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

GreyLord

Legend
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.

From what I understand from Historiography...

If it is written as a history, and published under that, it COULD be a good way to get discredited.

I know it says history on the summation, but I don't think it's a professional history as what we would see a scholarly work though.

If it is, I don't think he'd dare go to print as it COULD ruin any academic career and be laughed out of the entire field.

You don't go with..."just trust me, this is good..." in most scholarly works in academics, whether business, history, physics, or most other fields. (though, there are exceptions, as I will show below. It's a BIG RISK though).

But...this isn't an academic work (not at least how I'm looking at it, it's more like...a Biography written for entertainment purposes than something for the academics), or at least, I would assume that.

Or, if this is written for a professional status, the standards have fallen drastically.

Just a few years ago you couldn't get away with this on a Master's thesis, and definitely not on a Senior Paper at any Major University (maybe in a pay for degree, or a history paper at a Junior College though). To think one would get away with it in a Post-Grad or other work just a few years ago would be scandalous and the individual trying to go for the degree would get a scathing board to rip them over, much less what should happen during Peer review.

That said, do I think he's trying to do this for an academic work or to advance an academic career?

No. I don't see the book as that either. I think he's a fan and he's doing it because he's interested in it and trying to piece things together, and as he does so he's sharing it with the rest of us. He's getting as much information as he can on the subject and sharing it with everyone else in the way that he can. He's also in a prime situated spot, Milwaukee, which puts him close to where many of the main characters of the picture reside (or at least closer than many others).

The main readers and reviewers are NOT going to be Historians (or so I would think). They are going to be interested more in what he is writing. Ironically, as there IS very little information on this period, his book may or may not be taken as a rather important piece of historiographical writing on it's own, which for an academic could actually work either way (positive or negative). It's not the first time something like that would have happened.

Fawn M. Brodie was a Historian that can be seen to have vastly changed the way history is written or done. She also was seen to have questionable research techniques at the time (similar to what Riggs has, but even more unsupportable with any facts. She didn't even have a confidential source, she just went on a hunch!). What props her up is that as other historians have investigated and researched, and evidence has come about which were not available previously, many of her ideas have shown to have historical basis. This has radically changed how Thomas Jefferson was viewed (for starters) and the history between him and the slaves he kept.

She wrote a book on Thomas Jefferson. At the time, though popular with readers, it had several scathing reviews among her Peers. She tried hard to keep the top scholars from having their thoughts on it come out. Time has proven those ideas most controversial as actually having basis in history. Today, it has reframed the history of Thomas Jefferson into a different light, and his story is related differently today due to what she wrote and the evidence to support it that has come out since.

It may be that this book will similarly be seen in the future in a like manner, or it could have other impacts that we have not seen if he is going for a historical work in academics.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
From what I understand from Historiography...

If it is written as a history, and published under that, it COULD be a good way to get discredited.

I know it says history on the summation, but I don't think it's a professional history as what we would see a scholarly work though.

If it is, I don't think he'd dare go to print as it COULD ruin any academic career and be laughed out of the entire field.

You don't go with..."just trust me, this is good..." in most scholarly works in academics, whether business, history, physics, or most other fields. (though, there are exceptions, as I will show below. It's a BIG RISK though).

But...this isn't an academic work (not at least how I'm looking at it, it's more like...a Biography written for entertainment purposes than something for the academics), or at least, I would assume that.

Or, if this is written for a professional status, the standards have fallen drastically.

Just a few years ago you couldn't get away with this on a Master's thesis, and definitely not on a Senior Paper at any Major University (maybe in a pay for degree, or a history paper at a Junior College though). To think one would get away with it in a Post-Grad or other work just a few years ago would be scandalous and the individual trying to go for the degree would get a scathing board to rip them over, much less what should happen during Peer review.

That said, do I think he's trying to do this for an academic work or to advance an academic career?

No. I don't see the book as that either. I think he's a fan and he's doing it because he's interested in it and trying to piece things together, and as he does so he's sharing it with the rest of us. He's getting as much information as he can on the subject and sharing it with everyone else in the way that he can. He's also in a prime situated spot, Milwaukee, which puts him close to where many of the main characters of the picture reside (or at least closer than many others).

The main readers and reviewers are NOT going to be Historians (or so I would think). They are going to be interested more in what he is writing. Ironically, as there IS very little information on this period, his book may or may not be taken as a rather important piece of historiographical writing on it's own, which for an academic could actually work either way (positive or negative). It's not the first time something like that would have happened.

Fawn M. Brodie was a Historian that can be seen to have vastly changed the way history is written or done. She also was seen to have questionable research techniques at the time (similar to what Riggs has, but even more unsupportable with any facts. She didn't even have a confidential source, she just went on a hunch!). What props her up is that as other historians have investigated and researched, and evidence has come about which were not available previously, many of her ideas have shown to have historical basis. This has radically changed how Thomas Jefferson was viewed (for starters) and the history between him and the slaves he kept.

She wrote a book on Thomas Jefferson. At the time, though popular with readers, it had several scathing reviews among her Peers. She tried hard to keep the top scholars from having their thoughts on it come out. Time has proven those ideas most controversial as actually having basis in history. Today, it has reframed the history of Thomas Jefferson into a different light, and his story is related differently today due to what she wrote and the evidence to support it that has come out since.

It may be that this book will similarly be seen in the future in a like manner, or it could have other impacts that we have not seen if he is going for a historical work in academics.
Yeah, it's a journalistic account, not an academic one. We are probably a generation out, at least, from "serious" academic TTRPG history scholarship, though folks like Jon Peterson are laying the groundwork for that future generation.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I think most of their money came from novel sales myself considering how poor the rpg started selling.
About 50/50 per the info in Slaying the Dragon.

That's kinda been the narrative for a long time. Apparently the novels did better than the game in the 90's.
It was pretty even. The novels were apparently better-liked than the game department by the non-gaming management, in part because they understood that market better, and in part because it had fewer staff required/lower overhead. Especially the way they underpaid their authors.

Well, Dancey always argued that TSR split the Ayer base, so that a DM would buy the Dark Sun box set and all the Adventures, but nothing from Forgotten Realms or Spelljammer product lines. So they essentially created silos of players who were doing different things, not buying a dull range of TSR products.
Yes, there's a story from late in the book after the WotC acquisition that there was an internal debate between new WotC people and old TSR staffers about whether settings were cannibalizing sales from each other, so they did a test.

They published two AD&D modules at the same time; one specifically set in Forgotten Realms (the most popular campaign setting) and one generic, to be used in any campaign world. The latter sold three times as many, and they considered that strong evidence. TSR published SO much material that almost no one could/would buy it all. Most commonly if they adopted a given setting they followed that one specifically. But material that was "generic"/not limited to one setting had broader appeal.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
From wikipedia, the release schedule of Dark Sun adventures:



So 1994 saw the release of the last DS adventure, though the line allegedly continued stumbling along for a couple of years after that (first rule of Dark Sun Club is that you DON'T TALK about Mind Lords of the Last Sea...)

And from the numbers available, it looks like sales roughly correlate with the number of releases. Four adventures in 92 (I assume the 1991 sales in Riggs' numbers are an artefact of different accounting methods, Freedom was released right on the cusp of 91/92), 3 in 93, 1 in 94.

From this, I'd GUESS that each adventure sold in roughly equal numbers, and that the vast majority of people who were going to buy an adventure bought it as soon as it came out. I am inescapably reminded of the 'IT MUST BE MINE!' guy in Dork Tower. And the other thing is that, assuming all the 1991 sales were of the Freedom module because that was the only adventure released at that point, it looks like in pure numbers, adventures sold almost as many copies as the core boxed set - which I was not expecting.

Probably rubs in one of two things about D&D buyers. Either it's the DM who buys everything and shares the player material with the group, or else a significant amount of the customer base are just compulsive completionists who buy everything regardless of immediate applicability to the game (guilty as charged, your honour...).
I agree. A dedicated fanbase is buying whatever new Dark Sun product becomes available.

At the same time, this interpretation implies that the Dark Sun fanbase was unable to expand out into a wider audience. It remained nich and never mainstreamed.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Yes, there's a story from late in the book after the WotC acquisition that there was an internal debate between new WotC people and old TSR staffers about whether settings were cannibalizing sales from each other, so they did a test.

They published two AD&D modules at the same time; one specifically set in Forgotten Realms (the most popular campaign setting) and one generic, to be used in any campaign world. The latter sold three times as many, and they considered that strong evidence.
I just finished the book earlier today, and recall thinking "man I wish he'd told us what the two adventures in question were!"
 

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