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”.
  • 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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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Sometimes, like the "free speech" argument, it can make it look like you didn't respect the judge's earlier ruling.

The "free speech" argument seems less about respecting the judge's earlier ruling as
1) Not respecting the fact that they explicitly agreed to the restriction, and
2) Not understanding that, in the middle of litigation, your rights do not extend to witness harassment/intimidation, and that while in the public arena we see one very high profile case trying this, it is actually an area of well-settled law (this last is, as I, a layman, understand it).
 

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Wincenworks

Adventurer
1. First, this is actually well-written. In terms of just form, this isn't the usual terrible lawyering I expect from a LaNasa advocate. I think it's necessary to start with that.
I agree. One of the most consistently funny things about the WotC lawsuit has been that it seems to be the one instance where Justin has hired lawyer suitable to the scope of the task... which means that his NC lawyer who demanded to appear pro hac vice because he was the expert and needed to be first chair, has been basically excluded.

One can only assume that is, at least in part, because Justin's more competent counsel refuses to be part liable for his proposals. She is clearly very professional and competent, but also doing her best with a clown show who is likely also receiving unofficial advice on what to and not tell her, and the obvious issue of Justin seems like he'd be a nightmare client at the best of times. He very much seems like he has SBF's "I know better than my expensive lawyer does" energy.

Part of the reason I assume she feels they're backed into a corner is she is doing the "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" approach to try to cover that her client really doesn't have a singular good explanation for his sins.

So the substance of the arguments are quite bad or completely irrelevant, but then isn't the role of an advocate or attorney in a case like this to throw what they can at the wall and see what sticks? Cover as many bases as possible? Or is that, ultimately, bad legal strategy?
The role of the attorney is to do their best, within the law and ethics, for advance the interests of their clients.

Professors and Judges (particularly, for example, the late Supreme Justice Scalia) will often explain to law class that counter-intuitively, this doesn't mean listing off every possible idea and every tangential fact - but rather going with the most persuasive approach. Judges are humans, after all, and they are swayed by various subconscious biases. They also keep in mind their decisions must make sense to their fellow humans.

Much of law is laid out in specific formulas and tests in such a way that if one "branch" of the test fails, the court is obligated toward a particular outcome - if you can prove your client didn't kill anyone, you don't need to prove the lack of intention to beat a murder charge is probably the most dramatic example.

So if you have a really strong persuasive singular argument, it is generally considered advisable to lead with that and then include any backups that you feel help illustrate that point or should just be there (the "no proof" argument, for example, would be expected to be raised purely as a matter of routine). There is often even value in conceding minor points to the opposite, if it illustrates the strength of your argument and makes the judge grateful you were efficient with their time.

For example, if Justin's lawyer were actually 100% confident that Justin did not do this - she would likely simply put forward a simple argument "He didn't do it, and Wizards of the Coast knows or should know this because..." and supply whatever evidence made it clear. She might then also include something about WotC being meanies and suggest that they should receive costs for this action, etc.

By taking a "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks" approach, Justin's lawyer could be undermining the credibility of that argument - both demonstrating a lack of confidence in it, and by putting it among weak arguments (the "Free Speech" after expressly agreeing not to say the thing, and the citing of authorities not directly related to the situation) and thus making it seem like its probably also a weak argument.

Now, why she did this is impossible to say - its possible she told Justin he should just go with a simple response and pray, but he insisted that she go with the free speech and bad blood arguments because he thinks they're impressive. It's also possible that she felt that in the absence of a good defence, she needed to throw stuff at the wall.

So from the outside, the strategy does not seem good and reeks of desperation - but without being privy to all the confidential information and conversations, its difficult to say if its still not the best strategy counsel could reasonably provide.
 

Wincenworks

Adventurer
So an update.

Justin Lanasa is directly and indirectly (ie through his companies where he is the sole owner and officer) involved in three federal legal proceedings. All of which he is initiated to some degree - two of them from scratch, one in response to a minor action in the Trademark Office.

As of today, in two of those proceedings the other party is moving for sanctions against him.

NuTSR v WotC
Wizards of the Coast have filed their response to the response - and basically cited everything that @Snarf Zagyg covered in detail - Justin's explanation has no substance, relies up him have rights he waived and included partial confessions. They're arguing that he should be sanctioned as they originally requested.

LaNasa v Tenkar
Justin's lawyer attempted to withdraw but did not, in the opinion of Tenkar's counsel, apply the proper degree of candour and instead tried to pretend this was just all a mistake rather than that Justin had actively lied - claiming that the record of his criminal misdemeanour was "a different Justin LaNasa" and had been dishonest since the start - tainting the proceeding irrevocably. They're calling for a dismissal with prejudice, clawback on costs since the start of the action, sanctions (possibly against Justin and his lawyer) and for Justin to have to appear in person before the court to explain himself.

Mr. Lanasa and his counsel’s fraud upon this Court has been willful, material to Plaintiffs’ claims, and sufficiently egregious to warrant denial of any requested leave to amend, as well as dismissal with prejudice, costs, fees, sanctions, and any criminal referrals the Court deems appropriate. In the event this case is permitted to continue any further, **we respectfully submit Mr. Lanasa should be compelled to appear in person to explain the circus he has been conducting in this Court.**


I can only imagine that his opponents in his next political campaigns are going to have some amazing things to say.
 

occam

Adventurer
LaNasa v Tenkar
Justin's lawyer attempted to withdraw but did not, in the opinion of Tenkar's counsel, apply the proper degree of candour and instead tried to pretend this was just all a mistake rather than that Justin had actively lied - claiming that the record of his criminal misdemeanour was "a different Justin LaNasa" and had been dishonest since the start - tainting the proceeding irrevocably.
Imagine if one could use this argument in daily life. "Hey, that was a different version of me that <did some regrettable thing>. You're not going to hold the current version of me responsible for what they did, are you?"
 





WotC vs NuTSR case update, doing a deeper dive into the stuff that @Wincenworks mentioned in his last post.

WotC filed a response to NuTSR's response. My summary of their claims are:

  • Lanasa's claim that any procedure was improper (due to the bankruptcy or otherwise) is complete horse pucky.
  • Lanasa admitted he actually did some of the harassing things (i.e, reporting Don to the police, posting a link to the donosemora.com website, trying to get Don's convention blocked).
  • Lanasa denies he's involved in the donosemora.com website, but there's a lot of evidence that links him to it. Also, his denial in his affidavit was carefully worded to actually say that he isn't in control of the donosemora.com website now, but doesn't actually deny that he was in control the website when it was up.
  • Regardless of whether or not Lanasa controlled the website, the stuff he admitted to is enough to show a pattern of harassment.
  • The "free speech" and "bad blood" arguments simply don't hold any water.
  • The actions of Don that Lanasa tried to use as whataboutism aren't relevant, as Don isn't a party in the lawsuit (but Lanasa is).

So, as Kim said, basically everything you would expect WotC to claim. No real surprises. One interesting bit is that WotC didn't really do any work to back up their claims of Lanasa using annonymous emails and fake Facebook accounts. I think that was a good move on their part; they're focussing on their strongest part of the complaint and showing a pattern rather than nitpicking every little bit.

As always, IANAL.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
claiming that the record of his criminal misdemeanour was "a different Justin LaNasa"
Tangent:

I have searched the web for my real name and my (very few) online aliases and gotten some VERY eye-opening results.

One such search connected me to someone convicted of causing a traffic fatality. He was younger than me by decades, so distancing myself from that would be easy.

Another somehow opened a person’s EXPLICIT photo gallery on a Filipino gay dating site. Proving this wasn’t me would also be easy, but potentially embarrassing.
 

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