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Both RPG publishers once known as TSR divest themselves of the name, but questions remain

Social media silence obscures ties between publishing entities.

Two roleplaying game publishers, both claiming some right to call their company TSR, have since changed names. Solarian Games and Wonderfilled, Inc. have distanced themselves from what became a confusing series of official announcements, refutation, Twitter gaffes and publicly criticised transphobia and bigotry from key members.

Days after Dicebreaker first reported on the events that led to three different legal iterations of the old tabletop RPG publisher, Solarian Games - then TSR Games - maker of modern spy RPG Top Secret: New World Order, tweeted that it had abandoned its old name as a final vestige of its working relationship with the venture started by Ernie Gygax, Jr., son of Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax.

Gygax, Jr., along with North Carolina politician Justin LaNasa and narrative designer Stephen Dinehart, announced their founding a different TSR Games in mid-2021 after Solarian Games co-owner Jayson Elliot allegedly missed a refiling date on the name trademark. That company has since rebranded as Wonderfilled Games and launched a new website whose only ongoing project seems to be Dinehart’s science-fantasy RPG GiantLands.

Throughout the end of June, Gygax, Jr., along with the official Twitter accounts for the company and as-yet unreleased GiantLands, defended his earlier appearance on a podcast where he made statements the public and tabletop industry roundly criticised as transphobic and hateful. These accounts - including Gygax, Jr.'s - have since been made private or deleted, but not before TSR Games claimed Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast had carried out a “coordinated assault” on the company and its members.

Those accusations happened days after Gygax, Jr. apologised on his Facebook page for the negative response to his interview, wherein he relayed stories of being bullied for his interests growing up and apparently wishing he could have brought a gun to school to deal with them. Gygax later edited the post to instead state he wished to be a giant.

TSR Games (the one created by Gygax, Jr.) issued a press release on July 9th stating that it had replaced its social media manager, who reportedly handled the Twitter accounts for Giantlands, LaNasa and Gygax, Jr. According to new public relations officer Michael Hovermale, all social media posts previously made on any of those accounts “should be considered invalid”, and he was in the process of recovering them.

“I wish to speak directly to the transgender community regarding this incident,” Gygax, Jr. said at the end of the press release. “The individual who was speaking to you on Twitter does not represent me or TSR in any way. Trans people are always welcome to play with us. Everyone is welcome at our table.”

The press release branded itself with a TSR logo the original publisher used from 1980 to 1982, featuring a crescent moon, wizard in profile and the phrase “The Game Wizards” underneath. That same day, July 9th, a corresponding website launched with the same logo in its header and nothing more than a shop that links back to the Wisconsin-based Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. It also sells a few books authored by Justin LaNasa.

On the same day, Dinehart announced that he was stepping down as CCO of TSR Games and would not be licensing its trademark for his game, GiantLands. Dinehart’s name was not mentioned in the list of accounts Hovermale was attempting to recover. Dicebreaker has reached out to both parties for more information but did not receive a reply prior to publication.

TSR Games never officially announced its rebranding as Wonderfilled Games. By that point, most Twitter accounts had been locked down or nuked, and the company’s old website simply redirected to a new page that - interestingly - listed Dinehart’s GiantLands as an in-development title. His LinkedIn page shows him as president of Wonderfilled, Inc. since March 2018, ostensibly creating “mixed-reality experiences for retail, themed, virtual and cultural destinations.” The Twitter account for Wonderfilled, Inc. is also protected.

“If you are attempting to follow our accounts on Twitter that are now Protected, you only need to request it by clicking the Follow button,” Wonderfilled explained in a Facebook post. “You'll been given an automated Trust rating based on your previous interactions & account to determine if you are allowed entry at this time (sic). Thank you.”

How much of TSR Games exists in Wonderfilled Games isn’t clear. Its logo is the barest redesign of the famous tiered letters seen throughout the 1980s and briefly co-opted by Gygax, Jr. - he’s listed as a creative supervisor on GiantLands’ official website. After weeks of what could be called ‘tweeting through it’ he, LaNasa and other associated parties have been silent regarding the name change and continuing work on its one RPG.


Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter

Contributor

Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.

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