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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

Andrea Rocci

Explorer
I'm a 50 year old grognard who's been playing D&D (almost every edition) and other rpgs since 1979... so you could rightly say I am the target demo for this. That being said, I find this whole endeavor shady, sketchy, and somewhat sad all at the same time.
Gamer in his 50's here. I too find the whole operation very sad. It's not clear at all what are they supposed to bring back exactly from the good old days that has not already been brought back by the countless of "old school" rpgs that came out in the last decade or so, and they honestly do not seem to have a clue about the current rpg market.
 

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blackscribe

Villager
Edit I should note that multiple TSRs and past track records on game delivery worry me. This game is apparently already complete given the previous kickstart of it though... so again the game will tell.
They haven't delivered on the Kickstarter yet and it has been two years. So there is very little to indicate that the game is complete outside of yet another promise that it will be sent out soon.
 

The artwork seems rather good :). Somewhat 'old school' but in the vein of 'quality old school', less violent action and more 'what is going on here' kind of stuff.

I wish them more success than the last try, which seemed to be cursed.
 

We saw how that went for the WWF. I have a feeling that things won't get that bad here, with considerably less money involved. But it wouldn't take much for a court case to pop up anyway.

For me the big question is how there can be TWO companies with the same name? Who owns the trademark right now? Are the two companies linked?

Yeah, between the Marmoreal Tomb Kickstarter debacle (I backed it at the lowest print run level, so I'm not as badly put out by that as some, but it's still a sore spot) and the social media comments from some of the people involved, this isn't looking promising. It's TSR without D&D, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, without the intellectual property. It's TSR without most of the people that made it what it was. So it's just a logo at this point, an appeal to nostalgia. TSR is not back - It is not and cannot be the TSR that people so fondly remember.

Well, it looks like the new TSR is screwed. They have people like me who won't buy anything because their track record is horrible (the big reason) and many folks in that inner circle have made comments about woke culture is ruining gaming (a smaller, but personal reason).

And if you read other forums catering to the hard right, none of them will support it either because Larry Elmore once made a comment about how the artists tried to "sneak in PoC because otherwise literally everyone would be white.", which makes them all "woke cucks".

🤷‍♂️

So I guess this new TSR is screwed either way.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Yeah, between the Marmoreal Tomb Kickstarter debacle (I backed it at the lowest print run level, so I'm not as badly put out by that as some, but it's still a sore spot)

The Marmoreal Kickstarter is really shameful and I'm surprised (but maybe not) that it is not a scandal in OSR circles. Ernie basically just gave his name to be used (I think much like what is going on with this supposed "New TSR") and the whole work was by Benoist Poire, who is incredibly slow and keeps making excuses and being too busy posting political rants on Facebook.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
TSR is not back - It is not and cannot be the TSR that people so fondly remember.
This may be heresy, but nor should it. TSR era D&D is still my favorite, but it should stay in history. I still have all of my books if I want to capture the exact nostalgia of 1980s D&D. That isn't to say there isn't a lot of value in that style of gaming, and the OSR in general--there absolutely is. Heck, not long ago I created a thread saying how there is room in the modern gaming community for old school style gaming. But it can't be presented in the way it was in the 70s/80s. You wouldn't create a sitcom set in the 1950s and have the same writing, jokes, and presentation as shows were during the 50s itself, for obvious reasons.

Don't get me wrong, I do wish them success, sincerely. But the history isn't great with delivering on promises, and until I see something concrete, I am dubious.
The Marmoreal Kickstarter is really shameful and I'm surprised (but maybe not) that it is not a scandal in OSR circles. Ernie basically just gave his name to be used (I think much like what is going on with this supposed "New TSR") and the whole work was by Benoist Poire, who is incredibly slow and keeps making excuses and being too busy posting political rants on Facebook.

IIRC, before Benoist went off grid from forums where he was a moderator for in 2018 (when people kept asking him why the KS was not delivering), he had said that Ernie had put in as many hours into it as he did. It's not a scandal in the OSR because no one in the OSR would dare criticize Gary or his family.

From everything I know, the original KS was not a cash grab. It was a legit project they wanted to do (and Ernie suffered many tragedies during that time.) It was just horribly, woefully, managed and planned (I guess in that sense, they did capture TSR accurately). By Benoist's own admission, he had been working on it for 5 years before even doing the campaign, so why in God's name they thought they could get it completed in the time frame they promised is beyond me. I mean, he had five years of real data to extrapolate how long it should take to finish. I.e., if you're 60% complete after 5 years, why would you think you could do the next 40% in one year?

But yeah, maybe less ranting about how the Tolkien society and woke culture is ruining everything good, and more getting work done that you promised backers you would give them.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
Does it Jeff? But does it tho? Nah but really mate does it?

Skeptical face. Seems more like when D&D has 50m players maybe it's time to cash in lol.

I do like the piece of art, mostly because of the juxtaposition of Elmore's style and the very "2020 take on what the 1980s looked like" colouring. If they've got something awesome to offer, cool. Classic adventures ain't that, but maybe some sort of nifty OSR game?

EDIT - Oh boy, Giantlands is going full LARP, coming out of a pandemic? It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for 'em! Credit for doing something a little different I guess.

At least it's some old hands cashing in as opposed to another WotC money grab. ;)
 
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It's a sad thing indeed. I wouldn't say that the whole work is Poire's, but certainly I don't think it would've gotten the same backing had it been "Benoist Poire's Marmoreal Tomb." I'll certainly never touch a Kickstarter from Ernie Gygax again.

The Marmoreal Kickstarter is really shameful and I'm surprised (but maybe not) that it is not a scandal in OSR circles. Ernie basically just gave his name to be used (I think much like what is going on with this supposed "New TSR") and the whole work was by Benoist Poire, who is incredibly slow and keeps making excuses and being too busy posting political rants on Facebook.

Yeah, you can't slap the TSR trade dress on and call it "the return of the company that created D&D."

Despite being fond of old school gaming, and having an enormous amount of nostalgia attached to the TSR era, I'm increasingly frustrated with the OSR. I'm so tired of having to check each creator before buying a book to make sure they're not some kind of bigot, and of ending up rubbing virtual elbows with bigots. If I have to hear "woke culture is destroying D&D" one more time...

This may be heresy, but nor should it. TSR era D&D is still my favorite, but it should stay in history. I still have all of my books if I want to capture the exact nostalgia of 1980s D&D. That isn't to say there isn't a lot of value in that style of gaming, and the OSR in general--there absolutely is. Heck, not long ago I created a thread saying how there is room in the modern gaming community for old school style gaming. But it can't be presented in the way it was in the 70s/80s. You wouldn't create a sitcom set in the 1950s and have the same writing, jokes, and presentation as shows were during the 50s itself, for obvious reasons.

Don't get me wrong, I do wish them success, sincerely. But the history isn't great with delivering on promises, and until I see something concrete, I am dubious.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Damn that WotC, with their on-time shipping of products!
Not trying to be mean, but what track record, professionally, does Ernie have? Just being the son of Gary might max out your friend list on FB, but it doesn't get products out of the door. And while Benoist certainly has put A LOT of time and effort into their project, what experience does he have in running a campaign and publishing?

Those are the most important factors to me. And let's be honest, their track record is pretty bad. Like, Far West bad, and that's not a good thing when you want to start a new project. If it didn't have the Gygax name, it would have flopped already (like the first group who got the TSR logo a few years ago--no one really cares). But how long can Ernie ride the coattails of his dad's legacy? How does that translate into sales if you keep failing to deliver? By all accounts, nearly everyone who's spent time with Ernie all say he's a genuine really nice guy. But nice guy =/= knowing how to run projects.

I hope I'm wrong though. I hope they get projects completed, fulfill promises, and become successful.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
The first two paragraphs of my comment were in response to Azzy, who was talking about the people who refuse to support the new TSR because they are "woke cucks" (see my comment Azzy quoted to see who I'm talking about and where they made such comments). I wasn't talking about Ernie or the others in the top two paragraphs you quoted.

The point being, and the whole reason I brought it up, was to show how the new TSR seems to have alienated everyone, which is unfortunate because it appears they are bringing in people regardless of political beliefs, but have name recognition to the original TSR. And on forums, it seems people are latching on to the political piece of the folks involved.

I.e., Ernie and Justin have upset liberal gamers with things they've said, and Larry and Jeff have upset the more conservative gamer groups with what they said, so it's a lose lose all around. Which I believe is unfortunate and doesn't bode well for the success of the company.
I think some of the people in or interested in this project are nostalgic for the days when gaming was thought of as being apolitical (of course, that was when the vast majority of them were white, male, heterosexual, and cisgendered and diversity was more about whether you had Irish, German, or French roots, used dice towers or cups, or preferred Funyuns over Doritos (as all good people do)). They didn't notice that they had an approachability problem from other demographics because they were part of the in-group - and privilege often doesn't notice it has it when it's so ubiquitous.

If someone like Jeff Dee can willingly work with someone like Justin LaNasa and even have him as a Facebook friend, then maybe we should think about trusting his judgment rather than think we know a person because of the stuff they post on social media. Presumably, they recognize something about each others' value as colleagues in the industry even if they don't see eye to eye, politically. That said, there are things I've seen posted by certain people in the gaming industry, real race-baiting stuff, that will keep me from buying anything they work on, so I may not be the best person to judge that (though I try to keep my threshold of provocation at the fairly extreme ends of major aggressions and not worry about the things others might think of as "micro"-aggressions).
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
Not trying to be mean, but what track record, professionally, does Ernie have? Just being the son of Gary might max out your friend list on FB, but it doesn't get products out of the door. And while Benoist certainly has put A LOT of time and effort into their project, what experience does he have in running a campaign and publishing?

Those are the most important factors to me. And let's be honest, their track record is pretty bad. Like, Far West bad, and that's not a good thing when you want to start a new project. If it didn't have the Gygax name, it would have flopped already (like the first group who got the TSR logo a few years ago--no one really cares). But how long can Ernie ride the coattails of his dad's legacy? How does that translate into sales if you keep failing to deliver? By all accounts, nearly everyone who's spent time with Ernie all say he's a genuine really nice guy. But nice guy =/= knowing how to run projects.

I hope I'm wrong though. I hope they get projects completed, fulfill promises, and become successful.
I really don’t care one way or the other about Ernie. It’s jim ward that has me interested. Nothing against Ernie. It’s Jim wards work that i have really liked that makes me want to see what he can still do.
 

pming

Hero
Despite their popularity, mullets were never sweet. 😝
HUSH YOUR NON-CULTURED MOUTH! :mad:

I've always had long hair, usually somewhere between mid back and tailbone (usually the later). Shortest I've ever had it, other than when I was 6 years or under), was just below shoulder length...and that drove me NUTZ! Every time I turned my head, I'd feel hair brush over my shoulder. Then the 80's came... :) I was a goaltender in hockey so wanted to keep my hair out of my eyes...but wanted to keep it long...enter... The Mullet!
So, in/around 1984 or so...that was my hair style of choice...for the next 30'ish years. Now? Just long and pulled back in a pony tail. Simple and boring. Although one day I'm going to get a nice, Chinese Queue done. :) I was trying to wait until I turned all grey, but I'm 51 and the only grey I have is in my beard (with maybe a dozen, tops, individual grey hairs on my long, dark locks). My dad is the same way; he's 73...about 4 grey hairs on his head...so the only way I'm getting grey hair is if I dye it.

But a mullet? Hmmm.... I could use another hair cut.... ;)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
I really don’t care one way or the other about Ernie. It’s jim ward that has me interested. Nothing against Ernie. It’s Jim wards work that i have really liked that makes me want to see what he can still do.
Agreed here! Ward, last I checked, was still doing some good stuff with Metamorphosis Alpha and he has a great, casual style and produces a product I am not afraid to introduce to my family (old school, easy to learn and not filled with gratuitously R content).
 


pming

Hero
Hiya!
Gamer in his 50's here. I too find the whole operation very sad. It's not clear at all what are they supposed to bring back exactly from the good old days that has not already been brought back by the countless of "old school" rpgs that came out in the last decade or so, and they honestly do not seem to have a clue about the current rpg market.
Ditto (although BARELY starting my 50's...I'm 51). Thing is...and this is the think keeping me from jumping in on it...is that we older grognards... already HAVE 1st edition, Basic, Runequest, Traveller, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, etc. Why in the name of Lucifer would I want yet another "OSR-Style" re-do of a game I already have? Unless they are bringing something that blows me away in the whole mixing of science/fantasy...I'll just keep playing what I have. The only "OSR" game system that REALLY grabbed my nuggets was Kenzer & Co's "Hackmaster" (the first one, based on 1e/2e).

So I guess I'm a bit... "l;uke warm" , on this. Might be pretty cool, and I am 'down with it' to see what they come up with. Weather or not I'm actually 'down with it' enough to buy and play over 1e/HM....yeah....that's gonna be a hard sell, but I REALLY hope they pull it off! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


Ditto (although BARELY starting my 50's...I'm 51). Thing is...and this is the think keeping me from jumping in on it...is that we older grognards... already HAVE 1st edition, Basic, Runequest, Traveller, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, etc. Why in the name of Lucifer would I want yet another "OSR-Style" re-do of a game I already have? Unless they are bringing something that blows me away in the whole mixing of science/fantasy...I'll just keep playing what I have. The only "OSR" game system that REALLY grabbed my nuggets was Kenzer & Co's "Hackmaster" (the first one, based on 1e/2e).
There are OSR products that improve on what's come before, while still remaining consistent with the old school rule sets. I would rather use OSRIC than 1E, even though they're the exact same rulesets. I would probably use Old School Essentials over either. There's definitely a whole spectrum of ways to remix old school games in ways that are attractive. The second Knock! mega-magazine is on Kickstarter right now, and looks like it's packed full of cool stuff for old school gamers. Mörk Borg and Dungeon Crawl Classics have remixed old school designs and aesthetics in exciting new ways that arguably do old school gaming better than the original games.

None of that is on display with this project, though.

There's no argument about why someone would give these guys money, other than the names "TSR" and "Gygax," neither of which are any sort of guarantee of any kind of quality or, you know, basic ability to deliver a product.

"Please give me thousands of dollars because you have fond memories of something my dad did almost 50 years ago" isn't a business plan.
 
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pming

Hero
There are OSR products that improve on what's come before, while still remaining consistent with the old school rule sets. I would rather use OSRIC than 1E, even though they're the exact same rulesets.
Different strokes and all that I think. :)

I did enjoy reading OSRIC, and there are others out there too; Labyrinth Lord (basic and Advanced), Swords & Sorcery, Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Fantastic Heroes & Witchery, Dark Dungeons, etc. Lots of GREAT stuff out there! :) But, for me, I'm still quite comfortable still playing my 1e/Hackmaster hybrid and don't see any reason to switch anytime soon.

But...maybe they can pull it off. Maybe. To quote The Great Hall, "Time will tell...". (virtual cookie to any other grognards who know what movie I'm quoting...).

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

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