GiantLands – Leaving NuTSR

As covered earlier, while the overall reputation of Justin LaNasa, months of barely contained reactionary non-sense and unprofessionalism built the pyre for TSR LLC (LaNasa)’s reputation, and Ernie Gygax’s interview was the match that started it – Dinehart using his GiantLands account to call a trans woman disgusting was the accelerant that turned it into a bright blaze and caught the attention of the wider world.

The actions of TSR at the time are already documented, but the absurdity of Dinehart on his own account and the GiantLands account warrants its own entry – particularly given the many loft claims he regularly makes about himself. At the time, he was doing his absolute best to look incredibly important and a man of many, many important titles.1My Twitter (25 June 2021)

A screenshot of the Twitter profile of Stephen Dinehart (@SEDart4), listing him as Chief Creative Officer: @TSR_games President @Wunderfilled Executive Producer @Psychfilab Artist @zodkev @dodoinksi @dodoo9966 
It also lists his location as "Hollywood" and links to his IMDB profile.
It’s kind of amazing a guy who’s so busy and so important has time to tweet…

With credentials like that, you’d expect some sort of display of some professionalism… I mean… obviously not project management given how GiantLands had gone – but maybe something else like say marketing and communication? Well, I invite you to read his pinned tweet after he posted the “TTRPGs are the original safe space” nonsense.

A screenshot of a tweet of a Pinned tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4): "When I say "safe space" I mean it. As a sufferer of PTSD & a survivor of various forms of abuse & assault, games, TTRPG has & always be safe spaces for me. That's why I made GiantLands. I know there are kids of all ages, like I was, that also need a safe place to simply BE." 26 June 2021.
Reminder this came up because he told a young trans woman she was disgusting. Also he’s tweeting this like Minecraft doesn’t exist now.

This is particularly telling because, contrary to what he claimed – people had in fact been telling him in detail why they disagreed with his claim. The issues of nightmare DMs who abused trust, the largely exclusionary history of the hobby, the presence of weird reactionaries in the hobby space, etc. His response to this was to dismiss this as “woke” and tell others not to be “woke” but “awake” because “it’s a lifelong journey” before promoting a “before of fake woke” posted by a fellow NFT enthusiast.2My Twitter (28 June 2021)

So yeah, he was lecturing others on it without even checking the dictionary. Shortly afterwards he would go on to claim that “The co-opting of the BLM movement for trans lives matter is almost as troubling as blue lives matter.”3My Twitter (28 June 2021) Now, this is an actual topic discussed by advocates, particularly black trans advocates, but he did only come to this conclusion a full two days after the event – and literally nobody thinks that it’s fair to compare this with the group of people who think police are always justified in extrajudicial violence and executions.

He also had a very… lets say not inspiring approach to support BLM… specifically a single post on his Kickstarter where he put the “#BlackLivesMatter” hashtag with the statement “We’re one human race.” and the caption of “GiantLands has no races, as we’re all one.”

A graphic which features the GiantLands "G" logo with "We're one human race. #BlackLivesMatter" with a heavily tattooed afro samurai with copyright notice for 2020 Wonderfilled Inc
“Trans lives matter” may be misguided good intentions, this is just narcissistic nonsense.

Maybe it (racism) ‘s just going to explode and go away or something.

Stephen Dinehart, GiantLands Epsiode 5: Species & Gender, 24 March 2020

So it should probably be no surprise that he also whined he was receiving no support from “industry associates”4My Twitter (28 June 2021) (in an industry he had produced nothing in and was dragging down the reputation of) and less than six hours later challenged “those who claim they are not faithless nimrods to amplify before me a 10th of the subservience they expect somehow me to be illustrative of.”5My Twitter (28 June 2021) which both tells you a lot about how he views progressivism. Again, all he was being asked to do was:

  1. Agree that Gary Gygax has some regressive views,6Slovenly Trulls, Episode 6: TSR, Trolls, and Transphobia and those continued to resonate in TTRPG spaces
  2. Agree that trans identities were valid and the lives of trans people were significant
  3. Agree that referring to a corporate raiders as “like native american tribes” was bad

So, right off the bat he painted himself as a petty narcissist who viewed anyone who didn’t support him unconditionally as an attacker… then well, he started deciding that if could just make Wizards of the Coast the bad guys… that’d make him a hero for standing up to them right?

Dinehart vs. Wizards of the Coast (The Imaginary War)

Dinehart’s crusade started with one of the most baffling pieces of historical revisionism imaginable given his target market was supposed to consist of old school gamers who loved the TSR Inc games from the original White Box onward.

Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4): "WotC was part & partial to ruining Gary Gygax Snr. They're Hasbro is trying to do the same with Ernie. they won't win. Ernie already walked through hell. this is a redemption song." 30 June 2021.
This physically hurts to read.

For the uninitiated – there are several problems with the theory that Wizards of the Coast were part and “partial” (parcel?) to ruining Gary Gygax (senior is unnecessary, his son is Ernie).

  1. Gary Gygax was pushed out of TSR Inc in 1986 due the Blume brothers selling controlling interest in the company to Lorraine Williams. Wizards of the Coast was founded in 1990.7Wikipedia, Wizards fo the Coast,
  2. Wizards of the Coast’s founders Peter Adkinson was just graduating from college in 19858Wikipedia, Peter Adkinson, and was not in a position to ruin anyone.
  3. Wizards of the Coast employed Gary Gygax in a writing capacity first with a foreword in Return to the Tomb of Horrors9Wikipedia, Return to the Tomb of Horrors then giving him a regular column in Dragon Magazine that greatly increased his visibility in the fanbase.10Grodgog’s Greyhawk Castle Archive, Gary Gygax’s “Up on a Soapbox”
  4. Under Wizards of the Coast, the default setting (officially, for the first time) for Dungeons & Dragons became Greyhawk for the period from 3rd Edition11Wikipedia, Greyhawk, Third edition (2000-2008) to 3.5E. Thus increasing the general interest in characters and stories relating to the setting (and it’s creator, Gary Gygax).

So, not only was this story factually impossible it was also the opposite of the spirit of events… but then I suppose when you’re (at that time) partnered with the people who are inviting Lorraine’s brother in and referring to Brian Blume as #3 employee… you don’t really have a lot of options.

On top of this, it needs be mentioned that Gary did not have a precisely squeaky clean business history himself – having attempted to write Dave Arneson out of his 2% royalties by adding the work “Advanced” to the title of the the product… what were Stephen’s thoughts on Dave you ask?12My Twitter (25 June 2021)

Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4): "Arneson IS NOT the Christ." 25 June 2021.
He was more the first disciple of David Wesely… more on that later in our story, I promise.

By the end of June, Stephen had convinced himself that everyone who thought that transphobia and racism were bad were actually employees of Wizards of the Coast and even later claimed that he this was normal business at his former employers. Yes, Dinehart is prone to self owns like that…13My Twitter (30 June 2021) 14My Twitter (1 July 2021)

Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4): "You have to wonder who these people are. If there are people, who pays them etc." quoting a tweet by Jon Pohlhammer (@JonPohlhammer) who was replying to @TSR_games, @GiantLands and 2 others "How does it feel to be banned from origins and gencon for being transphobic garbage?"
What fresh cyberpunk hell must we live in for all opinions to paid for by corporations?
Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4) : "In the Themed Ent industry they call fans "foamers" inside, at least Universal. The higher ups like to hire & take advantage of them. they have a sort of house on a hill, without competition they basically do what they want. My bet is WotC is the same. Full of villainy."
Weird how he only shares this knowledge when it serves his interests….

Naturally he also bragged about record breaking sales etc during this period before going dark.15My Twitter (1 July 2021)

A screenshot of a series of tweets from 30 June 2021 between Dinehart (@SEDart4) and Rogue Cryptek (@ctanoutsider) where the latter is overjoyed that Dinehart is reporting that the backlash as created a boost in sales.
He would deactivate his account less than twelve hours after this

Shortly after starting this, possibly in response to the announcement of new PR Guy Michael, Dinehart did his first public meltdown of deactivating his account, deleting all his previous tweens going back years and then inexplicably rebranded his account as long dead game mogul Milton Bradley with an Japanese ET poster themed header image and some truly bafflingly statements.16My Twitter (2 July 2021)

A screenshot of Dinehart's profile on Twitter, name is now "Milton Bradley" with the avatar being a photo of the real Milton Bradley, @SEDart4 and a bio of "I make stuff. Opinions my own."
The background appears to be the Japanese movie poster for ET.
This one seems to be a direct reference to the “if you don’t like Gary Gygax you shouldn’t play D&D” post by TSR Games.
Screenshot of a tweet by "Milton Bradley" (@SEDart4): "You can be a winner."
This one just sounds like he’s going to try sell me on a pyramid scheme… did I mention that Dinehart is into crypto too?

Not long after this, it seems that Dinehart started to get increasingly sensitive and prone to tapping the block button – blocking not just people who’d gone it to defend the honour of TSR Games but also people who’d supported GiantLands more directly.17My Twitter (7 July 2021)

Screenshot of a pair of tweets, the first from GiantLands (@GiantLands):
"No. We cannot respond to all Tweets. There is a lot of media on other channels. Find links at"
A reply from Khekor (@PrateorKhekor): 
"Why did you block my other account? Despite the vocal and fiscal support? Did your find slip?" 6 July 2021
Can’t say he didn’t have the supporters he deserved.

All of this reached it’s (temporary) peak where shortly before his break up with TSR LLC, Dinehart announced that he was (“because of politics”) breaking up with Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro… what this means is extremely unclear since during his tenure at TSR LLC the company had done nothing but express contempt for Wizards of the Coast and their products.18My Twitter (8 July 2021)

Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4): "Dear @Wizards_DnD, I'm Twitter breaking up with you this morning because of politics. I've loved you since first heard someone running you. Sadly, you won't be able to read this because like @Hasbro & @Wzardis you are now Blocked."
[Screenshot showing he was following the twitter account]
Reminder he claimed these guys were “part & partial” to the ruin of Gary Gygax but was still eagerly following their Twitter account up until this point.

This was, in the short term, overshadowed by the his follow up meltdown, departure from TSR LLC and hilariously vague statements explaining such – but Dinehart would continue this weird trend of talking about his imaginary battles with Wizards of the Coast all through the production and even after the release.

It should be mentioned that Dinehart’s departure was even more hilarious than one would have expected, with his initial statement after the purge being… non-sequitor at best.19My Twitter (8 July 2021)

Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4):
"Love this lamp."
[A photo of a kitchy lamp decorated with bottlecaps, and sort of Mexican style cartoony skulls - clearly in a bar]
Definitely the update we were all waiting for.

Eventually he did announce that he had stepped down… in a way that made it seem like he was still somehow in control of the trademarks or otherwise a big stakeholder (again, there has never been any confirmation that anyone by Justin LaNasa has any shares in the company).20My Twitter (10 July 2021)

Screenshot of a tweet by Dinehart (@SEDart4)
"I've stepped down as CCO of TSR, llc & will not be licensing the trademark. It really just started as a way to help Ernie, & turned into something else. I'll never forget the day he said "We might be able to make this TSR." I believe in the mission & the new company's future." 10 July 2021.
Generous of him not to offer to license the trademark of a company he’s no longer associated with, not so generous of him to blame Ernie on his way out.

What about the game stuff?

Okay so there was a little more to that announcement, and it was… just as baffling.21My Twitter (10 July 2021)

Screenshot a pair of tweets by Dinehart (@SEDart4): "My @GiantLands is being built with a lot of classoc ttrpg talent, but will only be TSR in spirit as originally intended. I'm still working hard to being the cutting edge of RPGs back home to Wisconsin!"
"My team is working hard right now to make this craft TTRPG something contemporary yet classic. I never expected so much attention & appreciate your support."
“Contemporary yet classic” “Old school yet cutting edge” “Circular yet square”

What made this particularly baffling on many levels was:

  1. This came was supposed to already be released to Kickstarter backers in February/March 2020
  2. OSRIC had set a really high bar for “new games that feel like classics” – though Dinehart didn’t seem to even be aware it existed (I’m still not sure if he knows today.)
  3. Given how far TTRPGs have come since the days of TSR Inc and that platforms like DriveThruRPG and allow for people to make low risk releases of highly experimental works – it’s really hard to define what “cutting edge” would even look like
  4. The “team” doing the actual designing, as far as anyone could tell, seemed to be Stephen Dinehart, who had never made a TTRPG before; Ernie Gygax, who had no official writing credits, and an overdue Kickstarter of his own; and Jim Ward, whose statements to date suggested the game would in fact be the opposite of cutting edge…22My Twitter (8 July 2021)
Screenshot of a tweet by GiantLands (@GiantLands) Here's a message from James M. Ward about #GiantLands gameplay with more detail for all those curious about the system. Again, it is an original #TTRPG system."
It includes a screenshot of a Facebook comment by James M. Ward: "Great questions. GiantLands is not an OSR anything and does not have an OGL inside. It's an original role playing game with a great many original concepts. It is the first fantasy/apocalyptic rpg on the market. It uses an amazing amoutn of monsters historically interesting and never seen in any type of monster manual. the game doesn't use magic, it uses Ley energy and Ley amulets to throw power around. The rules are simple. An attack has to "to hit" percentage that increases as they gain experience levels. They substract the armor class percentage of their opponent to get a number needed to role to strike the foe. No matter what the armor class is a "to hit" roll 1-10 always strikes. After 45 years of game design with numerous successes I think this is one as well..."
There is… so much going on here… and I’ve looked and I can’t find where James posted this comment.

Okay, so, glossing over this new thing the kids had been doing since 1997 called Fallout… this also indicated that Jim wasn’t aware of even say… Shadowrun (which also had a Larry Elmore cover).

The original cover for Shadowrun, showing sci-fi city elves using magic while they rob an ATM and has the tagline "Where man meets magic and machine"
And this came out in 1989… Jim, you were still working for TSR Inc back in 1989! Your friend Larry did the cover art!

Also, it bears repeating that GiantLands is, at it’s core, a rehash of Gamma World which is definitely apocalyptic fantasy… on every conceivable level, ascribing even more magic and wonder to nuclear fallout than Fallout did (it looked less Mad Max though because Mad Max didn’t exist until… literally the next year).23Wikipedia, Mad Max

The original cover of Gamma World, with the TSR Games Wizards logo, showing a woman in a fur bikini with a sword next to a green cyclops goblin thing with a sci-fi spear, and various other mixes of monsters and sci-fi.
Jim… you wrote this! This was your game! 1978!

But, complete lack of awareness over genre aside – the rest of it seemed to be painfully the opposite of innovation – specifically it seemed to that it was ThAC0 being adapted to a d100 system and for those who don’t know – ThAC0 was such a pointless and annoying complication that its shout out in modern games is literally a gatekeeping clown (actual gatekeeping clowns hate this).

Lastly for anyone who’d vaguely looked at the various TTRPGs on sale since the 80s, “doesn’t have magic buy has (basically magic)” was a huge red flag. It basically guaranteed that the system would be both unoriginal, and overly complicated due to the many layers of obfuscation put on top to try to present a veneer of novelty or originality.

Overall the future of GiantLands, having lost both the potential good will of the public and a backer who would agree to publish it, was not looking good.

Why this hill to die on?

The Shooting Hannibal Buress meme.
In the top panel Hannibal (being shot) is labelled "His own professional reputation, public credibility, and relationships." Eric (the shooter) is labelled "Stephen E Dinehart Iv".  In the second panel Eric asks the audience "Why would Fake Wokeness, Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, TSR LLC (LaNasa) and Ernie Gygax do this?"
This meme just kept getting more words as this saga went on.

You’re probably thinking this was a pretty weird hill to die on, particularly for a guy like Stephen Dinehart who focused so much on marketing himself as creative, passionate, friendly etc. Particularly for a guy who also makes weird self congratulatory posts like this right?24My Twitter (26 June 2021) 25My Twitter (2 July 2021)

A screenshot of Dinehart (@SEDart4) tweeted (as part of a quote tweet):
This is probably going to upset some people, but I'm not concerned with Sex a a player character characteristic in my game. Players can be whatever gender they want & change it a will."
This quote tweets TSR (@TSR_games) and "you might like @GiantLands. Gender is fluid and we don't use Sex as a characteristic."
This has been more or less the standard in RPGs since 2015.
Screenshot of "Milton Bradley" (@SEDart4) tweeting: "Today I stand & reaffirm my commitment to diversity. #Hatred is never the answer. #Democracy demands compromise by, & equality for, all. #USA" 10 January 2011.
I can’t find what this was specifically about, but it seems to be sometime F.3.A.R. 3 and Prey 2… so maybe it was just pitching for a job in 2011.

And the answer to that is Dinehart’s faux progressivism has pretty much nothing to do with any concern for real people who suffer from marginalization, a genuine curiosity and desire to empathise and appreciate the other, or a simple moral stance that a person’s a person’s no matter how different they are to you or anyone else. It’s about, being better than other people.

As he discussed in the Amusement Sparks GiantLands Episode 5: Species & Gender, 24 March 2021, Dinehart has weird contempt for society where by he feels both that he should not have to deal with any of these issues – it was a previous generation’s job to do that – and that he should also be special by 1. not believing in race (side-note: this doesn’t apply to him being Cherokee and talking about his ancestors etc) and 2. he wants to be seen as boldy transgressive for having once wore a skirt, and sometimes painting his nails – while being a person who was born with a penis.

(It should also be noted he spends most of the time talking about racism in it in a way that, doesn’t really apply to the RPG market which doesn’t generally address human races but refers to magical species like elves, gnomes, orcs, etc as “races”. Even games that do use “human races”, such as the 2004-2007 Conan: The Roleplaying Game, generally treat it as a fantastical aspect of a different world due to the inherent tribalism of those groups rather through the lens of modern racism)

It’s the ultimately a sort of weird form of authoritarianism where he advocates that yes, groups should be entitled to adjustments of the current status quo, as decided by people like him (who have no skin in the game and no basis for expertise) but absolutely not to their own platforms or self direction. And I very much do mean “current status quo” – one tweet that cause my attention very early on was one of those “I voted in favour of gay marriage so I can’t be bigoted” types.26My Twitter (30 June 2021)

Screenshot of Dinehart retweeting "Unit 1" @Starchi81716350 replying to multiple people with: "I support the LGBTQ community. I voted for gay marriage. I just have a tremendous dislike of Twitter rodents such as yourself."
As a side note, as a mouse dad, rodents are awesome.

As you’ve probably already guessed, Dinehart was, in fact, not in favour of marriage equality.27My Twitter (16 July 2021) Despite having made a bold proclamation of his commitment to diversity and equality for all less than six months earlier.

Screenshot of a series of tweets found through searching "marriage":
Dinehart (@SEDart4) 26 June 2011
"People should be able to create lifelong partnerships with whomever they want, but calling it marriage makes it a church matter."
26 June 2011
"Marriage is not something for regulation. It's a matter of religious ceremony. Civil unions are another thing. Seperate Church & State."
27 June 2021 (to @dildomine)
"@CitizenEnglish can't argue w/that. For me it's the word marriage. Marriage is a sacrament not a legal right. How about civil partnerships?"
Side note: I have never seen him talk about a particular church, advise from a pastor/priest etc, this seems to just be an excuse to keep marriage a straights only thing (nobody tell him about bi or pan people).

And I wasn’t kidding when I say he thinks occasionally wearing a skirt as a teenager makes him an authority on all matters relating to gender. Hilariously, he also acknowledges it perturbed people but doesn’t think how this could have gone if it was more than a one off he could justify as teenager shenanigans.28My Twitter (17 July 2021)

Screenshot of Dinehart (@SEDart4)'s tweet: "Cant' recall the first time I wore a skirt to school. I was probably 16 or 17. One of my friends stole my pants, so I stole her skirt & wore it home. I liked it. I don't recall people being too negative, they were just scared really. I get dirtier looks these days for my nails." 17 July 2021
“There’s no transphobia but people give me dirty looks for painting my nails.”

Ultimately he seems to see people on the LGBTQIA spectrum not as a group who are being marginalized for arbitrary aspects of their identities, but as an inconvenient collective who dilute his brand – taking away his ability to claim to be transgressive or radical by simply wanting to exist as their authentic selves. He wants the world at large to stay the same, so he can always be different and special.

It’s not a good approach and it’s one that often sees him claiming the status of radically progressive (which is how he frames his “I don’t see colour except when I do” approach) while advocating for the actions and ideals of the staunch conservative. Trying to appeal to both sides by shitting on people in both camps and claiming to not be political while being intensely political.

And you know, it always works out well when you claim to be progressive while shitting on progress… and buddying up to reactionaries right before announcing that they’re more progressive and sensitive than anyone else alive… never goes well.

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