Didn't he appear in at least one interview online? Apparently there was a physical person after all, though at first it seemed implausible, with his initially not providing a last name, and lying about Justin LaNasa having left the company.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Didn't he appear in at least one interview online? Apparently there was a physical person after all, though at first it seemed implausible, with his initially not providing a last name, and lying about Justin LaNasa having left the company.
No, Stephen Dinehart left the company (well, the company split into two), not Justin LaNasa.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
No, Stephen Dinehart left the company (well, the company split into two), not Justin LaNasa.
Yes, I know. And Michael, when he first appeared on the scene as the mysterious new PR person for TSR3, lied at that time and claimed that Justin had left.

 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yes, I know. And Michael, when he first appeared on the scene as the mysterious new PR person for TSR3, lied at that time and claimed that Justin had left.

Actually, all he said there was "the individual that was handling this account". The reference to LaNasa was my speculation (which I said seemed unlikely) - turns out it was Dinehart.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Actually, all he said there was "the individual that was handling this account". The reference to LaNasa was my speculation (which I said seemed unlikely) - turns out it was Dinehart.
I don't think we ever got confirmation that it was Dinehart. Dinehart was running the Giantlands Twitter, and to all appearances (consistent grammar and spelling with his FB and YouTube comments, for example) Justin was running the TSR one.

Edit: and that being untrue would be a good explanation for why they deleted those Tweets later.
 


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