D&D General Darksun Adventure sales from Ben Riggs author of Slaying the Dragon


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darjr

I crit!
We must take asking someone for their source very differently then. When you make a claim and someone else demands you cite a source, they’re calling you a liar and demanding you back up your claim with proof because they don’t believe you.
I’m sorry. Bruce is awesome, but in this case if your asking me to take on Ben and his numbers and agreement from the other alumni vs Bruce? I’m picking Ben.

You can call people liers if you like. I think that’s immensely rude in this case and very over the top and unnecessary.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I’m sorry. Bruce is awesome, but in this case if your asking me to take on Ben and his numbers and agreement from the other alumni vs Bruce? I’m picking Ben.

You can call people liers if you like. I think that’s immensely rude in this case and very over the top and unnecessary.
I’m not calling anyone a liar. Ben is making claims and refuses to back those up with any evidence. It’s Schrödinger’s Truth. It’s in the box but we don’t know. It’s fairly common to want people to cite their sources. We’re not talking about military secrets and troop movements here. It’s the sales data for a company that ceased to exist 20-odd years ago.
 

GreyLord

Legend
His source is confidential, that's how journalism works.

True, but not how history works, or historical writing.

That said...

I don't have problems with what Riggs is posting, I find it interesting. I've stated before that it appears that some numbers may be missing, but that was already admitted by Riggs about the information and why that was. AS far as I know, the graphs look to be accurate in how they should look at least, and their portrayal seems to be about as straightforward as one can get with what is available.

I'd even support him and tell you all...go buy his book!

I have guesses at who the "confidential" source or sources may be, but it is what it is.
 

a.everett1287

Explorer
Some journalism, yes. Not all.
I mean... no.
All journalists will have a source who wants to be off record/confidential/background. Doesn't matter if it's reporting on the inner workings of a federal agency, or the naughty word business practices of a TTRPG company in the 80's.
YOU DON'T BURN YOUR SOURCE NO MATTER WHAT, for two reasons. One, because you may want to tap that well again, and that's hard to do if you screwed them over; and two, because it's the right thing to do, considering this person has trusted you to relay information without attaching their name to it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
They tailored it. If you see the Graphs, it can become pretty obvious WHY they did so.

What the graphs posted show is that campaign settings seem to sell well and then have a steep drop off. Further re-releases or sales also tend to follow that. In that light, releasing a campaign setting is good, but you want to do it at maximum impact. Thus, a release probably ever year or so (or in Paizo's case, with AP's, ever 6 months).

You can see this start to form during 3.5, and it took over HARD for 4e. In that time, you see the idea to release ONE campaign setting per year or more if possible.

I think 5e has tried to follow this trend in a modified fashion as well, though not with campaign settings as it were, but in a fashion related to slower rules releases and adventures based on various campaign ideas.
5E Setting books are genre booster packs, meant to be broad based toolboxes for DMs.
 

darjr

I crit!
I’m not calling anyone a liar. Ben is making claims and refuses to back those up with any evidence. It’s Schrödinger’s Truth. It’s in the box but we don’t know.
He is stuck. He can’t. Or decided his ethics means he won’t. But he has tried to back things up as best he can outside of that. Seeing all these ex TSR folks talking about his book and really only one taking anything like a huge exception to the numbers has gotta mean something?

Especially if it’s folks that are not treated exactly glowingly in the book.
 

a.everett1287

Explorer
I’m not calling anyone a liar. Ben is making claims and refuses to back those up with any evidence. It’s Schrödinger’s Truth. It’s in the box but we don’t know. It’s fairly common to want people to cite their sources. We’re not talking about military secrets and troop movements here. It’s the sales data for a company that ceased to exist 30-odd years ago.
This sounds like a fancy way of skirting TOS and calling someone a liar.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This sounds like a fancy way of skirting TOS and calling someone a liar.
Not at all. Either a statement is true or it’s false. I don’t know which it is. All I have is his word he’s telling the truth. I’ll withhold judgement on whether it’s true or not until we have a source and/or independent corroboration.
 

GreyLord

Legend
I’m not calling anyone a liar. Ben is making claims and refuses to back those up with any evidence. It’s Schrödinger’s Truth. It’s in the box but we don’t know. It’s fairly common to want people to cite their sources. We’re not talking about military secrets and troop movements here. It’s the sales data for a company that ceased to exist 30-odd years ago.

I think this would absolutely be true if it were a history book. You HAVE to cite your sources. If it is a primary source, it is stronger than a secondary source. An unknown source is considered unreliable...most of the time.

However, in journalism, you have to protect journalistic integrity, and that means when a source doesn't want to be known, you need to protect it. It is part of the ethics of the entire thing.

The question is what type of book is this trying to be. A history of something, or a report on something?

Sometimes, even history books rely on articles from journals or newspapers, sometimes with those having confidential sources.

Tough call on what to call the book in that light. Still, it does seem interesting, and it is probably one of the most informative books on that time period that has been written thus far. It's a little more information that most have had prior to this, and probably more information all together gathered into one spot than anyone has had before.
 

darjr

I crit!
It’s not like I’m happy we don’t know the source. But I am satisfied that Ben has got it as right as he can and isn’t being deceitful. After all he wants to do a sequel.

At the same time I’m open to the idea he could be all wrong.

I just don’t think he is.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think this would absolutely be true if it were a history book. You HAVE to cite your sources. If it is a primary source, it is stronger than a secondary source. An unknown source is considered unreliable...most of the time.

The question is what type of book is this trying to be. A history of something, or a report on something?

Sometimes, even history books rely on articles from journals or newspapers, sometimes with those having confidential sources.

Tough call on what to call the book in that light. Still, it does seem interesting, and it is probably one of the most informative books on that time period that has been written thus far. It's a little more information that most have had prior to this, and probably more information all together gathered into one spot than anyone has had before.
It’s fairly clearly a history book. At least that’s how he’s marketing it.

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons.

“Role-playing game historian Ben Riggs unveils the secret history of TSR―the company that unleashed imaginations with Dungeons & Dragons, was driven into ruin by disastrous management decisions, and then saved by their bitterest rival.”
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
It’s not like I’m happy we don’t know the source. But I am satisfied that Ben has got it as right as he can and isn’t being deceitful. After all he wants to do a sequel.

At the same time I’m open to the idea he could be all wrong.

I just don’t think he is.
I’m not claiming to know either way. I don’t know. I have no reason to think he’s being deceitful. But I also have no reason to think he’s being honest. We won’t know either way until the source comes forward, is revealed, or independent corroborating evidence is brought to light.

I’m not sure what the bolded bit has to do with the truth value of his claims.

I am skeptical by nature. You tell me it’s raining and I’ll look outside.
 

WotC is printing just as much product as TSR was
Was this happening though?

I just had a look at wikipedia's list of Forgotten Realms products. In the 2e era, by my count (the page isn't the clearest...) TSR put out 58 FR sourcebooks/boxed sets and 47 adventures (this is a bit blurry, there's a few edge cases like crossovers with Ravenloft, OA products retconned into the Realms once Kara-Tur was shoved into Faerun, the Maztica line, etc etc). The vast majority of these were in the 8 years between 1987 and 1995.

In the 3rd ed era (the 8 years from 2000 to 2008), WotC released by my count 20 FR sourcebooks and 9 FR adventures.

That's a massive drop in pace of release, even accounting for the fact that a 3rd ed product was on average higher in page count than a 2e product. And FR was the line that WotC produced significantly the most material for - Eberron was the runner-up but the line was at best 75% of the size of the FR line, and there was no real third place. Nothing like the early/mid 90s when TSR are pumping out FR and Al-Qadim and Dark Sun and Planescape and Ravenloft all at once, and all at high pace. I mean, the volume of Ravenloft releases alone - through the mid 90s there were routinely 9 or 10 Ravenloft products alone coming out every year.

TSR treated its release schedule like a comic shop's. An enthusiast, much less a completist, could rock along once a month and expect a handful of new books to have been released that they might want to pick up. WotC has increasingly tried to make book releases more of an event, with loads of anticipation and strategic leaks etc which is possible because they're not trying to hype up two Ravenloft adventures, an FR region guide, an Al-Qadim boxed set, and the Complete Nilbog's Handbook all being released in the same month.
 

darjr

I crit!
I’m not claiming to know either way. I don’t know. I have no reason to think he’s being deceitful. But I also have no reason to think he’s being honest. We won’t know either way until the source comes forward, is revealed, or independent corroborating evidence is brought to light.

I’m not sure what the bolded bit has to do with the truth value of his claims.
His credibility is at stake. With us and with his sources for any future history book. Him being wrong or willfully deceitful tarnishes or ruins that. And if anything I dint think he’d risk that.

Finally we do have corroboration. From earlier instances of folks telling little bits of numbers that match and TSR alum that mostly, and I mean almost all of them, and I’d include Bruce even, have not contradicted his numbers.
 

darjr

I crit!
Also D&D was treated like a loss leader by WotC. They were willing to cut very thin margins, if I remember right, because the ceo belived it had legs if they could just spread the faith a bit more.

At TSR D&D was the bread winner. And that bread got very thin.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Bens numbers are in the ballpark on known numbers from other sources and interviews with ex TSR.

They don't contradict Danceys statements either as we know that some of the more elaborate boxed sets were selling as a loss. And presumably some of the adventures.

Remember when WotC did reprint some of the setting and Eberron they changed the format (boxed set vs book) and only did one and done deals exceptbFR and Eberron.

Or they licensed bstuff out.

They didn't do boxed sets, follow on adventures, a line of novels and premium bits and pieces with cloth maps etc.

Adventures bwetent really selling compared with big items like FR boxed set. DS put some reasonable numbers in but over 9 products some of which were boxed sets (which they may have lost money on).

Adventures don't sell was in reference tolate 90's not early 90's and early 80's which were big numbers.

Paizo made it work presumably because they were happy with smaller margins but more importantly had a lit of good will and reputation for making quality adventures due to their Dungeon Magazine tenure.

TSE 2E adventures have the opposite reputation mist of then are junk.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
His credibility is at stake. With us and with his sources for any future history book. Him being wrong or willfully deceitful tarnishes or ruins that. And if anything I dint think he’d risk that.
I don't know him well enough to make a judgement either way. Generally speaking people don't want their reputations ruined. Others don't care if they see big enough dollar signs. Take James Frey's A Million Little Pieces as an example. Though I doubt there's enough dollar signs in the RPG industry (outside of WotC itself) to be worth ruining one's reputation over.
Finally we do have corroboration. From earlier instances of folks telling little bits of numbers that match and TSR alum that mostly, and I mean almost all of them, and I’d include Bruce even, have not contradicted his numbers.
Except that Bruce Heard did call him out and asked for a source for those numbers.
Bens numbers are in the ballpark on known numbers from other sources and interviews with ex TSR.
You'd think if everyone had accurate numbers they wouldn't be "in the ballpark"...they'd be a bit more exact than that. But, that could be earlier numbers were guesses and Ben has boxes of spreadsheets. None of us know except Ben. I'm just not convinced his numbers are accurate. And I won't be until there's corroborating evidence or the source is revealed.

But I'm bowing out of this particular tangent as it's clearly going nowhere.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I don't know him well enough to make a judgement either way. Generally speaking people don't want their reputations ruined. Others don't care if they see big enough dollar signs. Take James Frey's A Million Little Pieces as an example. Though I doubt there's enough dollar signs in the RPG industry (outside of WotC itself) to be worth ruining one's reputation over.

Except that Bruce Heard did call him out and asked for a source for those numbers.

You'd think if everyone had accurate numbers they wouldn't be "in the ballpark"...they'd be a bit more exact than that. But, that could be earlier numbers were guesses and Ben has boxes of spreadsheets. None of us know except Ben. I'm just not convinced his numbers are accurate. And I won't be until there's corroborating evidence or the source is revealed.

But I'm bowing out of this particular tangent as it's clearly going nowhere.

Well other interviews and sources have had similar numbers.
The adventure and campaign setting numbers are kinda new but Bens edition bnumbers seem to check out with previous sources eg Gary, Dancey, Stan!, Paizo staff, other ex TSR staff, the acaceum etc.
 

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