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Luke Gygax Shares Old Magazine Features
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Amongst some more personal pieces, Luke Gygax has shared some items acquired from his mother, Mary Gygax Walker, including a 1980 People Magazine article, and one from Milwaukee Magazine in 1982...
TSR's "Designeritus"
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We had a lot of design talent in the heyday of TSR. Zeb Cook and Jeff Grubb strode the world like giants and put together some amazing million dollar profit centers. There were other designers and...
From the Freelancing Frontline – From Hobby to Career
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Originally, all I wanted from my game writing was to sell enough RPG game articles to afford a subscription to Dragon Magazine. But once I had done that, I found I wanted to write more. Much more. So, I kept sending pitches to Dave Gross, at Dragon, and began looking for other venues.
Gary’s Immersion in Castle El Raja Key: The Four-Way Footsteps
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(Very early 1973, 1st level of my Castle El Raja Key) -- In November of 1972 four stalwarts of the LGTSA (Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association; of which I was then its current...
3E and the Feel of D&D
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For 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the big picture was to return the game to its roots, reversing the direction that 2nd Edition had taken in making the game more generic. The plan was to...
The Sales of D&D vs. AD&D vs. AD&D 2nd Edition
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The 2nd edition of AD&D sold well when it was released. Combined, the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook sold over 400,000 copies in their first year. That’s a lot of books. Not the most ever sold by TSR, but a lot. To give some historical comparison, the 1981 D&D Basic Rules Set sold over 650,000 copies in its first year. To compare to previous editions of AD&D, the 1st edition DMG and PHB together sold over 146,000 copies in 1979. Putting those numbers together makes AD&D 2nd edition look like a solid hit. But it hides a deeper problem.
RETHMAR, Rathole of the Shaar
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So how to turn a name on a map of the Realms into a place that “feels real”? Well, I start with an idea in my head of what’s there—and regardless of whether I’m developing a locale for a story or for gaming adventures, from that base idea I leap straight into what gamers now call “adventure hooks.”
Ed Greenwood's Original Forgotten Realms Map
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Alex Kammer, the director of Gamehole Con, has shared some photos of the original map of the Forgotten Realms as drawn by Ed Greenwood himself, with Sage Advice D&D. More images at the link!
Jim Ward: Demons & Devils, NOT!
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In the very early to mid '80s religious nongamer people discovered AD&D had magical spells and demons and devils in its rules. The problems started with Sears and Penny's retail stores. TSR was selling thousands of Player Handbooks and Dungeon Master's Guides every month to both of those companies. I know this because I was in sales and inventory control at the time.
From the Freelancing Frontline: The Beginning
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Welcome to a new column from veteran game designer Owen K.C. Stephens! He's worked at Green Ronin, Paizo, and Wizards of the Coast, as well has his own company, and was co-author of the Star Wars Saga Edition RPG and Design Lead for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. This first instalment covers his beginnings as a freelancer.
Greyhawk Theatrics, Comments and Quips in Play: Snippets, Funny Lines and Outbursts from the Lake Geneva Gamers
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What follows are some dear and treasured memories—snippets, funny lines, and outbursts recalled from play. Many eluded both myself and Gary over the years. But these few should serve to indicate how the majority of us gamed in those days, and especially how we gamed while the original D&D game was still in the midst of being play-tested.
Jonathan Tweet: Streamlining Third Edition
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The D&D 3rd Ed project was part big-picture vision and part a collection of individual decisions about rules, terms, and characters. In terms of rules, a lot of what we did amounted to streamlining.
Getting A Realms Campaign Up And Running
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One-shot adventures, like binge-watching a great mini-series, can be fun, but sooner or later any FRP gamer will want to try a campaign, a sequence of interconnected adventures where the stakes—and hopefully achievements—can be higher.
Jim Ward: SSI, Dungeons & Dragons and the Computer Industry
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The time is about 1987. I had played Ultima and thought a computer game license could be great for TSR; besides I wanted to play a D&D computer game. I was surfing the net on a Commodore 64 and that was interesting and that effort gave me a little insight into the computer game industry. I went to upper management and pitched them the idea of searching for a computer game license. They didn't think much of the concept.
Jonathan Tweet: Legacy of Ars Magica
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Ars Magica had an obscure origin, but it had long-lasting effects. We did a number of influential support products that influenced 1990s game design, and it launched the careers of five of us who...
When Random House Sued TSR For $9.5M
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Benjamin Riggs is continuing to talk about his research into the history of TSR. He recounts here a tale of TSR's accounting practices which contributed to their eventual demise.
The Beginning: 1968 and Meeting Gary Gygax and the Gygax Family
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Roughly two years before Luke Gygax was born I walked through the front door of the Gygax residence at 330 Center Street in Lake Geneva. This was at the invite of Gary through his gamer friend and a very recent acquaintance of mine, Larry Zirk. Very few people from that time know of Larry Zirk, so I will tell the story of our meeting and how that would, soon thereafter, lead me to Gary's doorstep.
TSR Cutting Writers Rates (In 1994!)
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Writer James Lowder posted about TSR (the company which created and owned D&D until WotC purchased them) cutting it’s writing rates back in the 1990s, along with restrictions on freelancing.
Making The Realms Come Alive
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I’ve worked on the Forgotten Realms every day of my life now for over fifty years, and for over forty of them have been joined by scores of fellow creators, all of us pumping our energies into the setting. So a lot has happened, in-world, and with so much going on, the place certainly seems alive. Some hapless crofters in the Dales or shopkeepers in Waterdeep would probably tell you their world was a lot too alive, a lot of the time.
Jim Ward: Laser Tag and TSR
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In the '70s and early '80s the United States military used a system of infrared beams called the MILES system. The beams would hit sensors on a chest set of units and start beeping. This would cause the hit soldier to know they took a deadly strike. Training with these systems was an effective way for troops to learn combat situations.

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