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D&D General Ed Greenwood's $5K Contract To Sell The Forgotten Realms

D&D historian Ben Riggs has a copy of Ed Greenwood's original Forgotten Realms contract and spends a few words covering it, calling it "The best $5,000 D&D Spent". The setting was sold to TSR for $4,000 in 1987, with another $1,000 for comsulting services. Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Realms, said he never regretted the decision to sell the property to TSR, the first company to make...

D&D historian Ben Riggs has a copy of Ed Greenwood's original Forgotten Realms contract and spends a few words covering it, calling it "The best $5,000 D&D Spent". The setting was sold to TSR for $4,000 in 1987, with another $1,000 for comsulting services.

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Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Realms, said he never regretted the decision to sell the property to TSR, the first company to make D&D. The five grand he made was $4,000 for the Realms itself, and then $1,000 for services as a design consultant. (That’s $13,000 in 2022 dollars).

 

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One wonders what might have happened if someone with proper business skills at an established publisher had taken that chance. Not that many of those weren't just wargamers flying by their seat of the pants as well, but still.

Yea. If only, right?

Though they had to go into business themselves. Believe it or not Gary couldn’t find a publisher willing to take a chance.
 

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alex2020

Explorer
Ed is too nice, his setting has to to be worth $100s of millions of dollars by now, and he git screwed out of his novel deal, he should have sued WotC for millions.

If the D&D movie is a hit, the Forgotten Realms' value could go even higher into the Billions of Dollars of value like Star Wars and Marvel.
You will truly never know, your comment is based 100% on pure speculation, NOTHING else. Let's assume for a moment Ed had retained his ownership of the FR IP (effectively sourcing a steady income every time TSR, then WoTC, then Hasbro, ever released a FR-branded product). Whilst that might have ensued for a number of years, for sure, but my OWN speculation suggests that eventually, an in-house creative team (salaried by any one of D&D's past or present owners), would likely have been tasked with creating a legacy setting to effectively replace FR, thereby rendering Ed's valuation of FR close to nothing. Hence why I said "we'll never truly know" given that $5,000 back in 1987 probably represented the "base case scenario" for both parties..
 

Hence why when I run FR it's set in the 1E/2E period. Going back and reading the old stuff, especially when D&D cared about lore, it's wonderful. 1E/2E was def the height of background lore.

Now-a-days you're lucky to get a few pages of lore before the rest of the book is the adventure.
To write lore you need talent. Talent costs. Costs erode profit. Better sell rules.
 

To write lore you need talent. Talent costs. Costs erode profit. Better sell rules.
There's a lot of rosy-coloured nostalgia glasses being worn when it comes to TSR-era lore. There was an awfully large amount of rubbish generated, but the sheer titanic volume of material being produced meant that a lot of gems came along too, and that's what sticks in the mind now. It's Sturgeon's Law in action. If you increase the size of the pie, then the 10% of the pie that's good is larger.
 




There's a lot of rosy-coloured nostalgia glasses being worn when it comes to TSR-era lore. There was an awfully large amount of rubbish generated, but the sheer titanic volume of material being produced meant that a lot of gems came along too, and that's what sticks in the mind now. It's Sturgeon's Law in action. If you increase the size of the pie, then the 10% of the pie that's good is larger.

I cannot speak for everyone nor I pretend to extract general rules from one single post as you try to do. I limit myself to observe that if there's a nostalgia, (term often used to denigrate different taste or preference), is for a way of doing products, not a product or a line of products in itself. So, your assumption is wrong, at least in my case, because while I definitely recognize that a large amount of TSR product are forgettable, I believe that THAT way of producing manuals (aside for the fragmentation, that was not good for businness but it is not comprised in what I'm saying) was the most fascinating and captivating way of build a world and stimulate the fantasies of players. Many TSR (and WOTC 3rd era, too) product are a pleasant read in itself, even without the RPG aspect. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for modern manuals. Lore diluition is too much now. I appreciate the Adventure Path / Splat Book formula of 5th edition, but I must say that I miss even the WOTC Splatbook of FR. In the TSR, (even 1st edition era) there was something surprising in every module: a curious map, a strange handout. Now everything feels a little bit "standard" and "structured" (as per "corporate" meanings of these two words).
Have the big privilege to talk with Frank Mentzer last week in Lucca, he says his "favourite writer (note the term) was Zeb because he was able to write about EVERYTHING". After that I have a week looking closer at Zeb's production and that convince myself that while in a corporate point of view it is understandable that this is a little bit scary, I definitely believe that RPG are more a matter of WRITERS than GAME DESIGNERS and I would gladly leave the seconds to board and wargaming with only a strict consultancy in RPG rules aspects.
The lore diluition now is both absolute and relative: I mean it is absolute because manuals contains less lore in general (as if customer base was less intellectualized and ready to assimilate complex geography and histories?), and it is relative because the little lore we have is a low cost, zero creativity reshuffle of pieces of old lore already written.
Given that I cannot find a reason for lore diluition and imbalance in favour of game design aside for costs, my regret is that we need more writers at work. And if they were good (and expensive) writers, sorry for profit. If somebody more expert than me in the industry can suggest other reasons for this lore diluition I would be glad to hear.
A little final note: Just to dissipate the aura of nostalgia vulnerability of my post I want to remark that I can find the same balance of game and lore in many modern products. The secret, perhaps, could be that the people writing it are the original creator of that product.
Excuse me for my english and for the long post.

P.S. To be clear for those who are interested, I must say also that I really like OSR and the first TSR era of let's start the adventure: "You are in front of a dungeon looking for..." so I'm not in any way a lore fanatic. I strongly believe in that rule: the less you say and show, the more far your mind travel. And the real "art" is to say what is needed and not a bit more.
But this approach leads very quickly to finish the cards in your hand. TSR 1975/1989 has written almost everything you can write in reference to dungeon crawling and the slope toward depth in lore was slippery due to both a sincere need of giving depth to adventures outside dungeon and a very mundane need to regain profit from new books. Maybe is this double driver (one sincere and artistic and one mundane and very concrete) that made the magic. Now I can only see a lazy, low creativity and low cost re-proposition.
 
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