D&D General Dave Arneson’s Pitch for the future of TSR and D&D in ‘97 to Peter Adkison

Following his 1997 application for a job at WotC, D&D co-creator Dave Arneson wrote a second letter to WoTC founder Peter Adkison and made a pitch about how he'd run TSR and D&D.

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Despite his excitement his plans seem underwhelming.

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My heart already bleeds for Arneson. The man has never received his due as D&D’s co-creator. He never made CEO. He wasn’t on Futurama. TSR and Gary Gygax did him dirty. (This has been explored in my prior post and in Game Wizards by Jon Peterson.)

This letter is Arneson’s moment. If he wants to make D&D for a living again, he has to put points on the board, and he has to do it with this letter. Now. But he hasn’t even bothered to check his punctuation!

Six pages of his research and plans follow. Here’s a summary, but I’m pasting the letter below if you want to thrill to every misspelled word.

In the main, Arneson’s thoughts are nothing you wouldn’t have heard hanging around a game store in the spring of 1997. He said that all of TSR’s projects were “dead in the water,” which the whole world knew as the company hadn’t published anything for months.


See Ben Riggs article for the full letter and more of his observations.

 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Alzrius also sold me on it. I just ordered it. The titling I found it under was slightly different, though:

The Gamesmaster: My Life in the '80s Geek Culture Trenches with G.I. Joe, Dungeons & Dragons, and The Transformers
Huh, I didn't notice that the Amazon page had a slightly different title (you can see the alternative on the picture of the cover), but that's definitely the correct book; when I go to the page, I have a "last purchased" notification at the top.

EDIT: Quick question when looking at the cover image: can anyone identify the figure on the right in the background? The central figure is Optimus Prime, and the leftmost one is Flint from G. I. Joe, but for the life of me I can't figure out who the guy on the right is.
 
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Huh, I didn't notice that the Amazon page had a slightly different title (you can see the alternative on the picture of the cover), but that's definitely the correct book; when I go to the page, I have a "last purchased" notification at the top.

EDIT: Quick question when looking at the cover image: can anyone identify the figure on the right in the background? The central figure is Optimus Prime, and the leftmost one is Flint from G. I. Joe, but for the life of me I can't figure out who the guy on the right is.
Looks like Duke on the left under the Skystriker, and Scarlett on the right.
 

Omand

Hero
Looks like Duke on the left under the Skystriker, and Scarlett on the right.
Is it though? That shoulder armour on the figure on the right appears far too large for any GI Joe characters I can remember. I agree though that the hair colour had me thinking Scarlett as a possibility.

Cheers :)
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Is it though? That shoulder armour on the figure on the right appears far too large for any GI Joe characters I can remember. I agree though that the hair colour had me thinking Scarlett as a possibility.
Yeah, between the red hair and the color of the shoulder armor being very close to Scarlett's body armor (which has shoulder straps, rather than pauldrons), I'm going to agree that it's an allusion to her. All three character designs appear to be intended to evoke/remind one of the characters while not being exact copies which might infringe on IP rights. I'm guessing they didn't license rights to the character images, and instead just commissioned a cover artist to do similar designs.
 
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Is it though? That shoulder armour on the figure on the right appears far too large for any GI Joe characters I can remember. I agree though that the hair colour had me thinking Scarlett as a possibility.

Cheers :)
It's not Scarlett. A higher-res version of the image shows that figure not only has big shoulder armour, but a great big bushy moustache and beard as well. And a sword hilt on their back. Given the title of the book, that would make it an allusion to D&D. Some kind of barbarian warrior or something.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
It's not Scarlett. A higher-res version of the image shows that figure not only has big shoulder armour, but a great big bushy moustache and beard as well. And a sword hilt on their back. Given the title of the book, that would make it an allusion to D&D. Some kind of barbarian warrior or something.
Aha! That makes total sense with the title.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
It's not Scarlett. A higher-res version of the image shows that figure not only has big shoulder armour, but a great big bushy moustache and beard as well. And a sword hilt on their back. Given the title of the book, that would make it an allusion to D&D. Some kind of barbarian warrior or something.
I'm glad someone else saw a bearded barbarian-type there, because all the references to Scarlett were making me wonder if these new glasses of mine had the wrong prescription!

That said, I'm going to tentatively guess that last character is Sagard the Barbarian, as Dille discusses writing those books in surprising depth in the course of his memoir (even if that image doesn't really look like any of the Sagard covers that I'm aware of).

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51KV6OyjXnL.jpg
 

I'm going to tentatively guess that last character is Sagard the Barbarian, as Dille discusses writing those books in surprising depth in the course of his memoir (even if that image doesn't really look like any of the Sagard covers that I'm aware of).
That's the reason I didn't suggest Sagard specifically, since it looks nothing like him. And since Sagard is not D&D, and D&D is mentioned on the cover along with GI Joe and TF, seems it's just supposed to be a stand-in for D&D as a whole.
 



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