- TSR, Inc.
Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = TSR, Inc.
fate = acquired & discontinued
Wizards of the Coast
foundation = 1983
defunct = 1997
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA
Gary Gygax, Brian Blume, Lorraine Williams
products = "
Dungeons & Dragons"
subsid = Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = Tactical Studies Rules
fate = dissolved
successor = TSR Hobbies, Inc.
foundation = 1973
defunct = 1975
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA
Gary Gygax, Don Kaye, Brian Blume
products = "
Dungeons & Dragons"
subsid = Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = TSR Hobbies, Inc.
fate = split up
successor = TSR, Inc., TSR Ventures, TSR International and TSR Entertainment Corporation
foundation = 1975
defunct = 1983
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA
Gary Gygax, Brian Blume, Kevin Blume
products = "
Dungeons & Dragons"
subsid = Greenfield Needlewomen
TSR, Inc. was an American game publishing company most famous for publishing the "
Dungeons & Dragons" role-playing game. The company was purchased in 1997 by Wizards of the Coast, which no longer uses the TSR name for its products.
Tactical Studies Rules
Tactical Studies Rules was formed in 1973 as a partnership between
Gary Gygaxand Don Kaye as a means to publish formally and sell the rules of " Dungeons & Dragons", one of the first modern role-playing games. They first published "Cavaliers and Roundheads", a miniature game, to start generating income for TSR. The partnership was subsequently joined by Brian Blumeand (temporarily) by Dave Arneson. Blume was admitted to the partnership to fund publishing of D&D instead of waiting for Cavalier and Roundheads to generate enough revenue.cite web |url =http://www.dragonsfoot.org/files/pdf/ODD09.pdf |title = An Interview with Gary Gygax, Part I |accessdate =9/11/2007 |accessdaymonth = 9 |accessmonthday = 11 |accessyear = 2007 |author = |last = Sacco |first = Ciro Alessandro |authorlink = |coauthors = |date = |year = 2007 |month = 2 |format = PDF |work = OD&Dities issue 9 |publisher = Richard Tongue |pages =7 |language = English |doi = |archiveurl = |archivedate = |quote = ] When Don Kaye died of a stroke in 1975, the Tactic Study Rules partnership was dissolved.
TSR Hobbies, Inc.
Brian Blumeand Gary Gygax, the remaining owners, incorporated a new company, TSR Hobbies, Inc., of which Blume and his father, Melvin Blume, had the larger share. The former assets of the partnership were transferred to TSR Hobbies, Inc. Ownership of Melvin Blume's shares were later transferred to Kevin Blume. With the board of directors consisting of Kevin and Brian Blume plus Gygax, Gygax was primarily a figurehead president & CEO of the corporation with Brian Blume as President of creative affairs and Kevin as President, operations effect in 1981. In 1983, the company was split into four companies, TSR, Inc. (primary successor), TSR International, TSR Ventures and TSR Entertainment, Inc.cite web |url =http://www.dragonsfoot.org/files/pdf/ODD09.pdf |title = An Interview with Gary Gygax, Part I |accessdate =9/11/2007 |accessdaymonth = 9 |accessmonthday = 11 |accessyear = 2007 |author = |last = Sacco |first = Ciro Alessandro |authorlink = |coauthors = |date = |year = 2007 |month = 2 |format = PDF |work = OD&Dities issue 9 |publisher = Richard Tongue |pages =7 |language = English |doi = |archiveurl = |archivedate = |quote = ]
Gygax left for Hollywood to found TSR Entertainment, Inc. (later Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corp.), which attempted to license D&D products to movie and television executives. His work would eventually lead to only a single license for what later became the "Dungeons & Dragons" cartoon.cite web | url=http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/538/538820p1.html | title=Gary Gygax Interview - Part 2 | last=Rausch | first=Allen | publisher=Gamespy | date=2004-08-16 | accessdate=2006-07-05] The Blumes were forced to leave after being accused of misusing corporate funds and accumulating large debts in the pursuit of acquisitions such as latchhook rug kits that were thought to be too broadly targeted. [ [http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/539/539197p4.html "Magic & Memories: The Complete History of "Dungeons & Dragons" - Part II"] from "
GameSpy"] Within a year of the ascension of the Blumes, the company was forced to post a net loss of 1.5 million US dollars, resulting in layoffs for approximately 75% of the staff. Some of these staff members went on to form other prominent game companies such as Pacesetter Games, Mayfair Gamesand to work with Coleco's video game division.
Gygax, who at that time owned only approximately 30% of the stock, requested that the Board of Directors remove the Blumes as a way of restoring financial health to the company. In an act many saw as retaliation, the Blumes sold their stock to
Lorraine Williams.cite web
title=Magic & Memories: The Complete History of Dungeons & Dragons - Part II: Mazes & Monsters | pages=5 | publisher=Gamespy
date=2004-08-16 | accessdate=2006-07-05] Gygax tried to have the sale declared illegal; after that failed, Gygax sold his remaining stock to Williams and used the capital to form
New Infinity Productions.
Williams was a financial planner who saw the potential for transforming the debt-plagued company into a highly profitable one. However, she disdained the gaming field, viewing herself as superior to gamers.cite web
title=gygaxfaq: What Happened to Gygax - TSR? | publisher=gygax.com | accessdate=2006-07-04
archivedate=1999-01-28] cite web
title=Magic & Memories: The Complete History of Dungeons & Dragons - Part III: Mazes & Monsters
accessdate=2006-07-04] Williams implemented an internal policy under which playing games was forbidden at the company.Fact|date=February 2007 This resulted in many products being released without being playtested (some were playtested "on the sly") and a large number of products being released that were incompatible with the existing game system.
Through Williams' direction, TSR solidified its expansion into other fields, such as magazines, paperback fiction, and comic books. Through her family, Williams personally held the rights to the
Buck Rogerslicense and encouraged TSR to produce Buck Rogers games and novels. TSR would end up publishing a board game and a role-playing game, the latter based on the AD&D 2nd Edition rules.
In 1984 TSR developed "
Dragonlance", which consisted of an entirely new game world promoted both by a series of game supplements and a trilogy of novels written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. "The Dragons of Autumn Twilight", the first novel in the series, reached the top of the New York Times Best Sellerlist, encouraging TSR to a launch a long series of paperback novels based on the various official settings for D&D. By the early 1990's, the profits from TSR's fiction department actually far surpassed that of their gaming publications. During the height of its success, TSR made an annual profit of over one million U.S. dollars, and maintained a staff of 400 employees.Fact|date=February 2007
However, problems grew in the company's business practices. After the emergence of
collectible card games, TSR released several new collectable game lines: " Dragon Dice" and " Spellfire". Neither found great success in the market place. Their inventory control became virtually nonexistent, and their warehouse became packed full of unsellable product. At the same time, TSR began retaliating against fan fiction and other creative work derived from TSR intellectual property, which angered many long-time customers and fans. Other new entrants into the RPG genre introduced competing fantasy worlds, which fragmented the RPG community, further reducing TSR's already wilting consumer base. TSR itself introduced no fewer than six campaign settings over the 1990s ( Al-Qadim, Birthright, Council of Wyrms, Dark Sun, Planescapeand Ravenloft, in addition to the traditional five settings of Mystara, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawkand Spelljammer), diluting its own fan base and creating competition between its expensive boxed campaign sets. Some campaign boxed sets (particularly Planescape) actually sold for less money than they cost to make. These and other factors, such as a disastrous year for its fiction lines in 1996 (over one million copies of tie-in books for various game lines were returned to TSR that year), led to TSR ending accumulating over $30 million in debt by 1996, and having to endure multiple rounds of layoffs. Ryan Dancey, Vice President of Wizards of the Coast, believed that TSR failed before of "...a near total inability to listen to its customers, hear what they were saying, and make changes to make those customers happy." [cite web
url = http://atlasofadventure.com/Archive/TSR1997Buyout.asp
title = Archived Record
accessdate = 2008-03-29
last = Dancey
first = Ryan
language = English
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20040530094717/http://atlasofadventure.com/Archive/TSR1997Buyout.asp
archivedate = 2004-05-30]
With the decline of TSR,
Wizards of the Coast, publishers of the wildly popular collectible card game "", inherited the title of "Lord of the RPGs".Fact|date=October 2007 Wizards of the Coast purchased TSR and its intellectual properties in 1997, ending the company's slow fall from grace.cite web
title=Wizards of the Coast to acquire TSR
publisher=The Game Cabinet
accessedate=2006-09-14] TSR employees were given the opportunity to transfer to Wizards of the Coast's offices in Washington; some accepted the offer. Corporate offices in the Lake Geneva office were closed. Over the next few years, various parts of the company were resold to other companies, while in 1999, Wizards of the Coast was itself purchased by Hasbro, Inc. In 2002 Gen Con was sold to
Peter Adkison's Gen Con, LLC.cite web
title=Biography, Peter D. Adkison
publisher=Gen Con LLC
accessdate=2006-07-04] Also in 2002 TSR's magazines were transferred to
Paizo Publishing.cite web
title=Wizards of the Coast Signs Exclusive Publishing Agreement With Paizo Publishing, LLC To Produce Top Hobby Industry Magazines
publisher=Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
accessedate=2006-07-04] The TSR brand name continued for several years, then was retired. Soon after, TSR trademarks were allowed to expire.
TSR's main products were role-playing games, the most successful of which was "Dungeons & Dragons". However, they also produced other games like card, board and dice games, and published both magazines and books.
Amazing Engine" (1993)
* "Boot Hill" (1975)
Buck Rogers XXVC"
* "Conan the Barbarian"
* "" (Saga System) (1996)
* " Dragonstrike" (board game and
Dungeons & Dragons" (1974)
* "Empire of the Petal Throne" (1975)
Gamma World" (1978)
* "Gangbusters" (1982)
* "Indiana Jones"
* "Marvel Super Heroes"
Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game" (Saga System) (1998)
Metamorphosis Alpha" (1976)
Star Frontiers" (1982)
* "Top Secret" (1980) and "
* "A Gleam of Bayonets" (on Antietam)
* "Cavaliers and Roundheads" (1973)
* "Chainmail" (1975)
* "Classic Warfare" (1975)
* "Divine Right" (1979)
Don't Give Up The Ship!" (1975)
Fight in the Skies" (1975) (later renamed "Dawn Patrol")
* "Little Big Horn" (1976)cite web |url =http://www.dragonsfoot.org/files/pdf/ODD09.pdf |title = An Interview with Gary Gygax, Part I |accessdate =9/11/2007 |accessdaymonth = 9 |accessmonthday = 11 |accessyear = 2007 |author = |last = Sacco |first = Ciro Alessandro |authorlink = |coauthors = |date = |year = 2007 |month = 2 |format = PDF |work = OD&Dities issue 9 |publisher = Richard Tongue |pages =7 |language = English |doi = |archiveurl = |archivedate = |quote = ]
* "Sniper!" (1986)
* "Star Probe" (1975)
* "Terrible Swift Sword" (1986)
* "Tricolor" (1975)
* "Warriors of Mars" (1974)
William the Conqueror" (1976)
* "Cordite & Steel" (1977)
* "Attack Force" (microgame)
Blood Wars" (collectible card game)
Buck Rogers - Battle for the 25th Century" (board game)
* "Chase" (board game)
* "Dragon Strike" (board game)
Dragon Dice" (collectible dice game)
* "Elixir" (board game)
Endless Quest" gamebooks
Escape From New York" (1981) (board game)
Fantasy Forest" (1980) (board game)
* "4th Dimension" (board game)
* "The Great Khan Game" (card game)
* "Icebergs" (microgame)
* "Kage" (board game)
Maxi Bour$e" (board game)
* "Remember the
Revolt on Antares" (microgame)
* "Saga" (microgame)
Spellfire" ( collectible card game)
* "Steppe" (board game)
* "They've Invaded Pleasantville" (microgame)
* "Vampyre" (microgame)
In the 1990's TSR published a number of comic book series, some of them based on their role playing games.
Buck Rogers Comic Module"
Dragonlance Fifth Age"
Fineous Fingers Collection"
Forgotten Realms The Grand Tour"
Intruder Comics Module"
Labyrinth of Madness"
R.I.P. Comics Module"
Warhawks Comics Module"
In 1984, TSR started publishing
novels based on their games. Most "D&D" campaign settingshad their own novel line, the most successful of which were the " Dragonlance" and " Forgotten Realms" lines with dozens of novels released in each.
TSR also published the 1995 novel "" by
Martin Caidin, a standalone reimagining of the Buck Rogersuniverse and unrelated to TSR's " Buck Rogers XXVC" game.
TSR published quite a number of fantasy and science fiction novels unconnected with their gaming products, such as
L. Dean James' "Red Kings of Wynnamyr" novels, "Sorcerer's Stone" (1991) and "Kingslayer" (1992); Mary H. Herbert's five "Gabria" novels ("Valorian", "Dark Horse", "Lightning's Daughter", "City of the Sorcerers" and "Winged Magic"); and also humorous fantasy fiction including Roy V. Young's "Count Yor" novels "Captains Outrageous" (1994) and "Yor's Revenge"(1995). However such projects never represented more than a fraction of the company's fiction output, which retained a strong emphasis on game-derived works.
After its initial success faded, the company turned to legal defenses of what it regarded as its
intellectual property. In addition, there were several legal cases brought regarding who had invented what within the company and the division of royalties. These actions reached their nadir when the company threatened to sue individuals supplying game material on Internetsites. In the mid-1990s, this led to frequent use of the nickname "T$R" in discussions on RPG-related Internet mailing listsand Usenet, as the company was widely perceived as attacking its customers. Increasing product proliferation did not help matters; many of the product lines overlapped and were separated by what seemed like minor points (even the classic troika of Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realmsand Dragonlancesuffered in this regard).
The company was the subject of an
urban mythstating that it tried to trademark the term "Nazi". This was based on a supplement for the " Indiana Jones" RPG in which some figures were marked with "NaziTM". This notation was in compliance with the list of trademarked character names supplied by Lucasfilm's legal department ["MATT FORBECK:...the last copy of the "Indiana Jones" roleplaying games.... It actually has one of the legendary counters in it that reads 'NaziTM.' Which apparently was not TSR's idea, but Lucasfilm insisted that everything that appeared in the game have a "TM" next to it."Citation | last = Laws | first = Robin D. | author-link = Robin Laws | year = 2007 | date = 2007-08 | title = 40 Years of Gen Con | publisher = Atlas Games| publication-date = 2007-08 | pages = 139 | isbn = 1-58978-097-3 ] . Later references to the error would forget its origin and slowly morph into stories of TSR's trying to register such a trademark, possibly aided by TSR's own reputation late in its existence as a "trademark Nazi" company.
* [http://www.wizards.com/dnd/DnDArchives_History.asp TSR history to 1999]
* [http://www.pen-paper.net/rpgdb.php?op=showpublisher&publisherid=3 Publication list on Pen & Paper]
* [http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/538/538817p1.html Gamespy interview with Gary Gygax] on the history of TSR (among other things)
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