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...

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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Faolyn

(she/her)
Does it? I mean, it isn't as if we expect he'd feel a need to ask Ernie about it before putting the stamp on it, is it?
I realize that Ernie has been sick and probably has other things on his mind, but you have to wonder if he ever even thought to tell Lanasa to stop using his "approval."
 


I realize that Ernie has been sick and probably has other things on his mind, but you have to wonder if he ever even thought to tell Lanasa to stop using his "approval."

[RANT - Not at you, Faolyn, but this did set me off.]

Ernie Gygax and Jeff Leason both know about Those Pesky Orcz. They have both been very active on social media since it was announced and released. They have publicly interacted with people like Stephen Dinehart, who has shared all of this via Wonderfilled, and others who have acknowledged the game. They know about the game. They know they are credited in it. If they don't it's only because they are actively holding their heads in the sand.

Seriously, we need to stop pretending like Ernie and Duck are toddlers that must be protected instead of grown adults who are completely aware of their actions and their surroundings. They've been in bed with Lanasa for years. Years. They have worked on multiple projects together. There is no reason try and make up excuses for them or apologize for them.

[/RANT]

Also, on an unrelated note, the TSR Con FB page, which changed it's name to OSR Con around the time of the bankruptcy, has now changed itself to Yrag Con.

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After a cursory read through of Those Pesky Orcz, here’s what I would like to call the “Worst of the Worst”. Some of the videos that people have shared cover some of these points, but I have a few to add. Trigger warnings: Racism, sexism, SA, murder, transphobia, and probably a few things I’m forgetting.

I’m not going to waste time complaining about all the blatant editing errors, image snafus, typos, and other basic problems. Just assume that the book is written at the same basic level that we’ve seen from Lanasa and Dave Johnson. I will call out one particularly egregious error, where they still used the name “TSR Con” and the old web address for the FB page in their advertisement.

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Moving onto the real meat, let’s start by noting the references to real people. The book is written by Justin Lanasa and Dave Johnson, edited by Jeff Leason and Mick McArt, and approved (and foreword written) by Ernie Gygax.

The Gygax name is referenced – “Pivot Points” are from Ernie and Benoist Poire.

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“Tensor” is also name dropped. And Lanasa names a ring, a magic key, and a spell after himself.

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@Jedion357 a.k.a. Table Top Taproom also gets called out by Dave Johnson. That's his last name spelled backwards. After this, he loses an eye and a hand and leads the “One-handed Left Eye Army”.

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Also, let’s get this out of the way: The new company logo features lightning bolts that look a bit like SS. The book suspiciously has 88 pages. Are these coincidences? I don’t think so, but I can’t prove they’re not. Furthermore, it’s clear the book is not family friendly. There are way too many references to “breeding”, urine, feces, prostitution, and other adult themes. That’s not a sin by itself, but it's marketed as a game "that the whole family can enjoy”, which just isn’t appropriate.

The most recurring problematic content in the book is rampant discrimination against women. To start, the game outright says that women are the lowest caste of orc.

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Also, it’s worth noting that in the adventure module, all the shopkeepers and innkeepers are male, most of them named, but their spouses are simple noted as their “wives”. And then there’s all of this. Presented without comment.

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The game adds unnecessary sexist and homophobic content in their random “Nightly Visitors” table.

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They got in at least one anti-trans jab.

Referring to a sex change as a punishment one may "suffer".

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And there's some racism.

They refer to half-orcs as "unholy mongrels"

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To end on a lighter note, I will also mention that this book contains the worst riddle I have ever seen in a published module.

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So, there you have it. I'm sure there's more that I've missed. But that's all I can handle in one sitting.

In conclusion: Shame.
Shame on you, Justin Lanasa.
Shame on you, Dave Johnson.
Shame on you, Mick McArt.
Shame on you, Ernie Gygax.
Shame on you, Jeff Leason.
Shame.
 
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Copy of Those Pesky Orcz arrived today and looking through it, it's worse than I expected
  • Huge parts of it are literally copy-pasted from Goblinz: Those Pesky Goblinz. A Role-Playing Game by Justin LaNasa.
  • First hilarious editing error (good work Mick) is on page 7 (effectively the first page of content), where it directs you to page 10 for content that appears on page 8.
  • The term OM is used throughout the book with the assumption that you know an Orc Master is the GM/DM substitute.
  • The vandalism of Mike Carr's work has been repeated too, so now the magic pools were goblin/orc urine... Justin sure seems to have a thing for being made to drink urine... and sharing that with the public
  • The meteor dagger has had it's original wording replaced with Low LaNasian word salad, and is referred to as MSchultz dagger like you're supposed to know what that means.
  • Module is credited to Dave Johnson and Justin LaNasa, but I think that's just because ChatGPT can't demand credit
  • Dave doesn't know the difference between Foreword and Forward... nor does he understand how quotation marks work
  • Module is clearly unaware of the establishment of OM, and talks about the Game Master
  • The adventure is introduced with a weird bit of (likely AI generated) prose that is about a female orc ranger (a concept completely inconsistent with the setup in the book) then tells you of the existence of a crew of orcs... who are not you or her. Rest of the module seems to assume she is with you at points.
  • The layout of the map is completely chaotic and nonsensical as anything but a single player "choose your own adventure" game ala ye olde Fighting Fantasy books. Like there are two "entrances" but you start in Room 21. But don't worry, this is not Warlock of Firetop Mountain... the big bad is the Fire Witch... oh no
  • GM Prep provided at Room 8 reads "It is the responsibility of the Game Master to fill in the needed information for each and every encounter or NPC." So basically you need to re-write the whole thing yourself.
  • "Stats for all of the Gnolls goes here."
  • Orczburg is an orcish village led by a level 10 Cleric, and the module also makes note of Magic-Users. None of these classes are defined in the rules beforehand.
  • Everyone in this orc village seems to have a human name, and daughters... with individual ages specified (this does not happen for sons) and the tavern has a question when describing how many can sit at a bar...
  • An named NPC has "Servants Quarters" where he keeps unspecified number of female slaves and their five daughters, and there's a bit about how now and again he swaps out the oldest for a younger slave... and that nobody knows they're slaves (strange in an orc village?)
  • There is a riddle which was clearly written by AI as it is incomprehensible to a human, but too grammatically correct for Justin or Dave.
  • Remarkably Dave manages to provide a list of three locations, then the descriptions of them with different spelling/wording in a separate list immediately afterwards
  • More remarkably he has a room which describes the exists and where they connect to, which does not like up in any shape or form with the map provided
  • Multiple entries direct you to page 00
  • One room of the dungeon, unexplainably, contains real world books and insists you should look them up... not sure how this contributes to the immersion of an adventure as an orc.
  • Room 30a's description is that it's a secret catacomb you can't find... and that's it.
  • There's a corpse who's name and gender shift randomly
  • The Fire Witch is also sometimes The Grand Wizard, or the Lich...
  • There's a Necromancer who is apparently lord of the domain, but also lonely and bored as his encounter amounts to an escape room
  • There is a gnoll who challenges the players to "riddles" that are just philosophical questions, then grants wishes to the NPCs the module says will answer them correctly
  • One encounter advises you to refer to a monster matrix at the end of the module, which is not present
  • The rules for drinking potions are in last quarter of the module
  • So is this extra character called Seth, who is apparently the main antagonist (forget what you read before) and "pre-generated" despite not being mentioned anywhere else in the book.
  • The final note says once you complete a task the Fire Witch gave you (not covered) the portal (also not covered) will open and the adventure will end.
This is honestly a hilarious failure at everything that it tried to be, its' too much work to be scam, too little work to be any sort of actual product and all it succeeds in doing is making the active parties (Justin, Dave and Mick) look worse than before.
 
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Dioltach

Legend
To end on a lighter note, I will also mention that this book contains the worst riddle I have ever seen in a published module.
I feel like I'm drunk and trying to follow a normal conversation, but being unable to make the logical connections. I have absolutely no clue what that riddle is supposed to mean. "Power without wisdom yields wisdom"? Am I the only one who's completely stumped?
 


I feel like I'm drunk and trying to follow a normal conversation, but being unable to make the logical connections. I have absolutely no clue what that riddle is supposed to mean. "Power without wisdom yields wisdom"? Am I the only one who's completely stumped?
It's pretty classic example of AI writing, where it's tried to generate a riddle based on word patterns rather than insight or cleverness. Based on the other riddles in it, I'm assuming the way Dave has asked it for riddles has also gotten the AI confused over what's a riddle, and what's Socratic Discourse. It attempts to look clever by asking questions, and then answering them... and that's apparently enough to fool Dave and Justin and Mick.
 

DLIMedia

David Flor, Darklight Interactive
Ernie Gygax and Jeff Leason both know about Those Pesky Orcz. They have both been very active on social media since it was announced and released. They have publicly interacted with people like Stephen Dinehart, who has shared all of this via Wonderfilled, and others who have acknowledged the game. They know about the game. They know they are credited in it.
To be totally honest here, I'm not so sure about that.

Ernie has an uncanny ability of being able to bury his head in the sand so deep that he's oblivious to anything going on anywhere if it doesn't involve playing games. The would could be literally on fire, but if Ernie is still able to run his games in his relative peace and quiet he doesn't care about anything else and offers no opinions or commentaries about anything else. Scanning Ernie's social media, there's no mention of this module anywhere, or anything involving the DHSM or NuTSR for that matter. He's honestly been more focused on (1) playing games with random people, and (2) not dying.

If Jeff has been "active" on social media, I admit I don't know where. But he too has shown quite the "leave me out of it" attitude and does not want to get involved in the larger discourse. Given that he's physically living inside the DHSM, it's in his best interest to keep his mouth shut and I think he knows it.

In other words, it's not that they're actively promoting the product... it's that they're not not promoting it. Their silence is deafening.

We cannot be sure who's at the wheel of the DHSM accounts these days; there was a time when it was Ernie or Jeff, but we honestly don't know any more. So, yes, the DHSM account has interacted frequently with the likes of Dinehart and Wonderfilled (the DHSM just reposted Wonderfilled four hours ago), we can't be sure who. Heck, given that Dinehart once had the keys to the car, it's not all that far fetched to think that Dinehart is the one handling the DHSM's social media these days. If not Dinehart, maybe Justin himself (given the content of some of the last few posts, this is the likeliest option)... or maybe Justin's dad... or maybe Michael "Confederacy is Awesome!" Yach... or maybe even Dave Johnson. Honestly, who the hell knows for sure.

I have been tempted to point blank ask Ernie about his involvement or his knowledge of it, but I think that's a tad inappropriate to do to someone who's primary focus this days is basically staying alive.
 

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