How Gygax Lost TSR

All topics including role playing games, board games, etc., etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
AGNKim
Lord High Inquisitor
Posts: 1196
Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 7:00 am
Location: Sherwood Forrest

How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by AGNKim »

A pretty fascinating and sad tale. I'd heard it all before, but this is probably the most insightful take on it I have ever read.

https://medium.com/@increment/the-ambus ... 29d07f6836

tylermo
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:00 am

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by tylermo »

Aarggh. This ancient computer won't display the link. Just a picture of some guy, and another icon or two. Otherwise, "done, but with errors" Oh well.

User avatar
Jyrdan Fairblade
Unkbartig
Posts: 947
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:00 am

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Jyrdan Fairblade »

A sad tale, indeed. But Jon Peterson's knowledge and investigative skills are amazing, and I'm glad he documented this turning point in our hobby's history.

User avatar
Fiffergrund
Lore Drake
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:00 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Fiffergrund »

That filled in a couple of holes in my knowledge of those events. Very interesting read.
Marshal Fiffergrund, Knight-Errant of the Castle and Crusade Society

User avatar
Julian Grimm
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 4514
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:00 am
Location: SW Missouri
Contact:

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Julian Grimm »

Interesting story. I have wondered what had happened over the loss of TSR to Williams and now it seems we know. The funny thing is that I cannot cast a role of hero or villain in the events. What I took away from it was that you have a company that grew too fast and the owners trying to ride the wave dealing with what had become a phenomenon.

The only real comment I have on the events is that it is something I have seen before where the owners cannot find a good compromise and some deeper business knowledge was needed. In the end what is done is done and it serves as a good lesson for other companies.
Lord Skystorm

Grand Knight Commander KoTC, Member C&CS

Donner Party Meats: We're here to serve YOU!

AD&D per se is as dead a system as Latin is a language, while the C&C game has much the same spirit and nearly the same mechanics. --Gary Gygax 8/16/06

User avatar
seskis281
Lore Drake
Posts: 1775
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Manitowoc WI
Contact:

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by seskis281 »

The part that is really sad, though, is how Williams and TSR then went after Gary AFTER those events.... Dangerous Journeys and his efforts were derailed in a very vindictive way, and today there would be no way it would be seen as being covered under D&D proprietaries. It wasn't merely that they fought and won a corporate control war, that does indeed always seem to happen when companies succeed so wildly (Facebook anyone?) it was that they seemed intent on crushing the man personally.
John "Sir Seskis" Wright

Dreamer of Ilshara
Lands of Ilshara: http://johnwright281.tripod.com

User avatar
Arduin
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 4045
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:12 pm
Location: Granite quarry

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Arduin »

It is interesting that part of originally going underwater was printing costs. If D&D was started today (if you could overcome video games) Kickstarter and digital publishing (PDF's) could have changed the entire story...
Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill

House Rules

User avatar
Julian Grimm
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 4514
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:00 am
Location: SW Missouri
Contact:

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Julian Grimm »

seskis281 wrote:The part that is really sad, though, is how Williams and TSR then went after Gary AFTER those events.... Dangerous Journeys and his efforts were derailed in a very vindictive way, and today there would be no way it would be seen as being covered under D&D proprietaries. It wasn't merely that they fought and won a corporate control war, that does indeed always seem to happen when companies succeed so wildly (Facebook anyone?) it was that they seemed intent on crushing the man personally.
I didn't comment on that part as I felt it did not pertain to the story above. However, you are correct. Williams seemed to have a personal vendetta against Gygax after he was removed from TSR and one that cost not only Gygax but GDW and ultimately TSR itself.
Lord Skystorm

Grand Knight Commander KoTC, Member C&CS

Donner Party Meats: We're here to serve YOU!

AD&D per se is as dead a system as Latin is a language, while the C&C game has much the same spirit and nearly the same mechanics. --Gary Gygax 8/16/06

User avatar
Fiffergrund
Lore Drake
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:00 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Fiffergrund »

seskis281 wrote:The part that is really sad, though, is how Williams and TSR then went after Gary AFTER those events.... Dangerous Journeys and his efforts were derailed in a very vindictive way, and today there would be no way it would be seen as being covered under D&D proprietaries. It wasn't merely that they fought and won a corporate control war, that does indeed always seem to happen when companies succeed so wildly (Facebook anyone?) it was that they seemed intent on crushing the man personally.

I wonder how much of that was his refusal to contribute any more IP to the brand?
Marshal Fiffergrund, Knight-Errant of the Castle and Crusade Society

User avatar
seskis281
Lore Drake
Posts: 1775
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Manitowoc WI
Contact:

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by seskis281 »

Fiffergrund wrote:
seskis281 wrote:The part that is really sad, though, is how Williams and TSR then went after Gary AFTER those events.... Dangerous Journeys and his efforts were derailed in a very vindictive way, and today there would be no way it would be seen as being covered under D&D proprietaries. It wasn't merely that they fought and won a corporate control war, that does indeed always seem to happen when companies succeed so wildly (Facebook anyone?) it was that they seemed intent on crushing the man personally.

I wonder how much of that was his refusal to contribute any more IP to the brand?
Just a guess as I am not in the know but I would think Gary's resignation as an employee after being removed as CEO probably scared them... they certainly wanted to keep his name and creative endeavors under TSR for obvious reasons, and my best guess is they wanted to eliminate anything non-TSR with the name Gygax associated with it.
John "Sir Seskis" Wright

Dreamer of Ilshara
Lands of Ilshara: http://johnwright281.tripod.com

User avatar
Fiffergrund
Lore Drake
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:00 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Fiffergrund »

seskis281 wrote:
Fiffergrund wrote:
seskis281 wrote:The part that is really sad, though, is how Williams and TSR then went after Gary AFTER those events.... Dangerous Journeys and his efforts were derailed in a very vindictive way, and today there would be no way it would be seen as being covered under D&D proprietaries. It wasn't merely that they fought and won a corporate control war, that does indeed always seem to happen when companies succeed so wildly (Facebook anyone?) it was that they seemed intent on crushing the man personally.

I wonder how much of that was his refusal to contribute any more IP to the brand?
Just a guess as I am not in the know but I would think Gary's resignation as an employee after being removed as CEO probably scared them... they certainly wanted to keep his name and creative endeavors under TSR for obvious reasons, and my best guess is they wanted to eliminate anything non-TSR with the name Gygax associated with it.
That has the ring of truth to it, guess or not. As soon as I read that there was a dispute as to the owner of all IP produced by writers for TSR, I had a feeling that's where it was going.
Marshal Fiffergrund, Knight-Errant of the Castle and Crusade Society

User avatar
Julian Grimm
Greater Lore Drake
Posts: 4514
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:00 am
Location: SW Missouri
Contact:

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Julian Grimm »

To me the William's era was a double edged sword. On one hand a lot of good material came from it. I still have fond memories of From the Ashes, Planescape, Tome of Magic and The Rules Cyclopedia. On the other hand we have the attacks on Gygax, the death of Greyhawk, a glut of repetitive material and the lawsuits.

One thing I have been thinking about is that had Gygax not been ousted there would not have been an SRD or an OGL and then there would not be a C&C. Yes, we may have seen Gygax's 2e, 3e and so on but we also have a large amount of D&D type games that do the job better than the originals. All in all I think all of this worked out for the best.
Lord Skystorm

Grand Knight Commander KoTC, Member C&CS

Donner Party Meats: We're here to serve YOU!

AD&D per se is as dead a system as Latin is a language, while the C&C game has much the same spirit and nearly the same mechanics. --Gary Gygax 8/16/06

User avatar
Zudrak
Lore Drake
Posts: 1377
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Audubon, NJ

Re: How Gygax Lost TSR

Post by Zudrak »

Julian Grimm wrote:To me the William's era was a double edged sword. On one hand a lot of good material came from it. I still have fond memories of From the Ashes, Planescape, Tome of Magic and The Rules Cyclopedia. On the other hand we have the attacks on Gygax, the death of Greyhawk, a glut of repetitive material and the lawsuits.

One thing I have been thinking about is that had Gygax not been ousted there would not have been an SRD or an OGL and then there would not be a C&C. Yes, we may have seen Gygax's 2e, 3e and so on but we also have a large amount of D&D type games that do the job better than the originals. All in all I think all of this worked out for the best.
As soon as I heard the Underdark and Oriental Adventures material were going to appear on Faerun instead of Greyhawk, I was done with TSR. Even put the 2e books (PHB, DMG, & MM) on the shelf and kept using the 1e ones. I would buy modules for material on the two subjects I most looked forward to being fleshed out in GH, but that wasn't until many years later. At least the Gord books were still good -- even without the lovely Greyhawk logo on them after Book 2.
Psalm 73:26

"Knowledge, logic, reason, and common sense serve better than a dozen rule books."

"Rules not understood should have appropriate questions directed to the publisher; disputes with the Dungeon Master are another matter entirely. THE REFEREE IS THE FINAL ARBITER OF ALL AFFAIRS OF HIS OR HER CAMPAIGN."
-- E. Gary Gygax

Post Reply