|This article or section is about something oldschool - and awesome.|
Make sure your rose-tinted glasses are on nice and tight, and prepare for a lovely walk down nostalgia lane.
The company that started the hobby. The name was, at least at first, an initialism for Tactical Studies Rules. Famous for creating Chainmail, Dungeons and Dragons, Gamma World, Empire of the Petal Throne, Alternity, and a host of others. Founded by one E. Gary Gygax and Don Kaye back before most of you were a glimmer in your fathers' eyes.
They took the concept and made proverbial bank, garnering licenses for Indiana Jones, Marvel Comics and such as their popularity grew.
When the company started getting too big for its britches, it put a horrendous she-bitch in charge. Her idea was to get rid of Gygax (actually, Gygax smelled the imminent failure and sold her his shares) and make a second edition of AD&D. While the second edition did fix a few issues with the first game and introduced a bastardload of awesome fluff and setting material, the horrendous she-bitch that ran the company decided that playtesting was a bad idea (Dohohoho) and TSR put out the OPTION series (or D&D 2.5 as it's sometimes referred to by butthurt people that got screwed over by WotC) which were broken and eventually led to the company's demise shortly after their 25th anniversary.
Fuck You, Lorraine Williams.
Since WotC's Buyout
When Wizards of the Coast bought WotC, they acquired all of the associated trademarks. However, the trademark for the name fell out of use in 2004. For some years no one really bothered to check until, in 2011, Jayson Elliott realized WotC was no longer using the trademark and then filed to claim it himself. Elliott then began work making the game Top Secret and maintained the trademark for a few years before accidentally missing a filing date some time in 2020.
Seeing the trademark once more up for grabs, a man named Justin LaNasa then acquired it. Over the course of a few months, LaNasa slowly gathered a small team of people to try and launch a company using the old TSR nostalgia. Two of these people were Ernie Gygax Jr. and Stephan Dinehart. Dinehart's hiring meant that this new TSR gained the rights to publish the RPG GiantLands, an RPG that was kickstarted in 2019 but failed to launch it's product on time but appears to be on track for release in July or August 2021. Ernie Gygax, though, is the son of the late Gary Gygax and his business acumen is less than stellar, having helped manage a magazine for a brief while (named GYGAX) before trying to make a megadungeon/wilderness setting/campaign setting called Marmoreal Tomb. The Tomb was kickstarted and funded in 2015 but after years of failing to ship, Ernie began facing a number of lawsuits and investigations for not only failing to launch the game but also possible tax evasion for failing to file taxes on his company he made to sell the Tomb. He sold it off to Troll Lord Games in 2019 who have worked hard to get it out and seem to be working hard on completing it and finally getting it out to people.
In June 2021, LaNasa made the announcement to the world of the new TSR.games (yes, that's how they are promoting it) and within hours there was controversy. LaNasa and Dinehart were very cagey about what all was included with the boxed set of GiantLands while also making statements and officially putting it up on the TSR.games website that GiantLands would also incorporate LARP at an official GiantLands themepark. They also announced they were attempting to create a new Star Frontiers RPG, though a quick check shows that WotC still owns that IP, trademark and all. They also opened a for-profit museum at the old TSR business site in Lake Geneva, WI, while trying to court WotC for licenses so they can publish new material for old school D&D/AD&D.
However, the biggest controversy came right after Ernie Gygax, acting in his capacity as Executive Vice President of this new TSR, gave an interview wherein he referred to Wizard's recent attempts to downplay racial ability scores and racial stereotypes in their games as them "join[ing] the pack of lemmings," likened Wizards to "corporate raiders" while simultaneously making disparaging remarks about Native Americans, and also making comments that could be seen as being disparaging towards the LGBT community.
Within hours of the interview the official TSR twitter was lit up with people wanting to know what the interview was all about, with the official twitter first commenting that Ernie "wasn't a corporate person" (he's their VP), that he did not make those comments (it's on camera), and then blocking people en masse before putting up some rather dumb tweets to try and distance themselves but also not really denouncing the comments made by Ernie.
During that shitshow it came to light that TSR had also been sending legal threats to old school D&D fan groups on Facebook and elsewhere demanding they either pay the company money so they can display TSR logos or the company would seek to get them shut down. TSR also was sending blank contracts to game designers and artists "to speed up commission work" but which asked things (allegedly) of a personal and private nature. Then a number of old TSR employees (Kask, Ward, etc) who had been name dropped by LaNasa as being courted or even having a working relationship with came forward and either refuted those comments or even flat out denied ever even being contacted by this new TSR. Luke Gygax, another Gygax son and brother of Ernie, even went so far as to say he had avoided this new TSR and urged Ernie to back away from the company.
Then information came to light that LaNasa was not exactly the nicest of people himself, requiring female employees of his to wrestle in grits in order to get promotions (and which he recorded with commentary) and had ran boom-bust businesses before.
Dinehart, for his part, has also put out comments saying that all of these issues have been made up and advanced by Wizards themselves, namedropping the company in a tweet.
All of these factors together made GaryCon, GenCon, and other companies and conventions, as well as individuals from old TSR and independent artists and game designers, to distance themselves from LaNasa's TSR, even banning them from some conventions. Basically Skub all around, with shit flinging from all sides.
Jayson Elliott, for his part, initially voiced hope that this new TSR would work out but has since backed away from them as well and has also said he will refuse to work with them.
Where this all goes no one knows, but it doesn't look good to say the least, with every side seeing red flags from "why the fuck are they already talking about a themepark when they haven't even released an RPG yet?" to "why the fuck won't they just shut the fuck up?" Most appear to agree, though, that this is just a cash grab operation hoping to sucker people who are nostalgic for the old logo (which, ironically, they may not have the rights to despite their using it since the trademark only includes the name).