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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  • July 19th 2022. A leaked version of a beta version of TSR's 'Star Frontiers: New Genesis' game emerges on the internet. The content includes racist and white-supremacist propaganda, including character races with ability caps based on ethnicity, and various homophobic and transphobic references. Justin LaNasa immediately threatened to sue blogger Eric Tenkar, who shared the information publicly ('Mario Real' is one of LaNasa's online pseudonyms). Various evidence points towards the document's genuine nature, including an accidentally revealed Google drive belonging to NuTSR.
  • July 22nd 2022. A video shows a Google Drive that appears to be owned by nuTSR, which contains a list of enemies of the company, usually with the word "WOKE" in caps being used as a pejorative.
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(screenshot courtesy of the @nohateingaming Twitter account)

  • August 30th 2022. Wizard Tower Games announces that they have received a subpeona from WotC regarding TSR and Justin LaNasa. Former NuTSR employee Michaal K Hovermale confirms that he has also received a subpeona.
  • September 5th 2022. Justin LaNasa sends out customer data, including addresses and credit card numbers. LaNasa responds by publicly claiming the evidence is photoshopped and slandering those who revealed it as liars.
  • September 8th 2022. WoTC files an injunction to prevent LaNasa or his companies from “publishing, distributing, or otherwise making available Star Frontiers New Genesis or any iteration of the game using the Marks”.

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

Chaosmancer

Legend
That story reminded me about the Dwarves in the Eberron setting. Keith Baker wanted the setting to be very mercantile, and the Dwarves made obvious bankers -- they're supposed to be dour and have strongholds deep underground, they're a natural fit. So in the newer books, writers have to tread very carefully about a current "corrupted Dwarf" trope, because that automatically makes them potentially an antisemitic analogue. It's why I've never used the Dwarf corruption plot thread in my Eberron games.

Huh, I would have never thought about it. I saw it as far more than stubborn pride thing "Of course that tentacle symbiote isn't corrupting me. Do I look that weak-willed? I know exactly what I am doing." sort of energy.
 

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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Huh, I would have never thought about it. I saw it as far more than stubborn pride thing "Of course that tentacle symbiote isn't corrupting me. Do I look that weak-willed? I know exactly what I am doing." sort of energy.
Well I expect you're right that that's the intent. Unfortunately the implication, or the symbolic meaning readers infer, isn't entirely under the control of the author.
 



Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Actually, I like the article, except for the last sentence.

It should read: "Back then we did not know it could be seen racist. It was thought as a love letter to those cultures."

Today we know better, and it is easier today thanks to the internet and intercultural exchange, to include people of those cultures many of us want to hear about.

What I find irritating though is why someone can be offended by a disclaimer. Oh boy. If you recorded some things I said in school, this would terribly need a disclaimer...
it does not call the designers out as racist. It even gives them an excuse, that the cultural enviroment back then would not have seen this as racist at all...
Indeed. January of last year I made a very similar post on my blog
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I just saw this myself... someone new there at nuTSR? They at least can write articulately.

What strikes me as hilarious about their ire about the content warnings is:
  1. They put it on ALL old products, not just problematic ones.
  2. If they truly thought a product was bad, they'd not offer it on OBS/DTRPG at all. "Songs of the South" anyone?
  3. The content warning never says "This is racist." It's just boilerplate coverage that anyone does to offer a fair warning. They don't know who will be offended by what, so it's a catch-all umbrella. Read the content warnings on the Muppet Show (which when they have them, ho boy are they necessary) and it's the same approach.
I completely agree with you.

But what you are saying is a pretty nuanced understanding. We've seen how bad some of this crew is at writing - they may just be as bad at reading. They may literally don't understand what you've just said, they may actually believe that the warnings are saying that D&D is bigotry.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So... here's a thing I'm not really proud of, but it's a true story.

When I was first creating my Aetherstorm setting as a climate change allegory, I included a way to "Deal" with gnomes. As a DM I dislike gnomes 'cause of reasons I'd rather not get into that are largely covered in other threads fairly well. So in the setting, I had the evil deity Tzernobog kill the gnomish pantheon and turn the gnomes into goblins as a result. The dwarves, who shared their lands with the gnomes ('cause the gnomish and halfling pantheons were the result of the dwarven pantheon doinking the elven pantheon and hauflin lived in elven lands) turned against their "Now Corrupted" former allies because the Trow deity had made them into something 'else'.

When I was going through the entire "History and Cosmology" of the world with a potential player, she literally hung up the Discord call we were on when I got to this point and I could not figure out why. I thought maybe the call got disconnected, but she explained she was angry 'cause this part of the story was deeply antisemitic.

In my ignorance, I had played into an antisemitic trope about jewish people being "Lesser" or "Wrong". I don't remember the specific details of the trope right this moment, but it was -very- unintentional.

And that was a wakeup call for me. Unaware of the story or the tropes that went with it, I had absorbed this antisemitic narrative at some point in my life unthinkingly, else recreated it whole-cloth without such influence. Didn't help that I turned the gnomes into goblins which are often how jewish people are presented by antisemites. I was pretty shocked and could've gone immediately into defensiveness, like NuTSR.

Instead, I apologized, changed the story, and ran with it. She still didn't want to play, because it put a bad taste in her mouth about the setting, but at least it wouldn't hurt anyone -else- in that way.

Homebrew doesn't have to Hate to Hurt.

so...

I also had a "fallen/cursed gnome becoming goblins" in a big homebrew campaign I had too. So you aren't the only one. BUUUT they reversed the curse during the game, I'm not sure if that makes it any better.

I had no idea that this was an anti-semitic trope, and in fact I was worried about the dwarves being anti semitic (it was a pseudo-earth like setting), and took pains to portray them in a good light.
 


so...

I also had a "fallen/cursed gnome becoming goblins" in a big homebrew campaign I had too. So you aren't the only one. BUUUT they reversed the curse during the game, I'm not sure if that makes it any better.

I had no idea that this was an anti-semitic trope, and in fact I was worried about the dwarves being anti semitic (it was a pseudo-earth like setting), and took pains to portray them in a good light.
Wait, really? Is there somewhere convenient this is explained?
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
What Deset Gled is saying is don’t let them latch on to a cause to gain your sympathy. I can simultaneously believe those products aren’t racist but that LaNasa and his company are trash.

This is another case where having a distinction between bigotry and racism is darned useful.

Bigotry is hate, a state the bigot desires and willfully engages in.

Racism is not necessarily knowing and willing - you can say something racist out of ignorance, or out of habit, even though you have no hate in your heart. Fetishizing the katana among swords, for example, is kind of racist. Government policies can be racist when they have unintended impacts, and so on.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
so...

I also had a "fallen/cursed gnome becoming goblins" in a big homebrew campaign I had too. So you aren't the only one. BUUUT they reversed the curse during the game, I'm not sure if that makes it any better.

I had no idea that this was an anti-semitic trope, and in fact I was worried about the dwarves being anti semitic (it was a pseudo-earth like setting), and took pains to portray them in a good light.
In my setting, there was an apocalyptic event (a god smashed a moon, and a chunk pierced the world all the way to the lower planes). The literal fallout caused many sentient races in the area to become corrupted into the typically evil races: humans became giants, elves became orcs, halflings became goblins, gnomes became kobolds. (Dwarves were actually created by a god later as a bulwark against the giants invading other lands in the world.) There are still humans, elves, halflings and gnomes in the world further away from the hell-crater, so it's not like every single gnome became a kobold.

About the time many of the threads/blog articles on orcs started appearing here and elsewhere on the internet, I asked my group for feedback on this bit of lore. I'm fortunate enough to play with a diverse and open-minded group, and their take was those races being evil due to supernatural corruption rather than "just because all orcs are evil" was acceptable. I've even played up this unnatural origin by making spells such as Protection from Good and Evil effective against them. Orcs, goblins, etc. are essentially mortal demons of the Prime Material plane. There are no natural races that are monolithically evil.

Even so, I still have my doubts whether or not someone outside my group would be uncomfortable with this setup. So, I really can't fathom the motivations of someone who would actually go out of their way to make the racist implications of some tropes as explicit as NuTSR and their SFNG draft does.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
Wait, really? Is there somewhere convenient this is explained?
Possibly the Medieval idea that Jews were "corrupted" by the devil, plus frequently illustrating them in an inhuman way. Like how in comics printed during WWII, Japanese people were often made to look literally demonic, with fangs and pointed ears. So having gnomes get turned into (uglier, evil) goblins could be seen as being similar. Although I think that might be a bit of a stretch myself, especially in Steampunkette's case, where it doesn't look like the gnomes had any other "Jewish" traits.
 

"They are homebrew" is like the write-off skit from Schitt's Creek:


This all would have been fine, maybe even admirable, to say... but they had to kind of ruin it by trying to explain out of the blue that products that are arguably racist - such as Al-Qadim and Oriental Adventures, who carry the content disclaimers they are fighting against - are OK and totally not inappropriate because they're "homebrew"... as if labeling something "homebrew" makes it OK no matter how hateful of a product it may be.

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Possibly the Medieval idea that Jews were "corrupted" by the devil, plus frequently illustrating them in an inhuman way. Like how in comics printed during WWII, Japanese people were often made to look literally demonic, with fangs and pointed ears. So having gnomes get turned into (uglier, evil) goblins could be seen as being similar. Although I think that might be a bit of a stretch myself, especially in Steampunkette's case, where it doesn't look like the gnomes had any other "Jewish" traits.
It's kind of a catch-22. In pretty much every folklore from every culture, "demons" and "goblins" have distorted humanoid features, because those features are unsettling to people. And then, you've got pretty much every government in history doing the same thing to cultures they wanted to portray as less than human*.

So how do you avoid the trap of depicting a humanoid from folklore while avoiding any connotations to cultures that have had the same done to them? I don't know the answer. Are all goblins anti-Semitic because that's how Jews were portrayed by Nazis? Do you completely avoid humanoid caricatures completely, even if they are pulled from the demons/goblins in folklore?

*Seriously, this is propaganda 101. Depict your enemy as less than human, because it's easier to kill them that way.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
It's kind of a catch-22. In pretty much every folklore from every culture, "demons" and "goblins" have distorted humanoid features, because those features are unsettling to people. And then, you've got pretty much every government in history doing the same thing to cultures they wanted to portray as less than human*.

So how do you avoid the trap of depicting a humanoid from folklore while avoiding any connotations to cultures that have had the same done to them? I don't know the answer. Are all goblins anti-Semitic because that's how Jews were portrayed by Nazis? Do you completely avoid humanoid caricatures completely, even if they are pulled from the demons/goblins in folklore?

*Seriously, this is propaganda 101. Depict your enemy as less than human, because it's easier to kill them that way.
I'd guess just try to avoid having multiple tropes that point to a single real-world people. Like, don't have a creature that's been willingly corrupted by evil and is greedy and has certain physical characteristics like hooked noses. Because even though real Jews weren't corrupted by evil and are no more greedy or hook-nosed than anyone else is, those were/are the stereotypes. You can have a miserly, greedy race or monster if you want (such as dragons), but don't add other Jewish stereotypes. Ditto for other real-world groups.
 

It's kind of a catch-22. In pretty much every folklore from every culture, "demons" and "goblins" have distorted humanoid features, because those features are unsettling to people. And then, you've got pretty much every government in history doing the same thing to cultures they wanted to portray as less than human*.

So how do you avoid the trap of depicting a humanoid from folklore while avoiding any connotations to cultures that have had the same done to them? I don't know the answer. Are all goblins anti-Semitic because that's how Jews were portrayed by Nazis? Do you completely avoid humanoid caricatures completely, even if they are pulled from the demons/goblins in folklore?
Possibly the Medieval idea that Jews were "corrupted" by the devil, plus frequently illustrating them in an inhuman way. Like how in comics printed during WWII, Japanese people were often made to look literally demonic, with fangs and pointed ears. So having gnomes get turned into (uglier, evil) goblins could be seen as being similar. Although I think that might be a bit of a stretch myself, especially in Steampunkette's case, where it doesn't look like the gnomes had any other "Jewish" traits.
Okay, I'm familiar with this. I was wondering if the transformation from typical to other was inherently anti-semetic. There's a lot of stories that involve that scenario and would be difficult to see all of them as propaganda. But, certainly, I've seen a lot of propagandic artwork from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that amply illustrate that issue.

Thanks!
 


Graph Paper Architect

Michael K. Hovermale AKA Graph Paper Architect
This all would have been fine, maybe even admirable, to say... but they had to kind of ruin it by trying to explain out of the blue that products that are arguably racist - such as Al-Qadim and Oriental Adventures, who carry the content disclaimers they are fighting against - are OK and totally not inappropriate because they're "homebrew"... as if labeling something "homebrew" makes it OK no matter how hateful of a product it may be.

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I wrote this.

I sent it to Justin LaNasa, Ernie Gygax, and Stephen Dinehart IV on 7/5/2021. I’ve now forwarded that original email and attachment to members of the YouTube press that are covering NuTSR for verification.

I'm not surprised that Justin is still using my work, even after libeling my Son Logan and I.

I wrote this mostly for Ernie, when we were trying to get a handle on a lot of hate coming our way about his father.

I never met Gary Gygax and I have no idea what his beliefs were. Based on what I am told by those that knew Gary well, he was not the hateful things some people claim he was based on forum posts, old articles, etc... I'm NOT defending Gary or anything he wrote, what I am saying is based on what I am told by the people that knew him, is he was not any of those things.

Did Gary make mistakes, yes he was a human, and last time I checked we all make mistakes. He did the best he could with the information at hand, and I don’t read any hate in his gaming materials, inaccuracies, sure, but not hate.

When I create adventures set in any culture, even the one I grew up in, I do research to try to get things right. My goal is always to try to show off the awesome things within them. I believe this was the intent of settings like Oriental Adventures etc… to bring to light things that are cool, fun, and give players options to play them.

This is a very deep personal story for me because it touches on my dreams of being a creator. Not just creating games, but also books, films, media and entertainment to enrich and inspire people and bring joy to their lives. Help children learn important lessons, and help people connect through a mutual love.

When Jim Henson sang, life’s like a movie write your own ending, keep believing keep pretending that became my mantra. It’s what I have always wanted, making the rainbow connection with the lovers, the dreamers, and me. That’s what I always thought getting involved in making media was all about, people coming together to make magic.

If Justin LaNasa, NuTSR, The Dungeon Hobbyshop Museum or anyone affiliated with them uses my work, letters, writings etc… I will post about it.

I am NOT affiliated with nor do I support NuTSR, or The Dungeon Hobbyshop Museum in any way!

This is because they are owned by Justin LaNasa. If the Dungeon Hobbyshop Museum came under new ownership I’d love it.

Sincerely,

Michael K. Hovermale, not Joe. Anyone who wants a forward of the original document to do cyber forensics on it for validity I will provide it.
 

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