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TSR TSR Is Back.... Again!

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TSR is back... again! A new company, using the name and logo of the original publisher of Dungeons & Dragons has just been launched, along with a limited edition new game called Giantlands, and a theme park!

But first, some history! Because this isn't the first time TSR has been resurrected!

TSR (or Tactical Studies Rules) was the company which started it all -- the firm, co-created by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye, which launched Dungeons & Dragons back in 1974. The failing company was bought by WotC in the late 90s, who went on to revive D&D with the launch of D&D 3E. The TSR trademark itself expired in 2004, and Gary Gygax passed in 2008.

Jayson Elliot acquired the expired TSR trademark in 2011 and launched Gygax Magazine. D&D co-creator Gary Gygax’s sons, Luke and Ernie Gygax, were both involved, as was TSR-alumnus Tim Kask. The magazine was cancelled a few years ago as Luke and Ernie Gygax withdrew after a trademark dispute with Gail Gygax, Gary Gygax’s wife.




That company is still an operational company called TSR Games which currently produces the Top Secret RPG.

Confused yet?

Now TSR is back - again! A press release dated June 15th was released this week, and a Facebook page launched with a new version of the old logo. "Have you noticed the new art on our TSR.games site? It's an image created by Larry Elmore (pencils) Steve Ince (Ink & color) & Stephen E. Dinehart (Direction, Color, Layout, Graphics) for our first official product - GiantLands."

tsr.jpg

Lake Geneva, WI, June 15, 2021 --(PR.com)-- Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) was founded in 1973 by E. Gary Gygax and Don Kaye. Originally formed in 2020, TSR Games is officially back and under the leadership of E. Gary Gygax Jr.

“I am thrilled to be part of this next generation of gaming and hope that you all find it cut the same cloth as all my old TSR experiences as we forge a new TSR Games,” said Gygax, continuing, “Thanks to the vision of our CEO Justin LaNasa, and the help of Wonderfilled, we’re bringing TSR back home to Lake Geneva. It really means so much to me.”

TSR was behind the original Dungeons & Dragons first released in 1974, now a worldwide phenomenon owned by Hasbro on its fifth and most popular edition yet. The team includes Justin LaNasa (CEO), Ernest G. Gygax Jr (EVP), Jeff R. Leason (COO, and Stephen E. Dinehart (CCO). LaNasa is a visionary and entrepreneur that has set out to reunite brands like TSR with the original talent behind them.

“It’s with great pride that we’ve managed to secure the TSR brand, born here originally in 1973 and brought back to the people who created this new form of game that changed the world,” said LaNasa.

In addition to the classic lines of products at TSR Museum and Dungeon Hobby Shop, TSR Games is working to bring a new generation of role-playing games and more to players worldwide. “Now more than ever, the world needs TSR,” said game designer Jeff R. Leason. “We’re happy to be bringing it back for experienced and new players alike.”


The Facebook page contains a bunch of info about the people involved.
  • Jeff R. Leason -- Jeff is our Chief Operation Officer and comes with decades working as an game editor, master and designer. As a key member of the original TSR team, he's best known for his Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" (1980). His TSR paystub from 1983 for $134.18 once sold at auction for $135! We're glad to have his mastery, wisdom and candor helping bring TSR back to life!
  • Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. -- Our Executive Vice President is none other than Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. aka "Ernie". The oldest child, Ernie was one of the first people on planet Earth to play Dungeons & Dragons (with another guy named "Gary" no less), and he still loves to play! You'll often still find him DMing for members of Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum in Lake Geneva, while working hard to bring TSR back to life! This weekend he's hard at play in Lake Geneva running 1E with the gang at Robert Donald Paiser Con III. How about you? What are you playing?
The new TSR's first product is called Giantlands. It's a science fantasy tabletop RPG, in a boxed set, and has an associated theme park! The original boxed set was originally Kickstarted in 2019 by Stephen E. Dinehart IV, which also included a limited edition boxed set which was limited to 100 copies, which would not be made again.

Be the first kid on your block to get our first blockbuster summer release GiantLands! This crowdfunded game is made in Wisconsin with some of the original TSR team, like Larry Elmore, Jeff Dee and James M. Ward. It will be among the first titles to bring TSR Games back to life. The GiantLands 1st Edition boxed set consists of three booklets, dice and more, a homage to the original D&D set.


Screen Shot 2021-06-19 at 12.25.54 PM.png

A radiant golden Sun rises over a devastated planet Earth of the 5th Age. Emerging from the destruction is a planet born anew where giants, tribes, mutants, androids and odd creatures from a multitude of worlds clash in an attempt to reclaim the Earth as their own! The GiantLands® 1st Edition Set includes there core rule booklets, character sheets, dice and few more surprises. While you can play this game at a table, it’s also the key to a new active world, where live-action roleplay and costumes are encouraged. Soon you’ll also be able to join us at live events and a GiantLands theme park where you can go on adventures as your favorite characters in a living game world!


So, as far as I can make out, there are now two operational TSRs. There's TSR Games, at tsrgames.com, run by Jayson Elliot, which originally launched Gygax Magazine in 2012, and now publishes Top Secret. And there's this new TSR Games, at the confusing similar tsr.games, which is publishing Giantlands. Ernie Gygax was involved in the formation of both companies. I don't know if or how the two are related, or what the trademark situation would be there! More news if I hear it!

(Both company's logos below!)

tsr1.png
tsr2.png


tsr.jpg
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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I'd rather Avalon Hill or SPI made a comeback.

Avalon Hill is still part of WotC and board games are still released under the Avalon Hill name.

 



MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Obviously, my definition of "first edition" needs work...

Only 2000 of this 1st Edition Set Are Available! This is the second version of the 1st Edition. The first version was created for our GiantLands Limited 1st Edition Kickstarter backers. This is a 1st edition which will not be made again, is exclusively available on our website and is only available in print.

Learning about the fate of the Marmoreal Tomb's kickstarter does not make me hopeful.

Reading comments by GiantLand's creator on his kickstarter shows he's very anti-pdf. Print only! Not electronic!
 




MerricB

Eternal Optimist
That . . . is a strange point of view. Divorced from reality, I think. Damn.
I may not be quite reporting it correctly.

From his Kickstarter comments:
That might change, but I find digital editions only serve to help make sure I can't sell my product. I could see doing it at a time when we're more concerned with getting additional players, but for now I need to sell boxed sets. That said, I am trying to user Backerkit to sell at least one additional unit to backers at cost and in the near future we will be releasing a PDF but not of the full ruleset.
 




Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I suppose his idea is that if I could buy a Giantlands ebook, then I might not purchase the printed box set. Rather than, if there's no ebook . . . I'm not purchasing Giantlands at all.

I am not impressed with this man's business acumen.
I believe the thought is that if you release a pdf, then it will be a day before someone puts up for pirating and thus people won't buy it if they can get it for free.

Not saying that's accurate, but is a common position I've heard from others.
 

That . . . is a strange point of view. Divorced from reality, I think. Damn.

WotC does not seem to care about whatever not offering PDFs does for sales. And for many years, and probably still now, Paizo vigorously monitored all the typical places their PDFs are shared illegally and got them removed as soon as they could. So if a small company does not have the time or manpower to have to do all that to keep the scum from stealing their work, why even make downloadable versions available?
 

Dire Bare

Legend
The theme park bit makes the whole operation look shady to me, for some reason.
For an idea of what they are talking about, check out the Evermore park . . . it's kind of like a Renn Fair, but with a fantasy theme. It's actually a pretty neat place! One of the folks involved with Giantlands was part of the team behind the Evermore park in Utah.
 

WotC does not seem to care about whatever not offering PDFs does for sales. And for many years, and probably still now, Paizo vigorously monitored all the typical places their PDFs are shared illegally and got them removed as soon as they could. So if a small company does not have the time or manpower to have to do all that to keep the scum from stealing their work, why even make downloadable versions available?
Because, as was alluded to above, lots of even smaller companies (a single person at a dining room table) have built their RPG brands off of their free PDFs and then, once that version had circulated throughout gaming circles, been playtested and gotten a lot of good word of mouth, then they were able to have an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign of a print version of a game that was already out there and widely available for free.

And this isn't a one-off. Multiple small RPG companies have done this successfully.

That said, I don't think anyone should be surprised that someone whose biggest business plan seems to be "let's remind them of gaming in 1979" might not be hip to the latest design trends or distribution methods.
 
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Because, as was alluded to above, lots of even smaller companies (a single person at a dining room table) have built their RPG brands off of their free PDFs and then, once that version had circulated throughout gaming circles, been playtested and gotten a lot of good word of mouth, then they were able to have an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign of a print version of a game that was already out there and widely available for free.

And this isn't a one-off. Multiple small RPG companies have done this successfully.

That said, I don't think anyone whose biggest business plan seems to be "let's remind them of gaming in 1979" might not be hip to the latest design trends or distribution methods.

I never use those crowdfunding sites, and before the pandemic, I rarely bought anything that was digital-only. If I could not see a book in person first and look through it, I would not buy it.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
WotC does not seem to care about whatever not offering PDFs does for sales. And for many years, and probably still now, Paizo vigorously monitored all the typical places their PDFs are shared illegally and got them removed as soon as they could. So if a small company does not have the time or manpower to have to do all that to keep the scum from stealing their work, why even make downloadable versions available?
It's not really about the PDF format itself, but offering your work in some sort of easily accessible digital format. For most companies, that's PDF. WotC, of course, does not offer the current edition books in PDF format, but they DO offer them in a variety of digital formats through D&D Beyond, Fantasy Grounds, and Roll20.

Paizo might spend effort on combatting piracy, but most small press publishers don't and they do just fine. Piracy is certainly a sad reality publishers have to deal with . . . but the idea of combating piracy by not offering digital versions of your work . . . well, again, I'm not impressed with the business sense behind Giantlands.
 

I never use those crowdfunding sites, and before the pandemic, I rarely bought anything that was digital-only. If I could not see a book in person first and look through it, I would not buy it.
OK. You are not the whole of the market. Games you have heard of (or ought to have heard of, to be honest) have done this method.

If you hoped to be a professional games publisher, like the second generation of Gygaxes, you definitely ought to know about this stuff.
 

Hakdov

Explorer
GMT Games would be the spiritual successor to those companies. :) (And there are MANY board game companies in existence!)

However, there are very few Avalon Hill or SPI games that would do well now. Most of the ones that hold up have been reprinted!

Cheers!
Anything would be better than the fake AH that Hasbro keeps around for some unknown reason. Why keep the brandname when they basically don't print any actual old AH titles? They do have some old games that might do well with a modern remake. Magic Realm would probably do great if they simplified it and put a bunch of minis for it in a big box.
 
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