TSR TSR3 Throws In Towel, Rebrands Wonderfilled

In the news story that never ends, after reversing its position earlier and admitting that it was NOT the original TSR reincarnated, the new TSR company, embroiled in acrimony for the last two weeks, and having blamed the widespread criticism it has received on Wizards of the Coast, has deleted its own Twitter account and rebranded its website, misspelling it’s own name in the process.

In just a week a much-loved trademark, which was associated with the creation of our entire hobby, and which generally attracted nostalgic affection as recently as a fortnight ago, has been utterly trashed in an astonishing display of self-destructive publicity and incompetence. Two companies (one of which was directly responsible for the damage) have now divested themselves of it, and most major conventions have banned the company behind it, due to the actions and statements of three people: Justin LaNasa, Stephen Dinehart, and Ernie Gygax. "TSR" is no longer a brand which anybody wants to be associated with — not even the company which ‘relaunched’ it two weeks ago, let alone the company they sniped it from. It has been a spectacular masterclass in how not to manage a brand.

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This followed an astonishing day of activity where one of the three TSR3 founders, Stephen Dinehart announced - publicly! - that he had blocked WotC and Hasbro on Twitter. After everybody thought things couldn't get any more ridiculous, they did.

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As TSR2 rebranded to Solarian this week (after TSR3 sniped their name and trademark due to a missed filing), we've now gone from two TSRs to zero TSRs in the space of a few days.

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Most people assume that WotC (or Hasbro) has been in contact with TSR3 regarding its use of copyrighted imagery.

Meanwhile, search teams have been sent out for Michael, the mysterious PR officer announced last week who made two posts and then was never heard from again. In the meantime, somebody has set up a parody Twitter account for him.
 

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adamantyr

Adventurer
"Legendary OD&D and 1e Author!"
"Creator of the first Sci-fi RPG!"

both seem like they would have been pretty good too, right?
I think Marc Miller would have something to say about the second one. :)

Or not, MA predates Traveller by a year or at least a couple months...
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Well, it's his name spelled backwards, so I can kinda see why.
Yeah, you have to wonder if there was any kind of formal agreement about Drawmij being owned by TSR and not Ward, the character’s creator. Given historical mismanagement at TSR, I can see it being kind of fuzzy unless established by the courts.
 

Shakeshift

Adventurer
Oh, I don't disagree. I'm just saying that I can kinda sorta see why they might think that is all. At least it's not as bad as Luke Gygax not being allowed to have a magazine called "Gygax." Sheesh...
It always made me cringe when the Dolby Corporation sued Thomas Dolby when he used his own legal name as a music artist, saying that he would have to change it to avoid being confused with (allegedly much more popular) Dolby music products. He went into court, and paid 4.8 million dollars in legal fees to LOSE the right to use his own name as a recording artist. That's gotta hurt bad.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
It always made me cringe when the Dolby Corporation sued Thomas Dolby when he used his own legal name as a music artist, saying that he would have to change it to avoid being confused with (allegedly much more popular) Dolby music products. He went into court, and paid 4.8 million dollars in legal fees to LOSE the right to use his own name as a recording artist. That's gotta hurt bad.
Dolby isn’t his real name. And he won the case.
 

It always made me cringe when the Dolby Corporation sued Thomas Dolby when he used his own legal name as a music artist, saying that he would have to change it to avoid being confused with (allegedly much more popular) Dolby music products. He went into court, and paid 4.8 million dollars in legal fees to LOSE the right to use his own name as a recording artist. That's gotta hurt bad.
It wasn't actually his legal name (it was a nickname after the company's products from his days as an AV nerd that became a stage name and that his publicists had presented as his middle name), and he mostly won the case. The court did enjoin him from promoting sound equipment under the Thomas Dolby name, which unlike with most recording artists is not at all outside the realm of something he might have been interested in doing, since he's a huge AV nerd famous for his adeptness with sound equipment. The court also, somewhat amusingly, enjoined him from putting "Dolby" more prominently than 'Thomas" on any of his albums, promotional materials, etc. But he continued to use the Thomas Dolby name as a recording artist (and now teaches music at Johns Hopkins as Professor Dolby).

Honestly I think the court ruling was just about right. The unjust thing is that it cost a giant pile of money to get there.

The case is Dolby v. Robertson.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
They were one of, if not the only, publisher forced to destroy product because they couldn't follow the OGL.

As I remember it FFE released a statement that they had to destroy a batch of books but wouldn’t clarify if that was their own decision or a request from WotC. Not even when straight up asked would they commit to an answer.

So I surmised at the time that they pulled a fast one to gather sympathy for a failing business, in an attempt to salvage the whole thing.

Sounds strangely familiar, doesn’t it?
 

barasawa

Explorer
Makes me wonder if he really believes this--like, he thinks that without his contributions, there would be no D&D--or if he is just trying to fool everyone else.
My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I thought I saw a post from Jim that he's working (worked?) with some people there, but he doesn't know why they're claiming he's a creator of D&D itself. (Back early in this mess)
But TSR3/Wonderfilled seems to talk a lot of smack they can't back up.
(I'm actually sick of all the TSR# drama trash going on in the first place.)
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Sorry to say but it's not just Dinehart. Jim Ward is on board with the 'co-creator of D&D' label. Using his logic, anybody who has worked on D&D in the last 50 years is a co-creator. There are dozens of co-creators of D&D right here on these boards! And Twitter has hundreds of them!

Ugh.

I really appreciate what Jim Ward has done for D&D and the hobby. Heck, if you search the archives, you will see that he had a column running here that had some really cool history for it. And yes, his contributions to early D&D (both OD&D and AD&D) as well as early sci-fi RPGs (Metamorphosis Alpha) deserve to be remembered.

I would add that, like many game designers, he never got rich off the game industry* and there was a whole thing where people did fundraisers to support him when he had medical bills due to a serious medical condition ten years or so ago.

But this is not a good look, at all.


*And he is one of the people in the Hall of Fame.
 

adamantyr

Adventurer
It wouldn't be the first time Jim was a little tone-deaf; he didn't really understand why everyone was so angry at Ernie and TSR3 after the bunker interview.

That said, that puts anyone who wants to keep pushing on this in the unfortunate spot of having to call Jim out. Not something I really want to do unless he REALLY crosses a line.
 

Shakeshift

Adventurer
I'm sorry, but I'm never saying that James Ward was a co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons even on the best of days. After what Dave Arneson had to go through just to get acknowledgement of his own claim to the legacy, it cheapens it by saying that James Ward had ANYTHING to do with it other than as a contributing writer for Deities and Demigods and a few other things. That's all he was at the end of the day was a contributing writer who was paid for his time. The fact that neither Arneson or Gygax is around anymore to refute these ridiculous claims doesn't mean that every writer for hire from those days also has a co-creator credit coming to them. Far from it. If they want creator credit, I wanna see that PROVEN in a court of intellectual property law. Until then, it's just egotistical daydreams and it has no rightful place being said as a statement of fact.

That creator credit goes to two men, NOT to the people who did work FOR the two men. Amongst other reasons, we're seeing bottom-feeders like Stephen Dinehart trying to attach himself like a bloody parasite onto the D&D name in order to boost up his own sub-par gaming company releasing these overpriced, under-qualified products. Then James Ward trying to act like "Dungeons and Dragons : Created by James Ward, Dave Arneson, and Gary Gygax" isn't just a piece of fanciful fiction to make his ego feel bigger.

I will never give people false credit, and that's what this feels like; Stolen credentials. Two creators of the game, and a ton of writers, editors, and artists. That's all. End of story. "Co-creator" my pimpled backside. I ask for a lot more proof than a claim of "I don't like to talk about it but I also secretly created that game, too!" spoken passive-aggressively 40+ years after the fact.
 
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Shakeshift

Adventurer
You look at this RPG game that costs $140 with shipping, and is obviously not done with any indicator of quality or care... Then you see the names attached to the project, and how in addition to being way overpriced, it's also being manipulated in the market by Stephen Dinehart who is not only incendiary on social media but he also has no compunction about going online under fake names and talking about how great his own game product is... even going so far as to answer people who accuse him of posting false reviews under a fake name by replying "I have no idea what any of you are talking about. I'm just uhhhhh... ENJOYING THESE GREAT OLYMPIC GAMES!"

Jim Ward willingly threw in with these questionable human beings even though they have proved they're trainwrecks. Much like Ernie Gygax, I don't care what their legacy USED to be four decades ago. They're being awful people in the PRESENT. I wish people would stop forgiving them and hold them accountable when they make bad life choices. Forgiving is commendable, but some of this stuff is just plain cringeworthy.
 


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