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


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Justin LaNasa of NuTSR has filed a "personal injury" lawsuit against Erik Tenkar.

Wow, there's a lot to unpack here. Here's just a few of my thoughts as I read through the court docs.

- Justin is filing on behalf of himself as a private citizen, but also on behalf of TSR LLC (NuTSR) and the DHSM. He is not treating himself as a public figure. Lanasa also claims damages to his family, but does not name any of his family as defendants.

- In the earlier cease and desist that Lanasa sent Tenkar, Lanasa claimed that the loss of the Geek Nation tour was a significant loss of income. He is not currently claiming anything about the Geek Nation Tour, or any specific loss of income. That makes it (IMNSHO, IANAL) a significantly weaker case.

- The list of "libelous" or otherwise problematic statements in the lawsuit is really long. It will take a long time to go through the full list. Some of the things Justin claims are lies are blatantly not libelous. They are either opinions protected by the first amendment or simply true statements. I imagine this is done specifically to make things expensive for Tenkar to defend.

- One of the more interesting claims of libel is:
March 17 , 2022: "Mario77, aka ignorant [xxxx], aka Justin I [xxxx] ignorant [xxxxx]; we know this is Justin."
I interpret this as meaning that Justin is claiming, in a court document, that he is not the author of the Mario77 twitter account.

- I believe NY has some anti-SLAPP laws on the books, and I seriously hope they come into play eventually.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Wow, there's a lot to unpack here. Here's just a few of my thoughts as I read through the court docs.

- Justin is filing on behalf of himself as a private citizen, but also on behalf of TSR LLC (NuTSR) and the DHSM. He is not treating himself as a public figure. Lanasa also claims damages to his family, but does not name any of his family as defendants.

- In the earlier cease and desist that Lanasa sent Tenkar, Lanasa claimed that the loss of the Geek Nation tour was a significant loss of income. He is not currently claiming anything about the Geek Nation Tour, or any specific loss of income. That makes it (IMNSHO, IANAL) a significantly weaker case.

- The list of "libelous" or otherwise problematic statements in the lawsuit is really long. It will take a long time to go through the full list. Some of the things Justin claims are lies are blatantly not libelous. They are either opinions protected by the first amendment or simply true statements. I imagine this is done specifically to make things expensive for Tenkar to defend.

- One of the more interesting claims of libel is:
March 17 , 2022: "Mario77, aka ignorant [xxxx], aka Justin I [xxxx] ignorant [xxxxx]; we know this is Justin."
I interpret this as meaning that Justin is claiming, in a court document, that he is not the author of the Mario77 twitter account.

- I believe NY has some anti-SLAPP laws on the books, and I seriously hope they come into play eventually.

Is there a gofundme or the like to support Tenkar's legal defense?
 

Is there a gofundme or the like to support Tenkar's legal defense?

This from @tenkar 's discord:

tenkar (tavern keeper) — Today at 3:13 PM
"As you can see from the attached screenshot, Justin LaNasa is suing me for slander and libel. I'll have more to share after conferring with my attorney early next week.

It has been suggested that I start a GoFundMe to assist in the legal fees for my defense. I have not done so yet, as I need an accurate estimate of the expenses involved, but I have asked Bob Brinkman to keep an accounting of funds used in my defense, with any remaining funds designated for a charity TBD.

I can't thank everyone enough for the support I've been blessed with over the past few years. I sincerely hope to continue having your support now and in the future.

Remember, the ultimate defense against a claim of slander and libel is, quite simply, the truth."
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
In all seriousness, does LaNasa have a case here? Tenkar (and lots of others) have pointed out the horrible things that LaNasa has done, which has in fact caused people to not want to deal with LaNasa. This could legitimately be reputational harm.

Or does this only count if Tenkar et al had lied about LaNasa, instead of pointing out the actual truth for a wider audience?
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
I used to share a name with a person in my city that was...not very good. I would get countless calls from collection agencies and once a sheriff even showed up at my house. But it's probably been over a decade since that happened, so I imagine they've cleaned up their act, moved away, are in jail, or worse.

I keep a newspaper article in my wallet to show people... "I" once unsuccessfully robbed a local bank. :p

My family used to get this guy's family's mail when I was young, and starting in high school I got this guy's arrest reports taped to my desk. I've almost gotten into a fight because someone thought I was him, and he nearly cost me a job once because they thought I'd submitted two different applications.

Best part, though?

My mother's in the hospital one time, and a candy striper comes in, looks at my mother's chart and says, "Mrs. *****? Oh, are you ******'s mother? Would you like to see pictures of your grandchild?" :rolleyes:
 

In all seriousness, does LaNasa have a case here? Tenkar (and lots of others) have pointed out the horrible things that LaNasa has done, which has in fact caused people to not want to deal with LaNasa. This could legitimately be reputational harm.

Or does this only count if Tenkar et al had lied about LaNasa, instead of pointing out the actual truth for a wider audience?

Probably not. (IANAL)

In order to win a libel case, you have to prove publication, identification, harm, and fault (and sometimes malice).

Publication means you have to prove it was published. It's trivial in this case; it's all over the internet. Links are included in the filing.

Identification means you have to show that you are the person being libeled. This is mostly trivial. There is a little bit of gray area to be played with here. The first is that some of the things the lawsuit references are Tenkar's reaction to the various Mario twitter accounts, and it's unclear who those are. The second weird thing is that Lanasa is including NuTSR and the DHSM along with himself. I don't know enough about the law to understand the intricacies of how this works. But I'm guessing that because Lanasa is sole owner of both LLCs, it won't make a difference.

Harm means you have to prove that actual damage was done. IMNHO, this is a major problem for Lanasa. He makes vague claims of emotional distress, but he'll need to do more. Most of the time, you need to show actual money was lost. This could be proof that sales were lost, or that you had to spend money fixing things. This is where the Geek Nation Tour thing is important; Lanasa claimed earlier in his C&D that he could prove he lost money by not getting the tour. But it's not listed in the lawsuit. He also really can't claim lost revenue from NuTSR, because they have no real product. If he's serious about the therapy claim, he'll have to show how much was spent on it for the claim to be substantiated.

Fault means you have to prove the libel is, well, lying. This is another major problem for Lanasa. Opinions are covered as free speech. If Tenkar has reason to believe the things he said, it's not lying. I'd have to go line by line through the links in the lawsuit, but at a quick glance I can't find any place where Tenkar was openly or blatantly lying about anything. There may be a hyperbole or ad hominem attacks, but that's well below the bar that Lanasa needs to prove.

Lastly, if Lanasa is considered a "public figure", he also has to prove malice. That means that even if Tenkar was lying, Lanasa would have to prove Tenkar lied for the express purpose of causing harm. If I were Tenkar, one defense I would be making is that Lanasa is a public figure (both from his history as a politician, and his public actions on the internet). It would signficantly raise the bar of what Lanasa needs to prove.

I don't think Lanasa has enough proof about damages or actual lies to make anything stick. I also have a strong feeling that this is a SLAPP. And if Tenkar can prove that, he can file an anti-SLAPP suit in retaliation.
 




seebs

Adventurer
But they will have to produce evidence to demonstrate that "reckless disregard", yes?
If he counts as a public figure, which... I don't know, but the usual standards for that are moderately high?
But truth is still a defense, and opinions are protected, so my intuition (disclaimer: not a lawyer) is that this is gonna be very hard to win.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
If he counts as a public figure, which... I don't know, but the usual standards for that are moderately high?
I'm not sure what constitutes a "public figure" legally, but, in addition to running several businesses, he has run for public office several times in the last 15-ish years (including mayor of Wilmington NC in 2011; NC state senate in 2014; and NC state house primary in 2020).
 


Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
- Justin is filing on behalf of himself as a private citizen, but also on behalf of TSR LLC (NuTSR) and the DHSM. He is not treating himself as a public figure. Lanasa also claims damages to his family, but does not name any of his family as defendants.[emphasis mine]
<pedantic>I am guessing you meant plaintiffs here.</pedantic>
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
It will be extremely difficult for JLaN to win this case, seeing as how most of what’s harming him is the discussion of and reaction to his own actions.

I suspect the court appearance will go much like the meme:

“Stop calling us (bad name) !”

“Stop doing (bad name) things!”
 

Sigh... I really can't say whether he thought this would fly under the radar, or thought something like "they were only talking about the RPG, the playing cards don't count."

NuTSR apparently hasn't gotten the memo about the injunction...

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That the Geek Nation Tour incident wasn't mentioned is an odd thing, since that should be a concrete instance of loss of funds. My assumption is that the lawyer didn't think that they had enough evidence to tie it on Tenkar.

But this is going to be an uphill battle for LaNasa. There is evidence all over the place of him doing the things that Tenkar says he did.

The idea of LaNasa going to therapy seems at odds with the LaNasa we've seen on display this past year or so. Don't get me wrong, I certainly think he would benefit greatly from therapy. It's just the picture of him that's emerged doesn't seem like a person that is into things like self-assessment and empathy.

Ultimately, I think that this is more of the same bullying and arrogant behavior we've seen, trying to tie up a person's time, money, and spoons in court (see also Zak S.'s behavior). It's the same arrogance that led him to sue Wizards of the Coast in the first place.

Probably not. (IANAL)

In order to win a libel case, you have to prove publication, identification, harm, and fault (and sometimes malice).

Publication means you have to prove it was published. It's trivial in this case; it's all over the internet. Links are included in the filing.

Identification means you have to show that you are the person being libeled. This is mostly trivial. There is a little bit of gray area to be played with here. The first is that some of the things the lawsuit references are Tenkar's reaction to the various Mario twitter accounts, and it's unclear who those are. The second weird thing is that Lanasa is including NuTSR and the DHSM along with himself. I don't know enough about the law to understand the intricacies of how this works. But I'm guessing that because Lanasa is sole owner of both LLCs, it won't make a difference.

Harm means you have to prove that actual damage was done. IMNHO, this is a major problem for Lanasa. He makes vague claims of emotional distress, but he'll need to do more. Most of the time, you need to show actual money was lost. This could be proof that sales were lost, or that you had to spend money fixing things. This is where the Geek Nation Tour thing is important; Lanasa claimed earlier in his C&D that he could prove he lost money by not getting the tour. But it's not listed in the lawsuit. He also really can't claim lost revenue from NuTSR, because they have no real product. If he's serious about the therapy claim, he'll have to show how much was spent on it for the claim to be substantiated.

Fault means you have to prove the libel is, well, lying. This is another major problem for Lanasa. Opinions are covered as free speech. If Tenkar has reason to believe the things he said, it's not lying. I'd have to go line by line through the links in the lawsuit, but at a quick glance I can't find any place where Tenkar was openly or blatantly lying about anything. There may be a hyperbole or ad hominem attacks, but that's well below the bar that Lanasa needs to prove.

Lastly, if Lanasa is considered a "public figure", he also has to prove malice. That means that even if Tenkar was lying, Lanasa would have to prove Tenkar lied for the express purpose of causing harm. If I were Tenkar, one defense I would be making is that Lanasa is a public figure (both from his history as a politician, and his public actions on the internet). It would signficantly raise the bar of what Lanasa needs to prove.

I don't think Lanasa has enough proof about damages or actual lies to make anything stick. I also have a strong feeling that this is a SLAPP. And if Tenkar can prove that, he can file an anti-SLAPP suit in retaliation.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Justin LaNasa of NuTSR has filed a "personal injury" lawsuit against Erik Tenkar.


(This was originally posted by Ryan Palmer, then echoed on the DHSM page three hours ago)

ETA: In the filing, Justin states that Tenkar caused him so much "emotional distress and mental anguish" that he and his family had to seek therapy.

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I'm not sure what Justin's endgame is, but this...seems like a bad idea to me.

It's one thing to air out your dirty laundry. But is there any scenario where he doesn't end up with his underpants scattered all over the neighborhood?
 
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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
I'm not sure what Justin's endgame is, but this...seems like a bad idea to me.

It's one thing to expect having to air out your dirty laundry. But is there any scenario where he doesn't end up with his underpants scattered all over the neighborhood?
Lanasa seems like the kinda guy who thinks shouting "He's lying!" is proof positive that someone is lying. That simply saying that in court will see Tenkar financially ruined.

I don't think he understands that he's got to prove Tenkar was lying.
 


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