GiantLands – The Release

So Wonderfilled Inc’s 2022 effectively started with the release of their flagship game, GiantLands, a time of celebration and one that sets the standard for any new game publisher.

It didn’t go very well.

Issues seemed to include that overseas and Kickstarter orders go low priority, that there was a some bad weather which jeopardized delivery windows for the first rounds and… well, the reception was not great.

Also yeah… do not expect any consistency in capitalization of Giantlands vs GiantLands from Wonderfilled… the branding experts. It drives me nuts too… but this is just how they are.

The initial discourse

In fact, it quickly become obvious that this game was not for… anyone.

One of the first reviews game from YouTube channel that was titled with “The Right way to Roleplay with DM James”, who introduces itself with “Welcome to right-wing roleplaying!” started by talking about how was blocked by the official GiantLands Twitter, so he asked for a refund and received it… but they sent it to him anyway. He then demonstrated visible confusion with the idea of playing with masks on… and then proposed he’d rather just send it back. So how did GiantLands react?

A screenshot of a tweet by Giantlands two years ago: "Thanks for sharing! We're glad that it made it through the storm."

Legion of Myth, another similarly right-wing YouTuber also received a copy that he had specifically requested because he didn’t like it acknowledging gender as anything but an extremely rigid binary.

Throughout this it did receive two positive reviews… one from a very small channel, RPG Reviews which did a “New RPG Alert: GiantLands” in which he shows off.. literally every page in the books to the extend you can use the individual frames to read all the content…. so much for prevent piracy, and in April 2022 did an interview with the creators… then… hasn’t uploaded any more videos.

The other was from Mildra, aka Mildra The Monk, who had already posted two interviews with Stephen Dinehart,1 Interview with Stephen E. Dinehart IV on Giantlands, 29 May 2020, 2 Interview with Stephen E. Dinehart IV on Giantlands (pt. 2), 5 Aug 2021, an interview with James M Ward 3 Interview with James M Ward, Mildra, 5 June 2020, and an interview with Ernie Gygax.4 Interview with Ernie Gygax, Mildra, 22 June 2021, And well… his “(un)impressions” review really only talks about the concept of being a spiritual successor to Gamma World… nothing about the game on its own merits.

A few users did excited unboxing posts and even videos5 Robert Lynn, GiantLands 1st edtion opening GiantLands RPG opening, 29 December 2021 , though these generally didn’t follow through with their promises to review the game after reading… and the one that did… wasn’t impressed.

The closest it ever came to ever getting a review, or a demo – was Tenkar’s Tavern attempted a session zero… strangely this has never been linked to by GiantLands.

These guys have been playing since the 70s so I feel their opinions on “old school” are worth considering.

But, naturally… Dinehart understood that if you spend years promoting a specific product… people don’t want to see you’ve been focusing entirely on that product… they want to see you’ve spent your time in everything else! So, at the same time he released/announced/enabled:

The Module

Ten days into 2022 – Dinehart announced Jim Ward would be releasing a module, and he had cover art ready… to date this has not been released. 6 My Twitter, 11 January 2022

The module has been promised to be many things at many times, but at this stage it was essentially promised as the “entry” adventure to GiantLands – the one that groups would want to play first.

Not only has that opportunity well and truly sailed now… but well, for context, the promised length of 95 pages. For context, while many early adventures such as Jennell Jaquays’s Caverns of Thracia were around this length – now we have much more access to lore, guides to play, etc, most modules are under 30 pages. Many low level adventures are under 20 pages.

A module that is 95 pages by modern standards would be something you expect to be a multi-session campaign which takes you through an epic story, and introduces tons of new material that you can use in other adventures etc. It’s the kind of thing you use to introduce a large set piece in a setting like a city.

Keep that in mind, this module will come up later.

The Discord

Early in the year, the Official GiantLands Discord was opened up… and it was a shit show. A very chaotic shit show since Dinehart had a tendency go on massive purges – wiping out blocks of text and banning members chaotically.

And oh? Remember Mildra The Monk? Turns out he’d gotten an invite to the server long before anyone else… interesting way to disclose a conflict of interest.7 My Twitter, 2 January 2022

Odd behaviours included:

Overall the server never achieved very much traffic, with the main events being the Q&As with Jim Ward – which tapered off pretty quickly after everyone who was actually active gave up on trying to get anything productive out of the Discord.

The Newsletter

Okay, so it kinda of makes sense to update the newsletter… but I feel that it’s probably worth noting that the updates were… in no way of any help to anyone and seemed to be a complete waste of everyone’s time.

Actually I think the second one was harmful to Wonderfilled’s business…

Issue 3

Released in 8 February 2022, this one was primarily bragging but also promoting the upcoming play session… but also sharing the singular “review” that Dinehart likes… which is conveniently from Linda THE GAMER GAL who… primarily posts about beating retro videos games…. and video game stuff.

A screenshot of Linda the Gamer Gal's recent videos - with a definite trend of "games beat" videos, top games, and visiting events... none of the 16 latest videos from the last 5 months have any connection to tabletop games.

Hilariously, Linda’s main point of gratitude was that the game was actually released since she’d pre-ordered it and had not been sure it would arrive. Now, while it is an achievement to fulfil an order, and many fail at it… it probably shouldn’t be your iconic piece of praise.

It also promised they’d be soliciting feedback to refine the game… but over two years later pretty much none of that has eventuated and there’s never been any public acknowledges of anything needing fixing or refining… just promises of the module.

Overall it came across as less of an update to people interested in the product, and more of an assurance to stakeholders that no matter what they read on Social Media… it was all going great.

Issue 4

On 14 April 2022, the final issue of the Strategic Preview that was posted on was posted… in it, it celebrated that Jim Ward had recovered from Covid-19 and killed the characters of all 10 players at his first test run of the promised module. (more on that later) and the albums (more on that).

The main meat of it was that… he’d now decided there would be two versions… the regularly which would cost you $99.99 and a version that was incomplete for $59.99. Since this incomplete version lacked the book with the most setting lore (ie the one with the monsters) this meant he was essentially setting the price of the game at $99.99 + an additional $59.99 per player.

So the play session that happened at GaryCon… which was free to attend, in theory could cost as much as $699.89 if every player had bought a basic pack… and there is no reason to buy it other than if you’re a player who doesn’t want to run a game. It’s obvious to see why that would benefit Dinehart, but truly baffling he thinks this is acceptable to the market.

The newsletter promised that, in exciting news, Wonderfilled Inc (which is basically just Stephen Dinehart) was moving to Lake Geneva. What this essentially meant was he’d registered a PO Box so he could update the company registry… Dinehart himself would soon move to Florida, where he remains at time of writing.

The Play Session

Remember the module? Apparently a lucky group of people got to play it at GaryCon 2022 – hosted by the legendary Jim Ward. The primary sound byte we, the unwashed masses who could not attend in person, received was “Jim got TPK two and a half hours into the three hour game.” (for the uninitiated: TPK = Total Party Kill, everyone’s character died)

Now – to be clear – there are plenty of TTRPGs where this is a fun and desirable outcome. From the classic Paranoia to outright horror games like Call of Cthulhu, there are plenty of games where you expect your PC to die horribly.

Giantlands is a game where a major stated goal is people will get so invested in their characters that they will want to dress up as them, and make a pilgrimage to a theme park to attend it as their character. The tagline is “Who will you become?” and the invariable answer is “a corpse, rotting and forgotten”.

Also, this module they played is the one that’s supposed to be 95 pages… so that’s like 95 seconds per page… not exactly inspiring… especially when one considers that every character in Giantlands is supposed to have three lives…

Now part of this is down to Jim Ward, he’s known as an excessively lethal DM whose sessions usually finish with TPK. He’s also known as a guy who doesn’t spend a lot of time of the crunchy nuts and bolts… Giantlands doesn’t even have a real movement system. To me this says… he’s probably not the kind of guy you want to design a game which feeds into a theme park… and three music albums… oh yeah!

The Album

Oh yeah, he decided he needed to release an album to accompany the game… for reasons… so naturally he did what any grand artist who wanted their work to be fully authentic, master crafted by original creators… raising the voice of indigenous creators in the Americas? He hired a pair of small, virtually unknown, creators and misspelled the name of one… then didn’t mention them in the announcement.17 My Twitter, 26 January 2022,

The mistake is still there on the Bandcamp listing, made worse by in the top it’s credited as Lantz & Giacomelli but in the credits at the end he’s Steve Giocolmelli. He also makes no effort to link to their own BandCamp or their Facebook page… which seems to have ceased updating in 2020.

As much as Dinehart rants about artists needing more respect, more compensation for their labour etc, there’s always a general feeling he doesn’t see them as more than tools to achieve his own goals.

While the music is great, James Lantz and Steve Giacomelli do a wonderful job of composing complex and evocative tones… it’s difficult to see how this is supposed to be specific to Giantlands or add value to any particular gaming group. It comes very much as just a project Dinehart wanted to brag about… so he outsourced it to someone else and then rushed in to take credit for it after the fact.

The (Pending) Theme Park

As part of the general product release was a press release for the plans for the theme park, which then featured in a paid article… which was then featured on Facebook and supported by one Justin LaNasa.18 My Twitter, 2 January 2022,

Now… at this point… the game had only just shipped with no reviews and only the publisher’s word that he’d definitely sold 1,500 copies at an average of $99.99… so a net revenue of less than $150,000. Theme parks generally cost millions to build, and rely upon having steady streams of thousands of guests per year.

Also, as anyone who is familiar with the works of the noted theme park scholar Jenny Nicholson knows well, the one theme park where Dinehart had an executive position is bad… like… very bad. So, you’d want to prepare yourself for… okay the whole idea is completely bonkers.

He released this map, which is in itself evidence that he has not idea what he’s doing given none of these actually look like attractions – and since he doesn’t own any land he can’t guarantee anything for size, layout etc… so this is entirely pie-in-the-sky. It’s not even “blue sky” since he doesn’t have specifics. But more seriously… take a look at this and try to imagine it in Wisconsin, in winter:

A professional illustration for the "GiantLands" theme park, which appears to be primarily Mayan and Aztec inspired buildings, a row of large statues and buildings with orbs on top.  People are drawn in, but there are no ride, or obvious activities... also there are rows of crops.
Imagine all this… but the morning after six inches of snowfall.

On top of this, Dinehart was… basically promising to deliver Westworld somehow despite not having any funding, or any real basis for the product.

Imagine a place that radically offers offline experiences, with real people, in the real world, however within a fiction, with thrilling mixed-reality attractions and shows that will forever change the guest expectations and perception of live-action play within a themed land. Set in a highly themed, and completely immersive smart environment inspired by Wonderfilled’s vision for GiantLands, it will be the kind of game park.

GiantLands Theme Park Will be a Game Park Built on a Groundbreaking Vision, 1 January 2022

Yet somehow… this was not the worst product he released…

The NFTs

Dinehart had previously experimented with NFTs, using the “art’ NFT site Hic Et Nunc and it’d been an abyssmal failure – particularly when it came to GiantLands. But this time it was going to be different – this time he was going only offer ONE Giantlands NFT. 19 My Twitter, 18 February 2022, This would go on to be one more NFT than he sold, and one less than he minted for the purposes of auctioning.

After all, instead of putting them on the Tezos blockchain via Hic Et Nunc…20 Dinehart’s “ZODKEV” profile for the site remains available on Objkt but has been inactive since 18 February 2022: a web site that went under in November 2021… he was going to put them on the Ethereum blockchain (slower and more expensive) via Opensea (even more saturated marketplace that was more reliant on users bringing their own suckers, and at this particular point in history dominated with price wars over procedurally generated ugly cartoon jpegs of “apes” that look like monkeys).

Dinehart initially offered up the inside-the-box-art (a phrase that shouldn’t exist for a product two years late with a single man core team) and then “The Landing” artwork by Jeff Dee (the artist who famously wanted nothing further to do with him or his project). The asking prices were in Ethereum, so required a vendor to convert into any fiat currency… but estimates read by the crowd were in the $11,000 range. Ridicule ensued.21 My Twitter, 19 February 2022,

Unsurprisingly, nobody bought the NFTs, though Dinehart continued to insult people who were not into them while admitting he had only just begun to understand the value in market research.22 My Twitter, 19 February 2022,

And yes, you are remembering correctly, he did all of this all around the time Dan Olson’s cinematic masterpiece Line Goes Up – The problem with NFTs was going viral and the world in general was digesting just how terrible all this really was.

He also had a Giantlands logo NFT up for use with the @Giantlands Twitter account, but seems to have burned that now that Twitter/X no longer supports NFT avatar validation (not that it really did anything in the first place – you could always right-click, save, upload and be as “authentic” as the original).

The Follow Up

Dinehart’s general ways of responding to to criticism to the game included:

EN World

If you’re reading this and somehow not aware – EN World is one of the biggest hubs for conversation about tabletop role-playing games in the English speaking Internet. The site has been running for a long time, boasts a lot of long term players and a good number of people who remember playing with Gary Gygax has accounts there.

Since gamers generally are not, as nuTSR would have you believe, extreme-right reactionaries – the earlier antics of Giantlands and its partnership with nuTSR had rubbed many the wrong way so it did not exactly have a surplus of good will.

Yet, mysteriously… a thread appeared tell people all about a “review” (which was an unboxing) and then fight with people about if the game was good, if it was worth $129, etc. Unsurprisingly, it turned out there was some subterfuge here and then Stephen Dinehart was banned from EN World for impersonation and attempting to manipulate perceptions of his game. (And yes his lasts posts are him accusing people of being paranoid for asking him if he was Stephen Dinehart)

A screenshot of an EN World post by infinity man, the top has an edit in red text: "Edit by Morrus -- After doing some investigation, I am satisfied that "infinityman" is, indeed, Giantlands owner Stephen Dinehart. Pretending to be a customer in order to trick our members is against our rules, (link)as described here.(end link) Misleading and lying to our members is not acceptable. I will be locking this thread and editing the OP to make it clear what has happened.

Note: Morrus, the owner of EN World, would have been fine with Dinehart defending his game if he’d just been honest and polite.

Now EN World’s community discusses bad games all the time, they also have understandably upset creators show up to defend themselves all the time – but it’s pretty rare to have them set up a fake account that is so bad at subterfuge that it got caught almost immediately.

The flood

Around 15 February 2022, Petrópolis, Brazil was hit with a flood that was doubtlessly enhanced by climate change and took the lives of 231 people as well as inflicting massive damage on the city and its ability to support itself. Less than a week later, the GiantLands Twitter account reposted a video a promotion for the game.32 My Twitter, 20 February,

A tweet from @GiantLands on 20 February 2022, "As the Age of Men drew to a close the victor in the conflict between nature & mankind became apparent. It was through this process that arose a new spirit, however old, a reconnection to Mother. So the Sapien was born as a servant & steward in the 5th Age."  Below is a video of the actual floods, showing a bus being washed down a street as water appears at least 2 metres deep. The tweet information confirms it was a video from Matthew Todd.

People were understandably furious. 73 people got a reply in before he switched off the replies33 My Twitter, 20 February 2022, 34 My Twitter, 20 February 2022, and started posting on his personal Twitter about how he was out doing stuff.. and continued tweeting on the business accounts like nothing happened35 My Twitter, 20 February 2022, – because yeah, he didn’t take it as a signal to delete the tweet and rethink things. He in fact, took it as a signal to resume shaming other people for not doing enough to end climate change.36 My Twitter, 20 February 2022,

While the tweet was eventually deleted – no apology was ever made.

Two years ago, Stephen E Dinehart IV tried to use a massive human tragedy to promote his small press game, and when people called him out on it he performatively ignored them then pretended he was better and more concerned about the cause than them. He has never addressed it, but has continued to pretend all criticism of him is due to a conspiracy against him by a mega-corporation. That’s the kind of person he is.

The stalking incident

So, YoDanno is a TTRPG (primarily Dragonlance) enthusiast who has a popular Twitter account and a modest website where he offers content creation services. Early on, he was excited about GiantLands but it ran into many problems, not the least of which was YoDanno’s stance on trans people is “Protect Trans Kids!” and GiantLands is “You’re disgusting.”

So YoDanno received his copy of GiantLands… and was very excited at the time,37 YoDanno’s Twitter, 29 December 2021 But after he looked at it and learned more about the creator, he promptly dropped it in a bin and moved on with his life.

In September 2022, he mentioned this on Twitter and Dinehart… did not take it well.38 YoDanno’s Twitter, 19 September 2022, Initially he invited YoDanno to send the copies back… then when he found out they’d been thrown out… he used the shipping details from the pre-order to try to send YoDanno an abusive email, tried to call his cell phone and then registered a new shipping label to send him an unsolicited second copy of the game he’d thrown away.39 YoDanno’s Twitter, 19 September 2022,

Dinehart, as Wonderfilled, once again refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the situation that he had created and burped out an eight tweet thread which is still up to this day about how he was the good guy by jumping down people’s throats and violating boundaries.

A series of tweets from Wonderfilled (@WFDgames) on 21 September 2022, only followers may reply: "This is a company of one. It seems like a lot of people fail to realize this and treat us as a big corp. We're really good at branding, it's true." "We had no intention of being part of this 'community' that's now convinced we're a part, though we deeply appreciate it. We just wanted to make a real RPG, with the people that inspired us to make games so long ago, & we did." "We don't expect everyone to like it, or buy it, we only printed a couple thousand of them - which is way more than we ever expected. 100 was the original goal. Judge the game by the game & not tweets from some that seems really determined to paint us as anything but what we are." "Yes, we sent a person a love package we though was a friend. An extra copy of the game, a personal note & some extra goodies. For some reason the person chose to throw us under the bus. It stinks, but the person was determined to yell "fire" & it seems they've done well."
The twitter thread continues: "So again, we appreciate the attention. Press is press, we'll take it; despite the pain. (It hurts it really does & causes real damage to our lives.) This is done out of love. 110%, not hate & being painted, again, as anything otherwise makes these three years seem for naught." "If you want to write an article about this, create more fake stories, modify a Wikipedia entry you contribute to with other ghost accounts, or use it to otherwise attack us (me) we can't stop you. It's true." "But we'd really prefer if you contact us directly, or judge us by our work, not as part of a mob seeking to coerce statements aligning with your personal cause of the day. We really try to make games for everyone, everywhere, but all this is making that really challenging." "Stay safe out there, be kind to your neighbours, remember to play, and have a wonder filled day." The final tweet ends with the Loony Tunes "That's all Folks!" gif.

Yeah, the projection is beyond terminal levels.

But remarkably, even this reception was not enough to convince Wonderfilled/Dinehart that this venture had crashed so hard it couldn’t be fixed… but no, somehow he managed to convince himself and Jim Ward that this project still had legs.

More on that later… for now I feel it’s only fair I write a review of GiantLands as a product.

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