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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jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Levels 1-3 like Moldvay?

Yup, but expanding the level tables is easy and has been done without appreciably expanding the page count (I've increased them to 10, myself, and they fit on one side of a three panel DM screen along with some house rules).
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Yup, but expanding the level tables is easy and has been done without appreciably expanding the page count (I've increased them to 10, myself, and they fit on one side of a three panel DM screen).

Feels like the levels 4-14 might want at least the spells to go with them (4 more pages)?

Maybe some things from expanded travel (1 page), hirelings (2 pages), a few more monsters (from 1 to 15 pages), wilderness and sea rules (is that 3 pages?), magic research and castles (1.5 pages), and a couple magic items (1 to 7 pages).

Still pretty short all things considered!
 


You do know that the original TSR fit all of that (minus an adventure) in exactly 48 pages of Holmes Basic D&D, right? It's entirely possible.

3 key differences.

1. Holmes was less. Less classes (I think?). Less levels (FWIW, Goblinz in 1-10). And Holmes directs you to Chainmail or AD&D rules for more rules and details. Holmes acknowledges that it is incomplete. Goblinz, AFAICT, refuses to name any other RPGs for fear of copyright/license issues.

2. Holmes was extremely dense in information. No wasted space. Example:

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I'm roughly estimating Holmes is something like 75% text, 20% tables, 5% art. By comparison, the video makes it looks like Goblinz is ~50% table, 30% art, and 20% text. Plus, Goblinz has a page long foreword by Ernie, another by Justin, an Edgar Allen Poe poem, the ~12 page module (including a full page map, etc. Just so much wasted space.

3. Holmes was competent. For reference, I give you the explanation of falling damage from NuTSR's Cult of Abaddon:

FALLING DAMAGE:
When a character falls into a pit of any distance greater than 10 feet, the damage is cumulative for every 10 feet.
Each 10 feet of falling is 1d6 points of damage, for each additional 10 feet you tack on another 1d6, plus the original
amount. For example, falling 30 feet would be listed as 3d6 damage, but would actually be 1d6 (first 10 feet) +2d6
(taking original 1d6 and adding another 1d6, making it 2d6 for 20 feet) +3d6 damage (taking original 1d6 making it
2d6 for 20 feet and now tacking on another 1d6 for 30 feet making it 3d6).

So, yeah, I'm going to stick by the fact that 48 pages is not enough pages for NuTSR to make a rulebook. Holmes could do it. Others could do it. NuTSR simply isn't competent to do it.
 


Staffan

Legend
FALLING DAMAGE:
When a character falls into a pit of any distance greater than 10 feet, the damage is cumulative for every 10 feet.
Each 10 feet of falling is 1d6 points of damage, for each additional 10 feet you tack on another 1d6, plus the original
amount. For example, falling 30 feet would be listed as 3d6 damage, but would actually be 1d6 (first 10 feet) +2d6
(taking original 1d6 and adding another 1d6, making it 2d6 for 20 feet) +3d6 damage (taking original 1d6 making it
2d6 for 20 feet and now tacking on another 1d6 for 30 feet making it 3d6).
That description is not only poorly written but also fairly dumb. I am guessing that the idea is that the impact is proportional to the square of the distance somehow, which is just not true.

If we're letting physics intrude, the kinetic energy when you hit the ground is equal to the potential energy you had when the fall started, which is proportional to height. Or if you prefer to have damage being proportional to velocity, that is in turn proportional to the square root of the original height. So this type of falling damage is just nonsense.

And that's ignoring the whole "what are hit points" debate.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
That description is not only poorly written but also fairly dumb. I am guessing that the idea is that the impact is proportional to the square of the distance somehow, which is just not true.

If we're letting physics intrude, the kinetic energy when you hit the ground is equal to the potential energy you had when the fall started, which is proportional to height. Or if you prefer to have damage being proportional to velocity, that is in turn proportional to the square root of the original height. So this type of falling damage is just nonsense.

And that's ignoring the whole "what are hit points" debate.

Having just written an infinite fall room with a gate are the top and bottom. What is the damage for slamming into a wall at 120 mph terminal velocity spread eagle vs 170 mph dive?
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Is that block of rules trying to say that 3d6=6d6?

It's almost Lovecraftian in it's twisted mathematics...
He's trying to copy the original rule, where it was an extra d6 for every 10 feet cumulative with the steps before it, so:

10ft fall = 1d6
20ft fall = 3d6 (2d6+step 1)
30ft fall = 6d6 (3d6 + step 2 + step 1)
etc.

At least how Frank Mentzer explained the early gaming sessions, even if I can't find that in an actual rule somewhere
 


Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
He's trying to copy the original rule, where it was an extra d6 for every 10 feet cumulative with the steps before it, so:

10ft fall = 1d6
20ft fall = 3d6 (2d6+step 1)
30ft fall = 6d6 (3d6 + step 2 + step 1)
etc.

At least how Frank Mentzer explained the early gaming sessions, even if I can't find that in an actual rule somewhere
With terminal velocity that'd top out at 11,325d6
 

JackMann

Explorer
With terminal velocity that'd top out at 11,325d6
To be fair to Gygax, it was capped at 20d6 (which you'd reach just after 60' fallen).

Funnily, in the first printing of the rules, it was the more modern flat 1d6 per 10'. Gygax had written "1d6 per 10’ for each 10’ fallen," meaning a cumulative increase. But someone had misunderstood and thought it was redundant, so it went to print with just "1d6 for each 10' fallen."

As Staffan pointed out, the impact is fairly linear, so 1d6 per 10' reflects that better. Though, the amount of injury isn't necessarily going to line up perfectly with the linear increase in energy.

If I wanted to come up with a better system, I'd probably look at how the odds of serious injury go up as height increases. I also probably wouldn't tie it directly to a set damage, but maybe make it a save vs. death and a save vs. injury (say, half your hit points and maybe some broken bones as a status effect), to try and avoid the problem of "your average person can't survive any falls," vs. "your average 6th level player character is only momentarily inconvenienced by gravity."

The odds of an average person surviving a fall of 48' is about 50%. At 84 feet, it's 10%. So, toss those numbers around some average saves and tune from there.
 


Staffan

Legend
The odds of an average person surviving a fall of 48' is about 50%. At 84 feet, it's 10%. So, toss those numbers around some average saves and tune from there.
So, an average human has like 2-4 hit points (depending on edition, but it is well known that a farmer is always in mortal danger should their cat decide they're more useful as lunch than as provider of the same). So maybe 1d6 per 50 feet? That doesn't seem right though...
 


JackMann

Explorer
Yeah, that's kinda my thinking. If you fix it to a set amount of damage, you're either going to have falls way too lethal for NPCs/low level characters, or no threat at all to high level characters.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
The explanation JackMann provided about how Gygax allegedly INTENDED falling damage to work is indeed something Frank Mentzer explained, as Sacrosanct remembered. That was in Dragon Magazine issue 70 (page 13). Of course, as Frank openly admits in that article, that never actually made it into the rulebooks. And the ridiculous explanation nuTSR gives for it in their module is far from clear.

Dan "Delta" Collins also tackled the falling damage question in a lot of detail on his blog some time back, and covered much of the same ground you guys just have. Including the bimodal lethality distribution (relating, IRL, to whether the falling person hits their head) and how a saving throw is probably a smart way to model that.


 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Hit points are an abstract mechanic for gameplay purposes. I am not sure it is reasonable to try to model falling damage specifically if you aren't going to also start working with ballistic dummies and swords....

Because, that's the real question - how lethal is falling compared to the weapons and powers PCs wield?
 

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