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


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Mezuka

Adventurer
Yes the Star Frontiers fans have been holding the torch for years. They had started a 20th anniverary fan edition but it was never completed. Frontierspace by DwD studio could be called a homage game. It is a d100 game, which is what the hard core Star Frontiers fans want. If nuTSR comes out with a d20 game they will not have the support of the die hard fans.

 

One thing I've been wondering about is the appeal of a new Star Frontiers game.

If we set all else aside, Is there a big group of gamers yearning for Star Frontiers? And a new Star Frontiers at that?

Is the game a sleeping giant, is there fertile soil waiting to be exploited? My impression is that it had its fans, but that they aren't really keen on a new version with all new design and rules.

Am I missing something about the appeal of Star Frontiers?
As said, there is a large contingents of us Star Frontiers fans that still play the game and keep it alive. But, other than some excitement at the initial NuTSR announcement, we (not all, but at large) as a community have been pretty disgusted by what NuTSR is trying to get away with. Other than the name, their really isn't anything here for fans of SF. At least not yet. And as @darjr has shown, we (the SF community) have been providing for ourselves.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Apparently the designer of Dungeon Crawl may be a fraud?

This is an aside, but it did raise the concept of a "vanity press" - where someone who wants to be an author really bad pays a publisher to print their book (thus "proving" they are a published author, ie the vanity).

Does this happen in the RPG world? I mean, I blog my material for free :D
 

This is an aside, but it did raise the concept of a "vanity press" - where someone who wants to be an author really bad pays a publisher to print their book (thus "proving" they are a published author, ie the vanity).

Does this happen in the RPG world? I mean, I blog my material for free :D
Why not? Anyone can publish on DriveThru. And the entry bar for DMsGuild is even lower. You have seen some of the quality of what is published on those sites right? There are plenty of print on demand "publishers" that anyone who takes the time to format something for the printers can get it printed and bound. Being "published" really doesn't mean anything anymore. And I say this as a "published RPG author" (on DMsG).
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Why not? Anyone can publish on DriveThru. And the entry bar for DMsGuild is even lower. You have seen some of the quality of what is published on those sites right? There are plenty of print on demand "publishers" that anyone who takes the time to format something for the printers can get it printed and bound. Being "published" really doesn't mean anything anymore. And I say this as a "published RPG author" (on DMsG).

The barrier to entry is so low, that the mark of distinction on any resume, the cherry on the top of any CV, and the kickstarter to any good cocktail party will be the incredibly rare recitation that occurs as often as albino pandas mating during an eclipse-

I am not a published author.
 

irrg

Explorer
Was reading a few articles about the cryptobruhs that think they own the rights to Jorodowsky's Dune because they spent 100x the auction estimate on a copy from a very small run of books.

After shaking my head at how little they seem to understand about copyright, I find myself wondering if we'll see TSR presents Jorodowky's Dune with Ernest Gary Gygax Jr soon. Lasagna and these kids would get along swimmingly.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher

darjr

I crit!
Was reading a few articles about the cryptobruhs that think they own the rights to Jorodowsky's Dune because they spent 100x the auction estimate on a copy from a very small run of books.

After shaking my head at how little they seem to understand about copyright, I find myself wondering if we'll see TSR presents Jorodowky's Dune with Ernest Gary Gygax Jr soon. Lasagna and these kids would get along swimmingly.
The best part of this? The contents of that book are on the internet in high resolution. From early on, so they might be of superior image quality then what they bought.
 
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Wilphe

Adventurer

Sir Brennen

Legend
This is an aside, but it did raise the concept of a "vanity press" - where someone who wants to be an author really bad pays a publisher to print their book (thus "proving" they are a published author, ie the vanity).
There are a few things going on there. One is that nuTSR is "taking over" (whatever that means) the Dungeon Crawl boardgame:


(There was also another tweet containing nuTSR's anti-woke hashtag "Play as you wish")

So, they'll now have some more actual product. With Ernie's Jr.'s name splashed across it, despite him likely not having anything to do with it. It's only going to be a limited run of ... 60? 100? 300? Seems they can't quite settle on a number.

While there's suspicion that the board game might have been created by a vanity press, that in of itself is really NBD. The actually interesting facts are that the board game's author, Don Semora, has owned not one, but at least two vanity presses in the past, with claims of fraud against the first one (unknown if he actually published anything under his other LLC's). Prior to that he also previously served time for fraudulent activities:

Time To Write blog entry
Writer Beware blog - 2 Moon Press
Writer Beware blog - Don Semora

His current web site offers some services for authors, but it doesn't look like publishing is one of them. He also creates museum quality display models which are "Nistorically Accurate". Hopefully proof-reading is not one of the services he offers as well.

Despite being a professional model builder, I'm surprised the game pieces for the Dungeon Crawl game look like something out of Candyland, and not even cheap plastic minis of the characters.

I find it especially amusing that the first sample book cover in his portfolio is titled "Gaslight". *

Frauds of a feather fleece together.

*Oh, wait. It's a tie-in book for the Gaslight boardgame for Wizard's Tower Games, yet another one of his companies. On the lid of the box it says, "Can you solve the cunumdrom". Seriously, what is it about fraudsters and bad spelling?
 
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Wilphe

Adventurer
So, they'll now have some more actual product. With Ernie's Jr.'s name splashed across it, despite him likely not having anything to do with it. It's only going to be a limited run of ... 60? 100? 300? Seems they can't quite settle on a number.

I can't either but I bet it's got a 0 in it

Don't worry we are already working on second edition because the first sold out so fast

*Oh, wait. It's a tie-in book for the Gaslight boardgame for Wizard's Tower Games, yet another one of his companies. On the lid of the box it
says, "Can you solve the cunumdrom". Seriously, what is it about fraudsters and bad spelling?

I am beginning to understand why Grammerly exists
 



MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
One thing I've been wondering about is the appeal of a new Star Frontiers game.

If we set all else aside, Is there a big group of gamers yearning for Star Frontiers? And a new Star Frontiers at that?

Is the game a sleeping giant, is there fertile soil waiting to be exploited? My impression is that it had its fans, but that they aren't really keen on a new version with all new design and rules.

Am I missing something about the appeal of Star Frontiers?
I don't know what Star Frontiers would offer that Starfinder or other options wouldn't already fill.

I have great nolstalgia for Star Frontiers, but that is sated by having a copy of the old books. I don't think I would run the game other than perhaps a one shot or short mini campaign. There are other systems with a very similar genre that have better support and larger fanbases.

If WotC were looking to come out with a different genre of game, I would think that Gamma World would make a lot more sense.
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
I don't know what Star Frontiers would offer that Starfinder or other options wouldn't already fill.

I have great nolstalgia for Star Frontiers, but that is sated by having a copy of the old books. I don't think I would run the game other than perhaps a one shot or short mini campaign. There are other systems with a very similar genre that have better support and larger fanbases.

If WotC were looking to come out with a different genre of game, I would think that Gamma World would make a lot more sense.
Star Frontiers is a fairly good system for "pulp" sci-fi. It's not science fantasy like StarFinder, but it's also not hard SF. It's also believe it or not fairly "rules light" - at least for an 80s game. The skill system is one of the better versions of a percentile system I've seen (basically you level up in broad skill groups which give you bonuses to specific skills in the skill group based on that level). Give you a good mix of customization without some of the nonsense that shows up in point-buy systems where they want to finely break down skills but also don't have a good solution for the fact that some skills will be naturally tied together. I find it to be a decent system for running Star Trek/Firefly sorts of games. Things where space combat is in the background and planetary exploration/adventures are more the focus. (There are starship combat rules in the Knight Hawks boxed set but I don't think they're as elegant as the core game is).

I actually don't want Wizards to come out with a new version of Star Frontiers. I would like them to add it to what you can publish on DM's Guild. The fan publications are under the fan agreement with Wizards and so folks can't really charge for their efforts - all of the SF stuff is "pay what you want" for that reason. It would be nice to have it open for official publication.

(Likewise I'd like to see them do the same thing with Gamma World - don't come out with a new edition, just let people self-publish on DM's Guild. I doubt I'll ever need another edition of GW again because the most recent one based on the 4e engine was note perfect for our table, but I wouldn't mind seeing some new adventures to adapt to it.)
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Star Frontiers is a fairly good system for "pulp" sci-fi. It's not science fantasy like StarFinder, but it's also not hard SF. It's also believe it or not fairly "rules light" - at least for an 80s game. The skill system is one of the better versions of a percentile system I've seen (basically you level up in broad skill groups which give you bonuses to specific skills in the skill group based on that level). Give you a good mix of customization without some of the nonsense that shows up in point-buy systems where they want to finely break down skills but also don't have a good solution for the fact that some skills will be naturally tied together. I find it to be a decent system for running Star Trek/Firefly sorts of games. Things where space combat is in the background and planetary exploration/adventures are more the focus. (There are starship combat rules in the Knight Hawks boxed set but I don't think they're as elegant as the core game is).

I actually don't want Wizards to come out with a new version of Star Frontiers. I would like them to add it to what you can publish on DM's Guild. The fan publications are under the fan agreement with Wizards and so folks can't really charge for their efforts - all of the SF stuff is "pay what you want" for that reason. It would be nice to have it open for official publication.

(Likewise I'd like to see them do the same thing with Gamma World - don't come out with a new edition, just let people self-publish on DM's Guild. I doubt I'll ever need another edition of GW again because the most recent one based on the 4e engine was note perfect for our table, but I wouldn't mind seeing some new adventures to adapt to it.)

Agree, except I wouldn't mind seeing them come out with a new Star Frontiers and a new Gamma World. Yes, a lot of the fan stuff is quite good, but having an official release would likely bring a whole new set of fans, and increased interest in some amazing settings- which, in turn, would lead to increase fan and 3PP output.

The downside is they could botch it, but that's always a possibility. To date, I've been reasonably impressed with their stewardship of the legacy- they haven't been hitting home runs, but they've been consistently cranking out doubles and avoiding strikeouts.
 

Why not? Anyone can publish on DriveThru. And the entry bar for DMsGuild is even lower. You have seen some of the quality of what is published on those sites right? There are plenty of print on demand "publishers" that anyone who takes the time to format something for the printers can get it printed and bound. Being "published" really doesn't mean anything anymore. And I say this as a "published RPG author" (on DMsG).
DriveThru and other POD shops are printers, not publishers. A vanity press is a type of publisher where the writer pays the publisher to edit, layout, create the cover, etc where a traditional publisher only pays the writer, they never require the writer to pay them to produce the book.
 

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