Follow TV Tropes


Creator / TSR

Go To

TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) was an American game-publishing company first founded as Tactical Studies Rules in 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye to publish Dungeons & Dragons. When Kaye died in 1975, the company was restructured into TSR Hobbies, which became a gaming juggernaut led by its popular flagship title.

In 1983, TSR Hobbies ran into financial difficulties, causing the company to split into four independent businesses, with game publishing and development continuing as TSR, Inc. By 1995, TSR fell behind its competitors in sales, leaving it unable to cover its publishing costs. In 1997, TSR was purchased by Wizards of the Coast, who initially continued using the TSR name for their D&D products, but ultimately dropped the moniker in 2000 when they released the third edition of the gaming system.

In 2021, a new company using the TSR name was co-founded by Ernie Gigax, son of Gary Gygax (it should be noted that this is one of two companies named TSR Hobbies to honor Gary Gygax, with the other TSR being founded by Jayson Elliot) — alongside some Tabletop games veteran designers with the tabletop game Giantlands. This was meant to be their first product, until some statements by Ernie that were perceived as anti-progressive and transphobic by many people, which led to a huge backlash that caused the people behind Giantlands to cut ties with Ernie's TSR Games. TSR has stated that they will still look for products to publish.

Titles published by TSR:

Role-Playing Games


Other Games


Comic Books

Game Books


Video Games

Tropes relating to TSR

  • Breakthrough Hit: Dungeons & Dragons launched TSR into popularity and remains its most popular title today, albeit under a different publishing company.
  • Creator Killer: Financial difficulties in the 1990s, plus the overwhelming success of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and the overwhelming lack of success of the Buck Rogers projects, failed attempts to get on the collectible gaming bandwagon with Dragon Dice, and a whole pile of unsold novel series, led to TSR selling to Wizards of the Coast.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: The Copyright symbol appeared next to the word "Nazi" on some of the cut-out cardboard tokens used in the Indiana Jones RPG, sparking the rumor that TSR and/or Lucasfilm had tried to copyright "Nazi" (actually, the copyright symbol is for the artwork).
  • Screwed by the Network: In the 1990s, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was at the peak of its popularity, and TSR had Lorraine Williams as its CEO. Williams made no secret of her disdain for gamers and the people who worked under her, and made a number of decisions that ultimately ran TSR into the ground before it was bought out by Wizards of the Coast, including:
    • Suing people left and right, including people who ran message boards for talking about Dungeons & Dragons on the internet on the basis that it was their intellectual property. This prevented new people from discovering the game through Internet word-of-mouth, gave their competitors who were using the new medium to promote their products an edge, and disenchanted fans.
    • Devoting a great deal of company resources to publishing and promoting Buck Rogers XXVC and its tie-ins, which failed pretty spectacularly. The Dille Family Trust got royalties for every Buck Rogers novel, computer game, and RPG supplement published and sold. The heiress to that trust? Lorraine Williams.
    • Publishing new settings in response to declining sales. The problem was that the settings, modules, and rules that governed them were so incompatible with each other that the player base became fragmented. For instance, a Planescape fan would have no use for modules meant for the Birthright setting.
    • Licensing terrible games, with Baldur's Gate being a notable exception and becoming the string holding the franchise together. It probably could have gotten more people into the hobby if message boards about the game didn't have to censor comments about the tabletop version for fear of lawsuits (see above).
    • Allowing nepotism to run rampant in the company, which resulted in unqualified managers.
    • Forbidding game designers from using company time to playtest products, on the reasoning that playtesting was just an excuse for the peasants to get paid to play games.