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TSR Did TSR Sue Regularly?

Shannon Appelcline (Designers & Dragons) talks about it here! With infographics!

"Every company interacts with the rest of the industry in a different way. For Chaosium it's been more than 40 years of licensing, while Target Games created and defined roleplaying in its home country of Sweden. Dave Nalle's Ragnarok Enterprises instead influenced designers and publishers through interactions in A&Eand Abyss. As for TSR, the founder of our industry: as wags have put it: they sue regularly."


They also sued WotC once!
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
@el-remmen I am going through my stack now, to find the others (Fantastic Treasures etc, but it will probably be after work tomo before I can post and comment. Probably in the other thread.

Already done by the time I saw this! ;)
 


Apple of all companies was mere months from declaring bankruptcy in 1997. For TSR, going from hobbyist game designers to running a multimillion dollar company was probably a shock, and something they just didn't have the skills for.

As I've said before, Lorraine Williams' general silence on her time at TSR has enabled her to be cast as the villain in many people's narratives, when the truth is more complex than that.

TSR really managed to captured lightning in a bottle. I have to admit that I do feel a bit badly for piling on to TSR all the time. Running a company isn't easy and I imagine finding such great success so quickly can make things especially challenging. i.e. It's hard to learn from bad business decisions when they don't seem to be affecting your bottom line. For all the hate Lorraine Williams gets, she was a financial planner who knew what she was doing and may have saved the company when she took over following the exodus of the Blums and Gygax.

I hadn't heard about Rose Estes filing a lawsuit against TSR, but I'm not surprised. Between this and accounts from Linda Lowery and Jean Wells, TSR back then didn't always do right by the women employed there.
 

Apple of all companies was mere months from declaring bankruptcy in 1997. For TSR, going from hobbyist game designers to running a multimillion dollar company was probably a shock, and something they just didn't have the skills for.

As I've said before, Lorraine Williams' general silence on her time at TSR has enabled her to be cast as the villain in many people's narratives, when the truth is more complex than that.



I hadn't heard about Rose Estes filing a lawsuit against TSR, but I'm not surprised. Between this and accounts from Linda Lowery and Jean Wells, TSR back then didn't always do right by the women employed there.
Well reasoned assumptions.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
For all the hate Lorraine Williams gets, she was a financial planner who knew what she was doing and may have saved the company when she took over following the exodus of the Blums and Gygax.
I'm sure the company benefited from some real financial knowledge/business management at the top... but... didn't she also drive one of the nails into TSR's coffin by demanding that they license Buck Rogers (which then sold miserably, AIUI)?
 

I'm sure the company benefited from some real financial knowledge/business management at the top... but... didn't she also drive one of the nails into TSR's coffin by demanding that they license Buck Rogers (which then sold miserably, AIUI)?
True. She also pursued Gary and his Dangerous Journeys deal with GDW and sued, ultimately causing the latter's ruin. This is why WotC owns all DJ properties as noted up thread.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm sure the company benefited from some real financial knowledge/business management at the top... but... didn't she also drive one of the nails into TSR's coffin by demanding that they license Buck Rogers (which then sold miserably, AIUI)?
Don't get me wrong. As CEO, Williams was responsible for leading the company into a financially tenuous situation with serious cash flow problems and an inability to respond to changes in market forces. I don't really know how costly Buck Rogers was for TSR as a whole. Williams very often plays the role of the villain in the story of TSR, a bugbear if you will, where her failures are highlighted. It's rare to find a narrative where she's given any credit for turning the company around in the 80s nor for the number of years they thrived under her leadership. And I include myself as being rather dismissive of her work at TSR but I think it might be time to reassess Williams' tenure there.
 



nevin

Adventurer
Yes. Even before there was an internet as we know it they were going after people on BBS's, and when people started making web pages they freaked out. They turned what could have been a lot of free marketing into a lot of badwill.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
I don't really know how costly Buck Rogers was for TSR as a whole.
well, BR wasn't the only 'bad idea to spend money on' that TSR had... before Williams, they'd done such things as releasing several old SPI games that they'd acquired, and a needlepoint company (I really don't get that one). They apparently overstaffed a few times over the years. Williams likely did bring some professional business acumen to the company, and watched the bottom line. Still, she also made some bad decisions that turned out to be doom for TSR, BR being one of them...
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Apple of all companies was mere months from declaring bankruptcy in 1997. For TSR, going from hobbyist game designers to running a multimillion dollar company was probably a shock, and something they just didn't have the skills for.

As I've said before, Lorraine Williams' general silence on her time at TSR has enabled her to be cast as the villain in many people's narratives, when the truth is more complex than that.



I hadn't heard about Rose Estes filing a lawsuit against TSR, but I'm not surprised. Between this and accounts from Linda Lowery and Jean Wells, TSR back then didn't always do right by the women employed there.
Created a thread on this topic a while back

 


Henry

Autoexreginated
For years I sat on the Dangerous Journeys series, wanting to play it but figuring something was wrong with me because Gary had designed it so it must be fantastic, but I just couldn’t figure out how to play it. It wasn’t until later that I figured out games had to be able to be PLAYED successfully in order to be useful. 😁 it was my first lesson in Gary-as-human-being.
 

For years I sat on the Dangerous Journeys series, wanting to play it but figuring something was wrong with me because Gary had designed it so it must be fantastic, but I just couldn’t figure out how to play it. It wasn’t until later that I figured out games had to be able to be PLAYED successfully in order to be useful. 😁 it was my first lesson in Gary-as-human-being.
And a sad reminder it is.
 

TSR really managed to captured lightning in a bottle. I have to admit that I do feel a bit badly for piling on to TSR all the time. Running a company isn't easy and I imagine finding such great success so quickly can make things especially challenging. i.e. It's hard to learn from bad business decisions when they don't seem to be affecting your bottom line. For all the hate Lorraine Williams gets, she was a financial planner who knew what she was doing and may have saved the company when she took over following the exodus of the Blums and Gygax.

She bankrupted the company. I read an article about how she ran the company a while back that really made it sound like she was running a bust-out operation. There was hardly any attempt to keep revenue on any kind of sustainable footing or service liabilities; TSR under Williams was just staying one step ahead of creditors and pulling out as much cash as possible before the whole thing imploded. The major things I remember were
  • Not paying the printer. Like, their printer would print books, and they would simply not pay him. Ever. At some point, they paid him in kind with an unused building.
  • Exploiting an agreement with Random House where they got no-questions asked cash advances to print books solely for the purpose of getting the advance, with no particular expectation of selling them.
  • Constantly suing people, hoping for a big payout.
  • After WotC took over, they simply stopped doing stupid stuff and had the entire operation profitable in a year. So it wasn't even that AD&D 2e couldn't be profitable.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
She bankrupted the company. I read an article about how she ran the company a while back that really made it sound like she was running a bust-out operation. There was hardly any attempt to keep revenue on any kind of sustainable footing or service liabilities; TSR under Williams was just staying one step ahead of creditors and pulling out as much cash as possible before the whole thing imploded. The major things I remember were
  • Not paying the printer. Like, their printer would print books, and they would simply not pay him. Ever. At some point, they paid him in kind with an unused building.
  • Exploiting an agreement with Random House where they got no-questions asked cash advances to print books solely for the purpose of getting the advance, with no particular expectation of selling them.
  • Constantly suing people, hoping for a big payout.
  • After WotC took over, they simply stopped doing stupid stuff and had the entire operation profitable in a year. So it wasn't even that AD&D 2e couldn't be profitable.

Apparently they had 40 million in revenue.

Adjusted for inflation it's a lot bigger than 1983 number adjusted for inflation.

Hell both numbers are bigger than the RPG market circa 2019 iirc.
 


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