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...

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”.
  • June 8th 2023. NuTSR files for bankruptcy. The case between WotC and NuTSR is postponed until March 2024.

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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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
While I sympathize with the purpose of the X-Card immensely, this sort of thing is why unless it happened vanishingly rarely, I'd soon stop GMing in a group where it was in use (and probably stop playing if I wasn't GMing though I'm less certain there), because I'd find this immensely jarring.
If as a GM you know what your players are really uncomfortable with (because such things are outlined in session 0 when the red cards are explained and issued) and you KEEP DOING IT regardless then I'd be happy if you stopped GMing for that group.

Like... If someone has PTSD from sexual assault and tells you "Please don't put sexual assault in the game" and you hand out an X card or Red card or whatever to that player to drop whenever a scene turns to sexual assault... and you keep putting it into the game so that person has to drop their X Card or Red Card or whatever over and over and over again?

It shows an utter lack of respect for players and serious issues.

You write the game's story. If someone tells you "Please don't write sexual assault" into the game and then you choose to write a bunch of it in, regardless, that's on you. Not the player who keeps dropping the card 'cause you keep doing it.
 


Faolyn

(she/her)
If as a GM you know what your players are really uncomfortable with (because such things are outlined in session 0 when the red cards are explained and issued) and you KEEP DOING IT regardless then I'd be happy if you stopped GMing for that group.

Like... If someone has PTSD from sexual assault and tells you "Please don't put sexual assault in the game" and you hand out an X card or Red card or whatever to that player to drop whenever a scene turns to sexual assault... and you keep putting it into the game so that person has to drop their X Card or Red Card or whatever over and over and over again?

It shows an utter lack of respect for players and serious issues.

You write the game's story. If someone tells you "Please don't write sexual assault" into the game and then you choose to write a bunch of it in, regardless, that's on you. Not the player who keeps dropping the card 'cause you keep doing it.
I just want to also point out it doesn't need to be something serious like sexual assault, although it very often is.

Although I wrote in an earlier post that "the one time in recent memory someone used an X-card..." I keep forgetting that I kind of used one as well. I just did it after the game, rather than at the table, so it might not quite count. But I asked the DM to not have NPCs flirt with my character; since for some reason they'd had a lot of NPCs flirt with my character. They apologized a bunch and haven't done it since.

I don't have any trauma associated with flirting. I just have a fun mixture of being aroace and autistic and I tend to freeze up when people and NPCs flirt with me. Like, record-scratch, Blue Screen of Death freezing (apologies for the mixed metaphor). I just have no idea how to react, can't really think, and it becomes super-uncomfortable for me. Uncomfortable enough that the game then becomes un-fun. I can flirt with NPCs, although badly enough it's more like saying "I flirt with the NPC, bat my eyelashes, that sort of stuff" rather than give a full description.

So even if the reason behind the X-Card isn't because of something big like being the victim of a sexual assault, not honoring the player's desire to remove that something that makes them that uncomfortable is still pretty disrespectful.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
If as a GM you know what your players are really uncomfortable with (because such things are outlined in session 0 when the red cards are explained and issued) and you KEEP DOING IT regardless then I'd be happy if you stopped GMing for that group.

But that's the point; if I already know I'd avoid it in the first place (barring simply having forgotten if its a rare situation); if I don't know, the play of the X-Card would leave me trying to second-guess myself. The issue is that Umbran's example is blind; I don't know what the issue is either apparently before or after its played.

As I said, I don't fault people for wanting to have a tool to stop trauma triggering events in-game, but if they also want the tool to be used "blind" (that is to say doing so without indicating the problem), I just think that's a bridge too far.

Like... If someone has PTSD from sexual assault and tells you "Please don't put sexual assault in the game" and you hand out an X card or Red card or whatever to that player to drop whenever a scene turns to sexual assault... and you keep putting it into the game so that person has to drop their X Card or Red Card or whatever over and over and over again?

It shows an utter lack of respect for players and serious issues.

You write the game's story. If someone tells you "Please don't write sexual assault" into the game and then you choose to write a bunch of it in, regardless, that's on you. Not the player who keeps dropping the card 'cause you keep doing it.

Again, that has nothing to do with my objection. There may be cases where after a discussion with a player I'd conclude that the campaign I wanted to run and the elements they found problematic meant one or the other had to go, but I don't fault them for that. I do think that if that the versions of the X-Card that are explicit in not permitting discussion of what the problem was (and again, I can understand why in some cases that's desirable) are not ones I can work with, however. I don't need to have an extended unpacking, and the player can tell me in private if they wish, but I need something to work with.
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
But that's the point; if I already know I'd avoid it in the first place (barring simply having forgotten if its a rare situation); if I don't know, the play of the X-Card would leave me trying to second-guess myself. The issue is that Umbran's example is blind; I don't know what the issue is either apparently before or after its played.
Trying to suss this out as a hypothetical is kind of pointless. In any circumstance where someone is playing an X-card you're going to know that you crossed a line and it will probably be something where you know it's something that could make someone uncomfortable.

Like if you're describing the attack of a giant spider and you're getting very lurid with your descriptions and someone plays an X-card? it's very likely that they're an arachnophobe and you've taken things too far for their comfort. And 99% of the time when someone plays an X-card they'll tell you why they're doing it, the point is that if they don't want to talk about it you as a GM need to not push it because if they don't want to talk about it it's very likely that you've just hit something traumatic for them that they really don't want to talk about.

X-cards don't get played at random. And when they do get played it's usually very obvious to everyone at the table why. And any GM who is getting X-cards played on them with regularity is probably pushing boundaries far beyond what normally happens at a table, or they're springing a lurid horror game on players without their consent (which is the kind of behavior safety tools in RPGs are trying to stop).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Trying to suss this out as a hypothetical is kind of pointless. In any circumstance where someone is playing an X-card you're going to know that you crossed a line and it will probably be something where you know it's something that could make someone uncomfortable.

Please go back and read the specific post on Umbran's part I was responding to. His point was that you don't need to know what the problem is; you just pull the plug on the scene and move on.

Except that's not the end of it because I'll now be wondering what button I hit. And no, past discussion has shown that it is not always self-evident what it is in examples people have mentioned.


X-cards don't get played at random. And when they do get played it's usually very obvious to everyone at the table why. And any GM who is getting X-cards played on them with regularity is probably pushing boundaries far beyond what normally happens at a table, or they're springing a lurid horror game on players without their consent (which is the kind of behavior safety tools in RPGs are trying to stop).

Or, and again, this is the context of my response, they're dealing with a very specific issue that may not be self-evident. And no, I'm not pulling this out of thin air, I'm thinking of specific examples people have mentioned when this came up in the past; one I recall was someone who had an issue with depictions of people deliberately violating other's personal space (with good reason, as it was a behavior an abusive ex-spouse had engaged in regularly, often a precursor to physical violence). If someone X-Carded that one and did not clarify, I have no reason to think I'd make the connection--and that fact would leave me seriously off balance.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
If someone X-Carded that one and did not clarify, I have no reason to think I'd make the connection--and that fact would leave me seriously off balance.
Talking about this as a hypothetical is pointless. If you have someone who x-cards something and can't tell you why you just move on because only a real jerk[*] makes people air their trauma in public. If they're willing to talk about what button you hit in front of the group that's their choice, not yours, and trying to force them to do it isn't going to make the situation better for anyone. Most of the time people will tell you what made them uncomfortable but if they can't you get them out of that situation as quickly as possible and move on to something else. That's just the right thing to do.

[*] The content filter on this site prevents me from using the actual words I'd use to describe someone who tries to force someone to explain their personal trauma to justify not continuing a scene in an RPG session. So I'll just use "real jerk" as a stand in for it.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Talking about this as a hypothetical is pointless. If you have someone who x-cards something and can't tell you why you just move on because only a real jerk[*] makes people air their trauma in public. If they're willing to talk about what button you hit in front of the group that's their choice, not yours, and trying to force them to do it isn't going to make the situation better for anyone. Most of the time people will tell you what made them uncomfortable but if they can't you get them out of that situation as quickly as possible and move on to something else. That's just the right thing to do.

I notice you also skipped my mention them talking to me in private about it would be okay too, because that way you can paint my position worse than it is.

So I'll repeat it to make clear, so if someone really wants to tar and feather me for this, they can at least do it about what I'm saying, not what they're projecting on it:

If someone has a problem that they've not notified me about, that they then decide to play an X-Card on in the game, and it is not contextually clear what the issue actually is, and they're unwilling either publicly or privately clarify, then yes, I'd find that pretty disruptive as a GM. If that somehow makes me the villain here in some people's eyes, so be it.
 

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